If you’ve been in the market for a new credit card, chances are you’ve stumbled across some information about the famed Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR). In fact, this credit card has lately been catching a little more attention than usual due to a few changes in its benefit structure, but we’ll get to that a little later.
I manage a collection of 30+ credit cards and they’re all beneficial to me in some way (otherwise there’s no point in keeping them) but I never leave home without my trusty CSR in tow. I’ve always liked the overall Chase awards structure, but that combined with the CSR earning potential and slew of benefits really bumps this card up to the next level. Here are some of the reasons why I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Earning Potential
The CSR functions as a basic 3X card for the categories that CSR is built for: travel and dining. Every other purchase will earn 1X points. Are there other credit cards that are better suited for earning points? Definitely. However, my largest purchases generally fall into the travel and dining categories anyway, and Chase is pretty lenient with their definitions of “travel” and “dining” purchases.
For example, travel purchases include anything that could possibly fall under the umbrella of travel. This includes several different modes of transportation and accommodations including hotels, hostels, homestays, and Airbnbs.
One thing that I really like about the dining category is that it works worldwide; the 3X multiplier won’t shut off once you start dining abroad. For someone who spends the majority of her time eating abroad, this is an important perk!
Besides your standard earning potential, the sign-up bonus is pretty sweet as well. The minimum spend of $4,000 within the first three months is relatively accessible to most consumers, and it comes with a hefty 50,000 point bonus. Points redemptions start at just a few hundred points, so there are plenty of ways by which you could maximize this bonus alone. Plus, points are worth more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. When booking travel through the portal, 50,000 points is equivalent to $750. The points can be worth even more than that when utilizing Chase’s 1:1 transfer partners like Hyatt and United.
The annual fee for the CSR was $450 since it was introduced but has recently been kicked up to $550. Considering the accompanying benefit reconstruction, this change is a bit more of a healthy business move rather than a catastrophic devaluation for Chase’s loyal customers.
The way things were, keeping the CSR would have likely been difficult because the value of the benefits (coupled with the card’s increasing popularity) easily offset the $450 annual fee. With a $550 fee and a slight restructuring of benefits, it’s more probable that the CSR will continue to be a sustainable product.
Even with the increased fee, it’s still possible to maximize your benefits to offset it completely. CSR benefits come in two categories: benefits that are automatically applied to your account, and partner benefits that the user must activate.
Automatic benefits include up to $300 in travel credit each year, which is applied to the account as a statement credit when a qualifying travel purchase is made. Again, the travel category is pretty broad and the statement credit usually applies as quickly as the charge is posted. Frequent travelers have no problem earning this benefit — I think I had mine earned within a couple of weeks.
On top of that, the CSR provides up to $100 in statement credit for US-based travelers applying for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry. The credit is applied as essentially a refund when the application fee posts to the account. This credit refreshes every four years, so cardholders are able to use it for reapplication or for friends and family.
CSR has been partnered with Priority Pass for some time now, but the annual fee includes the opportunity to activate a Priority Pass membership for access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. New this year with the annual fee increase, CSR has partnered with Lyft and DoorDash. Cardholders now have access to complementary Lyft Pink membership (at least $199 in value) as well as DashPass subscription and up to $120 in statement credits on DoorDash orders through December of 2021. These are new benefits, so if you’re an existing cardholder, you’ll need to activate them through your Chase account page.
For someone who travels as frequently as I do, it’s really important for me to have proper insurance on my airfare, bus tickets, rental cars, luggage, purchases, and everything else. Thankfully, the CSR includes all of these insurances wrapped up within the annual fee, further confirming that the fee more than pays for itself.
Specifically, the CSR comes with trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage loss and delay insurance, primary rental insurance, emergency evacuation and transportation insurance, purchase protection, and one-year extensions on manufacturer warranties. This means that I don’t need to pay extra for any of these insurances; I just make sure to pay for my travel with my CSR and the insurance is automatically applied. It’s as simple as that
Even though the annual fee recently increased, I’m still sticking with my CSR. For me, the benefits and insurances are indispensable and outweigh even the upped annual fee.