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By Jason Steele
February 2, 2021
Why I'm Not Canceling My Chase Sapphire Reserve
Money

Before COVID, when I was traveling two or three times a month for both business and pleasure, I loved having my Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which many consider to be the gold-standard in travel rewards credit cards. I earned and spent a lot of travel rewards and enjoyed perks such as having access to plenty of airport lounges.

But since the COVID crisis, I’ve been largely grounded, and I’ve even been tempted to cancel this card to spare myself its hefty, $550 annual fee. In fact, many would think I’m crazy to spend that much to keep a card with benefits that I hardly ever use.

However, I looked at the actual value of what card is offering, including some new non-travel perks, I decided that it was still worth keeping the card this year instead of downgrading to the more affordable Sapphire Preferred version of this card, with its $95 annual fee.

What the Sapphire Reserve Offers over the Sapphire Preferred:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium rewards card that comes with dozens of features and benefits. I looked at the value of the seven of the card’s most valuable benefits that I would have to give up if I downgraded the card to the Sapphire Preferred, or canceled it altogether.

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Bonus points:

The benefit: The Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on all travel and dining purchases, and “travel” is defined broadly enough to include parking, tolls and even ride sharing services, which you often use from home. And until April 30, 2021, you can also earn 3x points on grocery store purchases (up to $1,000 per month). This is a major selling point as many alternatives like the Sapphire Preferred offer just 2x points on these kinds of purchases.

What it’s worth: Let’s say I’ll spend a total of $5,000 on dining and travel purchases in the next year, plus eligible grocery spending. Those purchases earn 3x points on the Sapphire Reserve instead of the 2x I’d earn if I just had the Sapphire Preferred.

That’s 5,000 points, which are worth at least $75, since the Sapphire Reserve offers you 1.5 cents in value per point redeemed towards travel reservations, and potentially more value when you transfer your rewards to airline miles or hotel points.

Higher award redemption value:

The benefit: One of the best features of the Sapphire Reserve is that the points that you earn are worth 50% more (1.5 cents each) towards travel reservations booked through Chase. This is more then they are worth when you have a lesser card like the Sapphire Preferred, which only offers you 1.25 cents in value per point spent on travel reservations. So if I plan on redeeming 40,000 points from a Sapphire Preferred this year, I’d receive $500 in value. But I’ll get $600 in value if I keep my Sapphire Reserve.

Plus, until the end of April of 2021, both Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cardholders can also redeem their points for purchases from grocery stores and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services), home improvement stores and for donations to select charitable organizations. So this benefit will still be valuable to me if I’m not traveling.

The reward points you receive are part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which has many uses. You can redeem them for travel booked through Chase, including flights, hotels, vacation rental properties, rental cars, activities, and cruises.

What it’s worth: The extra value that the Sapphire Reserve offers will be worth $100 to me if I redeem 40,000 points in the next year. And since I can receive that extra value for some non-travel expenses, I have no doubt that I’ll be using this benefit.

Travel statement credit:

The benefit: The Sapphire Reserve also includes an annual $300 credit towards your travel purchases. And through June, 30 2021, you can also use this credit towards gas station and grocery store purchases.

What it’s worth: This is a no-brainer. Even if I’m not traveling much this year, I can easily use this credit for gas or grocery purchases made through June. So I’ll value this benefit for the full $300.

DoorDash benefits:

The benefit: This card features another statement credit of up to $60 good towards purchases from DoorDash and Caviar dining delivery services in 2021. You also receive a complimentary DashPash subscription, which provides unlimited restaurant deliveries with $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 on DoorDash and Caviar.

What it’s worth: I’ll be conservative and just count the actual $60 statement credit that I’ll use in 2021, and not the value of the Dash Pass membership, which I probably would not have purchased.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit:

The benefit: The Sapphire Reserve also offers you up to $100 in statement credits towards an application to the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (once every four years).

What it’s worth: I already used this benefit several years ago, so I can’t use it in 2021. But since it’s worth $100 towards my next Global Entry renewal and can be used once every four years, I’ll value it at $25 per year. It can also be used to pay for the application fees for friends or family members, which ensures that I never put this credit card to waste.

Peloton credit:

The benefit: This card now offers up to $120 back towards Peloton (indoor cycling program) membership fees paid in 2021.

What it’s worth: I’m not into indoor cycling or their other workouts, so I don’t anticipate using this credit (unless I find a friend that I can give it to).

Priority Pass Select:

The benefit: This airport lounge membership gives you and up to two guests admission to over 1,000 airports around the world. There are even airport restaurants that give each person a $27 credit. But if you aren’t traveling much this year, this may be one of the card’s least valuable benefits.

What it’s worth: This is a tough one. In an average year, I’ll use this benefit multiple times during my domestic and international travel. For 2021 travel, however, it’s unlikely that I’ll leave the country where most of the lounges are, or spend much time in a lounge during the current travel climate. So in deciding to renew my card, I’m not including this benefit at all.

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Why I’m keeping the card

The total value to me all of the exclusive, most valuable benefits of my Sapphire Reserve is $560, which is just $10 above its $550 annual fee. But actually, it’s not that close. If I chose to downgrade my card to the Sapphire Preferred, because I’d still pay a $95 annual fee, leaving a difference of $105.

Sure, I could go with another no-fee rewards card, but then I’d loose the ability to earn Ultimate Rewards points that I can transfer to airline and hotel programs, which is very valuable to me. This is especially important since I’ve been earning these points for years and I already have a healthy balance saved up.

But for others, it may still make sense to downgrade their Sapphire Reserve to the Sapphire Preferred or close their account altogether. For example, if your traveling days are behind you, or you feel you won’t be traveling regularly for a long time, you would be better off with a no-fee, cash back card.

However, because I expect the world, not to mention my own travel plans to return to normal within the next year, I’ll be keeping my Sapphire Reserve even if it’s not quite as valuable to me as it was in years past.

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