Chase’s Ultimate Rewards has long been one of our favorite travel rewards programs on the market. Its point-transfer partnerships with airline and hotel partners such as United, British Airways, Hyatt and many others make the program second to none for value and flexibility.

In the past few years, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa has consistently been one of the best credit cards for travelers. Cardholders usually received a generous 50,000 point signup bonus, and could transfer these points to the partner program of their choice.

But this week, Chase shook the travel industry by unveiling what is possibly the greatest credit card signup bonus of all-time with a brand new product – the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers cardholders an amazing 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points upon spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after enrollment.

The Sapphire Reserve is one of Chase’s higher-end cards, part of a wider new trend we’re seeing throughout the industry with cards carrying high annual fees ($400-500), but also carrying enormous benefits.

Historically, high annual fee cards have generally not been worth signing up for, simply because they haven’t offered enough value to offset the cost. Although as we’ve covered, this dynamic is changing fast.

This is also the case with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It does carry a $450 annual fee, but it also comes with a $300 annual travel credit. This means any expenses that are classified as travel – airfare, train, rental cars, or even taxis – are credited to your account.

Even the lightest travelers will have no trouble spending $300 in a year, so you’re looking at the $450 annual fee effectively being just $150.


Enrollment Bonus

The annual fee is not waived for the first year, so the real question should be – what do you get for $150?

Quite simply, you get more than we’ve ever seen from any credit card.

The card’s main perk – a signup bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points, is an absolute windfall of points. And since you can transfer these to other reward programs on a one for one basis (see chart here), the possibilities of what you could do with this are practically endless. A few offerings stand out to us:

Hyatt is Ultimate Rewards’ most attractive hotel partner – and with 100,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points you could stay four nights in a Level 6 Hyatt property, or three nights in a Level 7 property. These levels encompass some of the most amazing Hyatt properties in the world: The Andaz Maui, Park Hyatt Maldives, Andaz Liverpool Street London, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome or the Park Hyatt Sydney.

ph sydney

Enjoy Three Nights in the Park Hyatt Sydney

Many of these properties sell for between $500-800 a night, and at peak times, rates can easily go over $1000. With no taxes or surcharges, you’d be staying for free, getting well over $2000 worth of value by merely signing up for a credit card.

For air travel, we think United’s MileagePlus program presents the most value. 100,000 MileagePlus miles is enough for two roundtrip First Class flights in the US, or a one-way flight in First Class to Europe with a return leg in coach. Either of these itineraries would normally cost around $2000, so the card offers tremendous value with respect to airfare as well.

Priority Pass Select

The card’s second major perk is Priority Pass Select membership.

Priority Pass is a comprehensive, global network of airport lounges offering some of the most far-reaching access in the world.

These lounges come in different forms. While many Priority Pass lounges are independent lounges, others are owned and operated by an airline or air alliance, in which case Priority Pass members are granted access via an affiliate agreement.

We reviewed Priority Pass in more depth in a prior article, and the network of lounges is impressive, with over 900 locations worldwide. You can see a full list of locations around the world here.

The key benefit of Priority Pass membership is hassle-free lounge access regardless of airline. This is particularly handy if you have a flight with a low-cost carrier like Southwest in the US, or easyJet in Europe. If you’re in the airport, you can enter the lounge, plain and simple.

virgin lax

Virgin Loft at LAX – a Priority Pass Lounge

Spending Bonuses

Finally, this card offers remarkable bonuses on your everyday expenses, with cardholders receiving THREE Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent on travel or dining.

Occasionally, you’ll see cards offer double points for these categories, but this is the only card we’ve ever seen to offer three, making it a no-brainer for frequent usage on either of these two categories. If you dine out or travel even a moderate amount, this is unquestionably the card for you.

Additional details on other benefits of the card such as spending bonuses and the specifics of lounge/guest access remain uncertain, but we’d expect clarification on these from Chase soon after the card launches.

As the Sapphire Reserve is a brand new product, and not a revision/revamp of an existing product, it’s reasonable to expect Chase to keep this particular 100,000 point signup bonus around for at least a little while. But as is the case with all travel rewards, you never truly know for certain. When you see a bonus this good, we always advise applying as soon as possible.


Note: Top photo courtesy TripAdvisor


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