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Review

2020 Review: Chase Sapphire Reserve – The Best Premium Travel Card?

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness May 12, 2020 | Updated Jun 30, 2020
Our rating
Min. credit level: Excellent
Annual Fee: $550
Regular APR: 16.99%-23.99% Variable

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Excellent Min. credit level
How To Apply Jump to Alternatives

Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

We gave the Chase Sapphire Reserve® 5 out of 5 Stars because it’s one of the most rewarding travel credit cards that’s not tied to a particular airline or hotel.

Why We Like It

  • Earns points for all kinds of travel purchases, as well as dining
  • A large signup bonus
  • 50% point bonus for redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Point transfers to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • A large annual travel credit that covers just about every kind of travel expense
  • Unlimited access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges
  • A Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Special benefits and discounts through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Why It Could Be Better

  • It’s got a high annual fee, making this card best for regular travelers
  • You have to redeem for travel expenses or point transfers to get the best value for your points

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$550
Regular APR16.99%-23.99% Variable

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a high-end metal travel rewards credit card, designed for frequent travelers with excellent credit. It could be a great way to save some money and have a better time overall while away from home.

This is a general-purpose travel card, meaning it’s not associated with a single airline or hotel chain. Instead, it provides 3X points per dollar for travel expenses and dining at restaurants. You’ll get a 50% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or you can transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to a variety of travel partners, where they might be worth even more.

There’s a $550 annual fee to pay, but you’ll get a number of great benefits and perks to make this card worthwhile. Those include a $300 annual travel credit, unlimited access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges, and complimentary services at certain hotels and resorts.

If you’re not a frequent traveler, the high annual fee might put this card out of reach. If that’s you, check out some good but less-expensive travel cards.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible card accounts approved from 1/1/20 through 3/31/20, the period to make eligible purchases to earn the welcome bonus will be extended for an additional three months.

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • Ideal for travel and dining: Use this card for all travel and dining purchases to maximize your rewards.
  • Reach the welcome bonus: Get the 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening, worth a good chunk when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Utilize the annual credit: Your $300 annual travel credit will be automatically applied to any eligible purchases — just sit back and watch your balance fall.
  • Be aware of the different redemption methods: Redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards or by transferring to a travel partner to get the highest value for them.
  • Take advantage of the airport lounges: Enjoy free WiFi, snacks, and other services with unlimited access to Priority Pass airport lounges around the world.
  • Get through TSA faster: Get free expedited screening at airports with a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Limit your high-end travel cards: You probably don’t need more than one travel card with a high annual fee in your wallet, whether it’s this card or one of its top competitors, because they tend to have similar benefits.

The Rewards

This card earns the equivalent of 1% to 4.5% cash back on purchases with the normal redemption methods, depending how you earn and redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you transfer points you can find better deals, which could give a 6% cash back equivalent or more.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel (after the full travel credit is used)
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

Ultimate Rewards points are typically worth 1 cent each. But if you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel expenses you’ll get a 50% bonus, so they’ll be worth 1.5 cents each.

That means you’ll be earning the equivalent of 4.5% cash back when spending in the 3X categories, or 1.5% cash back for other purchases. And 15% back on Lyft!

Since this card has a $300 travel credit, you won’t earn any Ultimate Rewards points on the first $300 in travel purchases. But you’ll immediately start earning 3X points on travel purchases after you’ve used up the full $300 travel credit.

The Sapphire Reserve provides its rewards for general travel expenses, so you can earn points for any related purchases. That covers your initial reservations, plus any other eligible purchases you make while traveling. Some other cards are more limited, like The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review), which has reward categories that are only useful for booking travel in certain ways.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible card accounts approved from 1/1/20 through 3/31/20, the period to make eligible purchases to earn the welcome bonus will be extended for an additional three months.

Redeeming

There are several options for redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points:

  1. Ultimate Rewards travel portal: Chase gives a 50% point bonus when you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, giving you a value of 1.5 cents per point.
  2. Transfer to travel partners: You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 rate to a number of travel partners, where their value will vary (this can be your best option).
  3. Statement credit: Redemptions for statement credits will provide a value of 1 cent per point.
  4. Gift cards: Gift cards will provide different values for your points, usually 1 cent per point or less.
  5. Pay with Points with Chase Pay: You can use your points to pay for purchases at certain merchants, like Amazon, but you’ll only get 0.8 cents per point.

The easiest way to redeem your points will probably be through Chase Ultimate Rewards, getting that 50% point bonus. You can use them to pay for:

  • Flights
  • Hotel rooms
  • Car rentals
  • Cruises
  • Select activities

There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions when booking through Ultimate Rewards, although you may find blackout dates with some travel partners.

Redeeming through Ultimate Rewards can provide a good value, but you can find an even better deal through a point transfer. Below, we go through an example showing how you can get a cash back equivalent of 6.8%. But the value you get will vary depending on the way you use your points after transferring.

We do not recommend redeeming for statement credits, gift cards, or by paying with points, because you can get more for your points elsewhere.

Airline Partners
Aer Lingus AerClub British Airways Executive Club Emirates Skywards Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards United MileagePlus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotel Partners
IHG Rewards Club Marriott Bonvoy World of Hyatt

Point Transfer Example

Let’s say you want to fly from Burbank, California, to San Antonio, Texas. We can fly United, and can take a MileagePlus Saver Award flight to get an even better deal than usual.

We’ll take a one-way economy-class flight, on Monday, March 26th. This trip would normally cost $289. Or, you can take a Saver Award flight for 12,500 miles, plus $80.60.

So how much do you need to spend to earn this flight? Since the transfer rate is 1:1, you need to earn 12,500 points with your card. It will take $4,167 in spending to earn that many points at the 3X rate (it will take more spending if you earn at a lower rate).

Once you earn the points, you can convert them to United MileagePlus miles and then book your flight.

In this example you spend $4,167 to earn the points, and then an extra $80.60 for the flight. That’s a total of $4,247.60.

That gets you a flight valued at $289, which means you’re getting a cash back equivalent of 6.8%. That’s quite good, and its even better than the 4.5% you can get through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Your points are worth about 1.6 cents each in this particular transfer example. But keep in mind that different transfers will provide different values, and you may end up with a better or worse deal. United is typically one of the better redemption options, with its Saver Award flight routes, but you can find similar deals with other airlines.

With some effort (and patience) you can probably find deals giving you 2 cents per point or more!

The Benefits

The extra perks and protections you’ll get with this card are pretty comprehensive, and are comparable to other high-end travel cards. These are just some of the most interesting features, so check your Guide to Benefits for more details when you get your card, or delve into our favorite Sapphire Reserve benefits to learn how they help make this card worth the premium price tag.

  • $300 annual travel credit: You’ll get a $300 travel credit every year that will be automatically applied to any travel-related expenses you charge to your card.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Cardholders get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to over 1,000 airport lounges and restaurants worldwide. You must manually activate this benefit, and you’ll receive a Priority Pass Select member card in the mail.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Every four years you’ll get up to a $100 credit towards the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85).
  • Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection provides some complimentary services and benefits at participating hotels and resorts.
  • Elite hotel benefits at Relais & Châteaux: Cardholders get accelerated progress towards Club 5C member status with Relais & Châteaux luxury hotel and resort properties; just stay two nights at qualifying properties in a 12-month period. Club 5C status provides benefits like a VIP welcome, room upgrades, access to a unique experience at each property, and invitations to exclusive events. You must book using the Visa Infinite Concierge.
  • Visa Infinite Concierge: Call 1-877-660-0905 for non-emergency help of all kinds, like making dinner reservations or finding good tickets to a show. You can also ask for travel recommendations, for flights, tourist attractions, the best shopping spots, restaurants, night clubs, etc. This benefit is probably most useful when visiting a new city.
  • Special car rental privileges: You can access your special car rental privileges by logging in to Chase Ultimate Rewards and following the instructions to enroll. You’ll get perks at Avis, Silvercar, and National Car Rental like rental upgrades, discounts, and occasional promotional offers.
  • Lyft Pink membership: One-year exclusive saving opportunities with Lyft Pink membership, providing 15% off rides, relaxed cancellation fees, priority dispatch at airports, and more
  • DoorDash membership, $60 annual DoorDash credit: Chase will pay for a DoorDash subscription for two years (a DashPass). You’ll also get $60 in DoorDash credits in 2020, and $60 in 2021.
  • Shopping protections: Purchase protection, extended warranty protection, and return protection
  • Travel protections: Primary auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside assistance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance, and emergency evacuation & transportation

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
16.99%-23.99% Variable 16.99%-23.99% Variable 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$550 $0
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None Up to $39 Up to $39

Since this is a card designed for frequent travelers, no foreign transaction fee is expected (see other great travel cards without foreign transaction fees). The biggest cost that stands out is the annual fee.

Authorized users will each cost $75 per year.

The Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the most impressive general-purpose travel rewards credit cards, with a very enticing offer.

The annual fee is pretty high, but if you travel enough you’ll be able to offset it with the perks and points you’ll earn. The 3X category is very broad, so you can use it to earn points both while booking travel and for extra expenses as you go.

You should redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards or for point transfers to get the best value, but that shouldn’t be hard for frequent travelers.

Make use of as many benefits as you can, especially the travel credit. The airport lounge access should make your trips more comfortable, and having expedited security screening could save you a headache or two. Don’t forget about the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, to make your stays a bit more pleasant as well, and the host of protections that cover you in case something goes wrong.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a valuable set of rewards and benefits, but it’s not the only premium travel credit card on the market. Check out some of those other cards below, one of which might be a better fit.

Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Want to apply now for this card? Just click below to apply securely on Chase’s website.

This card is made of metal, and you won’t need to request that when you apply. There is no plastic version.

Many applicants will get an instant response, but in some cases it could take longer. Chase may request more information from you.

Insider tip
If you have a different Chase Sapphire card you may be able to request a product change to the Sapphire Reserve. Call the number on the back of your card to make this request, although there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved. Currently, the only other Sapphire card you can apply for is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review).

What Credit Scores Do You Need for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is designed for people with excellent credit.

If you have a minimum score of 740 for FICO (the “very good” level) and you’re in the range of 750–850 for VantageScore, you’ll have a good shot at being approved.

However, if you have lower credit scores than what are recommended you may still be approved. Or, even if you have high enough credit scores, you might not be accepted. Approval relies on more than just credit scores, including factors like income.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal information: Name, date of birth, Social Security number
  • Address and contact information: Home address, phone number, email address
  • Financial information: Total annual income, type of residence, monthly mortgage or rent payment

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$550
Regular APR16.99%-23.99% Variable
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Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee $550
Regular APR N/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) features top-tier perks and benefits along with rewards focused on the Amex Travel service.

These cards differ quite a bit in their annual credits. The $200 airline credit you get with the Platinum can only be used for incidental fees at one airline you have to choose ahead of time, unlike the $300 credit you’ll get with the Reserve. The latter can be used for anything travel related.

There’s also $200 in annual Uber credits with the Platinum, compared to the Reserve’s Lyft Pink membership. The Lyft membership could be worth around $240, but it’s hard to say the true value someone may get out of it, based on how often they’ll use Lyft.

When you take those various credits into account, and subtract them from the annual fees, they effectively drop to about $150 for the Platinum and $250 for the Reserve. But, depending on how much you’d utilize the Lyft membership, the Reserve’s could be considered even lower. And keep in mind there are plenty of other benefits to factor in, so your valuation may be different.

The airport lounge access you’ll get with the Platinum is considerably better than what you would get with the Reserve, providing a Priority Pass Select membership along with entry to Delta Sky Clubs and exclusive Centurion Lounges, among others.

The elite hotel statuses provided by the Platinum are likely to be more valuable too, as they include a wider collection of affordable hotels: Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton, rather than the fancy Relais & Châteaux.

Read more about these two high-end travel cards in our comparison guide: the Sapphire Reserve vs. the Amex Platinum.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel
    • Eligible hotels booked with Amex Travel
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on other eligible purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar spent everywhere else
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

Although the Platinum card is a bit more limited, it can end up being more rewarding overall. You’ll be able to earn the equivalent of 5% cash back through the normal redemption methods, when earning at the 5X rate. And point transfers could provide even more than that, up to 10% cash back or more.

The Amex Platinum only provides these 5X rates when booking travel. If you have any incidental charges by airlines or hotels, like food while traveling, it won’t be included in the bonus categories. The Sapphire Reserve’s 3X category will cover all of those purchases.

  • Global Lounge Collection: Provides access to a wide variety of lounge brands, such as Centurion, Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Club.
  • $200 airline fee credit: Get a $200 airline fee credit for incidental fees at one airline of your choice every year.
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓: Receive $100 as a statement credit to pay for the application fee for Global Entry every four years, or $85 for TSA PreCheck every four-and-a-half years.
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts Program: You’ll get room upgrades when available, daily breakfasts for two, complimentary WiFi, and more.
  • The Hotel Collection: A $100 hotel credit for every eligible two-night stay
  • Hilton Honors Gold status: Stay at hotels within the Hilton portfolio and get benefits like room upgrades, your 5th night free, and an 80% bonus on base points earned.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status: Receive perks like room upgrades, late checkout, and a 25% bonus on base points earned.
  • $200 in Uber credits each year: A statement credit for up to $15 in Uber rides (or Uber Eats) each month, except for December, which has a $35 credit
  • $100 annual Saks credit: Get statement credits for Saks Fifth Avenue every year: up to $50 from January to June, and up to $50 from July to December.
  • Platinum Dining program: Snag coveted reservations by calling your concierge service and selecting “Dining” from the menu.
  • Amex Offers: Receive discounts and extra point offers from dozens of participating merchants.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $550
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Citi Prestige® Card

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
Annual Fee $495
Regular APR 17.99%–24.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Citi Prestige® Card (Review) is similar in quite a few ways to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The rewards program here offers 5X points on dining and air travel, better than the Reserve. And hotels get 3X points, the same rate.

There are a few differences in their benefits, however. The Prestige offers a 4th free night at any hotel, when you book four consecutive nights. That’s a pretty valuable, and versatile, perk, potentially worth over $1,000 per year if you stay somewhere fancy.

The annual travel credit the Prestige provides ($250) is slightly less than the credit offered by the Reserve, though it is equally as flexible. When you subtract the Prestige’s credit from its annual fee, it effectively drops to $245.

That’s just about even with the offset fee of $250 for the Reserve after its $300 credit. But the Reserve’s effective annual fee could be considered to be even lower, depending on how often you take advantage of its Lyft membership, and the Prestige’s may change based on how you value its perks.

Overall, the Sapphire Reserve probably has the better set of extra benefits. But if you book a lot of long hotel stays of four nights or more, the Prestige card could save you quite a bit of money.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • Air travel
    • Restaurants
  • 3X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • Hotels
    • Cruise lines
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 ThankYou points for spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

The value you get for your ThankYou points will vary depending on how you redeem them. If you consider points to be worth about 1.25 cents each via point transfers, a reasonable value, you’ll be getting an equivalent of 6.25% cash back in the 5X category. The 3X category will provide an equivalent of 3.75% cash back.

This isn’t as much as what you can get through the normal redemption methods with the Sapphire Reserve. But, like the Sapphire Reserve, the value you get will depend on how you use your points.

  • Point transfer: To a variety of transfer partners, including Etihad Guest, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Annual $250 travel credit: Good for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, and other travel expenses
  • Complimentary 4th Night Stay: Get your fourth night free when booking four nights in a row through ThankYou.com and paying with your card, ThankYou points, or a combination of both. Capped at twice per year.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership: Access to over 1,000 Priority Pass airport lounges and restaurants around the world
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: A credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85), once every five years
  • Citi Prestige Concierge: Call for non-emergency help any time you need it.
  • World Elite Car Rental Program: Elite memberships at Avis, Silvercar, and National Car Rental
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 17.99%–24.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $495
  • 5X ThankYou points on Air travel and Restaurants
  • 3X ThankYou points on Hotels and Cruise Lines
  • No limit to the amount of points you can earn
  • Rewards never expire
  • $250 travel credit
  • Complimentary 4th night free on eligible hotel stays, capped at twice per year
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ Application Fee Credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $495 annual fee

The information related to Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Min. credit level Good
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee $250
Regular APR N/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The American Express® Gold Card (Review) features plenty of useful amenities for the frequent traveler.

The travel credit you’ll get here is $200 less than what the Reserve offers, at just $100, and can only be used for incidental fees at a single airline you choose ahead of time.

The Gold Card is a bit more food-focused than the Reserve, offering a $120 dining credit as well as earning 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent per year).

While the Gold Card has a lower annual fee than the Reserve, after you take the credits into account, they effectively drop the Gold Card’s fee to just $30.

There are no hotel memberships included with the Gold Card. Instead, you’ll get access to The Hotel Collection, which provides a $100 credit per stay and room upgrades (when available) at a larger swath of hotels than the more narrow-focused hotel membership the Reserve features.

The Gold Card could still save you some money compared to the Reserve if you don’t expect to spend a lot on hotels while traveling, focusing instead on groceries and dining out.

Spending Rewards
  • 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
    • Restaurants
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent annually)
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly through airlines or American Express Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 35,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • $100 annual airline credit: A $100 credit for incidental fees when you fly, like airline meals or checked baggage fees. You must select a qualifying airline ahead of time to use the credit.
  • $120 annual dining credit: Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express Gold Card at participating restaurants and merchants, including Grubhub, Seamless, and Boxed.
  • The Hotel Collection: Get a $100 credit for qualifying charges per stay, and room upgrades when available.
  • Lowest Hotel Rates Guarantee: If you find your room being advertised for a lesser price you can be reimbursed for the difference.
  • The Travel Collection: Join the Travel Collection at no additional cost and access discounts and perks at select hotels, airlines, and car rental companies.
  • Gold Card Destinations: Get a $100 credit on eligible new bookings of vacation packages and cruises that cost at least $3,000.
  • Entertainment Access: You’ll be eligible for exclusive access to ticket presales and cardmember-only events.
  • American Express Preferred Seating: You can get premium seats for concerts, sporting events, and more.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Enroll in ShopRunner to get free two-day shipping and returns with select retailers.
  • Shopping protections: Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Travel protections: Personalized travel service, baggage insurance plan, global assist hotline, rental car insurance, and more
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $250
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Mastercard® Black Card™

Our rating
Min. credit level Excellent
Details
Annual Fee $495
Regular APR 14.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review) is here, uniquely, to provide a foil for the other high-end travel cards.

Whereas the other cards provide a good deal of value for their annual fees, the Black Card stands apart. Despite its $495 annual fee, it doesn’t provide much in the way of rewards.

It does offer a few useful perks, like a $100 annual travel credit and Priority Pass membership, but the credit is far less than what the Reserve offers. Unfortunately, there’s little value to the Black Card’s perks behind that.

There’s an intro balance transfer APR, but this isn’t a card to get if you’re looking for a place to stick a balance (see better cards for that). While the design is sleek and metal, there’s little else beyond aesthetic value here. You’d get much more bang for your buck by choosing another top-tier travel card.

Spending Rewards
  • 1X point per dollar on every purchase

But wait, maybe those points are worth $5 each? Nope. :-(

They’ll be worth:

  • 2 cents per point when redeemed for airfare
  • 1.5 cents per point when redeemed as a statement credit or direct deposit
  • 1 cent per point when redeemed for gift cards or merchandise

That means you can earn a maximum of 2% cash back with this card. That’s all you’ll get for the high fee, and it certainly doesn’t seem worth it.

  • $100 airline credit: This annual $100 airline credit can be applied to travel expenses like airfare, baggage fees, and in-flight purchases.
  • Global Entry credit: A $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that provides expedited entry to the U.S. (it can include TSA PreCheck)
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Get unlimited visits and free guests at Priority Pass airport lounges, with no need to call in advance (unlimited free guests is a rare gem; you’re typically limited to only two).
  • Luxury Card Concierge: Personal 24/7 concierge service; you can call or chat live through the Luxury Card app
  • VIP Hotel & Travel benefits: Access to numerous discounts and amenities at a variety of different properties
  • Mastercard Priceless Program: Exclusive access to invitation-only events
  • Purchase APR: 14.99% Variable
  • Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months, then 14.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $495
  • Patented black PVD metal card—weighing 22 grams.
  • 2% value for airfare redemptions with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • 1.5% value for cash back redemptions.
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge®—available by phone, email and live mobile chat.
  • Exclusive Luxury Card Travel® benefits (e.g., amenities, room upgrades and complimentary food and beverages).
  • Up to $100 annual airline credit and $100 Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check application fee credit.
  • Cell Phone Protection, Lyft credits, Postmates discounts, Fandango perks and more.
  • Annual fee: $495 ($195 for each Authorized User).
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$550
Regular APR16.99%-23.99% Variable

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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

At a glance

The Chase Sapphire Reserve features top-tier benefits and perks designed to make your traveling experiences a bit better all around. There’s a high annual fee, but you’ll get an annual travel credit, airport lounge access, and perks to help your stays away from home feel more comfortable.

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