Home Credit Cards Should I Keep Or Ditch The Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Should I Keep Or Ditch The Chase Sapphire Reserve?

by joeheg

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted a card as much as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When it first came out, I wasn’t eligible because I was over Chase’s 5/24 limit, but not by much. It took several months, but once I was under the ceiling, this was the first card I applied for, and I was approved immediately. That was back in 2017. I had to pay the $450 fee, but with a $300 travel credit and 50,000 point sign up bonus, the first year was very rewarding.

What about when my first renewal came around? Was it worth it to keep the card for the long term? The annual fee was still $450 with a $300 travel credit. What was I getting for the additional $150? I looked back at my spending on the card and decided that for the extra points I was earning, it was worth the money.

Well, now it’s 2020, and Chase has decided to make some changes to the Sapphire Reserve. Mainly, they’ve increased the annual fee to $550 while adding secondary benefits that aren’t valuable to all cardholders.

Time to reevaluate the Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

To figure if the card is worth keeping, I’ll need to look at each of the benefits and assign a value. That value will depend if I use said benefit and if I get an equivalent benefit from a different card I currently hold.

Annual Fee

$550 per year. Additional Cards for authorized users are $75 each.

$300 Annual Travel Credit

Every account anniversary year, you get reimbursed for the first $300 of travel charges made with the card. This is good for any charges coded in the travel category. While I don’t think of statement credits like cash, this is money I would have spent anyway. Since these credits are broadly applied, show up quickly on the statement, and take no effort to redeem, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they lower the effective cost of the card to $250.

Spending Bonus Categories

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points on travel worldwide – from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains (not including charges covered by the $300 travel credit). Unlike the American Express Platinum card, the travel expenses do not have to be directly from the airline. Chase rewards 3x points from any travel provider. It also earns 3x points on dining worldwide (as long as the establishment is coded as dining). My experience is that Chase is pretty good at giving proper credit for purchases as charges made I’ve at bars, food trucks, street fair booths, and theme park restaurants have all coded correctly as dining expenses. The card earns one point per dollar for all other charges.

When the Sapphire Reserve came out, 3x points was the gold standard. Now the Citi Prestige pays 5x for dining expenses.  The Amex Green Card now pays 3x Membership Rewards for travel and dining expenses, and that card only has a $150 annual fee.

I’m not earning any extra points by using my Sapphire Reserve for those expenses, so I don’t give any value to the card’s bonus categories.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

As you would hope a card that’s marketed to travelers would, the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

I have any number of other cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee, so that’s no added value to the card.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

The Sapphire Reserve acts as primary coverage when you rent a car. In normal terms, if you get into an accident in your rental car, you can use the coverage from Chase before filing a claim with your own insurance. Most other companies offer secondary coverage (where you need to file a claim with your auto insurance first).

The Sapphire Reserve provides coverage even if you’re renting an expensive vehicle, something other cards don’t do. Here’s what the card covers:

Auto Rental CDW is primary coverage and provides reimbursement up to seventy-five thousand ($75,000.00) dollars. Most private passenger automobiles, minivans, and sport utility vehicles are eligible for coverage, but some restrictions may apply.

What types of rental vehicles are not covered?

Excluded worldwide are antique automobiles; cargo vans; vehicles that have an open cargo bed; trucks; motorcycles, mopeds, and motorbikes; limousines; and recreational vehicles.

An antique automobile is defined as any vehicle over twenty (20) years old or any vehicle that has not been manufactured for ten (10) years or more.

This benefit is provided only for those vans manufactured and designed to transport a maximum of nine (9) people and which are used exclusively to transport people.

I could get coverage from our Sapphire Preferred card, so the additional coverage value is intangible since I don’t rent $75,000 cars. However, if I’m renting a Silvercar, I’d prefer to not have to ask the sticker value of the vehicle before driving off of the lot.

Priority Pass Select Membership

Priority Pass Membership (with guesting privileges) – We’re past the stage of planning to get to the airport early just so we can go to an airport lounge. However, there are times when you happen to get to the airport really early or have a long layover, and sitting in a lounge is a nice perk. Priority Pass has relationships with lounges around the world, and we’ve used this benefit to get us into lounges from Heathrow Airport in London to Miami Airport while waiting for our flight to Cuba. The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to bring 2 guests into the Priority Pass lounge with you, with additional guests costing $27 each. You do need to enroll with Priority Pass after getting your Reserve card; just showing your Chase card isn’t good enough.

I have a membership with our Citi Prestige and AMEX Bonvoy Brilliant cards. The Citi card gives credit when eating at airport restaurants while the AMEX card does not. Since I have this benefit from other cards I’m keeping, it doesn’t have any value.

Points are worth 1.5 cents each when using the Chase portal

If you book travel through the Chase portal, your Ultimate Rewards are worth 1.5 cents each. This isn’t the best value for your points, but it’s better than the 1 cent that you’ll get redeeming them for a statement credit.

I’ve never redeemed Chase points this way as I’ve always unlocked higher value transferring points to partners like United or Hyatt.

$100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® credit

Every four years, you can get up to a $100 statement credit for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®. 

I have more credits for Global Entry than I could ever use. Losing one of them wouldn’t make a huge difference to me.

Trip Delay Reimbursement

If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket. The Sapphire Reserve provides some of the best trip delay coverage available.

This is one of the things I love about the Sapphire Reserve, and the main reason I don’t want to get rid of the card. However when I’m booking a flight I’m worried about being canceled or delayed, I could always just pay the $19 and buy coverage from Freebird.

Additional Coverages

The Sapphire Reserve also provides several other types of travel protections like luggage delay, lost luggage, trip cancellation, emergency evacuation, and purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty coverage.

The emergency evacuation coverage offered by the Sapphire Reserve is alone enough reason to keep the card. Before the price increase, I was willing to pay $150 for the piece of mind when using the card to book our international travel.

Is that coverage worth $250? Whenever we travel outside of the US, I always pay for travel insurance with evacuation coverage.

Lyft

Earn 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 7X points in addition to the 3X points you already earn on travel.

I was already using the Sapphire Reserve to pay for our rides on Lyft. Earning 10x points per dollar would be nice, but we don’t use the service enough for it to make a significant difference to the value of the card.

DoorDash

DashPass subscription

Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service.

Statement Credits
Earn up to $120 in statement credits on DoorDash purchases through December 31, 2021 – that’s $60 in statement credits through December 2020 and another $60 in statement credits through December 2021.

We’re not big food delivery people. We’d either eat out or cook for ourselves. Waiting for someone to deliver food to our house just isn’t our style.

I could get value from this benefit, but we’d be changing our habits just to use the credits, and that’s not how we like to be rewarded.

Final Thoughts

What it comes down to is do I think the benefits of the Sapphire Reserve are worth more than $250.

Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve been so accustomed to using the card to book our travel that I’d have to rethink all of those expenses. I’d also want to wait until all of the trips I paid for with the card were finished and that means it would be at least the end of 2020 before I’d be able to cancel.

I think that I’m going to try and move our travel and dining expenses to a different card and see how things go. Since I get the credits from DoorDash and Lyft, I’ll sign up for them, It would be silly to give away free money. In the end, it could turn out that I don’t miss out on the benefits of the Sapphire Reserve and it might join the other cards on the cut list.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

5 comments

DaninMCI January 25, 2020 - 9:18 am

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts lately on the $100 increase for the CSR but many also argue that downgrading to the CSP is the way to go. I think you are trading the $100 fee savings for a $95 annual fee card with much less benefits. Sure the Lyft and Doordash benefits are crap for most and offer about as much value as credit card concert invites in NY and CA for the vast user group but the CSR is still worth keeping to me.

Reply
Steve L. January 25, 2020 - 9:56 am

Wow based on the title of the article I’d thought you’d reached a conclusion. I’m in the same boat and will be transferring my credit limit to the Freedom and closing the card. Then signing up for the Preferred to get the 60k points after my 48 month hold is up since I got the card in 2016.

Reply
tim January 25, 2020 - 10:41 am

Great analysis, and very timely for many people. The only part I might feel a little differently about is the Priority Pass restaurant credit. Our family is 3 people, so when we travel we go out of our way to eat a meal at the airport – each time that’s worth $84. We’ve probably saved $1000 on this in the last year. We probably wouldn’t have spent that much if it weren’t free, but we had a lot of fun doing it. I think the only cards that still offer this credit are Citi Prestige and US Bank Altitude Reserve. Of the three, Sapphire Reserve is probably the best. This probably doesn’t matter for many, but we’re leaning towards keeping the card at renewal because of the restaurants. If Chase takes this benefit away, we’re gone.

Reply
MikeL January 25, 2020 - 1:43 pm

For me, just the added Lyft benefits MORE than make up for the $100 increase… At least while we get x10 the points and Pink for free.

If we use 2019’s figures as a base line: I spent over $1,000 last year on ride shares.
– $1,000 – (1,000 at 15% savings) = $850 (that’s $150 savings JUST with Pink)
– $850 x 10x = 8,500 Points = $85 at $.01 a mile OR $127.50 at $.015 a mile

Now, that to me looks like $150 in pink savings, and somewhere between $85 and $125 worth of points.. I’m no mathematician, but these numbers work for me.

Reply
Bb ill January 25, 2020 - 3:32 pm

Everyone writing about this never mentions the transfer to United. CSR is the only transfer partner with United

Reply

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