It’s been a little over a year since Chase released its game-changing travel credit card: The Chase Sapphire Reserve. Among a long list of consumer benefits, the card opened with a massive 100,000 point sign-up bonus. Since its release, there have been changes made to the card, including a reduced 50,000 point sign-up bonus, a one-Sapphire card rule, and a change in how annual travel credit is earned. Since many of you have approached, or are approaching the one-year anniversary and second year fee, it’s time to re-evaluate whether the card is worth keeping.
Summary of Benefits
- 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Point Sign-up Bonus
- $300 Annual Travel Credit
- $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre-check Reimbursement
- Priority Pass Lounge membership
- Purchase Protection
- Chase Concierge
- 3% return on travel/dining
50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s original, 100,000 bonus literally gave you money back for getting the card. At its lowest redemption, the cash back option, the 1 cent per point value meant those points were worth $1,000.
The current bonus is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. At its lowest, this is still good for $500 in cash that you can deposit into your checking account. The true value of UR points, however, come from transfer partners and travel portal redemption.
If you use Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Chase’s own travel portal to book a flight, hotel, car rentals, or cruises, you get a 50% bonus in point value. This means each point automatically earns a 1.5x multiplier. For instance, the value of those 50,000 points goes from $500, to $750 (500×1.5). If you were planning to book a trip anyway, then definitely redeem your points on the UR portal instead of cashing out.
If you use other Chase UR earning cards like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Cash, or Ink Preferred cards, then you can transfer points earned on those cards to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account to maximize your benefits and accrue points faster. For instance, the 5x points you get on your Chase Freedom would be worth 6.5% return when redeemed through the Chase Sapphire Reserve portal.
Even though you won’t receive a second sign-up bonus on year two, if you have a lot of UR points banked that you intend on using, it might not be a bad idea to hold on to this card for the 1.5x multiplier.
3x Points on Dining/Travel
This is still one of the biggest draws of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and why I intend to keep my card a second year. I spend a good amount per year on dining and travel, so getting 3% back on all those purchases is a no brainer. For instance, if you spend a total of at least $5,000 a year on dining, you would accrue 15,000 UR points, or $150 in cash back. Adding the value of the $300 annual travel credit, you’ve already broken even with the $450 Annual Fee. This is one of my main credit cards and I never leave the house without it.
If you want to maximize the 3x earning ability of this, be the one to pay the bill when you go out to dinner with friends, then have them pay you back later.
Of course, you should take a look at your own annual expenses and see if the numbers add up in your favor.
$300 Annual Travel Credit
The $300 Annual Travel Credit is the most flexible travel credit among premium credit cards. This $300 can be used for flights, hotels, airBnBs, taxis, Ubers, parking, and a majority of other things that relate to travel. For those of you who signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve before May 21, 2017, the travel credit resets every calendar year. That means you get a new $300 for travel every January 1st. For those who signed up for the card before that May 21 cutoff, in the first 12 months would received the travel credit twice, totaling $600.
On May 21 earlier this year, the terms changed so that the $300 travel credit resets every cardmember year, or date of your card renewal. While this won’t impact people looking to keep the card long haul, if your year is coming to an end and you don’t want to use the card anymore, consider getting rid of this card.
If you spend $300 a year anyway on travel, then the $300 offsets the price of your $450 annual fee, and brings it to only $150. If you are not someone who ever spends $300 a year on travel though, then this travel credit probably won’t hold as much value for you. Take that into consideration when considering renewing or applying for this card.
$100 Global Entry fee
The $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre-check credit works once every four years. If you are a frequent traveler, the time you can save on TSA lines is well worth it. TSA Pre-Check is $85, but you should apply for the $100 Global Entry because it comes with TSA Pre-check as well. Thus it’s the better deal.
If you already used your Global Entry/TSA credit last year, then this won’t have value in your second card year because you won’t need to renew your Global Entry membership for a few years.
If you still have your $100 Global Entry credit, either use it for yourself or you can also pay for someone else’s Global Entry/TSA Pre-check application.
Priority Pass Membership
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a free Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass gives you access to 900 airport lounges around the world. While many premium cards on the market come with a Priority Pass, each card has different terms and restrictions. For instance, some memberships only let you use the lounge for free a limited number of times. Others limit the number of guests you can bring. The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with the highest tier Priority Pass Membership that doesn’t limit how often you can use it, nor does it limit the number of guests you can bring in.
If you add an Authorized User onto your account, that Authorized User also receives his/her Priority Pass membership. Keep in mind that adding an Authorized User is an additional $75 per year.
Priority Pass has added restaurants and bars in several airports, so you can use your pass to get free food and drinks at certain locations if you don’t care much for airport lounges.
This is a great benefit for frequent travelers, but if you rarely fly, then this isn’t a factor in your decision to renew.
One Sapphire Rule
A new rule that Chase has recently began enforcing is to only allow consumers to apply for one card in the Chase Sapphire family. Cards impacted by this are the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the lowest tier Chase Sapphire.
Consider this factor when deciding whether or not to downgrade/cancel your card. If you have multiple Sapphire cards and you end up canceling the Reserve, then you would have to close those other Sapphire cards in the future if you wanted to reopen a Reserve card.
If you were planning on closing your Reserve account to get the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred, then you’re also out of luck. You cannot get a new Sapphire bonus on any card if you’ve received a Sapphire bonus in the last 24 months.
Even after a year and a some nerfed perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still king among travel credit cards. There is no lucrative sign-up bonus the second year, but the 3x on dining and travel will yield you a solid return nevertheless. If you haven’t used your Global Entry fee, you can still use it for yourself or for someone else. The $300 travel credit is still extremely useful, and helps offset the cost of the annual fee. Just remember that at the end of the day, you need to look at your finances and lifestyle before making sure the $450 credit card is worth your time and money.