The media has been abuzz since the Chase Sapphire Reserve was first announced in 2016, and with the recent annual fee increase, many people are wondering if this card is still the premium card it once was. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, there are a few things that you might want to know before applying. Here’s a complete rundown of one of my favorite credit cards: the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Yes, there’s an annual fee, but…
…it comes with a ton of perks, which I’ll talk about in detail later. In fact, the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee has been the talk of the town over the past few weeks because Chase just upped the annual fee from $450 to $550. Honestly, this change hasn’t been as catastrophic as some folks projected it to be; the extra hundred bucks is peanuts compared to the benefits and entitlements that Chase already had. Chase has added partner benefits to offset the bump, and they’ll be more useful for some people than others. Either way, if you take advantage of your card benefits, you’ll easily end up saving more than $550 per year.
You get a ton of benefits.
So, what exactly are these benefits? There are a few perks that are automatic, and a few that you’ll need to activate yourself.
$300 Annual Travel Credit
One of the automatic perks is an annual $300 travel credit which is applied to your account as a statement credit when you make a qualifying travel purchase with your card. The travel category is relatively vague but that’s by design; travel purchases could be anything that falls underneath the umbrella of transportation to accommodation bookings to flights to tolls and more. Even infrequent travelers should have no problem earning this credit.
TSA PreCheck/Global Entry Fee Credit
On top of that, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $100 credit for the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee. This credit is available every four years and is automatically applied to your account as a refund when the application fee is charged to your card. The nice thing about this credit is that if you don’t need it, you can use it to treat a friend or family member to a nicer travel experience. It doesn’t matter who uses the credit; the credit is applied automatically.
A few card benefits kick in after the cardholder activates them, and this includes the partner benefit between Chase and Priority Pass. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has come with Priority Pass Select membership for a while now, and it allows cardholders access to the 1200+ network of Priority Pass airport lounges.
The Chase partnership with DoorDash needs to be activated and is one of the newest perks that was added to the card with the annual fee increase. Cardholders can now earn up to $120 in statement credits for DoorDash orders through December 31, 2021, plus reduced service fees on orders over $12.
The Chase partnership with Lyft also needs to be activated and is one of the newest perks that was added to the card with the annual fee increase. With Lyft, cardholders receive a complimentary Lyft Pink membership and can earn a remarkable 10 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March of 2022.
The sign-up bonus is pretty great.
When you’re approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll have three months to meet your minimum spend requirement and earn a 50,000 point sign-up bonus. This is great for a couple of reasons: first, the minimum spend is $4,000 and relatively attainable for many consumers. Second, 50,000 points can go quite far when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal — especially when redeemed on travel purchases. To put 50,000 points into perspective, that’s worth $750 when redeemed through the portal.
And Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Chase’s travel partners like United and Hyatt. Depending on how you like to travel, you could potentially get even more value out of your points by transferring to partners.
The card has decent earning potential.
Besides the sign-up bonus, you stand a good chance of quickly building a stash of points when you aim your purchases towards the categories that the Chase Sapphire Reserve cares about the most: travel and dining. Again, this card is the frequent traveler’s best friend because cardholders earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel purchases and dining, worldwide. At the end of the day, the Chase Sapphire Reserve essentially functions as a 3X card for travelers and foodies. For everything else, cardholders earn 1 point per dollar spent.
You’ll be covered.
The benefits that I discussed above are already pretty nice, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with a pretty impressive suite of insurances. Whether you’re traveling or shopping, swiping your card automatically entitles you to trip cancellation and delay insurance, baggage loss and delay insurance, emergency evacuation insurance, primary rental car insurance, purchase and return protection and one-year extensions on manufacturer warranties.
This can be such a money-saver because it means that you won’t have to purchase additional travel insurance for travel booked with your Chase Sapphire Reserve. Additionally, these insurances cover your purchases where the sellers and manufacturers may not. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my go-to card because I know that when things go sideways, Chase is there to make things right again.
Bottom line: Even with a $550 annual fee, if you love to travel and eat out you should probably apply.
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve is often marketed as a premium line with a relatively hefty annual fee, it remains to be a moderately accessible card. As a frequent traveler and a consumer who pays close attention to maintaining my financial health, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an indispensable tool in my wallet.