Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Mar 26, 2018 | Updated Apr 18, 2018

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is a high-end metal travel rewards credit card, designed for frequent travelers with excellent credit. If you spend more than about $3,300 on travel per year, this card 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, letting you earn the equivalent of up to 4.5% cash back there. Or you can transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to a variety of travel partners, where they might be worth even more.

You’ll have a $450 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 will make this card cost more than it’s worth. If that’s you, check out some good but less-expensive travel cards.

Or, keep reading all about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and see how it can enhance your travel experience.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Apply Now

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450 ($75 for additional cards)
  • Interest Rate: 17.49%–24.49% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 3X points on travel and dining worldwide
  • 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months
  • 1:1 point transfer to airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • $300 annual credit for travel expenses
  • $100 Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application credit
  • Visa Infinite Concierge
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection
  • Travel and Shopping protections
  • $450 annual fee
  • 17.24–24.24% APR Variable

The information for Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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 this card

  • Offers points for all kinds of travel purchases, as well as dining
  • A very large signup bonus
  • 50% point bonus for redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • A large annual travel credit that covers every kind of travel expense
  • Unlimited access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges
  • Special benefits and discounts through the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

Why this card could be better

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

There are several premium travel cards, all with different rewards programs and benefits. Check out some alternatives to the Sapphire Reserve below.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Use this card for all travel and dining purchases to maximize your rewards.
  • Spend $4,000 in the first 3 months to earn 50,000 bonus points, worth $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Make use of the full $300 travel credit every year to get the most out of this card.
  • Redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards or by transferring to a travel partner to get the highest value for them.
  • Enjoy free WiFi, snacks, and other services with unlimited access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges around the world.
  • Get free expedited screening at airports with a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.
  • 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 points. We’ve also found deals of about 6% cash back equivalent through certain point transfers.

Earning

  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • travel (airfare, hotels, car rentals, taxis, etc.)
    • dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Referral bonus: 10,000 bonus points for each friend you refer who gets the Sapphire Reserve card, up to 50,000 points per year
  • 50% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Your points will typically be 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.

Your signup bonus of 50,000 points will be worth $750 when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Or you may be able to get more for them with a point transfer (see below).

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 American Express Platinum Card, which has reward categories that are only useful for booking travel in certain ways.

Redeeming

There are several options for redeeming the Ultimate Rewards points you’ll earn with the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  1. Ultimate Rewards travel portal: Chase gives a 50% point bonus when you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, giving you an effective 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.
  3. Statement credit: When you redeem your points as a statement credit you’ll get 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’ll be able to use them to pay for:

  • flights
  • hotel rooms
  • car rentals
  • cruises
  • select activities

No matter which option you redeem them for, you’ll always get 1.5 cents per point through Chase Ultimate Rewards. 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 might 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Partners

Airline Travel Partners
Aer Lingus AerClub British Airways Executive Club Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM Iberia Plus Korean Air SKYPASS
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® United MileagePlus® Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotel Travel Partners
IHG® Rewards Club Marriott Rewards® The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® 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 not bad, 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 lesser rate. United is typically one of the better redemption options, with their Saver Award flight routes, but you can find similar deals with other airlines.

How to Offset the Annual Fee

This card has a $450 annual fee, so you’ll need to use it enough to make it worth the cost.

First off, you’ll get a $300 statement credit to use towards travel every year. If you use all of it that will cover most of the annual fee, leaving you with only $150 to make up.

The amount you’ll need to spend to offset the remaining $150 will vary. It will depend on the rate at which you earn points, and how you redeem them.

If you earn at the highest rate of 3X and redeem for a good value, you won’t need to spend very much. But if you earn at the 1X rate and use a method that provides a poor value, you’ll have to spend much more.

The following table shows how much you’ll need to spend to earn $150 at each rate, and with each redemption method. As you can see, you can offset what remains of the annual fee with as little as $3,125 in spending.

Redemption Method 3X 1X
Chase Ultimate Rewards (1.5 cents per point) $3,334 $10,000
Point Transfer (1.6 cents per point) $3,125 $9,375
Statement Credit (1 cent per point) $5,000 $15,000

Redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards will take a minimum of $3,334. This method might be easiest for most people, rather than trying to find a great point transfer deal.

These are just the amounts you’ll need to spend to offset the annual fee. But you’ll probably want to use the card more than that to get more value from it.

In this example we didn’t take into account some of the other cost-saving benefits you’ll be getting, like hotel and resort upgrades, complimentary access to airport lounges, rental car services, and the airport screening credit. You’ve also got the signup bonus, worth $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards, which would offset the $150 for five years. So if you spend more than this example and make good use of your extra perks, you’ll be able to make your card even more profitable every year.

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.

$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.

This is a better benefit than the travel credits you’ll find on some other premium travel cards because it’s so inclusive. Some others, like the Amex Platinum, provide airline credits but they don’t cover ticket prices, only incidental fees. The Sapphire Reserve’s credit covers tickets as well as all other travel purchases.

You should aim to use this credit in full every year to help offset the annual fee of this card.

Priority Pass Select Membership

Cardholders get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. You must manually activate this benefit, and you’ll receive a Priority Pass Select member card in the mail.

Some other expensive travel cards offer this same benefit. But the Amex Platinum comes with probably the best lounge access, covering Priority Pass Select along with The Centurion® Lounge, International Amex Lounges, Delta Sky Club, and more.

Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection

The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection provides some complimentary services and benefits at participating hotels and resorts.

These perks include:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • A special gift, unique to each property
  • Free WiFi
  • Room upgrades when available
  • Early check-in
  • Late check-out

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee Credit

Global Entry ($100) and TSA Pre✓ ($85) are programs that provide expedited screening at airports.

You’ll get a statement credit for the application fee for either one of these programs. You’ll get up to $100 to pay for this fee, once every four years. Global Entry includes TSA Pre✓, but the two services differ in some ways.

Most of the high-end travel cards have this benefit, or something like it.

Elite Hotel Benefits at Relais & Châteaux

Cardholders get accelerated progress towards Club 5C member status with Relais & Châteaux luxury hotel and resort properties. Club 5C status provides benefits like a VIP welcome, room upgrades, access to a unique experience at each property, and invitations to exclusive events.

By staying only 2 nights at qualifying properties in a 12-month period, you’ll be able to enroll for Club 5C benefits. You must book the stay or stays using the Visa Infinite Concierge.

Visa Infinite Concierge

Call 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, like for flights, tourist attractions, the best shopping spots, restaurants, night clubs, etc. This benefit is probably most useful when visiting a new city.

To reach the Visa Infinite Concierge, call: 1-877-660-0905. If you’re outside the U.S., call collect: 1-312-800-4290.

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 certain car rental companies like rental upgrades, discounts, and occasional promotional offers.

The participating rental companies are:

  • Avis
  • Silvercar
  • National Car Rental

Chase Experiences®

Provides access to interesting sports, entertainment, and dining events, plus travel opportunities and other experiences.

Currently, some of the offers include:

  • An invitation to the premier of the movie Ready Player One.
  • Special VIP packages to the 2018 PGA Championship and the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.
  • A special VIP preferred pricing package to the 2018 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco.
  • Custom dining experiences at acclaimed restaurants through the Private Dining Series.

Other Benefits

We’ve only described the Sapphire Reserve’s most interesting and valuable perks above. But there are quite a few other protections that come with the card, covering everything from shopping to travel.

Some of those are:

  • Purchase Protection to cover eligible items against damage and theft
  • Price Protection to provide reimbursement for eligible items when you paid more than was necessary
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance to help out if something unforeseen happens on a trip
  • Emergency Medical and Dental Protection to provide reimbursement if you get hurt while away from home
  • Trip Delay Reimbursement … to provide reimbursement if your trip is delayed!

You can check out the full set of benefits for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And be sure to see your Guide to Benefits for details on how to use your card features.

The Costs & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
17.49%–24.49% Variable 17.49%–24.49% Variable 26.49% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$450 ($75 for additional cards)  0% 5% ($5 min) 5% ($10 min)
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Terms Up to $37 Up to $37

Since this is a card designed for frequent travelers, no foreign transaction fee is expected. The biggest cost that stands out is the $450 annual fee.

When considering this card, or evaluating whether you should keep this card, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting $450 in value out of it each year at the very least. We’ve shown above how you can offset the annual fee by paying around $3,300 per year or less.

Authorized users will each cost $75 per year. If you have any authorized users you’ll need to spend more to offset the total annual fees.

You’ll be charged interest at the rate above if you revolve a balance from month to month. But, as always, we recommend setting up automatic payments for your full statement balance each month to avoid interest completely. This is good for your credit utilization and it helps you stay out of credit card debt.

Customer Support

Phone Support

Chase Customer Support

1-800-432-3117

1-302-594-8200 (outside U.S., call collect)

Visa Infinite Concierge

1-877-660-0905

1-312-800-4290 (outside U.S., call collect)

Chase has fairly good customer support, in our experience. Lately they’ve been coming in around the middle of the pack compared to other issuers, according to the latest J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study, from 2017.

Sapphire Reserve cardholders should get better-than-average customer support. According to Chase, you’ll get a “dedicated specialist” who will be ready to help 24/7.

There’s also the Visa Infinite Concierge, which can help you out in a variety of other ways, besides just account management. You can call the concierge for assistance of many kinds, like if you’re bored or unsure where to eat while visiting a new city.

Web Support

Twitter @ChaseSupport

When looking for the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll find that Chase has devoted at least a few different pages to it. This might make the card look a bit sparse, without many benefits, depending on what you end up seeing.

So you may need to search a bit to find all the details for the card. Or you could just read through our review, where we’ve collected everything you need to know.

Anyone can reach Chase on Twitter, @ChaseSupport. Be sure not to reveal any personal or account information on Twitter. Chase cardholders can also access a secure message system, where they can usually expect a response for their messages within a few business days.

The Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card 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 points you’ll earn, along with the perks. 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’ll need to 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 extra benefits as you can, especially the $300 travel credit. The airport lounge access should make your trips more comfortable, and having expedited 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.

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 better for you.

Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Want to apply for this card? Just click the Apply Now button below. Chase will check your Equifax credit report to process the application.

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.

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 is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (Review).

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Personal information, including SSN, residence, and phone number
  • Annual income and source of income
  • Monthly mortgage payment/rent
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Apply Now

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450 ($75 for additional cards)
  • Interest Rate: 17.49%–24.49% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 3X points on travel and dining worldwide
  • 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months
  • 1:1 point transfer to airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • $300 annual credit for travel expenses
  • $100 Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application credit
  • Visa Infinite Concierge
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection
  • Travel and Shopping protections
  • $450 annual fee
  • 17.24–24.24% APR Variable

The information for Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express (Review) has a different kind of rewards program, centered for the most part around the Amex Travel service. But you’ll have a few more options than that too, along with some great benefits.

Rewards

  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
    • eligible hotels booked with the American Express Travel portal
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar on other purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Signup Bonus: 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months after account opening

Unlike the Sapphire Reserve, this card’s bonus categories are limited to certain types of travel purchases. Namely, flights and hotel stays. That will probably cover most travel expenses for most people, but it’s not as broad as the Chase card.

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.

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 7% cash back or more.

Benefits

The Amex Platinum has a valuable selection of extra benefits, different in a few important ways from the Sapphire Reserve.

Cardholders get a $200 airline fee credit, which is good for incidental charges only, like food and luggage — not ticket costs. So this is quite a bit more limited than the $300 travel credit you get with the Sapphire Reserve, but if you fly often enough you can probably make full use of it each year.

There’s also $200 in annual Uber credits. $15 of credit is available each month, except for December which gets $35.

The Platinum card provides much better airport lounge access. Not only does it include Priority Pass Select, like the Sapphire Reserve, it also includes:

  • The Centurion Lounge
  • American Express International Lounge
  • Airspace Lounge
  • Delta Sky Club
  • Escape Lounge

So you’ll have a much wider selection with this card.

Platinum cardholders also get complimentary Gold elite member status with Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors. This will provide better treatment and complimentary services at a very wide variety of hotels and resorts around the world. The Sapphire Reserve offers a fast track to Club 5C status with Relais & Châteaux, but that’s the only similar perk.

Each card provides a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre√. And they share some of the same other benefits, like hotel discounts and a concierge service.

Costs & Fees

The Platinum card is more expensive, at $550 per year.

It’s also a charge card, which means that you’ll need to pay the balance in full each billing period. However, you may also get an option to pay off certain purchases over time at an interest rate.

You can offset the annual fee by spending as little as $3,000 per year, depending on how you earn and redeem points. But that assumes you can make full use of both the airline credit and the Uber credit.

If you mainly buy flights and hotel rooms, and can expect to do all your travel spending through Amex Travel, you’ll be able to get a lot out of this card. But if you have more varied spending from many different services, the Sapphire Reserve will probably be more useful for you.

Cit Prestige Card

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

Rewards

  • 3X ThankYou points per dollar at:
    • airlines
    • hotels
    • travel agencies
  • 2X ThankYou points per dollar on:
    • dining
    • entertainment
  • 1X ThankYou point per dollar on all other purchases

This rewards program covers several categories that you’ll find on the Sapphire Reserve. The 3X category here is quite broad, though the general “travel” category of the Sapphire Reserve will cover a few more situations (like car rentals, for example).

The Prestige Card only offers 2X points on dining, but it also includes the entertainment category, which the Chase card doesn’t have. This covers sports, movies, tourist attractions, and even on-demand internet streaming media, like Netflix, among other purchases.

The value you get for your ThankYou points will vary depending on how you redeem them. If you consider a point to be worth about 1.25 cents each, a reasonable value, you’ll be getting an equivalent of 3.75% cash back in the 3X category. The 2X category will provide an equivalent of 2.5% cash back.

This isn’t as much as what you can get through the normal redemption methods with the Sapphire Reserve. But you can also transfer your points to travel partners, where you may find better deals.

Benefits

The Citi Prestige has a great benefit that the other premium travel cards lack. When booking through ThankYou.com or the Citi Prestige Concierge, cardholders will get their 4th night free on hotel bookings of four nights or more.

This perk has the potential to be very valuable because it’s available for every hotel stay you book. This could save you hundreds of dollars per year, depending on how much you travel. While other cards may offer a free night stay or two, it’s rare to find a repeatable benefit like this.

Prestige cardholders also get a few other benefits that are similar to the Sapphire Reserve’s. A $250 airline fee credit is included which is good for all costs, including flight tickets and incidental fees. That’s not quite as useful as the Chase card’s $300 general travel credit, but it’s still pretty good.

Unlimited access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges is provided, along with a fee credit for Global Entry. That’s almost exactly the same as the Sapphire Reserve, although TSA PreCheck√ isn’t included. But that’s not a huge deal really, because Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck√.

You’ll also get some complimentary services and discounts at select hotels, much like the Chase card. 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.

Costs & Fees

The costs and fees of these cards are pretty much the same. They both have an annual fee of $450, with no fee for foreign transactions. If you’re earning points and getting a 3.75% cash back equivalent, as we saw above, it would take $12,000 in spending to offset that fee. But, depending on how much value you get from the 4th night free benefit, the actual amount you need to spend to offset the annual fee could be much less.

The main difference is that the Prestige will only charge $50 per year for each authorized user, while the Sapphire Reserve will charge $75.

Premium Airline and Hotel Credit Cards

The Sapphire Reserve is a general-use travel card, good for spending with any hotel, airline, travel service, etc. But some other cards are designed differently, co-branded with particular airlines or hotels. They’re meant to be used mostly with that one brand, where they’ll provide the best rewards and benefits.

If there’s one airline or hotel that you love more than all the others, you should consider a co-branded card. Let’s take a look at one airline card example, and one hotel card example.

Airline Credit Card

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is made for flying with American Airlines. It provides:

  • 2X miles per dollar spent with American Airlines
  • 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 50,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

If you value each mile at about 1.5 cents, that will give you a cash back equivalent of about 3% when spending at American Airlines. This isn’t terribly rewarding. But the value you get for your miles will vary depending on how you redeem them. Cardholders can take advantage of special MileSAAVer® awards to find better deals, saving up to 7,500 miles on round trips.

The extra benefits are mostly centered around American Airlines. You’ll get membership in the Admirals Club®, which features some complimentary food and amenities. An “enhanced airport experience” is provided, which includes Priority Boarding along with early check-in and screening.

A 25% discount is offered for inflight purchases, such as of food and drinks. And cardholders get a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck√, just like the Sapphire Reserve offers.

There’s a $450 annual fee for this card, which seems a bit expensive for the rewards and benefits you’ll get. In most cases the Sapphire Reserve would probably end up being the more rewarding option, because its bonus category will cover airline purchases plus more, and the benefits are better too. But the Executive World Elite card won’t charge an extra fee for the first 10 authorized users. So, if this feature is very important to you, it may be a good option.

Hotel Credit Card

Let’s look at a high-end hotel card, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. If you often find yourself staying at Hilton properties, you’re going to love seeing how many points you can earn with this card:

  • 14X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at participating hotels and resorts in the Hilton Portfolio
    • plus an additional 15X Base Points per dollar
  • 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar at:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
    • Car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
    • U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Hilton Honors Bonus Points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Signup bonus: 100,000 Bonus Points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of card membership

That means you’ll be getting a total of 29X points per dollar when spending at Hilton properties. That’s quite a rewarding offer, even though Hilton Honors points aren’t worth quite as much as the points in some other programs (you get a lot of them to make up for it).

The value you get for your points will depend on how you redeem them, which is true for many travel cards. When earning at that high rate, we’ve found that you can get a cash back equivalent of 16% or more when redeeming for free night stays. And we’ve found values of over 18% cash back when redeeming for your 5th night free.

So this card can potentially be very rewarding, but it’s only made for frequent Hilton guests. It comes with several cost-saving benefits, like a $100 on-property Hilton credit, good for every eligible stay of two nights or more. That could end up saving you quite a bit of money over time, depending on how often you’re able to use it.

Not only that, there’s a $250 annual Hilton resort credit, which is only good at resort properties. And there’s also a $250 airline credit to cover your flights, which is only good for incidental airline costs (not tickets).

Cardholders get two free weekend nights per year. The first night is available whenever you’d like, but the second night only becomes available after spending $60,000 with the card in a given year.

The Aspire card offers unlimited access to Priority Pass Select airport lounges, just like the Sapphire Reserve. It does not offer a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck√.

As you can see, this is a very rewarding card, even with its $450 annual fee. Those hotel and airline credits would go a long way towards offsetting it each year, and that doesn’t even count the rewards you can earn. Anyone who spends thousands of dollars per year with Hilton should definitely consider this card.

Mastercard Black Card

Now for something a bit different. While the other cards we’ve mentioned generally provide a good value for their fees, the Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review) stands out for not being very rewarding, despite its $495 annual fee.

Rewards

  • 1X point per dollar spent on all purchases

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.

Benefits

There are a few travel-related perks, but not as many as you’d expect to find.

There’s a $100 travel credit, which can be applied to any travel expenses. That’s somewhat useful, but the Sapphire Reserve’s credit is three times larger. Priority Pass Select lounge access is included, along with a fee credit for Global Entry and TSA Pre√.

And that’s about it, aside from some minor hotel discounts and complimentary services. There are also some other travel and “high-living” type perks that most people will probably never care about or use.

Costs & Fees

As mentioned, this card has an annual fee of $495.

There’s also a 0% intro APR offer of 15 months for balance transfers. But this isn’t the kind of card you’d want for balance transfers. Instead of transferring a balance to this card and then paying that high yearly fee, why not just put the $495 towards paying off that balance? There are much better balance transfer credit cards out there to consider before this offer.

Overall, this card is not nearly as valuable as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, despite having an annual fee that’s $40 higher. It’s hard to see why anyone would pick the Mastercard Black Card over a different travel card. It’s made of metal, but so what? It will still cost you $19,750 in spending just to offset the annual fee each year, and that assumes you use the $100 credit and redeem all your points for airfare.

Not the right card for you? Check out our picks for the Best Travel Credit Cards.

Was this review helpful to you? Go ahead and share it with a friend! And if you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card click here to leave a review, we’d love to hear from you!

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The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • SPQR_US “The Deplorable”

    AVOID THIS SCAM CARD:

    1. Yes there are lots of blackouts on routes dates and the ability to upgrade your airfare using points: false advertising. The way Chase tries to lie out of this when the reality is starring then m in the face is to lie some more;”Oh we don’t have any blackout dates but our airline partners do. WTF???!!!

    2. They have only 7 airline partners worldwide. Couple this with blackouts and you can forget using your miles for upgrades. A scam.

    3. Oh you can buy tickets on the Chase site but watch out: you’ll pay far more with points there and Chase doesn’t know fare class. What this means is that you can end up buying a no refundable ticket that can’t be upgraded. Chase will tell you if you ask to call the airline and call Chase back. Again what sort of sham wow amateur hour is this?

    4. Crap interest rate. I pay off my cards but still since the benefits on this card turn out to be mostly lies you’d expect a decent rate. Even with top tier credit expect a terrible rate.

    5. Incompetent support staff that is utterly clueless. Expect to be transferred a lot with no action.

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