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The best Chase Sapphire Reserve military benefit is the $550 annual fee waiver. American military servicemembers and their spouses are eligible for this fee waiver on any Chase Sapphire Reserve card opened after 20 September 2017.
- Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
- $550 annual fee and $75 authorized user fee waived for US military + spouses
- Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points after $4000 of spend in the first 3 months ($750 minimum value when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- $300 annual travel credit
- 3x Points on Travel (airfare, hotels) and Dining (restaurants) after earning the $300 travel credit
- Ultimate Reward Points redeemed through the Chase travel portal are worth 1.5 cents, a 50% bonus
- Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access
- Primary car rental auto insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve: No Annual Fee for Active Duty Military
Chase waives annual fees on all of their personal credit cards for active duty military servicemembers and their spouses.
This includes National Guard, Air National Guard, and Reservists in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserves on Title 10 or Title 32 orders greater than 30 days.
For Chase military credit card customers, the Military Lending Act (MLA) applies. You can check your MLA status on the MLA database website.
Here's my MLA letter from Chase waiving my annual fees:
Every credit card company has a different interpretation of the MLA. The Chase MLA policy is to charge no annual fees on their personal credit cards for military servicemembers.
You can learn more about the Chase MLA policy and why they waive annual fees.
Please note that Chase DOES charge annual fees on their business credit cards for military servicemembers. That being said, Chase business cards often have no annual fees regardless of MLA and offer $500+ welcome bonuses.
Chase's MLA program is similar to American Express's SCRA military annual fee waiver. However, American Express is even more generous, extending their fee waiver to any personal or business account opened after beginning active duty service.
How to use 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve 50,000 point welcome offer, you can earn at a minimum $750 in travel. Combined with the $300 annual travel credit, you're looking at $1050 minimum in first year travel value.
Here's a screen shot of my Chase Ultimate travel portal. I've already maxed out my annual $300 credit for the year, but I get another one soon!
The real value from Ultimate Reward points comes from transferring them to travel partners. For instance, I recently booked my wife a one way United ticket from Honolulu to Washington, D.C.
The ticket would have cost $1300 in economy. It was only 22,500 points with United miles.
I transferred 23,000 UR points to United and booked the ticket. My 23,000 points bought me a $1300 ticket for just $5.60 in taxes and fees.
That's 5 cents per point or 333% better return than booking the ticket through the Chase travel portal! If you booked 2 of those tickets with your 50,000 UR point welcome, you could get $2600 of value for 45,000 UR points.
At 5 cent per UR point redemption, that would make your welcome bonus worth $2500! Learn how to maximize your points and SCRA/MLA benefits in my 100% free course.
CSR Global Entry for US Military
Thanks to some actual commonsense, all DOD servicemembers with a CAC ID are eligible for TSA Pre-Check.
To register, just add your DOD ID number from the back of the CAC to your airline reservation online or over the phone in the “Known Traveler” or “Trusted Traveler” section. Airlines can even usually add it for you at the airport if you forget before arriving.
Global Entry is an additional program on top of TSA Pre-Check that grants you expedited Customs and Immigration processing when you re-enter the US through a commercial airport. It's really handy when you get back to the States and you don't want to wait in line with the 400 other people on your flight.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a easy to use $100 Global Entry credit as a benefit. Simply purchase Global Entry membership through the CBP website and the credit will post to your account. You'll be sailing through those lines in no time!
CSR Priority Pass Airport Lounge Access
When Uncle Sam sends you TDY and books you on the worst airline, in the middle seat, and has you wait for hours in the worst airports for your connection, it pays to have Priority Pass lounge access. Trust me, it's even better than the USO!
Priority Pass is a separate card (or app on your phone) that grants you access to over 1000 airport lounges around the world. The CSR comes with free Priority Pass membership. When you receive your CSR, you just need to go to Chase Ultimate Rewards and then the “Card Benefits” section.
I've personally used Priority Pass lounges in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, the US, Canada, South America, New Zealand, and Australia. It's truly a global program that has a wide range of VIP lounges available to members.
With the free food and drink available in most Priority Pass lounges, you can save hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars per year. Many airports have restaurants that also participate in Priority Pass.
These Priority Pass restaurants usually take $25-35 off your bill on almost anything you order. It's a great way to get some good free food when you travel.
Sapphire Reserve Rental Car Insurance
Since the CSR has primary rental car insurance coverage, you can decline the super expensive collision and damage waiver when you rent a car.
This can save you hundreds or thousands, depending on how often you rent cars when you travel. This Chase credit card will cover up to $75,000 in damages to the car.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Chase Sapphire Preferred
The welcome offer on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is 50,000 Ultimate Reward points. This is a good offer, but not as good as the 60% larger 80,000 (!) UR points you can earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Since the CSP has a 60% larger welcome bonus than the CSR, I recommend:
- You apply for the CSP
- Earn the welcome bonus of 80k
- Then upgrade to the CSR after 1 year
You can compare the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs the Chase Sapphire Preferred in this article.
The choice between the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve usually comes down to one question:
Is the $550 annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it over the $95 Chase Sapphire Preferred?
However, for US military troops and their spouses, the question of annual fees is moot. You don't have to pay an annual fee on either card!
So the question for military folks is:
For the first year of the card, do I want a $300 travel credit or 30,000 extra Ultimate Rewards points?
You can always upgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Chase Sapphire Reserve after 1 year and still maintain the annual fee waiver. Just call the number on your card to upgrade.
Another card benefit to consider is the Preferred pays 2x points on travel and dining while the Reserve pays 3x. If you spend $1000 per month on travel and dining, you would have 36,000 points after a year with the Reserve vs. 24,000 with the Preferred, a 12,000 point difference.
Depending on your spending habits, the 3x points with the CSR and the $300 travel credit can quickly outweigh the 10,000 extra welcome bonus points on the CSP.
Best Chase Credit Card for Military
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is arguably the best Chase credit card for military servicemembers and their spouses. But when the Sapphire Preferred bonus offer is substantially larger, get the CSP and upgrade to the CSR after 1 year.
The $550 annual fee is waived by Chase. This unlocks all of the amazing travel benefits of this card for military servicemembers.
The $300 travel credit, the airport lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, 3x points on dining and travel – all your's for $0 per year.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Military Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has no annual fee for military servicemembers and spouses. the $550 annual fee is completely waived down to $0!
If you open the card while your are on active duty, the fee waiver will be automatically applied when Chase checks your Social Security number against the Military Lending Act database. This is true for military spouses as well.
Yes, the CSR waives annual fees for active duty military spouses! Instead of paying $550 per year and $75 per authorized user, you pay $0 for both.