Deciding Whether to Keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

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Late last summer, many of us were lucky enough to get in on the offer for 100,000 bonus Ultimate Reward points via the brand new Chase Sapphire Reserve when it was first introduced. Even though it had a $450 annual fee, it was an easy card to say yes to as it carried with it 100,000 sign-up bonus points worth 1.5 cents each when booked for travel through Chase, assuming you met the minimum spending requirement to trigger the bonus.

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

It also awarded $300 in travel credits each calendar year. This means if you got the card just over a year ago, you likely got not only $1,500 in travel from the points, but also $600 in travel credits, Priority Pass Select membership, a $100 statement credit reimbursement every 4 years as reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, earned 3x points on travel and dining, enjoyed built-in travel protections, and have had the ability to transfer points 1:1 to Ultimate Reward partners like Hyatt, United, Southwest, Marriott, British Airways, and more. It really is and was a heck of a deal.

You could use the 100,000 points at Hyatt properties around the world.

For many travelers in the rewards game it was relatively easy to fork over the $450 annual fee in exchange for all of that the first time. However, if you got the card when it was first released, you now are about to have to pay for it again. Not surprisingly, $450 is harder to pay the second time without the corresponding 100,000 sign-up bonus points. I know many people got the card with the intention of only keeping it for a year before the $450 fee was due again, but now that the time is here, it is time to be sure you are making the right decision.

You aren’t necessarily wrong if you decide one round of a $450 annual fee was enough, but make the decision based on math, not on an initial gut reaction that $450 is a lot of money…which of course it is.

Do you still have Ultimate Reward points left?

The first thing to consider is whether you have any Ultimate Reward points left. If you do, you will want to make sure they don’t go to waste if you decide to close your account. You will want to either use them, transfer them to a partner like United or Hyatt where you know you will use them, or you will need to ensure that you have another Ultimate Rewards earning card where you can keep them safe.

There are other Ultimate Reward cards that also have the ability to transfer points 1:1 to transfer partners, including the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Preferred. However, there is no other Ultimate Rewards card that will make the points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel booked through Chase. The best you will get from another card is 1.25 cents each, so if you like to use your points at a fixed value towards travel, they will become less valuable if you don’t have the Sapphire Reserve and instead turn to a Sapphire Preferred or similar.

If you had 100,000 Ultimate Reward points they are worth $1,500 towards travel with the Reserve, but only $1,250 towards travel with the Preferred.

Do you have another Ultimate Rewards card?

We have already hit on this, but you will want to consider if you have another card that will at least keep the points safe and transferrable to Ultimate Rewards partners. If the answer is yes, you have less to lose by closing your Reserve. However, you should consider whether you actually need that other Ultimate Rewards earning card or the Reserve more. It is possible the card you should be closing is the other Ultimate Rewards card that you have. Or, in some cases having multiples makes sense, depending on how much you spend on them and what type of expenses you charge.

$450 is really sort of only $150.

If you use the annual $300 travel credit, then the $450 annual fee in many ways is really only $150 in additional out-of-pocket spending each year. That is still a lot of money, but if you were going to have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred anyway, then the difference between their $95 annual fees and the additional $150 the Reserve will cost you is only $55. If you want to cancel a card, think through whether it really is the Reserve that should go.

The Sapphire Preferred awards 2x on travel and dining and the Reserve awards 3x. Just looking at that one difference, and there are many others, it would only take about $4,000 in spending per year ($300 per month) in those categories to make up the difference in points earned between the 2x of the Preferred and the 3x of the Reserve if you agree with a value of 1.5 cents per point.

What’s your 5/24 status?

Chase cards that earn Ultimate Reward points really aren’t that easy to get since you can only get them if you have fewer than five new card accounts across all banks in the last 24 months. In other words, if you think you are going to dump the Reserve and just apply for the Sapphire Preferred then make sure you are under 5/24 or you are unlikely to get approved for another Chase card at this time.

Additionally, if you are certain that keeping the Reserve isn’t the right move for you, then consider requesting for a product change to a Freedom Unlimited that earns 1.5x points on pretty much everything without an annual fee. That is the kind of card that is great to have, but that you might not want to normally ‘waste’ a new Chase application on. The Freedom Unlimited or regular Freedom cards can keep your Ultimate Reward points safe if you combine them, but they do not on their own have the ability to transfer those points out to hotel and airline partner programs.

Do you have duplicate perks elsewhere?

The Sapphire Reserve has some better than average built-in travel protections in the event you have a seriously delayed or cancelled flight, the airline loses your bag, you need primary rental car coverage, Global Entry/PreCheck reimbursement, and/or Priority Pass Select membership. All of those benefits are duplicated on some other premium rewards cards, so while they are all useful, you may have them elsewhere. If you don’t have any of those perks on another card, that is something to be aware of as well. If you aren’t sure which cards offer you which perks you can usually find the various card benefit guides online by searching “card name benefits guide”. Here is the link to the Sapphire Reserve’s benefits guide.

Does your partner have a Sapphire Reserve?

A final piece of the puzzle to consider is whether there is another Reserve card in your household and whether you have the ability to transfer points between those accounts. The terms surrounding combining Ultimate Reward points state that you can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, or one member of your household, or owner of the company in the case of a business card. 

This is actually the situation we are in as my husband and I both have a Sapphire Reserve, but I am not sure that we actually need both into perpetuity. Once you factor in the travel credit, our actual outlay to have both isn’t huge, but it isn’t zero either. I’m leaning towards canceling his and keeping mine, but we haven’t fully committed yet.

Now that Chase Sapphire Reserve’s renewal time is upon us for those who got the card first, I’m curious whether you have decided to pay the $450 annual fee and keep the card or part ways in favor of cards with lower annual fees.

 

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. United miles are the only ones I collect now so I’m keeping the CSR forever, as well as the United Select card for the annual 5,000 mile renewal benefit and 2x miles on gas and groceries. Those cards are complemented by the no-fee Freedom and Freedom Unlimited, so Chase cards are it for me.

    • Chase also makes a United Explorer credit card…I’ve had offers for 70k miles for signing up for that one as well. I believe it is subject to 5/24. One of the nice things about this card is that it opens up additional award space (XN fare class) that you wouldn’t see without it or elite status. It’s an unpublished benefit.

      • I did have the Explorer card for 1 year and enjoyed the Group 2 boarding, but I get Group 3 boarding with the Select card and still manage to get to my seat early enough to get bin space. The perk of having access to additional award space was allotted to the Select card as well, right from the start. Thanks.

  2. I got in on the card when it was first offered, therefore was able to get $600 in travel credit in one year/on one annual fee, vs those who signed up later after Chase changed the terms. My husband and I will both be keeping our cards at least one more year – we figure if we pay 1 more annual fee (for the second year) we will have spent $900 in annual fees and gotten $900 in travel credit per card over two years – so net cost to us to keep for two years is zero out of pocket. We will reevaluate when it comes time to renew for the third year. If we do keep it a third year it will (after travel credits) still average out to $150 total, or $50 a year for the first three years – not bad for the extra perks over the Preferred, and cheaper!

  3. I would suspect if you cancel it after just 1 year, Chase will be making a loss on you. I suspect they will be getting a bunch of cancellations as many of the 1 year anniversaries are coming due. You do need to spend a lot before that $200 net becomes a no brainer. Not that I have the card I was over 5/24 while they had the 100K signup and now I’m waiting for 100K to open up again.

    • I’ve heard that they are looking at 7 years in order to make their investment back on you… I also understand they are looking to save money and bring down costs for the CSR, so I would not hold my breath for 100k to return, but maybe you will see it tick upwards some at some point.

  4. For $150 it makes sense to me as I can spend enough on travel and dining at 3x instead of 2x to easily make up $55 more than the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  5. MP, for anyone who travels at all this card seems like a no-brainer. The essential cost is $150. Then start adding the benefits you enumerated. Oh, and the 100K points last year were phenomenal.

    • A prepaid $300 travel credit is not worth $300. If someone sold you that credit as a standalone product, it would not go for $300. Maybe $275 or so at best. 3 issues: time value of money, more restrictive than cash, and possibility of breakage(not fully using credit). So let’s stop this $150 nonsense.

      • Have to respectfully disagree. For anyone that travels at all, the $300 credit posts very quickly. We used ours the first month making reservations for RV parks etc. if you don’t spend $300 out of pocket on travel, this probably isn’t the card for you. The Amex travel credit is much more restrictive. I did buy AA gift cards with that and we did use them, but we will not renew the Amex Platinum. Cheers!

      • Wrong. If I buy a $300 hotel room or air or parking or pretty much anything(and I will) I get $300 back. Period. Your “time value” argument is ridiculous and reaching to argue.
        If someone were not traveling then yeah, but then why get the card?

      • Your analysis is flawed. You are not paying for a standalone product. You are paying $450 to receive a $300 travel credit and a credit card that offers a ton of benefits for those who can use them.

        • Absolutely right and well said, Rick. It’s astonishing value..and the very fact that Chase have pulled it from the shop window underlines that…

  6. Have the Reserve – just downgraded Sapphire Preferred to Freedom Unlimited. My wife had the Reserve also. We are going to get the sapphire Preferred for her ( last bonus for CSP rcvd was in 2013). Hope to get new CSP bonus then down grade Reserve to unlimited for her. Will leave us with Reserve, CSP, Freedom (both), Freedom Unlimited(both). Annual fee $450 + $95 -$300 Reserve travel spend. We are setup about as good as we can be for both of us with Chase products. We both have Hyatt and used our free nights last year in Hong Kong on 4 nite stay. Paid 2 nites and upgraded to lounge for $283. Used our points last year to fly to Japan on Asiana business. Side trip from Okinawa to Hong Kong (4 nites) using Avois (flew Dragon Air business) for taxes only. We are doing OK with Chase cards. Our balances are both over 100K again. Planning a Singapore trip early next year, hopefully will be able to do the suite class one way. Hope everyone gets a good value on your points and have a good memorable trip at the same time.

    • Sorry, but I’m having a hard time understanding why a family/household would pay to have two CSR or a CSR and a CSP? Can you explain? Wouldn’t you just earn on other Chase cards and transfer all point to the CSR? Maybe you travel separately? Then wouldn’t you just add an authorized user?

      • Wife wanted Reserve bonus but doesn’t want to pay $450 AF this year. Wants CSP bonus next month no AF for a year – after that will decide on weather we need both. Been married 37 yrs and works for us. Small price to pay for my wife to be happy (paying for both Reserve & CSP) we have much travel to do and many more CC bonus to get. Everybody has different goals and plans to get there. Stay positive. Maybe not the very best (most frugal) plan but has allowed us to take 6 trips to Japan in last 3 1/2 yrs (first or bus class) w/side trips to Korea & Hong Kong. Thank you for your concern but we will get there and be happy to make it. The travel we have made using points/miles is not affordable if we had to pay cash for them. Please let us enjoy this hobby our way. Maybe not the best way, but it is out way.

  7. @MP My wife and I each have the CSR since January 2017 (we each earned and claimed of 100,000 UR points -flights to Japan in 2018- used our Global Entry discount, and the $300 travel bonus). If I read correctly, when I signed up for the CSR, that we will each get a $300 travel credit for 2018, and that I could cancel card before 2018 kicks in in Jannuary / February.

    I hope this is correct, as I have big plans for the $300 X 2 travel “cash”

  8. I’m keeping the card as the travel insurance (saves us $200+ for our family of four on trip insurance for our annual cruise), roadside assistance ( dropped AAA saving us $80), travel credit ($300), and primary car rental insurance( I scraped a boulder on the passenger side door $1400 that was 100% covered) benefits are more than enough to warrant having this card in my wallet.

  9. I’m keeping my Sapphire Reserve. The virtual annual fee is $150 since I can easily make use of the $300 travel credit. I can get more than $150 value from the points.

  10. Keeping it. The travel credit and the lounges alone more than make up for the yearly fee. For those of us who got in on the 100k sign up bonus, this has been a fantastic deal!

    • Read the very same article! Got the CSR for my husband in last August so, we’ve received the 600.00 travel credit. I applied just before the 100,000 points expired in 2017. We canceled his last month, and will use mine as well as the CSP that he’s had for years. Easy to transfer points, and refer friends and family for the 10,000 bonus points (a benefit that the CSR doesn’t offer for some reason!!).

  11. I’m not due until later this year, but keeping it. Already at ~$90+ in lounge benefits towards the $150, and will absolutely receive the rest of the value by renewal time (and if we traveled with friends, the “unlimited” PP guests would be extremely helpful). Next year will be less lounge value, but our spend in dining and travel will even it out. If benefits stay roughly the same I don’t see any reason to cancel any time in the near future.

  12. Keeping it. What also makes it worthwhile for me is that in spite of the net $150 AF, I get at least 1.5c/mile when I redeem with Chase UR. As Airlines and Hotels devalue, the chase UR fixed redemption with the Reserve at 1.5c becomes even more valuable.

  13. Like so many others both myself and husband received our CSR with the 100,000 points. I also received a $300 credit last year and again this year. I normally would keep this card but have decided to close my card and retain my husbands for now. With retirement coming up we will mainly travel together so I don’t see a need for each of us carrying the same cards. I do have another premium card, United Club Card which I love and utilize the benefits a lot. Chase so kindly reduces the annual fee each year when I call in.

    For now two premium cards in the household is sufficient.

  14. Keep, keep, keep! The rewards are fantastic with Reserve and if I was only allowed one credit card, this would be it. I think there is a real balance to using and dumping cards just for the rewards. The banks will get savvy to this and we all lose.

  15. I will be keeping the CSR. I couldn’t get the 100k bonus as I’m way over 5/24, but converted my CSP to the CSR anyway, after multiple, unsuccessful visits to a branch to see if I was pre-approved. Surprisingly, and wonderfully, they have not yet charged me the $450. They refunded my CSP $95 fee in March…kept waiting for the $450 to hit, but it hasn’t. The travel insurance protection is a great, under appreciated benefit that saves us ALOT of money. We usually take at least 2 big trips a year and that benefit more than covers the $150, after the $300 travel credit. We both have the Freedom and max out those categories, at least we did 2nd quarter, and transfer to the CSR. I am hoping that Chase doesn’t reduce the benefits.

    • This also happened to me! In Jan of this year, they refunded my Saph Pref fee when I PC’d to the CSR. They never did charge me the $450 and I thought I got away with it…until 9/1. Technically my Saph Pref anniversary date was 12/22, so I have no idea why they are charging the AF as of 9/1…

      Just so you know, it may be coming for you!!

      FTR, I did just pay the $450 and plan on keeping this card for the foreseeable future.

  16. Keep in mind that the Authorized user fee is $75/yr as well. Last August I was over 5/24 so I couldn’t get approved so we had to apply under my wife and add me as a AU. I still think we’ll keep it as we’ve gotten a ton of value out of it but it makes the math a bit more cloudy. I’m also curious when we’ll get the next $300 travel credit since they’ve switched from calendar year to card member year. Will it come after the AF is paid since we already got one in January or will we have to wait until the card member year rolls around in Sept 2018?

  17. For me keeping both the CSR ($150 net annual fee) and the Citi Prestige ($100 net annual fee, since I have the $350 annual fee from in-branch application) are no-brainers. Travel and restaurants are two of my biggest expense categories, so the extra UR points, and the 1.5 cent value, are a big net win. And I’ll be using Citi Prestige’s “4th night free” benefit at least 7 times in 2017.

    Side benefit – in several cases, the “4th night free” bookings are being used in place of SPG point redemptions, which takes the pressure off my stash of hard-to-obtain SPG points.

  18. Great card. I agree if I could only have one reward card this would be it. No question the 150 fee is nothing compared to the points earned.

  19. Not sure what we will do. I have the CSR and CSP. I have added my DH as an AU on the CSP. He needs a card since he rents cars so much, but not sure I am willing to pay for the AU fee on the CSR. All the points are in my name, so it doesn’t make sense to get one in his name right now.

    • You know that you are able to combine UR points, right? I will be closing my CSR but before moving all my UR to his account. We closed our CSP in favor of the CSR.

  20. Not to be overlooked is the increased point value of the CSR. Going to the UR booking site, the same exact high-end hotel, on the same day, goes for 23,800 points with CSR, but for 28,100 with CSP. (Just for fun I checked with Freedom, and it’s 35,100!). So, for a 4-night stay, I would save over 17,000 points to use elsewhere with the CSR.

  21. Something to be aware of — I got the CSR last year, but had to keep the CSP as well because I wanted to be able to transfer UR points to travel partner accounts that belonged to my husband. You can only transfer UR points to travel partners the account belongs to someone who is an authorized user on your Chase card. Authorized users are free on the CSP, but cost a hefty amount on the CSR. So, will likely stop the CSR this year.

  22. I’m definitely keeping my CSR, at least for now. I don’t have another premium card so am not getting this level of travel insurance, lounge access, etc from any other card in my wallet. The $300 travel credit is very easy to get thanks to Chase’s broad definition of “travel” and the net $150 annual fee is easily offset by the value of redeeming UR points at 1.5c per point. I’m currently saving up my points to pay for a cruise for my family of 4.

  23. CSR is an amazing bargain..especially starting with the 100,00! I have a CSR as I do the travel, restaurants and hotels, while my wife and I have a joint CSP for household expenses. We moved all the UR points over from that to the CSR, producing 2x business air LAX to UK with a fair number left over, but have now arranged authorized user for her as the $75 (‘hefty amount’ hbr??) more than pays for the priority pass card she will receive, and she could, I believe, also have got Global entry included, although we already have that. I’m a bit bemused by those who are moving UR points to airlines, etc, as I don’t know of any that give the same value per point as Chase travel.

  24. We have two CSRs in the house. We probably don’t need both as I haven’t traveled without my husband. He travels for work, so I think he should always have his.
    Thanks for bringing this up, because it is something good to think about.

    We also have two Chase United Cards. Maybe we don’t need both of those too? Can I transfer my United points to his account?

    Does closing a Chase card make getting another Chase card harder?
    I know down grading the card is better for your credit score right?

  25. I have a CSR and CSP I opened almost a year go now to churn those bonuses of 100K and 60K, respectively. Took advantage of the double dip of the $300 annual travel credits to buy Southwest gift cards for short domestic trips also. I also have a Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited. So I guess that makes me 4/5. Have been thinking about churning the 80K points for Chase Business Ink but don’t really own a business (although I’ve heard people getting approved saying their eBay sales were their business) and it seems like a little bit of a hassle.

    Now I’m trying to decide whether to downgrade both CSR and CSP or keep CSR and downgrade only CSP to avoid the annual fee on it. Double dipping the $300 travel credit again this year would mean I’m paying $450 for $600 worth of travel credits, or 25% off. This allows me to continue earning up to 3x points and preserve my approx. 200K points I haven’t redeemed yet for maximum value at about 1.5 cents per point by keeping CSR.

    So, even without another 100K bonus this year (I think you have to wait 2 years to qualify again), it seems like it could still be worthwhile to keep CSR.

    But would that mean I wouldn’t be eligible for another 100K bonus in 2 years since I still have an active CSR card next year?

    I’m tempted to cash out at 1 cent per point since I don’t anticipate doing much traveling next year. I am interested in a first class Emirates flight experience or some other top notch 1st class long intercontinental flight at bargain prices thru points redemption, or a great cruise with a nice room with a deck. But I don’t foresee myself being able to take such vacations due to obligations at home for the next year, at least. If I keep my CSR, and pay the AF every year, my points won’t expire. If I transfer to an airline partner, I think those points would expire in about 3 years.

  26. I have the card and am also debating whether or not to keep it. I am curious if anyone has attempted to get a retention bonus. I suspect none will be offered as Chase needs to make some money off these cards. One thing I am disappointed in is the manner in which Chase/Visa determines whether a charge is for “travel”. I make several purchases for rail tickets in Europe this summer and received no UR points. Upon contacting chase they claimed those charges came through as “shipping” and thus, did not qualify. When challenged they said Visa controls the designations and not Chase. However, the Visa terms and conditions allow Chase and the vendors to challenge that and request review and recoding. Pretty messy but I was not pleased with Chase’s “we don’t care” attitude and “there’s nothing we can do” stance when I believe they could and should ensure that their point program is managed and applied properly as per their card benefits.

  27. Have you guys decided on whether or not you’ll keep both CSRs??

    My fiance and I are deciding whether or not it would be worth keeping both our CSRs… although we are leaning toward just keeping mine since we’ll be traveling together 24/7 starting next year anyway. The only thing I was worried about was the primary rental car insurance, but all drivers are covered as long as both names are added in the rental contract.

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