Disappointed With Changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve? Consider These 7 Cards Instead

If you’re feeling a little put off by the significant annual fee increase for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, now’s the time to consider your other options.
Last updated Jan 14, 2020 | By Lindsay Frankel
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Big changes are coming for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, including a significant annual fee hike. The premium travel rewards card, which comes with awesome benefits like a $300 annual travel credit and complimentary airport lounge access, will now carry a $550 annual fee for new cardholders applying after January 12, 2020. Current cardholders will be charged the new annual fee for renewals beginning on April 1, 2020.

The good news is that Chase is adding some new benefits as well. Cardholders will now receive 10X points per dollar spent on Lyft rides (starting Jan. 12, 2020), one of the highest rewards rate of any travel rewards card. And let’s not forget that those points stretch 50% further when used towards travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Chase is also giving users a one-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership, which gets 15% off rides and priority airport pickup, among other perks. Cardholders can also enroll in up to two years of DoorDash’s DashPass membership and get up to $60 in annual statement credits for DoorDash deliveries in 2020 and 2021. Both new and existing cardholders will have access to these offers.

But these new offers might not be enough to offset the fee increase for some people. It’s a good idea to reevaluate your annual spending to decide if the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is still worth it for you.

7 alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card

While you’re looking at your spending habits, you might consider whether an alternative travel rewards credit card will be a better fit than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s worth analyzing which benefits you’ll use the most and weighing those against the annual fee for the top cards out there. Let’s dive in.

Card Noteworthy perks Earning rate Welcome offer Annual fee
Amex Gold
  • Up to $10 in statement credits monthly for dining
  • $100 annual airline fee credit
4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months $250
Amex Platinum
  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • Global airport lounge access
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash each year
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit
5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases Earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months $550
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Points are 25% more valuable when used to book travel
  • Point transfers to eligible airlines and hotels
  • Membership to DoorDash’s DashPass program
5X on Lyft rides (starting Jan. 12, 2020), 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months $95
Citi Premier
  • Points are worth 25% more towards airfare
  • Point transfers to eligible airlines and hotels
3X points on travel, including gas stations; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; and 1X points on all other purchases Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months $95
Citi Prestige
  • $250 annual travel credit
  • Airport lounge access
  • Complimentary 4th night free at hotels
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit
5X points on airline purchases and restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening $495
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve
  • $325 annual travel credit
  • 12 months of airport lounge access
  • TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit
3X points on eligible travel and mobile wallet purchases Earn 50,000 point bonus after spending $4,500 in the first 3 months $400
Wells Fargo Propel
  • Intro APR offer on purchases and transfers
  • Flexible redemption options
3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; and 1X points on other purchases Earn 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months $0

American Express Gold Card

Why we like it: You can nearly offset the $250 annual fee on the American Express Gold Card with the credits you’ll receive for dining and airline fees, so if you like to travel and dine out, this card might be the perfect fit for you.

In addition, there’s an excellent rewards rate for dining, airfare, and U.S. supermarket purchases. Plus, you’ll get all the travel perks you’d expect from a premium travel rewards card, including baggage insurance, car rental insurance, access to a global assist hotline, and more.

How it compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card will rack up travel and dining points faster when you consider that points are 50% more valuable when used towards travel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Essentially, you can get up to 4.5 points per dollar for dining and travel purchases with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and only 3X points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com with the Amex Gold Card. But the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card only gets you 1X point per dollar on supermarket purchases, which could make the Amex Gold Card more valuable for some people.

That said, the Amex Gold Card is missing several premium travel perks that you can enjoy with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card; there’s no airport lounge access or TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit. While the annual fee is $300 less on the Amex Gold Card, the airline fee credit that’s offered is also $200 less than the Sapphire Reserve’s annual travel credit and harder to use.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Why we like it: It’s hard to beat the 5X points you get on eligible airfare and hotel purchases with the Platinum Card from American Express, especially when you also get a $200 airline fee credit each year. In addition, you’ll get a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and $15 in Uber Cash each month ($20 in December). And with free access to more than 1,200 airport lounges and other premium travel perks, this card is a real competitor to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

How it compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: While you’re getting a slightly higher return on travel purchases with the Amex Platinum, dining isn’t included in the higher rewards rate. And there’s only a $200 airline fee credit as opposed to a $300 travel credit with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which is both more in value and easier to use. However, the Uber Cash benefit that comes with the Amex Platinum card more than offsets that difference.

These cards are neck-and-neck when it comes to the annual fee, and other travel perks are nearly identical. Both cards also offer airport lounge access, but the Sapphire Reserve offers access through a Priority Pass membership while the Platinum Card offers the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion lounges.

If you typically ride with Lyft or spend a lot on dining, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better choice for you. But if you frequently spend a lot on flights, hotels, or rideshares, the Amex Platinum Card could come out ahead.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Why we like it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a generous sign-up offer: You can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. And since points are worth 25% more when used to book travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, that bonus is worth a whopping $750 towards travel. That’s enough to offset the annual fee for seven years.

In addition, there’s an ongoing rewards rate of 2X points per dollar spent on eligible dining and travel, and top-of-the-line travel insurance and assistance perks. And new perks are coming soon as well, thanks to Chase’s partnerships with Lyft and DoorDash. Cardholders will get at least a year of free membership to DashPass and 5X points on Lyft rides (starting Jan. 12, 2020).

How it compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: To offset the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’d need to spend $3,800 on travel and dining each year. Before the recent fee hike, you’d actually need to spend less to offset the fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve when taking into account the $300 annual travel credit.

But with the Sapphire Reserve’s changes, you would need to spend about $5,560 on travel and dining each year to offset the new fee, assuming you max out the travel credit annually. So when comparing the two cards, consider whether the added perks, such as airport lounge access and bonus points on Lyft rides, are worth the difference.

If you typically spend more than $5,560 on travel and dining per year anyway, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is likely going to be the better option. But you should also consider the additional travel perks that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, such as airport lounge access and the fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, when making your final decision.

Citi Premier

What we like: With the same annual fee and welcome bonus as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and a higher rewards rate on travel purchases, the Citi Premier Card is a definite contender. We love that you can earn points in some additional categories as well, including 3X points on travel, including gas stations; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; and 1X points on all other purchases.

How it compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: Like cards with similar annual fees, the Citi Premier card lacks some of the more robust travel perks offered with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, including airport lounge access, annual travel credits, and fee credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. And the rewards rate for travel and dining is not quite as high as what you’d get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

That said, this card could be a great option for less frequent travelers or those who don’t plan to take advantage of some of the more premium perks.

Citi Prestige

Why we like it: In addition to a generous welcome offer of 50,000 points, the Citi Prestige Card offers top-of-the-line earnings with 5X points on airline purchases and restaurants; 3X points on hotels and cruise lines; and 1X points on all other purchases. You also get a $250 annual travel credit to help offset the $495 annual fee.

And, twice per year, you’ll get your fourth night free at the hotel of your choice when you book your stay through ThankYou.com.

How it compares with the Chase Sapphire Reserve: The Citi Prestige has a higher rewards rate on airfare and dining than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, since points are 50% more valuable when used to book travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that narrows the gap in earnings. But if you can take advantage of the free fourth night twice per year, the Citi Prestige could be more valuable.

The cards have many similarities as well, including airport lounge access and an annual travel credit. Though the Citi Prestige’s travel credit is lower, so is its annual fee.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

Why we like it: The best-in-class $325 annual travel credit nearly offsets the $400 annual fee on the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. Plus, you’ll get 3X points on eligible travel and mobile wallet purchases.

If you frequently use mobile wallet to pay for transactions or would like to get started doing so, this can be incredibly valuable. And all those points you rack up will be worth 50% more when used to book travel, which means the 50,000 points welcome offer translates to up to $750 towards travel.

You’ll also get added perks like a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership, 12 free Gogo in-flight WiFi passes annually, discounts on rental cars, and a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

How it compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: With a higher annual travel credit and lower annual fee, there’s less to offset with the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve. You’ll also get the same ongoing rewards rate on travel purchases, but not on dining. That said, if you can use mobile wallet at the restaurants you frequent, this card might come out to be a better value.

However, if ongoing airport lounge access is important to you, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better fit for you. The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve only gets you a 12-month Priority Pass Select membership.

Wells Fargo Propel

Why we like it: For a fee-free card, the Wells Fargo Propel offers a generous 3X rewards rate on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming services, and those categories are defined broadly. They include things like transit, rideshares, homestays, gas stations, and car rentals, in addition to airfare, hotels, and restaurants. Your points never expire and they can be redeemed for travel, cash back, and more.

How it compares to the Chase Sapphire Reserve: When you consider the rewards rate available on this no-annual-fee card, you’d have to spend quite a bit on travel and dining to make the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it.

But you also need to decide if other premium perks, such as airport lounge access and annual travel credits, are worth the annual fee that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Aside from standards like car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, and emergency assistance, the Wells Fargo Propel card lacks the premium travel perks that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The bottom line

There are a ton of factors to consider when choosing the right travel rewards credit card for you. While the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still one of the most valuable premium travel cards out there, the annual fee hike brings other alternatives to the forefront of the competition.

To determine which card is the best fit for you, analyze your annual spending and decide what premium perks like airport lounge access are worth to you. No matter your spending habits, there are plenty of cards to choose from that offer accelerated rewards on travel and dining. You’ll be on your way to earning free nights and flights in no time.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
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