I've always said the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best overall rewards card, but right now I'd tell anyone to consider the Sapphire Preferred instead
Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
- The premium Chase Sapphire Reserve is my pick for the best overall rewards credit card, while the more mainstream Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a strong alternative.
- While I still recommend the Reserve, though, it might be worth applying for the Preferred instead, and then converting it to a Reserve after your first year.
- That's because the Preferred has a higher sign-up bonus (a generous 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months), and is easier to get approved for.
- Both cards come with useful benefits and strong rewards.
As Business Insider's senior travel and credit card rewards reporter, I've argued that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the all-around best rewards credit card, but that the more mid-tier Sapphire Preferred is a good option for people who don't want to commit to the Sapphire Reserve's high annual fee.While I still think that's accurate overall, I'm tweaking my advice slightly.
Even if you want the Sapphire Reserve, it's worth considering applying for the Sapphire Preferred instead. If, after the first year, you think the Sapphire Reserve is a better option, you can convert your Preferred by simply calling and asking.
This advice certainly doesn't apply to everyone. For some, the Sapphire Reserve's airport lounge access and slightly higher points earning and redemption rates make it a better option.
First, Chase recently increased the Sapphire Preferred's sign-up bonus to 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months). That's the highest ever offered on the card. However, Chase left the sign-up bonus the same for the premium Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 points (after the same spending requirements).
The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points per dollar spent on travel and dining, while the Sapphire Reserve earns 3x in the same categories - both cards earn 1x point on everything else. You'd have to spend at least $10,000 on travel and dining on the Sapphire Reserve before you'd have as many points as you would have on the Preferred. Couple that with the fact that the Sapphire Reserve's effective $150 annual fee (that's $450, minus the annual $300 travel credit) is higher than the Sapphire Preferred's $95 fee, and you'd have to spend even more to make up the difference.If you expect to spend a lot on those bonus categories, then the Sapphire Reserve could be a better choice. But if you're not sure, you could go for the Preferred, earn the higher bonus, and then convert your card to the Reserve after your first year with the card - typically, you can't convert a credit card product until you've had it for 12 months.
Second, it's easier to get approved for the Preferred than the Reserve, so if you're younger and don't have much credit history yet, or you're still working off a negative mark on your credit report from a few years ago, you might be better off with the Preferred.
While there's no official publicly available formula for how banks approve credit cards, common knowledge is that the Sapphire Reserve- which is a Visa Infinite card - has higher standards for approval than the Sapphire Preferred- a less-demanding Visa Signature card. Among other things, a Visa Infinite has a minimum credit limit of $10,000 with Chase. So, if the bank wouldn't otherwise extend that high of a credit line, you won't qualify for the Reserve.
You'll still need a solid credit score for the Preferred, but you have better odds of getting approved if you have a shorter credit history.
Once you have the Preferred, and you've built a year's worth of positive history with Chase, you can call and request to convert to the Reserve, which will likely entail a credit limit increase.
Regardless of which card you decide on, you'll end up with one of the most rewarding cards available.
Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.
Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Reserve from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.