9 Things to Know Before Applying for the CSR

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a popular premium travel credit card offering several perks for a high annual fee. If you’re looking to rack up a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards®, the card makes it easy to do so.

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Here are nine things to consider before applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

1. Your credit score

Though Chase doesn’t officially publish the minimum credit score required for getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, a strong score is needed. Based on crowdsourced data, those who have a score of 720 or higher have a lower chance of getting denied.

2. The $550 annual fee (and how to reduce it)

As expected from premium travel credit cards, Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a steep $550 annual fee. Because of this, you need to decide if all the perks and credits justify the cost for you.

The annual travel credit

If you intend to use the card for travel, earning the $300 credit effectively reduces the annual fee to $250, which is much easier to stomach.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Chase defines “annual spending” as your account open date through your account anniversary date, rather than a calendar year.

DoorDash credit

You also receive a monthly $5 DoorDash credit (up to $60 per year). You can use DoorDash to make purchases that include restaurant orders, groceries, flowers and more. The orders can be delivered or picked up.

The DoorDash credit rolls over from monthly for up to three months ($15) before it expires. Used wisely, the DoorDash credit can further reduce the annual fee to $190.

Trusted Traveler program credit

How to calculate estimated out-of-pocket costs

Assuming you take advantage of these credits, your effective annual fee will be $90 in the first year and $190 thereafter.

You’ll need to determine if the other card perks (i.e., lounge access, bonus points in certain categories, travel insurance, etc.) make the card worthwhile.

If you’re unsure you’ll use all the credits or want to see how they could apply to your specific scenario, use this calculator to help you decide.

3. Welcome bonus eligibility

Chase limits how many bonus offers applicants can collect from Sapphire cards. You can only earn the welcome offer on Sapphire-branded Chase credit cards every 48 months.

So, if you want to earn the Chase Sapphire Reserve®‘s welcome bonus and already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll have to wait four years from when you received that card’s welcome bonus to be eligible.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you currently hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and were to upgrade your card to a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you wouldn’t qualify for the bonus points. A smarter move is to downgrade your card, wait the 48 months and then apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

As you’ll learn below, you can’t have both at once.

4. Current Sapphire situation

You can only hold one Sapphire-branded card at once. So, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card already, you’ll need to wait until you cancel or downgrade it to a no-fee card before you can apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

5. Can you meet the minimum spend to earn the welcome offer?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has the following welcome offer: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

You need to consider whether you can spend the required amount in the specified time frame to earn the sign-up bonus.

🤓Nerdy Tip

It’s never worth it to go into debt to earn a credit card’s welcome offer, as the fees you’ll incur will negate the value of the points earned.

If you cannot meet the minimum spending requirement without causing financial hardship, then the card might not be the best fit for you at this time.

6. Your spending trends

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a good everyday card, but it also rewards you in certain categories, including:

  • 10 points per $1 spent on Chase Dining purchases.

  • 10 points per $1 spent on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Chase and 5 points per $1 spent on air travel booked through Chase after the first $300 is used for travel purchases. 

  • 3 points per $1 spent on dining and travel not booked with Chase.

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • Through March 2025: 10 points per $1 spent on Lyft (7 points per $1 spent on Lyft plus 3 points per $1 spent on travel). 

Do you make a lot of travel-related purchases and spend large sums of money on dining?

Purchases that count as travel include flights, hotels, cruises, trains, buses, taxis and car rentals. Dining includes restaurants (including takeout), bars, lounges, fast food purchases and more.

If you tend to spend in these categories, the card will earn you a significant number of bonus points.

7. Redemption options

You can redeem Chase points in numerous ways, including transferring to airline and hotel partners, redeeming through Chase’s travel portal or redeeming for statement cash credits and gift cards.

The most lucrative redemptions can happen when you transfer your points to an airline and book premium cabin awards.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Chase currently has 11 airline partners and three hotel partners; check out our list of the best Chase transfer partners to give you some food for thought.

Your Chase points are worth 1.5 cents when redeemed for travel bookings through Chase Travel℠. This means if you see a $300 flight on Chase’s travel portal, instead of redeeming 30,000 points (1 cent of value, like you would get with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®), you’ll be able to redeem your flight for 20,000 points (1.5 cents of value).

This is the second best way to use your Chase points (after transferring to partners strategically) because flights booked through Chase Travel℠ still earn points and miles with the airline, helping you toward elite status with that airline.

8. Additional travel perks, like insurance and lounge access

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers several travel-related perks that can save you money.

Lounge access

Cardholders get Priority Pass Select membership, plus access to Chase Sapphire Lounges for you and up to two guests. Considering how expensive airport food and drinks can be, taking advantage of this benefit can be a smart money move.

Travel insurance

If you purchase third-party travel insurance often, look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s complimentary travel protections to check if the limits are sufficient for you. If the coverage is suitable, you can save money by not purchasing a standalone travel insurance policy out-of-pocket.

9. Your Chase 5/24 status

You won’t be approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you’re not under Chase’s unpublished (but widely believed) 5/24 rule.

If you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards in the last 24 months (from any bank), you’re unlikely to be approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Final thoughts on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® often ranks on NerdWallet’s Best Travel Cards list, and for good reason: It is a solid premium travel card that offers a lot of perks for someone who loves to travel.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card


Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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Although the card has a high annual fee, it offers multiple cash back credits that reduce the fee, along with many travel-related perks that can end up saving you money.

If you’re within your Chase 5/24 count and your credit score meets the rumored minimum required, getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be a smart money move.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for: