Why You May Want to Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve

airline credit cards
Written by Charlie

If you are not able to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve as a new account, you may want to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve! Here is why!

This coming week is a big one for the miles/points/travel community – the Chase Sapphire Reserve will (again) launch publicly! It carries the fantastic 100,000 point sign-up bonus but also has a lot of benefits to it as well. With this card coming, many will be applying – but some may want to consider an upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Let’s look at why.

Why You May Want to Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve

First – if you can be approved for this card, by all means apply for it and do not upgrade! Only if you are denied or cannot apply at this time (for whatever reason) should you consider the upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

Who Can Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

It is generally understoon (and told to me by a couple of people with Chase, though I do not place complete faith in that) that cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred will be able to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I would imagine it would be possible for Chase Freedom cardholders as well but not 100% sure on that.

You cannot upgrade if you have only had your Chase Sapphire Preferred for 12 months or less. If you have had your Chase Sapphire Preferred for longer than that, then you are eligible to upgrade your card.

Why Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Again, if you are able to apply for the card as a new account, by all means go for it!!! But, if Chase institutes its 5/24 rule on this card when it officially launches, then there will be many people that are not eligible to get this card a new account.

If you upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will not get the 100,000 point sign-up bonus! But, you will be able to get all the other benefits of this card such as the travel credits ($300 per calendar year), the Global Entry reimbursement, the lounge access, and the 1.5 cent per point redemption rate when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

$300 Travel Credit

If you upgrade in time this year, you will be able to redeem the $300 on things like hotels, airline tickets, and other travel this year and next year! This is $150 more than you will have to pay for the annual fee. And, unlike the American Express Platinum travel credits, you will not have to be creative like buying gift cards in certain denominations to receive this travel credit. If you purchase airline tickets or pay for hotels, this travel credit is for you!

Global Entry Reimbursement

You will also get the Global Entry reimbursement. Sure, there are many cards that offer that but if you have family members you were going to help enroll, this is like another free $100!

Lounge Access

The lounge access is really nice if you already do not have lounge access for your current travels.

1.5 Cent per Point Redemption Value

The 1.5 cent per point redemption rate is a huge benefit. This is especially important considering many people would now value airline miles around that number for redemption value. Instead of having to redeem airline miles for a ticket and pay taxes/fees on top of the miles, you could redeem the points for outright revenue purchases. This is very helpful if you want specific flights and they are not available as award tickets. Plus, you can do this across a variety of airlines instead of being only able to redeem within a single airline alliance. This is a great converter of the card to allow your Ultimate Reward points to go from 1.25 cents to 1.5 cents in value when redeeming through the portal.

50% Increase in Earning on Bonus Categories

This card also earns 3 points per dollar on travel and dining, up 1 point per dollar from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you have a decent amount of spending in those two categories, you just went up 50% in your earning rates in those categories!

The $450 Annual Fee – Yes, You Will Pay!

Finally, yes, you will have to pay the $450 annual fee up front and each year on this card. But, the $300 annual travel credit puts you within $55 of the cost of the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred each year! That is like paying $55 for lounge access, increased point earnings, and increased redemption rates. Not a bad deal at all!

So, yes, not getting the 100,000 point sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve right now would hurt, but there is still plenty of value here to get you a lot more than your annual fee back the first year. If you are unable to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve, upgrading from the Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve could be the next best thing.

An Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Does NOT Make You Lose the 100,000 Points Altogether!

Some people have mentioned that they do want to upgrade because they do not want to miss out on getting the 100,000 point bonus for the 24 months. The good news is the 24 month rule with Chase does not preclude you from getting a bonus if you did not get the bonus before. The only requirements are:

  • Do not currently hold the card
  • Did not receive the sign-up bonus within the last 24 months

This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

If you upgrade now (if you cannot get the sign-up bonus right now), you can always downgrade at a later time and then apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve as a new cardholder. So, you could still upgrade and take advantage of everything this card has to offer without killing your chances at getting the sign-up bonus in the near future.


Of course, the best thing is to be able to get the enormous sign-up bonus of 100,000 points (worth an easy $1,500 in travel redemptions on the low end). But if you find you get denied or are not otherwise eligible (Chase 5/24 or something else), an upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the next best thing.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Some folks spend a lot of money at restaurants, and unless you’re one of them I don’t think this works out. You’d have to run over $20,000 worth of air tickets through at .25 cent greater redemption value to pay the net $55 annual fee bump, for example, assuming you have Global Entry. And if you’re over 5/24, one of those five probably came with GE already.

    • If you’re just factoring in the .25 extra return you are correct. But in general someone who spends just $3000 in dining/travel a year will earn 6000 points with CSP or 9000 with CSR. At 1.25 for CSP that’s $75.00 or $135.00 at 1.5 with CSR. That already more than makes up for the $55.00

      (I say “just $3000” because those who are likely to utilize travel rewards probably spend plenty more than this each year)

  • The breakeven point on bonus category purchases depends on how much value you get from UR points, but even at 1.5 cents each, you only need to spend $3667 per year in the 3x categories to break even with the CSP.

  • “The good news is the 24 month rule with Chase does not preclude you from getting a bonus if you did not get the bonus before.” True. But I think people should be careful. Card issuers often change their policies to mimic each other, and Chase could easily change their T&Cs to say you’re eligible only if you haven’t had that card product within the last 24 months, much like Citi. With so many cards in the market that offer similar benefits without a 5/24 rule, I doubt I would upgrade. Perhaps if I was sitting on a boat load of Ultimate Rewards points the 1.5 cent value could be worth it, but Chase has a bunch of transfer partners where you can get more value anyway.

  • Wouldn’t that mean you’d also have to hold on to the CSR for 12 months after upgrading before you can downgrade, which would then enable you to get the CSR bonus?

  • I got upgraded from preferred to reserve today because as a retiree, I was unsure I could ring up 4 grand in purchases in 3 months. Does this mean that my 200,000 UR points will redeem with the new 50% bonus of the reserve although earned with the preferred?

    • Congrats on the upgrade and yes, those 200K points can now be redeemed at 1.5 on travel through the UR portal! You will have to move those points to the CSR card in the portal first.

      • I’m way past the 5/24, so I also upgraded my CSP to the CSR. And like DreeN, I also have 200,000 accumulated UR points, earned with the Preferred. But I don’t remember having to move any points to the CSR card when I upgraded. They’re still in the same place, but a little more valuable now.