Three Reasons to Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred Instead of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, "Should I get the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve?" Even after crunching the numbers in our calculator, people still aren't sure. 

The typical profile of someone eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve consists of:

  • 700+ credit score
  • 12-24 months of personal credit history (not authorized user)
  • 2-5 existing credit cards
  • High income (ability to get approved for $10,000+ of credit limit)

In this post, we'll run through the scenarios where it makes sense to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Sign up bonus: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points ($625 in travel), after $4,000 in spend within the first 3 months
  • Earn 2% on travel and dining

Scenario 1: Thin Credit Profile

If you have a thin credit file, you're not likely to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. In this case, I recommend going for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Preferred profile:

  • Minimum of 12 months of personal credit history
  • Ideally 700+ credit score
  • 1-2 existing credit cards
  • Ability to get approved for $5,000 of credit limit

Chase typically wants to issue roughly half of your income across all Chase credit cards. 

It's hard to get approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred right off the bat, so I recommend applying for a starter card like the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited to build a relationship with Chase first. 

Scenario 2: Turned off by $450 annual fee

The second group of people who should consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred instead of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is those who have crunched the numbers on the calculator but don't want to stomach the $450 annual fee (even if CSR gives them positive value). 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, and it's waived your first year. If you want airport lounge access, I recommend going for an alternative travel card like the Amex Hilton Ascend to compliment the Chase Sapphire Preferred. 

Another option is to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and then upgrade the card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve after the first year. You don't receive a signup bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when you upgrade. I recommend upgrading when you have travel plans and can utilize the $300 travel credit, Global Entry credit, and lounge access. 

Scenario 3: Annual fee optimizers

Since the Chase Sapphire Preferred waives the $95 annual fee in the first year, this group of people usually get the CSP first to get the signup bonus and then upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve for travel benefits after the first year. 

Alternatively, people who optimize around annual fees may also be looking for ways to maximize for cash back only, so the other option is to product change the CSP to a Chase Freedom after the first year. 


Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.