Categories: Chasecredit cards

Taking a Closer Look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve

There are several things that I advocate regarding miles and points. Following them makes earning and using miles and points easier, and helps you maximize the value you’re getting. The first is that you shouldn’t apply for a credit card just for the sake of applying for the card – make sure it as a place in your wallet, or at least adds value for you. The next one is to always keep track of your miles and points. There are many tools to do this, but I prefer AwardWallet. Another thing that I have recently discovered and added to this list is to keep track of when you opened and closed new credit cards. Depending on the card, it may be possible to get the sign-up bonus again, which is always valuable. I found this site that keeps track of all of that and gives recommendations – TravelFreely. Lastly, it is to make sure a credit card still gives value to you.

Recently, Chase made a pretty massive change to the Sapphire Reserve card (CSR). It is one of the cards that has been in my wallet since it got introduced and I’m questioning if it is still worth it.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits Overview

Currently, the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve are as follows:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining & travel. This includes hotels, airlines, parking, rideshares, tolls, and public transportation. Plus 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.
  • Each point is worth 1.5 cents if they are redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
  • $300 travel credit every year, as statement credits as an automatic reimbursement of travel charges.
  • Global Entry credit
  • Priority Pass membership which grants access to certain airport lounges, and select airport restaurants, worldwide.
  • Ability to transfer points to 10 airlines and 3 hotel chains at a 1:1 ratio.

This seems like a very valuable card. And indeed it certainly has been. It has been a mainstay in my wallet and I use it at least once a day. The card has a metal backing and when Chase first introduced this card in August 2016 so many people were approved for it, they ran out of the metal backings for the card!

What are the Changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

There are three significant changes that Chase recently made to the CSR. Two of them are ancillary benefits. Unfortunately, they may not be a benefit at all. Thus why they’re ancillary benefits.

Higher Annual Fee

The Chase Sapphire Reserve used to have a $450 annual fee. While this seems like it’s a lot, the net fee is only $150 after the $300 travel “credits”. I know this is a bit flawed. You’re not exactly getting the money back into your pocket, but it is $300 less than you would be spending. I have always felt that the added benefits, which the Chase Sapphire Preferred (the card below the Reserve) doesn’t have, makes up for the small difference in annual fee between the two cards ($95 vs $150).

The annual fee was less than the annual fee on the card’s nearest competitor, the American Express Platinum card. Only now Chase raised the annual fee by $100. The card now an annual fee of $550, which is the same as the AmEx Platinium.

Partnership with Lyft 

The Lyft partnership with Chase is actually available on all Chase Sapphire cards. However, the benefits vary with which card you have and the CSR gets the most benefit.  The Lyft benefits that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are:

  • Earnings on Lyft rights is increased to 10 points per dollar (7 more than before)
  • One free year of Lyft Pink (normally $20/month) which includes
    • 15% off Lyft rides
    • Priority airport pickup
    • Three free cancelations if you rebook within 15 minutes
    • Three free bike or scooter rentals, up to 30 minutes, each month
The Lyft app knows I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve when I go to the Lyft Pink screen in their app

You do have to sign up for Lyft Pink in your account through the Lyft app, NOT on the Lyft website. This can be claimed until March 31, 2020.

DoorDash Benefit

In case you didn’t know, DoorDash is a meal delivery service from restaurants. Other such services you may have heard of are GrubHub, UberEats, PostMates, etc. These services make delivery possible from nearly any restaurant. As with Lyft, there are two DoorDash benefits from the Sapphire Reserved.

DoorDash DashPass benefits

My Take on the Sapphire Reserve Changes

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been a mainstay in my wallet since I got it. I have felt like I got good value from it. It was easy to make a compelling argument to get the CSR over its older brother, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Historically, the Sapphire Reserve has been a superior card. Ancillary benefits are difficult to determine a value for. There are probably a lot of people who use Lyft or DoorDash a lot, there are others who probably don’t ever use them. 

Personally, I prefer Lyft over Uber. That’s mostly because I can triple dip on every ride – Lyft rides earn Delta SkyMiles AND Hilton Honors points, on top of the points I get from the credit card I use. It might not be 20 points or miles, but they can add up. I can see some value of the Lyft benefit for myself, but not a ton.

DoorDash, on the other hand, is a completely different value proposition. I have compared the prices of entrees on DoorDash to getting it directly from the restaurant, for several popular restaurants near me. There are instances where it’s well over 50% more expensive ordering through DoorDash! I suspect it’s the same for other meal delivery services. It is entirely possible that the $60 credit would only cover two entrees and an appetizer – basically one meal a year. I can’t justify paying that much markup when I can just go get it myself or order delivery straight from the restaurant, at least barring extenuating circumstances.

For that reason, this particular benefit has zero value to me. If I were in a different situation, such as having little kids that I would have to take with me to the restaurant, then I may feel differently about this benefit.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserved Still a Viable Card?

I don’t think this is necessarily the best card for me. In fact, I’m still on the fence about keeping it when the annual fee is due. That’s how it is for me which may not be the same for others. For someone that takes Lyft a lot and/or someone that can make good use of the DoorDash benefits, then the CSR is definitely worthwhile. I don’t see people changing their spending habits or starting DoorDash orders because of these two benefits. The reason I’m harping on the new ancillary benefits is that without them (and the annual fee increase), the Chase Sapphire Reserve should always be considered for a premium card. It just requires a bit more scrutiny now.

If you think the CSR is a good card for you, click here to apply for it. Alternative cards that are in this category are the American Express Platinum Card (also available as a business card), or the Citi Prestige. These are premium cards, so try to figure out the value of them before you apply. Contact me if you need any advice.

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Published by
Adam Sterling

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