As two of the most popular travel rewards credit cards, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve make it difficult for applicants to choose between them.
Over time, however, some Preferred cardmembers may begin to realize that they could also make use of the benefits of the Reserve card.
Are you one of these customers thinking about upgrading?
Here’s what you need to know before making a switch.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Reserve
|Annual fee||$95 (first year waived)||$450|
|Rewards rates||2x points on dining and travel; 1x point on all other purchases||3x points on dining and travel; 1x point on all other purchases|
|Credits||None||$300 travel statement credits and $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck membership credit|
|Lounge access||None||Priority Pass Select|
|Travel rewards redemption rate||1.25||1.5|
|Travel loyalty program transfers||N/A|
|Authorized user fee||$0||$75|
Why Choose Chase Sapphire Preferred?
At first glance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred might seem like the better credit card for you.
There’s no annual fee for the first year, and after the first year, the annual fee is only $95.
By far the most attractive feature is the sign-up bonus points you can earn after spending meeting the spend requirement.
The bonuses don’t stop here, though. Add an authorized user to the credit card and get an extra 5,000 bonus points. This is a pretty good rewards if you want to give your spouse access to the account or help your child establish a credit history.
You’ll earn 2X points for every $1 you spend on restaurants and travel, and one point on all other purchases.
Also, points are worth 25% more when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.This includes airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.
You can even transfer your points to travel partners. These include United, British Airways, Hyatt, or Marriott.
Why Choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
If you’re happy with your Chase Sapphire Reserve, you may feel there’s no need to upgrade to Sapphire Reserve. But don’t immediately dismiss the idea of a switch.
It’s important to understand how the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card can offer the biggest bang for your buck travel-wise.
The card comes with similarly lucrative sign-up bonus. Additionally, you’ll earn 3X points on travel purchases.
This card comes with a $300 annual travel credit. Cardholders can also gain complimentary access to 1000+ VIP airport lounges worldwide. Plus enjoy the elite hotel and special car rental privileges.
Points are worth 50% more when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. This is where the Sapphire Reserve outshines the Sapphire Preferred.
Keep in mind that these added benefits aren’t without cost. One downside to upgrading to the Sapphire Reserve is the $450 annual fee.
Before you upgrade, consider how likely you are to use the extra benefits.
How to Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase will no longer approve customers for more than one Sapphire credit card at a time.
With that being said, here’s what you can do if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card but feel the Sapphire Reserve card is a better fit for your wallet.
Request an upgrade to Sapphire Reserve
Contact customer service by phone to get an upgrade. Or, sign into your Chase account and submit your request through secured online messaging.
In most cases, you’ll get a response in a few hours.
Approvals aren’t guaranteed. But the odds are in your favor if you’ve maintained a high credit score and you have a history of managing credit responsibly.
Be mindful of the fact that you must have your Chase Sapphire Preferred account for at least 13 months prior to requesting an upgrade.
While the Sapphire Reserve offers a sign-up bonus, you don’t qualify for these bonus points when upgrading from the Preferred card. These cards are in the same family and considered the same product.
You will, however, gain immediate access to better benefits after the switch, namely a higher point value. This can make up for not getting the bonus points.
Apply as a new cardmember
The good news is that there is a way to switch from the Sapphire Preferred to the Sapphire Reserve and get the bonus points. This involves skipping the upgrade and applying for the Reserve card.
First, you need to cancel your Sapphire Preferred credit card. Once you’ve closed this account, apply for the Sapphire Reserve credit card.
Keep in mind that this approach will only work if it’s been at least 24 months since you received your initial bonus points from the Preferred card.
If you close and apply for a new Sapphire account any sooner, you will be ineligible for the bonus.
Make sure you understand the possible repercussions of closing a credit card account. If you have other cards with high balances, closing your Sapphire Preferred card could cause a spike in your credit utilization ratio.
This can lower your credit score and make it harder to qualify for the Sapphire Reserve card.
Also, if the Sapphire Preferred is your oldest credit account, closing the card can make your credit history appear shorter. This can also cause slight damage to your credit score.
How to Handle Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Only you can decide whether to cancel your Sapphire Preferred and apply for the Sapphire Reserve -- or request an upgrade. In either case, it’s important that you don’t lose your Chase Ultimate Reward points.
- Phone number for Chase Sapphire Preferred customers: 1-800-493-
Redeem remaining points
Unfortunately, closing your Chase Sapphire Preferred can mean forfeiting unused Ultimate Reward Points.
If you’re considering getting rid of the card, redeem any remaining points before closing the account.
Transfer unused points
If you’re unable to redeem your points—and you have another Chase credit card — one workaround is transferring unused points to this card account.
You can also transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to airline or hotel partners before closing the account.
Does your spouse have a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards? If so, transfer your points to their card before closing the account to still enjoy the rewards.
Downgrade to another Chase card
Another option is downgrading your Sapphire Preferred to a version that has no annual fees. Perhaps to the Chase Freedom credit card.
Chase doesn’t approve customers for more than one Sapphire card. But you can get a Sapphire card and another card in the Chase family.
Understand that while you’re able to transfer points when downgrading from a Sapphire Preferred to a card in the freedom line, points will not have the same value as before.
Still, losing value is better than forfeiting all of your points.
Upgrade and keep your points
The good news about upgrading is that you don’t lose or forfeit reward points. Your Ultimate Reward points will transfer over once you upgrade your account.
If you’re thinking about an upgrade, hold off on redeeming points until you complete the transfer. This way, you’ll get more value for your points.
Remember, you’re eligible for a 50% bonus when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Sapphire Reserve. You only get a 25% bonus when booking travel with your Sapphire Preferred.
Effects on Your Credit
Make sure you understand how upgrading or applying for a new card affects your credit. Getting approved for the Sapphire Reserve requires an excellent credit history.
In fact, the average FICO score of those approved is around 785, according to Chase.
A good credit score and credit history determines your credit limit, as well as your interest rate.
But it isn’t enough to have excellent credit. Chase takes other factors into consideration when deciding whether to approve an applicant. Your chances of approval are higher if you have a low credit utilization ratio.
This is your amount of total revolving debt compared to your credit limits. This ratio should not exceed 30%.
Chase also uses a “5/24 rule” when deciding whether to approve an application. In other words, you must have fewer than five new credit cards during the previous 24 months.
You may be ineligible for an upgrade or a new card if you have recent late payments on your credit report.
Check your credit report and credit score before requesting an upgrade. Or before applying for a new account.
Dispute errors, pay your bills on time, and pay down balances if you have a high credit utilization ratio.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are both excellent options.
The Sapphire Preferred does have a cheaper annual fee, which is a more desirable feature. Therefore, you may hesitate to apply for the Sapphire Reserve due to its $450 annual fee.
But remember, this card also includes a $300 annual travel credit. So the Reserve card is actually only $55 more each year. If you’re a big traveler who’s looking to maximize your rewards, the Sapphire Reserve is the better card.
Then again, you might be new to the Sapphire family and don’t travel as much. In this case, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a greater starter card.
Use the card for one or two years, see how you like it, and then consider an upgrade at a later time.