There are a variety of no annual fee credit cards that are a good staple for your wallet. However, paying an annual fee in exchange for better perks could make cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it. These cards have benefits that range from exclusive lounge access, annual credit with airlines, or credit with premier retail companies. Nearly all of these premium credit cards are geared towards frequent travelers, so be mindful before investing in one. In this post, I’ll be going over one of the most popular premium cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’ll list out the benefits of this card versus the annual fees, as well as offer my own opinion on whether or not it’s worth it. So is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it? Let’s dive right in.
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Annual Fee and Benefits
|60,000 points after $4,000 spending in first three months
|$300 on any travel related expenses
DoorDash DashPass ($120 value) for one year, $120 DoorDash credit split across two years
10x points on Lyft until March 31, 2025
|Priority Pass Select membership which includes access to 1200+ lounges worldwide
Travel insurance: Trip delay, baggage, travel accidents, emergency, evacuation, emergency medical when far from home.
TSA Precheck: Reimbursed on statement for $100 per 4 years.
Hotel benefits: Various hotel perks like room upgrades, free meals, and more at partnered locations.
Just looking at the raw numbers, the annual fee is almost fully offset by the travel credit, Lyft credit, and DoorDash credit! This may make the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it in 2022.
Although quantitatively it does make sense to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that doesn’t mean that all of you should immediately go sign up for the card right now. One thing to consider is whether or not you really need some of the benefits that the Chase Sapphire Reserve has to offer. In current pandemic times, the TSA Precheck and Priority Pass lounge may net significantly less value depending on your situation. You may also not be a frequent user of DoorDash or Lyft and those credits might actually make you spend more money rather than save it. Keep these factors in mind before you apply for a credit card with an annual fee.
Additionally, redeeming your Chase rewards points for maximum value is a process that involves timing and effort. Booking straight from the Chase travel portal provides a value of 1.5 cents per point, turning your 50,000 point signing bonus into $750. If you transfer your points to the World of Hyatt rewards systems, redemption of up to 25 cents per point is available depending on what deal is available through their portal. There’s a variety of ways you can redeem your points and your 3% return on restaurants and travel is not as straightforward as you might think.
Priority Pass lounges across the world offer a multitude of benefits that usually include:
- Open bar
- Comfortable seating and recliners for napping
If the food at the lounge doesn’t strike your fancy, many airport restaurants partner with Priority Pass to offer $28 credit per visit for Priority Pass holders. Say goodbye to those $20 airport cocktails and complimentary pretzels! The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great way to save money on travel expenses such as food.
If you are active duty military, there is no excuse to not have this card. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) waives the annual fees for all Chase and American Express cards, including both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum! As long as you manage your bills properly (easy with AutoPay), it is quite essentially free money. Even if you hadn’t traveled for the past year, the $120 of DoorDash credit gets you about 10 free meals. Given how often military members travel solo for work, having premium airport lounge access (as well as knowing how to make friends traveling solo!) is a must. Before I joined active duty and obtained the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I would arrive at the airport as close to my departure time as possible to minimize wait time. Now, I make it a point to arrive a few hours early to enjoy the lounge to the fullest.
If you’re not sure about getting the card, you can always downgrade within the first 30 days for a full refund of your annual fee. To really game the system you could obtain the Chase Sapphire Reserve, spend $4,000 to get the 50,000 point signing bonus, and downgrade the card within the 30 day window to avoid the annual fee. If you do this, you should transfer your points to a partnered company before you downgrade your card to avoid being locked into Chase Ultimate Reward points, because only the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows for reward point conversion. By downgrading instead of cancelling, you avoid an account closure mark on your credit score, and retain the option to upgrade back to the Chase Sapphire Reserve at your leisure.
You can also downgrade your card at anytime to a no annual fee Chase credit card such as Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited. This would make it so that you can keep your points but not have to pay the annual fee anymore. You wouldn’t be eligible for a signing bonus from these cards, however, so be wary of that before downgrading.
I’ve been a holder of the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the past 2 years. When I first got the card, there were no DoorDash and Lyft benefits, but the annual fee was $450. Companies have realized that the market for premium credit cards is booming. This has led to the arms race between American Express, Chase, and now Citi. All three companies are continually striving to offer the most attractive premium credit card, so make sure to stay in touch with this blog to see which one is the most bang for your buck!
Whether or not the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth it boils down to the subjective worth of the perks and how much effort you’re willing to put in to redeem your rewards. To some, the physical weight of the card and trip insurance is worth a sum that isn’t easily quantifiable. Rewards points are worth the most when redeemed through partners that offer flash deals. TSA Precheck, Priority Pass, and lounge access offer an airport experience that is genuinely enjoyable. If you’re fully utilizing the benefits and redeeming your points for more value, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth it. However, it’s good to note that there are no annual fee cards such as the Wells Fargo Propel that also offer 3% back on travel and restaurants. Regardless, it is a card that you slap on top of the stack and drop at restaurants to look cool as well as use for traveling with no foreign transaction fees.
So what do you think, is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it for you? Comment below!
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Aaron is currently a cyber operations officer for the United States Air Force stationed in South Korea. His passion for personal finance caught fire when he saw Chloe raking in free money from scholarships in high school. During his spare time he enjoys playing piano, hiking, and catching up on his never ending watch list.