Sapphire Battle – Which is Right for You? Sapphire Reserve? Sapphire Preferred? Ink Business Preferred?

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With the Sapphire Reserve card currently offering a bigger than usual welcome bonus (click here for current details), I realized that it was past time to revive this post.  If you want the ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to hotel and airline partners then you’ll need the $550 Sapphire Reserve card, the $95 Sapphire Preferred, or the $95 Ink Business Preferred.  In this post you’ll find a side by side comparison of benefits, travel & purchase protections, and more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred

When the Sapphire Reserve card first debuted, it was clearly a better choice than the Sapphire Preferred for most of us.  The Chase Sapphire Reserve offered 3X travel & dining vs. the Preferred card’s 2X.  The Sapphire Reserve offered (and continues to offer) 1.5 cents per point value towards travel vs. the Preferred card’s 1.25.  And the Reserve offers a slew of benefits not available to Preferred cardholders.

Initially, the Sapphire Reserve cost $450 per year, but offered an automatic $300 travel rebate.  This made it seem like a $150 card to those of us who easily earned the travel rebate without even trying.  In this light, the $95 Sapphire Preferred card didn’t fare well in comparison.  After all, with only net $55 per year extra, you could get better point earnings, better point value, and better perks.

Things changed when Chase increased the Sapphire Reserve annual fee to $550.  Now the Sapphire Reserve is like a $250 per year card after the $300 rebate*.  That makes it substantially more expensive than the Sapphire Preferred.  Plus, Chase increased the Sapphire Preferred card’s dining earning to 3x.  Given these changes, is the Sapphire Reserve still worth the premium?  Or, are we better off with the Sapphire Preferred?  How about going with the Ink Business Preferred instead?

* Travel expenses that are rebated do not earn rewards.  This means that the true effective rebate is a bit less than $300 and it might be better described as a $265 per year card after rebate… but that gets unnecessarily complicated.

Welcome Bonuses

Here are the current welcome bonuses for each card in this round-up:

Card Offer
100K after $8K spend in 3 months
$95 Annual Fee
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: 80K after $5K spend. Many preferred the 80K offer due to the much lower spend requirement
60K after $4K spend in 3 months
$95 Annual Fee
Alternate Offer: There may be elevated offers available by applying in-branch
A similar offer with the first year annual fee waived may be found in-branch. YMMV.
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
65K after $4K spend in 3 months
$550 Annual Fee
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: Expired 12/1/22: 80K after $4K spend

Annual Fee & Statement Credit Comparison

Sapphire Reserve Sapphire Preferred Ink Business Preferred
Annual Fee $550 $95 $95
Authorized User Fee $75 $0 $0
Annual Travel Rebate $300 $50 towards hotels booked through Chase.* N/A

* While I think it is safe to assume that Sapphire Reserve cardholders will easily earn the $300 travel rebate each year, I don’t expect most Sapphire Preferred cardholders to spend $50 or more on hotels through the Chase portal in order to get the Sapphire Preferred’s $50 rebate.

Perk Comparison

I’ve listed below only the perks I consider most valuable.  For full details about card perks and more, see our guides to Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Business Preferred.

Sapphire Reserve Sapphire Preferred Ink Business Preferred
No foreign transaction fees
Yes Yes Yes
Transfer points to partners: Transfer points 1 to 1 to a variety of airline and hotel programs Yes Yes Yes
Point value towards travel: When booking travel through Ultimate Rewards, points are worth more than 1 cent each. 1.5 cents per point 1.25 cents per point 1.25 cents per point
Point earnings for travel spend
3X 2X 3X
Point earnings for dining spend 3X 3X 1X
Point earnings for shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites 1X 1X 3X
Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access: Free entry for cardholder and up to two guests.  Unlike Priority Pass memberships issued by American Express, this version includes Priority Pass restaurants. Yes N/A N/A
Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit: Receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the Global Entry or TSA Pre Check application fee charged to your card. Yes N/A N/A

 

Travel Protection Comparison

Both cards offer travel protections for travel paid in full or in part with your Sapphire card.  Here is a high level comparison…

Sapphire Reserve Sapphire Preferred Ink Business Preferred
Primary Car Rental Coverage Yes Yes Yes (within the U.S. it is primary only when renting for business)
Roadside Assistance Free 4 times per year Requires paying fee for each service Requires paying fee for each service
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Coverage Up to $20K per trip Up to $20K per trip Up to $5K per trip
Trip Delay Insurance 6 hour delay 12 hour delay 12 hour delay
Lost Luggage
Yes Yes Yes
Baggage Delay
Yes Yes
Yes
Travel Accident Insurance Yes Yes Yes
Emergency Evac & Transport Up to $100K N/A N/A
Emergency Medical & Dental
Up to $2,500 N/A N/A

Clearly the Sapphire Reserve has the best travel protections.  That might not matter to you at all if you tend to buy trip insurance anyway.  In my case it’s meaningful because I tend not to buy trip insurance and so I’m happy to have the additional automatic coverage.

Purchase Protection Comparison

All three cards offer purchase protections for purchases made with the card.  Here’s a high level comparison…

Sapphire Reserve Sapphire Preferred Ink Business Preferred
Extended Warranty: Extends the time period of U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less. Yes Yes Yes
Damage, Theft, Loss Protection: Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage, theft or accidental loss. Max $10K per claim Max $500 per claim Max $10K per claim
Return Protection: You can be reimbursed for eligible items that the store won’t take back within 90 days of purchase. Max $500 per item, $1,000 per year N/A N/A
Cell Phone Protection: Reimburses accidental cell phone damage, theft, or loss N/A N/A $100 deductible; Up to $600 per claim.

The Sapphire Reserve offers better purchase protections across the board than the Sapphire Preferred.  The Ink Business Preferred, though, holds its own with the Sapphire Reserve.  While the Ink card doesn’t offer return protection, it does offer cell phone protection, which is something the Sapphire Reserve doesn’t offer.

Comparison Summary

Here now is a high level comparison of the three cards based on the above more detailed comparisons…

Sapphire Reserve Sapphire Preferred Ink Business Preferred
Annual Fee
$550 $95 $95
Authorized User Fee
$75 $0 $0
Travel Rebate
$300 $50 Hotel N/A
Point value towards travel
1.5 1.25 1.25
Point earning for travel
3X 2X 3X
Point earning for dining 3x 3x 1x
Misc other perks Better (Priority Pass for example) Limited Limited
Travel protection
Best Good Good
Purchase protection Better
(return protection)
Good  Better
(cell phone protection)

Deciding between these and other cards

a close up of a credit card

This post was specifically designed to compare Chase Ultimate Rewards cards that allow transferring points to airline and hotel partners.  If you’re interested in looking more broadly at which cards are worth their annual fees, please see: Which Premium Cards are Keepers?

My Take

I highly value the ability to earn 3x for travel spend.  That eliminates the Sapphire Preferred from contention.  So, then, the question for me is whether to keep the Sapphire Reserve or get the Ink Business Preferred?  Between the two, the Sapphire Reserve offers better travel protections and so I’ve decided to stick with the Sapphire Reserve.  For my full thoughts about this, see: Chase Sapphire Reserve: Should I keep it?

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