A common question I get from friends, colleagues and even strangers is what credit card would I recommend they use as their primary card. If you have excellent credit and love to travel than the answer is a no-brainer for me. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the best primary credit card to carry.
There has been enough press about the CSR card and its benefits, promotional points and annual fee since its launch in the Fall of 2016, but the most common concern about the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the $450 annual fee and whether it is worth it. I will explain why this card is worth the hefty fee.
Firstly, cardholders receive $300 in annual travel credit each anniversary year, which is offset immediately when qualifying expenses hit your statement. This includes anything from flights, hotel, Uber or Lyft and Airbnb to a slew of other travel-related expenses. Most cardholders who travel even a minimal amount will utilize this $300 credit almost immediately, effectively turning the $450 annual fee to $150.
CSR cardholders also receive a credit of up to $100 for fees related to the Global Entry or TSA Pre application, which is a must-have benefit for any traveler. Cardholders also get complimentary enrollment into Priority Pass Select, which gives traveler access to 1000+ airport lounges around the world. I travel a decent amount and love the fact that I can step into a lounge and not have to pay $50 each time to get some peace, quiet and snacks prior to a flight. If you utilize these two benefits at all than the $150 effective annual fee for the CSR card is now a lot less.
The promotional point bonus which is currently 50K Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening is also a great reason to sign-up. The 50K points can be transferred 1-to-1 to a slew of major airlines. At the minimum, you can get two free US domestic round-trip flights for free, which is a $600 effective value if you use the points for a cross-country flight.
Cardholders also get bonus points for every single purchase. 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains. 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining. And 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. These points quickly add up and will provide you additional opportunities to travel for free!
Now the main reason I recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to everyone is that I consider it a security blanket and even joke that it is a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. This card has gotten me out of so much trouble and I find all the “fine print” benefits to be immensely useful and a financial lifesaver.
The following are a few examples where the CSR card has saved me a ton of time and money:
- On a trip to South Africa & Kruger National Park, I dinged up the front bumper of the BMW rental car that I was driving during our self-drive safari. After returning the car to the rental agency I was given an estimate of $800 USD to repair the bumper. I called Chase to notify them of the incident and they told me I was covered for these expenses through the CSR card’s Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver benefit. The Chase claims agent walked me through the claims submission process and I received a credit for the damage costs that I incurred soon after.
- On numerous occasions, I have used the Visa Infinite Concierge Service which is available to Sapphire Reserve cardholder to book hard to get tables at fine dining establishment around the world. The concierge has been successful 100% of the time even when sites like OpenTable or TripAdvisor have shown no availability for the dates and/or times that I have been looking for.
- I have utilized the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Purchase Protection benefit to make me whole again after being victim to theft/robbery during a few trips abroad. During these incidents, I had thousands of dollars worth of recently purchase laptops and high-end camera gear stolen from me. After each incident, I filed a police report with the local agencies and notified Chase that I would be filing a claim. The paperwork was minimal and the processing time was only a few weeks. The total dollar amount that I was credited back was in excess of $15K, which would have been a huge financial hit if I did not have this benefit from Chase to make me whole again.
Many other credit cards offer benefits similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but I have actually utilized many of the benefits that the CSR offers and have always received courteous and quick resolutions to my claims. I can without a doubt state that this card will protect me from most any hassles that I may be subjected to while traveling or after making a big purchase.
This is why I recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to anyone that asks what card they should use as their primary credit card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
This is one of the top premium cards out there since you earn 3x on all travel and dining and have access to great perks like a $300 travel credit each year, 50% more value when you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and you get elite travel benefits like Global Entry application fee rebate, Priority Pass Select and special rental car privileges.