Chase Sapphire Reserve Fee Increase to $550: Still Worth It?

Chase Sapphire Reserve Fee Increase $550: Still Worth It?

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve Fee Will Increase to $550 effective 1/12/20 for new applicants, and for existing cardholders effective 4/1/20, per Dan. The most fortunate are those who have an annual fee billed in March 2020, as they'll get another year at the $450 annual fee rate, while everyone with a card anniversary April 1, 2020 or later will see their renewal fee increase $100 to $550.

There are, to be sure, some throwaway (my opinion) benefits being added, which are of zero value to me, although other cardholders who use DoorDash and Lyft will presumably find some value in them:

  • Complimentary DoorDash membership through 12/31/21 (usually $9.99 per month)
  • $60 statement credit for DoorDash per calendar year in 2020 and 2021
  • Complimentary Lyft Pink membership: save 15% off all Lyft rides, get priority airport pickup, get waived cancellation fees 3 times per month when you rebook a ride within 15 minutes, get waived lost and found fees, and enjoy 3 free bike or scooter rides per month (usually $19.99 per month)
  • Starting 1/12/20, earn 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft ride spending

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Analysis: Worth Keeping the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides a $300 statement credit for travel that is easy for most anyone to take advantage of, since it includes not only airfare and hotels, but also cruises, trains, subways, taxis, Uber and other ride sharing, it's an effective increase from $150 to $250, or a 67% increase in the annual fee.

Along with raising the Chase Sapphire Reserve's annual fee, akin to recent AMEX Platinum annual fee increases, Chase seems to be following AMEX, unfortunately, in adding “benefits” with high breakage, i.e. of questionable value to most users and/or hard to maximize. For instance, the AMEX Platinum added Uber credit when increasing its annual fee to $550 and the AMEX Gold has $10 statement credit per month for GrubHub, Seamless, participating Shake Shack locations, The Cheesecake Factory and Ruth's Chris Steak House. The AMEX Platinum airline incidental credit itself is the king of high breakage: you have to designate a single airline partner, and the credit is notoriously difficult to use up for many cardholders, unless you manage to get some gift card purchases reimbursed, possible on very few airlines.

The $100 increase for the card may be worth it if it's the only Chase Sapphire Reserve in your family, and you value the travel insurance protection the card provides (see AMEX Trip Cancellation Insurance: Chase Sapphire Still Better). For many of my clients, particularly cruise clients, the AMEX travel insurance of maximum of $10,000 per trip isn't nearly enough on a trip with a spouse or partner; the Sapphire Reserve provides up to $10,000 per person, and up to $20,000 per covered trip, twice as much for a couple over AMEX. Additionally, AMEX only covers trips where the entire amount is paid with the AMEX card; the Chase Sapphire Reserve permits partial payment with the card, especially useful for award tickets, where only the taxes and fees are paid with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

For those focused on the 3X points earning on travel and dining vs. the 2X of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, consider that, if you value each Ultimate Rewards point at 1.5 cents per point, you'd need to spend ~$10,500 per year on travel and/or dining to come out ahead with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and justify paying an effective $250 annual fee vs. the $95 fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, although of course that breakeven doesn't factor in some of the Sapphire Reserve's superior return protection, purchase protection, travel accident, etc. coverage benefits.

Note that you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to one household member who also has a Chase card, so if there's more than one Chase Sapphire Reserve in your household, for example because you both wanted to get the signup bonus, you could cancel one of them before it comes up for renewal.

Keep in mind, though, that in order to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to frequent flyer partners (where the name on your Chase account must match the name on your frequent flyer account), you do need to have an Ultimate Rewards-linked card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or an Ink Business Preferred (or old Ink Plus) card, or be an authorized user ($75 fee) on another user's Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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Do you plan to downgrade or cancel your Chase Sapphire Reserve card when the annual fee increases to $550, or will you still keep your card, due to the superior travel insurance benefits or for other reasons?

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4 Comments on "Chase Sapphire Reserve Fee Increase to $550: Still Worth It?"

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Peggy
Guest

Even though I’ve gotten zero benefit from Priority Pass, I would’ve kept the Reserve because I spend enough on it. But the $100 increase changes that. In addition, I just got the United Club card with its $450 fee and don’t think it’s worth carrying both cards. Are you keeping your Reserve, Hilary? As you say, the new “perks” are worthless to most people.

Hilary Stockton
Guest
Yes, it’s disappointing that Chase is raising the annual fee, although not that surprising in light of AMEX’s moves. Currently my husband and I both have the Sapphire Reserve, since I’ve been using mine as one of my business cards, and since mine comes up for renewal first, later this year (after the $550 fee increase) I’ll likely cancel mine and switch as much of my business spend as possible to my no fee AMEX Blue Business Plus, which gets 2X Membership Rewards points on everything. I still have an old Ink Plus card which enables me to earn 5X… Read more »
Jason
Guest

I’m keeping it because I do a lot of international travel and the insurance benefits alone is worth $150 plus the additional $100 increase. Everything on top of that is gravy. The price of everything is increasing, so this is no surprise to me. Of course, I would not have two Chase Reserve cards (other than for the huge sign-up bonus when they first came out)

Brad
Guest
My main UR redemptions since 2016 have been United MileagePlus, Hyatt points, then Marriott points. In each case it’s actually much cheaper to BUY POINTS than to earn them through organic or manufactured spending. I typically redeem for transpacific business class flights and domestic US hotel nights. For United the business class fares typically range $7000-$14000 depending upon day/month of travel and season. For a 90000 MP redemption the value of those points is 7.8-15.6 cents per point. I can BUY POINTS for 1.8-2.0 cents per point so that’s almost always preferred over organic or manufactured spending. Now if you… Read more »