Travel on Points

Your Next Card: CSP or CSR?

Now that you are ready for a CSP versus a CSR, how do you decide which one? This is your first decision, since you cannot hold both.
Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Your Next Card: CSP or CSR?

Now that you are ready for a CSP versus a CSR, how do you decide which one? This is your first decision, since you cannot hold both.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

If you've been in award travel circles for more than a few minutes, you've heard of the “5/24 rule” (which you can read about here) and why you should start with Chase cards. Once you confirm that you are below 5/24, your Chase Ultimate Rewards journey begins. Why should your next card be a Chase Sapphire Preferred or a Chase Sapphire Reserve? We explain below.

CSP/CSR Ultimate Rewards Earning Potential

Both the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve earn Chase Ultimate Rewards (URs), which is a very valuable transferrable currency. The CSP currently has a 60,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in 3 months ($95 annual fee). The CSR also has a 60,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in 3 months ($550 annual fee). For everyday earnings, the cards breakdown this way: Chase Sapphire Preferred -3x on dining -3x on online groceries -3x on select streaming services -2x on travel/5x through the Chase portal and Lyft -1x on all other purchases -10% annual points bonus (meaning add 0.1x to all categories above) Chase Sapphire Reserve  -3x on dining/10x on Chase Dining -3x on travel/5x on airfare through Chase Portal/10x on hotels and car rentals through the Chase portal and Lyft -1x on all other purchases Depending on your spending habits, either card may be best for you. While a much lower annual fee, the Sapphire Preferred earns more points per dollar than the Sapphire Reserve on dining and has more bonus categories

A Transferable Currency

Once you have a UR-earning card and start racking up URs, you want to spend them to start traveling. Great! Now you must decide how to spend your hard-earned points. Unlike points and miles earned for a specific brand, such as Southwest points earned from a Southwest credit card, URs are a transferrable currency and can transfer to any of Chase's travel partners, which include:
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott
Every time you swipe your CSP or CSR, you could earn 1x, 2x, or 3x points with any of these partners, rather than being limited to just one. This incredible versatility leads to increased value of each UR, in addition to the ability to earn up to 3x on purchases. We cover the value of transferrable currencies in more detail in other articles, which you can find here or here.

The Big Picture

When looking at other high-profile (think high advertising spend) rewards cards, people tend to think about Capital One Venture or Venture X, Southwest, Marriott, and the major airlines cards. None of these cards offer long-term value close to a CSP or CSR. For example, the Capital One Venture card offers 2 points per dollar on all purchases. While that sounds tempting, the value of each point is fixed at 1.0 cent, meaning only a 2.0 cents return on each dollar spent. While Capital One has recently added transfer partners, it still lacks a single domestic airline transfer partner and has varying transfer rates. All Chase transfers are 1 :1 to all partners. For Southwest cards, it's even worse! URs transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. A CSP earns the same points to purchase and fly Southwest (2x) as the Southwest credit cards earn. The CSR (3x) beats the Southwest card outright. Meanwhile, you can transfer the points earned with a CSP or CSR to 13 other partners. Meanwhile, the Southwest points are only good for booking Southwest flights. Marriott, the major airlines, and other credit cards hold equally bad long-term value. So now you know that URs are earned in multiples (2x or 3x) on dining, travel, and other bonus categories, can transfer to any of Chase's 14 travel partners, and are incredibly valuable. Bottom line: no cards can compete for this value while you are under 5/24 (if ever!). Grab one of these cards while under 5/24 and never let it go!

Decision Time

Now that you are ready for a CSP versus a CSR, how do you decide which one? As of 2017, you can no longer hold both, so this is your first decision. First, if you are an active duty member of the military and eligible for waived annual fees, read no further. Since your annual fees are waived, the best card for you is a CSR. A waived annual fee, a $300 annual travel credit, a 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonus for $4,000 spend in 12 months, and 3x earnings on travel and dining is the easy winner here. Grab a Chase Sapphire Reserve and never look back. How about for everyone else? Well, it is a personal decision. If annual fees scare you, consider starting with a Chase Sapphire Preferred. While it comes with no real perks (other than an annual $50 hotel credit for cash bookings in the Chase travel portal), it has a much lower annual fee. If you truly crave perks, such as a Priority Pass membership with restaurant access, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve is your card. Either card comes with excellent travel insurance, a nice sign-up bonus, and the ability to earn extremely valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you still need more help deciding, check out our review of the CSP here and our review of the CSR here. So, which one are you picking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or in our Facebook group.
Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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