Big changes are coming to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the travel rewards credit card many deem to be one of the most rewarding on the market. Rumors began circulating just days ago about an increase in the card’s annual fee, as well as the addition of a handful of new card benefits. And Chase recently confirmed the news is true — for the most part.
What are the changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
Annual fee jumping from $450 to $550
The biggest change coming to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the $100 hike in the annual fee, from $450 to $550 each year starting Jan. 12, 2020. The good news is that there’s still time to receive the current annual fee if you apply before Jan. 12, 2020.
Meanwhile, existing cardholders are able to renew at $450 for another year if their renewal date is before April 1, 2020. Any renewals after that will incur the new $550 annual fee.
New benefits added
While the price tag of the card is going up, Chase is also tacking on a few more benefits to help offset the cost.
One free year of Lyft Pink
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will receive a free Lyft Pink membership, but only for one year. This normally costs $19.99 per month, or nearly $240 a year, and comes with the following perks:
- 15% off unlimited car rides
- Priority airport pickups
- Relaxed cancellations (Lyft will cover up to three cancel fees per month)
- Surprise offers (seasonal discounts and exclusive savings)
- Waived lost and found fees
- Bikes and scooters (three free 30-minute bike or scooter rides per month)
This can provide a ton of value for anyone who uses Lyft on the regular, perhaps those living in a city. The downside is that this perk is only for a year.
Lyft earnings will be boosted
In addition to a free year of Lyft Pink, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will offer a big boost to Lyft earnings — you’ll earn 10X points on all Lyft spending paid for with your Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Between Lyft Pink and 10X points on Lyft spending, you’re looking at the potential for a considerable return on your Lyft spending — if you use the service often, of course. For fans of Uber, is it enough to get you to switch to Lyft?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve will also offer $120 in DoorDash credits: $60 in 2020, $60 in 2021. This is in addition to the free year subscription of DoorDash DashPass Chase just added as a card benefit.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve still “worth it?”
The $100 increase in the annual fee might not sit well with many; some might choose to downgrade to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has only a $95 annual fee, or look outside of Chase altogether.
With everything the Chase Sapphire Reserve already offers though — a lucrative sign-up bonus, a $300 travel credit, Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access, and a fee reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, among other things — loyalists of this beloved travel card might find the $100 increase to be no big deal.
Whether or not the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is worth it all depends on your situation. If you’re on the road a lot, able to take advantage of Priority Pass lounges and restaurants, and able to use the new Lyft and DoorDash options, not to mention the $300 annual fee credit, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is likely still worth it. If you don’t use these perks or already have similar perks with a different travel rewards credit card, it’s probably not worth the fee anymore.
How to calculate the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s value to you
If you do some quick math, you can get a better idea of whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still “worth it” for you.
If you just account for the $300 annual travel credit, the net cost of the card is brought down to $250 ($550 for the new annual fee - $300 travel credit). At 3X for travel and dining, plus the 50% boost in value you get when you redeem your points for travel through the Chase portal, you could break even after spending roughly $5,560 on travel and dining costs each year.
While this is roughly $2000 more than you needed to spend to break even with the card’s current $450 annual fee, this doesn’t take into account the points you earn from other spending or the value of Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access.
If you are able to take advantage of the year of Lyft Pink (valued at $240) and first year of DoorDash credits (worth $60), then you can easily offset the annual fee in the first year. In year two, with the remaining $60 in DoorDash credits, you would only need to spend $2,900 per year in travel and dining for the card to be paid for.
When the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes sense and when it does it not
So, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card worth it now that the annual fee is going up by $100?
In your first year, with the sign-up bonus that allows you to earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, the $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounges and restaurants, and these new benefits (if you use them), the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still likely worth it. It certainly could still make a lot of sense if you apply before Jan. 12, 2020. That way, you can enjoy all the benefits (including the new ones) while only paying the current $450 annual fee.
The value of year two will be case by case. If you don’t travel enough or have benefits from other comparable credit cards, the added cost of the Chase Sapphire Reserve might not be worth it to you.
Are there better options?
In terms of annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will now be on par with The Platinum Card from American Express. While their perks and benefits differ, both can be the means to an ultimate luxury travel experience. But if it’s the steep annual fee that’s got you wondering what other cards might be worth considering, here are some options.
As mentioned earlier, some who currently hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve might now be eyeing the less expensive Chase alternative, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. While the annual fee is significantly less at $95, you do give up the top-tiered perks like the travel credit and Priority Pass lounge and restaurant access that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you weren’t using these perks to begin with, downgrading might be worth it.
The American Express Gold Card might be another viable option for those looking for premium travel perks with a lesser annual cost. This card does come with a $250 annual fee, but this can nearly be offset with just the card’s $100 airline fee credit and $120 dining credit. For new cardmembers, you can also earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
#1 Premium Travel Credit Card
- 50,000 point sign-up bonus
- 10X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
- 5X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
- 3X points on travel and at restaurants
- $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and 2021
- Priority Pass airport lounge access