Edited by: Juan Ruiz
& Keri Stooksbury
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Those who choose to serve in our country’s military are highly respected due to the understanding of the commitment and sacrifices the service member must make. Military service also comes with inherent challenges, some of which can be financial.
While not a blanket solution to this problem, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA) established in 2006 made significant strides toward easing some of the financial restraints affecting those on active-duty military service.
Credit card issuers must adhere to these laws, but some issuers, Chase included, go beyond the law and waive annual fees on certain credit cards for active-duty military members.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which we’ll discuss today, is one of the best military credit cards as it’s loaded with useful benefits and has a high annual fee that can be waived.
In this article, we’ll look at all the key benefits of the card and the potential value each one could have to a qualifying military member.
In an effort to relieve some of the financial burdens our active-duty military members faced, 2 legislative acts were passed years ago to help address the issue. In brief, the SCRA act applies to the debt of active-duty military members acquired prior to military service. The SCRA caps interest rates, including application fees, transaction fees, and other associated fees, at 6%.
The MLA applies to financial transactions and credit acquired during active-duty military service and caps interest rates, including associated fees, at 36%.
For example, if a service member opens an eligible financial account, then enters active-duty military service, the SCRA would apply. If a service member is already on active duty and is then extended credit, the MLA would apply.
Extending credit to service members via the approval of credit cards fell under these acts when it was amended in 2017. Chase has been extending benefits offered to active-duty military members by waiving annual fees for some of its credit cards ever since.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is an eligible card for having the annual fee waived.
Before we look at each of the individual benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, let’s look at a snapshot of the key features of the card.
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.
The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options. Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.
Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!
We like that the Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns well on travel purchases. Booking travel through the Chase travel portal can yield up to 10x earnings, but even travel booked outside of the portal receives 3x points per dollar.
Additional benefits include:
With the previous snapshot as a foundation, let’s now look at each benefit with an accompanying estimated potential value for active-duty military members.
We estimate the value of Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, therefore the value of the welcome offer can vary depending on how you redeem your rewards.
The 60,000-point welcome offer on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is available to earn immediately after card approval when you meet minimum spending requirements. The generous welcome bonus can be worth $900 when redeemed for travel via the Chase travel portal or potentially worth $1,200 (or even more) when transferred to travel partners and redeemed for free hotel nights or flights.
Premium travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card also offer premium benefits. These cards, however, typically come with high annual fees. If you can secure a premium travel rewards card and have the annual fee waived, you’re sure to realize added value.
Adding an authorized user to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card normally comes with a $75 fee for each additional user. Chase waives these fees as well as all other transaction fees, except late fees and insufficient funds fees.
The $300 travel statement credit is pure economic value and easy to use. Simply make an eligible travel purchase with your card and receive a statement credit equal to the purchase, up to $300 each card anniversary year.
Earning rewards can be exciting but the real fun comes at redemption time. That’s when you’ll have several ways to redeem your rewards for travel. You can use your rewards to purchase travel via the Chase travel portal and receive 50% more value.
If you redeem 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points a year, instead of receiving the standard 1 cent per point in travel value ($1,000), you’ll receive 1.5 cents per point, or $1,500 in travel.
The greatest potential value for your Ultimate Rewards points can be when transferring your points to hotel and travel partners. The value of this benefit can vary depending on the transfer partner you use and the value of the hotel night or airline ticket you purchase, but it is reasonable to expect 2 cents per point in value by doing so.
Pay Yourself Back allows you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for 1.25 to 1.5 cents each for statement credits that offset rotating category purchases. Examples of these categories include groceries, dining, and qualifying charitable contributions.
If you were to spend $150 each month or $1,800 in a year on dining, as an example, you could reimburse these expenses for 120,000 to 144,000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,800) versus 180,000 Ultimate Rewards points at 1 cent in value each without using Pay Yourself Back.
Redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for a statement credit is not the best value for the rewards earned on your card, but it’s always good to have the option. If you need to pay an unexpected bill or have a household emergency when cash is short, you can always redeem your points for 1 cent each as a statement credit.
If you redeem 100,000 points, for example, you would receive a statement credit of $1,000.
Airport lounge membership is expensive. Having a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card can save you money by not only providing access to over 1,400 airport lounges throughout the world, but you’ll also have access to participating Priority Pass restaurants, Minute Suites, Be Relax spas, and Gameway locations.
Just 1 traveler using 10 lounge visits per year ($50 x 10 =$500), 5 restaurant visits ($28 x 5 = $140), and 1 Be Relax spa service ($40) could result in $680 worth of value. If traveling with another person, you could double that value.
Pay your Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fee or renewal with your card and receive a statement credit equal to the amount of the fee, up to $100 once every 4 years. You can also use your card to pay for family members and/or friends and receive the credit.
Hot Tip: Learn how to get TSA PreCheck for free as an active-duty military member in our article on the topic.
If you’re looking to splurge and be treated royally, perhaps for a special occasion, the benefits that come with these luxury hotel collections could be a nice perk.
Book your stay with Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection using your Chase Sapphire Reserve card and receive daily breakfast for 2, an upgraded room when available, complimentary Wi-Fi, early check-in and late checkout when available, and an onsite benefit worth $100.
Visa Infinite Hotels benefits include all the same benefits as the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection plus an additional $25 food and beverage credit and VIP status during your stay.
The car rental insurance that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is primary coverage, meaning you do not first have to file a claim with any other applicable insurance before the card coverage takes effect.
Use your card to reserve and pay for your entire rental, decline the rental car agency’s CDW/LDW coverage, and receive protection for damage and theft of the rental car. Exclusions and limitations apply.
If you were to rent a car for 10 days and not have to pay for coverage costing $10 a day, that’s a savings of $200 on just 1 rental.
Should a trip you paid for with your card, with rewards earned on your card, or a combination of the 2 need to be canceled or is interrupted for a covered event, you could receive up to $10,000 per trip per person, $20,000 per occurrence, with a maximum of $40,000 within a 12-month period.
If your trip is delayed more than 6 hours for a covered reason, you could receive up to $100 a day for up to 5 days as reimbursement for covered incidental expenses such as lodging, toiletries, and meals.
If your luggage is lost or stolen, you could receive up to $3,000 per person, per trip. If your baggage is delayed 6 hours or longer, you could receive up to $100 per day, for up to 5 days, in reimbursement for covered incidentals.
In the unlikely event you have to use this coverage, the value could be significant. The emergency transportation and evacuation benefit can provide up to $100,000 in coverage for you and eligible family members if you’re accidentally injured or fallen ill and need to be evacuated.
Additionally, you could receive up to $2,500 for emergency medical or dental services and medicines (subject to a $50 deductible). If, after recovery, you need to stay in a hotel room before returning home, you could receive up to $75 per day for up to 5 days.
The roadside assistance benefit that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card will provide help if you’re stranded roadside by dispatching the nearest service provider. The fee for the service call is included, up to $50 per event, for up to 4 service calls per 12-month period.
Service calls can include limited towing, jump-start service, tire changing with an inflated spare, standard winching, fuel delivery, and lockout service. Any services that exceed $50 will be charged to your card.
Foreign transaction fees can add expense to an international trip. You won’t have to worry about these extra charges on foreign transactions as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card does not charge these fees.
If you were to make $3,000 in foreign purchases, you would save $90.
Purchase an eligible item with your card and receive coverage for damage and theft for up to 120 days from the date of purchase with purchase protection. Coverage limits are $10,000 per claim, up to $50,000 per year.
With return protection, you could receive up to $500 per item, up to $1,000 each year, if the merchant will not accept a return within 90 days from the date of purchase.
Extended warranty adds an additional year of warranty protection to eligible items that have manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less, up to $10,000 per claim, $50,000 per account.
Receive a free 1-year DoorDash DashPass membership, normally $9.99 a month, with free delivery for orders more than $12 and reduced fees. You’ll also receive a $5 DoorDash account credit each month. Registration is required to receive the complimentary DashPass. Register by the end of 2023 to receive an entire 12 months of membership as this benefit is set to expire on December 31, 2024.
Instacart+ membership normally costs $9.99 a month or $99 a year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with free membership plus up to $15 in statement credits each month for Instacart purchases.
If you’re using Instacart now or have been thinking about it, there’s a lot of value to be realized. You’ll be saving the membership fee plus receiving up to $180 in credits over the period of a year.
You could potentially save hundreds of dollars each year if you took advantage of all the available Chase Offers, but let’s be conservative and say you’ll save $100. You can review Chase Offers by logging into your online Chase account online or via the app. Select the offers you want to use, make the required purchase with your card, and receive a statement credit.
You can also earn additional Ultimate Rewards points by making purchases via the Chase shopping portal. Log in to your Ultimate Rewards account and use the Shop through Chase retailer and service provider links to make your purchase.
Hot Tip: The Chase Offers system is intuitive — the more you use your Chase credit card, the more Chase Offers you’ll receive!
Chase has a simple definition of who qualifies for its SCRA and MLA benefits. Active-duty military members, active-duty National Guard members, and National Guard Reserve members who are called to active-duty are described as qualifying for benefits.
Spouses and eligible dependents may also qualify but all members must be registered with the Department of Defense Service Member Database.
You can request benefits by logging in to your online Chase card account, selecting Secure Messages, then New Message, then from the drop-down box, select Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). You will then be able to create a message, attach any supporting documents, and submit your message to Chase.
Alternatively, you can mail your request and documents to Chase, Attention SCRA Request, P.O. Box 183240, Columbus, Ohio, 43218-3240.
Chase offers a military hotline for service members to call to discuss benefits. The benefit hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT. If calling from outside of the U.S., dial 318-340-3308, or within the U.S. call 877-469-0110.
Chase will waive annual fees on personal consumer credit cards for eligible active-duty military members and their spouses but does not waive annual fees for business credit cards. Fortunately, there are Chase business credit cards that have no annual fee or a lower annual fee. Check out our list of the best Chase business credit cards.
You will need an excellent credit score, generally 800 or better, to increase your chances of approval for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. You may be approved with a 740 score (or higher) with solid accompanying credit history.
Chase does not limit the number of cards you can have with the issuer but does have rules as to the maximum number of cards you’ve secured in the recent past. Be sure to review Chase’s 5/24 rule prior to applying for any Chase card.
Finally, please note that this is a sampling of some of the key benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and not an all-inclusive list. Plus, we’ve abbreviated benefits descriptions and not added all of the terms and conditions that apply.
Chase issues a variety of cards that are packed with benefits and have annual fees that can be waived. Keep in mind that each card comes with its own specific welcome offer that you can earn immediately after card approval when completing minimum spending requirements.
Here are just a few Chase-issued cards offering good value for active-duty military:
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.
Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a popular first-time travel rewards card. The card earns flexible rewards for travel purchases and you’ll have several options to redeem those points for travel. Plus, the card has a lower annual fee, making it a card you can keep far beyond your active-duty military service.
Here are some of the key additional benefits you’ll find on the card:
Marriott loyalists will love this card's annual free night award, automatic elite status, and up to 17x points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays.
If you’re a frequent traveler and a Marriott loyalist, there’s a lot to love about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. The card comes packed with several great benefits like a free hotel night once a year, automatic Silver Elite status (with a fast-track to Gold Elite status), and multiple options for redeeming points.
If you frequently stay at a particular hotel brand, having the associated hotel-branded credit card can elevate your stay experience, help you earn free nights faster, and deliver benefits that can make travel more comfortable.
The Marriott Boundless card offers a lot of Marriott Bonvoy-related benefits for a mid-tier card. Because of its lower annual fee and Marriott-centric benefits, you may want to keep the card indefinitely.
Perfect for frequent United flyers who want premium perks like United Club access and free baggage benefits.
The United Club℠ Infinite Card is a premium card designed for the most dedicated of United frequent flyers who are looking for a card that provides the opportunity to earn extra United MileagePlus miles and receive lounge access via a yearly United Club membership.
United frequent flyers will find that the United Club Infinite card provides an enhanced experience on their United flights thanks to the money saved on each flight and the conveniences it provides.
If United is your airline of choice, you’ll enjoy your travels more with the premium United Club Infinite card.
Hot Tip: To learn more about some of the best Chase cards that can add value for active-duty military members, check out this comprehensive list.
Realistically, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to realize all the potential value the Chase Sapphire Reserve card can provide, however, with so many available benefits, the card can be one of the best choices for a qualifying military member.
Also, the actual value of the benefits you receive will depend on your spending mix, your redemption priorities, and how many additional benefits you are able to use. If an active-duty military member could use just a few of the card’s benefits, the card easily earns a place in their wallet.
It’s worth noting that Chase is not the only card issuer that waives credit card annual fees for qualifying active-duty service members. Check out our list of these additional top rewards cards we recommend for military members for extraordinary value.
Yes. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has a high annual fee that can be waived for qualifying active-duty military members.
The card offers hundreds of dollars in travel statement credits, worldwide lounge access, and up to 50% more value for your rewards when redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The card is also packed with valuable premium travel benefits and protections such as primary car rental insurance, trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency evacuation insurance, and more.
You will need an excellent credit score, generally 740 to 800, to increase your chances of approval for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. It is possible to be approved at the lower end of the recommended credit score range with strong credit history.
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