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Sapphire Preferred, Reserve or Ink Preferred?

Having a card that allows for increased value when redeeming points for travel and point transfers to travel partners is the key to getting the most value from Ultimate Rewards. Three cards allows both: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. The Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve are available to consumers, and the Ink card is an option if you have a small business.

But which card should you choose? Here’s how to pick.

Our quick recommendations

Want to skip the analysis and get straight to our recommendations? Here’s when we think you should get each card.

Sapphire Reserve for frequent travelers who want lounge access

Chase Sapphire Reserve® card art
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

If you travel frequently and don’t already have Priority Pass lounge access through another card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an easy pick. The Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit is easily usable and goes a long way toward offsetting the card’s $550 annual fee. You’ll get the most value if you plan on redeeming points for travel purchases, since your points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Priority Pass lounge access allows you to bring two guests with you and access Priority Pass restaurants. And the card earns 3x points on travel and dining.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer: 75,000 bonus points after $4,000 of spending in 3 months. (Annual fee: $550)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card art

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. (Get this welcome bonus.)

Limited time offer. This welcome offer was recently increased from 60k. Rewards are earned as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Best-in-class travel insurance. Point transfers to partners. 50% more value for redemptions through Chase Travel℠.

This is a direct bank link. All information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected independently by cardsandpoints.com.

Ink Preferred + Chase Freedom for small business owners

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card card art
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Small business owners who don’t need the lounge access should look at getting both the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and one of the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom cards. The Ink Business Preferred® can get you 3 points per dollar on up to $150,000 of your travel purchases and you can earn 3x points on dining using either the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Chase Freedom Flex card. And the card often offers a monster welcome bonus.


Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card card art

Learn more and apply for the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.


Sapphire Preferred as an upgrade path with a welcome bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you’re interested in earning a welcome bonus, your best path might be to go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve later. Chase will only allow you to have one Chase Sapphire card, and you can only earn a welcome bonus from a Sapphire card once every 48 months. So you can’t earn a welcome bonus for each card, and you can only hold one at a time. The Chase Sapphire Preferred typically offers a more generous welcome bonus than the Sapphire Reserve. If you’re willing to wait on the benefits, this might be the best path for you.

After a year, you should be eligible to upgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to a Chase Sapphire Reserve if you find that the benefits of that card outweigh the Reserve’s increased annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card bonus: 75k points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. (Annual fee: $95)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card art
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

bonus_miles_full (Get this welcome bonus.)

Limited time offer. This welcome offer was recently increased from 60k. Rewards are earned as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Premium travel insurance. Point transfers to partner. 25% more value for redemptions through Chase Travel℠. (More in our card review.)

This is an affiliate link.

Transfers to partners

Fortunately, all of the above cards offer transfers to all of Chase’s airline and hotel partners. If your plan is to maximize value through transfer partners, you don’t need to worry about which card you get.

If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to any of Chase’s airline or hotel transfer partners. Transfers to partners are the single biggest way to get the most value for your points. Here’s an overview of the Chase transfer partners.

Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners

Ultimate Rewards transfer to 12 airline programs. For most U.S. based travelers, the Avios, Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Southwest Rapid Rewards and United Mileage Plus are the most relevant programs. These programs offer awards that are easy to book, readily available, and offer more value than using your points for travel directly for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Here are the details on all of Chase’s airline transfer partners.

ProgramGreat for
Avios
Aer Lingus
British Airways
Iberia
Qatar Privilege Club
Short-haul flights on America
Easy OneWorld awards
Avios can be transferred between participating airlines’ programs
Air Canada AeroplanStar alliance award flights with easy bookings
Air France/KLM Flying BlueFlying Blue Promo Awards
SkyTeam flights between the U.S. and Europe
Emirates Skywards
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerBooking Singapore Airlines’ own flights. Some award availability is reserved for the airline’s own frequent flyer members.
Southwest Rapid RewardsAward flights can always be refunded to Southwest miles, which don’t expire.
Less of an advantage now that Southwest vouchers no longer expire.
United MileagePlusFree cancelation and award changes. No fuel surcharges on awards.
Great for U.S. domestic travel and international travel in coach.
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubDelta One business class awards to Europe. (Availability is often very limited.)
Chase Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners

Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners

Chase also offers a handful of hotel transfer partners. While it might make sense to transfer points to IHG or Marriott to top off your points balance in pursuit of a specific award, Hyatt is the only Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partner that offers consistent value above the cash-back value of your Ultimate Rewards points.

ProgramGreat for
HyattGood value rewards that can increase the value you get from your points. Usually awards offer >1.5 cents per point of value. Often they offer much more
IHGTopping off your account for a specific award
Marriott BonvoyTopping off your account for a specific award
Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners

Annual Fees

Each of these cards charges an annual fee. Here are the cards’ annual fees:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Annual fee: $95
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – Annual fee: $550
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card – Annual fee: $95

Point earnings

Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Sapphire ReserveInk Business Preferred
Flights purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards5x5x (Airlines)
10x (Hotels and car rentals)
3x*
Travel purchases2x3x3x*
Business purchases: Shipping, advertising with select social media sites and search engines, internet, cable, and phone services.1x1x3x*
Dining3x3x
(10x on Chase Dining)
1x
Online grocery3x1x1x
Select streaming services3x1x1x
All other purchases1x1x1x
Other notes10% anniversary points boost
Point earning comparison of cards

* Elevated rewards on Chase Ink Business Preferred category purchases are limited to $150,000 per year.

Redemptions for travel through Chase

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card all allow you to redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you aren’t transferring points to travel partners, this is the best way to use your Ultimate Rewards points.

Card nameValue when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card25% More value
(1.25 cents/point)
Chase Sapphire Reserve®50% More value
(1.5 cents/point)
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card25% More value
(1.25 cents/point)
Value of redemptions for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Benefits

Benefits only available from the Sapphire Reserve

The Sapphire Reserve carries a $550 annual fee, so it makes sense that that particular card comes with a generous suite of benefits. Here are the benefits offered by the Sapphire Reserve card, above what is offered by the other two cards.

$300 annual travel credit – Receive up to $300 in statement credits automatically for travel purchases you charge to your card, based on your card’s anniversary year. The credit resets upon your account anniversary.

Priority Pass Select membership – Priority Pass operates 1,300 airport lounge locations worldwide. Sapphire Reserve cardmembers get access to Priority Pass lounges when traveling and can bring up to two guests at no charge. The Priority Pass Select membership included with the Sapphire Reserve includes access to Priority Pass restaurant partners.

Sapphire Lounge by The Club access – Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers. Currently, clubs are open in Boston and Hong Kong, but future locations include Las Vegas, New York City (LaGuardia), Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Diego.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS Fee Credit – Receive one statement credit of up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.

Welcome bonuses

Finally each of these cards offers a welcome bonus for new cardmembers. Note that you can only earn a welcome bonus on a Chase Sapphire card once every 48 months, and that you can only have one Chase Sapphire card at a time. Welcome bonuses change frequently. We’ll continuously update this section as welcome bonuses change.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card welcome bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card bonus: 75k points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. (Annual fee: $95)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card art
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

bonus_miles_full (Get this welcome bonus.)

Limited time offer. This welcome offer was recently increased from 60k. Rewards are earned as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Premium travel insurance. Point transfers to partner. 25% more value for redemptions through Chase Travel℠. (More in our card review.)

This is an affiliate link.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Welcome Bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer: 75,000 bonus points after $4,000 of spending in 3 months. (Annual fee: $550)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card art

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. (Get this welcome bonus.)

Limited time offer. This welcome offer was recently increased from 60k. Rewards are earned as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Best-in-class travel insurance. Point transfers to partners. 50% more value for redemptions through Chase Travel℠.

This is a direct bank link. All information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has been collected independently by cardsandpoints.com.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Welcome Bonus


Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card card art

Learn more and apply for the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.


A few notes on applying for Chase cards

  • 5/24 rule. Chase generally won’t approve you if your credit report is showing 5 or more new credit card accounts opened in the last 24 months. This rule is knows as the 5/24 rule. If you’re unsure if you are “under 5/24” you should check your 5/24 status before applying for a Chase card. Note that recently this rule seems to have softened, especially for Ink cards. See our coverage about Chase 5/24 for more.
  • Only one Sapphire-branded card. You can only hold one Chase Sapphire-branded card at a time. This means you can have either a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, but not both.
  • You can get a welcome bonus on a Chase card, even if you’ve had the card previously. How often you can earn a welcome bonus on a Chase card varies by card family.
    • Most cards allow you to earn a welcome bonus if it has been at least 24 months since your last received a welcome bonus on the same card.
    • Chase Sapphire-branded cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can only earn a welcome bonus once every 48 months. (We published a separate article to help you determine if you can get a Sapphire welcome bonus.)
    • Marriott cards have their own special rules.
  • Chase will match an increased bonus. If you apply for a Chase card and the bank offers a higher bonus within 90 days, you can send Chase a secure message or call them to have your welcome offer matched.
  • In-branch offers are sometimes better. Chase sometimes has better credit card welcome offers in-branch than it will publish on its own website or through affiliate networks. Check all channels to make sure you’re getting the best bonus.
  • Chase business cards do not report to personal credit reports and do not impact your 5/24 status as long as they are current.

About the author

  • Aaron Hurd

    Aaron Hurd is a credit card, travel rewards, and loyalty program expert. Over the past 15 years, he has authored over a thousand expert contributions published by leading outlets including WSJ, TIME, Newsweek, Forbes, NerdWallet, The Points Guy, Bankrate, CNET, and many others. He has also served in consulting roles for many of these same outlets, designing content strategy, hiring teams of teams of editors and contributors, developing thought-leadership pieces, and ghost-editing for senior editors. Aaron is well-known in the miles and points community and regularly presents about travel rewards at conferences like the Chicago Seminars and Minnebar. Aaron has enjoyed the game of optimizing credit card rewards since getting his first credit card shortly after he turned 18. He started learning about credit cards and travel rewards from the (now defunct) FatWallet Finance forums and FlyerTalk. He holds more than 40 open credit cards and has first-hand experience with almost every major credit card product.

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