Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 Travel Credit: Everything You Need To Know

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card is one of the most popular premium travel rewards credit cards. Not only does the card have an excellent welcome bonus, but it offers compelling perks and points that make it worth holding onto long term.

There are many things to love about the card, like the 50,000 point welcome bonus, triple points on dining and travel, a Priority Pass membership, Visa Infinite perks, car rental and travel coverage, and much more. However, in this post I wanted to focus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit.

This is the single greatest perk of the card, as it essentially earns you back two-thirds of your $450 annual fee every year, and the way I view it, this means that the card only really costs you $150 per year to hold onto.

Understandable this perk causes a lot of confusion, since several cards offer travel credits, and some of them have a lot of strings attached. Fortunately the one on this card is quite straightforward.

Here’s what you need to know about this perk:

What is the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit?

Every cardmember year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 travel credit. This credit is applied to purchases automatically — there’s no need to register — and you can use it over as many purchases as needed until the credit is completely used up (so that can be a single $300 purchase, 10 purchases of $30 each, etc.). This comes in the form of a statement credit that posts shortly after you make your purchase.

What qualifies as travel for the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit?

What purchases will automatically be credited? The Chase Sapphire Reserve defines travel as including the following purchases:

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages.

Note that this is the same definition they use for the categories in which they offer 3x points. As you can see, it’s not just traditional travel purchases that get reimbursed, but also things like Ubers, parking, trains, buses, and more. You can easily use the $300 credit in your day-to-day life.


You can use your $300 travel credit for a hotel stay

When do I get my $300 Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit?

As soon as you activate the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can immediately start using the travel credit. There’s no waiting period required.

In subsequent years, your $300 travel credit is valid starting on your anniversary account date, which would be 12 monthly billing cycles after you opened the card.

How quickly does the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit post?

The credit should post almost instantly after a purchase posts to your statement. For example, take the below transactions, which were for Uber rides. As you can see, the travel credits posted almost immediately. With this benefit you don’t have to wait for several weeks for the credit to post, or anything.

Does the $300 travel credit impact the minimum spend requirement?

To earn the Chase Sapphire Reserve welcome bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, you have to spend $4,000 within three months.

So how does the $300 travel credit play into that? Say you spend a total of $4,000, and $300 of that amount is travel, meaning that you’re credited $300. Would you still qualify for the bonus?

Yes, absolutely. The total amount you spend (minus the annual fee) counts towards the minimum spend requirement. So even if you get the $300 credit, you’d still have completed the minimum spend.


You can use your $300 travel credit for a flight

Do you earn triple points for reimbursed transactions?

One of the great things about the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it offers triple points on dining and travel. So if you spent $300 on travel, you’d ordinarily earn 900 Ultimate Rewards points for that. However, unfortunately for the amount that’s reimbursed you’re not going to be earning those triple points.

What happens if you refund a transaction that’s reimbursed?

If you refund a purchase that was reimbursed, then the statement credit should similarly be reversed, and the amount should automatically be applied towards a future travel transaction. However, some report that the statement credit doesn’t get reversed, so this seems like a case of “your mileage may vary.”


You can use your $300 travel credit for Uber rides

How can I track how much of my $300 travel credit I’ve used?

When you go to the Ultimate Rewards homepage and log into your account, look at the very right of the page, where you’ll see a counter that shows your progress towards spending with the $300 annual travel credit. What’s also cool about this page is that it shows you when your next travel credit will kick in — in my case it’s after my statement closing date in December 2019, as I just recently had my account anniversary.

Do most people use the full $300 travel credit?

There’s no published data on this, though I’d have to assume that a vast majority of people with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are fully utilizing the travel credit. That’s why I feel comfortable suggesting that for most users, it lowers the real annual “out of pocket” on the card by about two thirds.

Let me take it a step further — if you don’t use the full $300 travel credit then this card simply isn’t for you. There are better cards out there for someone who doesn’t spend at least $300 per year on taxis, Ubers, subways, trains, hotels, airlines, etc.

If everyone can use this so easily, why doesn’t Chase just lower the annual fee to $150 instead?

This is a logical enough question. If everyone is so easily using this credit, then why not just lower the annual fee to $150, which would probably make the card even more popular? There are two reasons for this:

  • Chase wants more wallet share — Chase wants you to use your card as much as possible, and they know that if they’re reimbursing you for certain purchases, you’re more likely to actually use your card and have it at the top of your wallet
  • Chase doesn’t want to cannibalize their portfolio — Chase also has the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a $95 annual fee and is also rewarding; they don’t want to completely cannibalize that card, so by going after two different consumers in terms of annual fees, they’re able to do that

Bottom line

Many people are deterred by the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $450 annual fee. However, as I’ve often said, what makes this card so special is that it’s a $450 annual fee card for people who don’t usually pay $450 annual fees.

That’s because in reality, this card should be “costing” most people $150 per year, after factoring in the $300 of value they’ll get out of the travel credit. This credit isn’t a gimmick like you might find on some other cards, where you have to register, can only be reimbursed for very specific transactions, etc.

Instead with this benefit all travel coded purchases, up to $300 per cardmember year, will be reimbursed. If you have this card then you should get full value out of this awesome benefit.

“Paying” just $150 per year for triple points on dining and travel, a Priority Pass membership, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each, and much more, is a bargain. That’s what makes the Chase Sapphire Reserve so great.

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Comments

  1. And it’s the reason that I dropped the Amex Platinum, which offers a travel credit that can only be used for a single, pre-selected airline and then only for some travel expenses (although some stack up on GCs, but that’s not assured and I expect will be eliminated). So, I’d hope bloggers will stop suggesting that the Amex Platinum travel credit is equal to its nominal value.

  2. Another clarifying question:
    If i got the card, then spent the $4,000 on eligible travel expenses in the first 3 months, at a minimum does that mean that I:

    -Pay $450 membership for the upcoming year
    -get $300 of my charges reimbursed
    -get triple points on $3,700 = 11,100 points (i.e. 4,000 – the reimbursed portion)
    -get 50,000 point bonus

  3. @Lucky So, this seems like a very straightforward card. I have been thinking for a long time about this card as my parents absolutely love it. In another case, the Hilton Aspire is very frustrating when it comes to their Hilton Resort Credit. I have used my card at a qualifying resort for the charges that the resort fee should cover such as dining in their restaurants. I have already talked to AMEX numerous times, but the fee still has not credited back although the stay happened in late December.

    I know you told me last time, it took three days for you, but that is not the case on my part. Not sure if the reason is that on the statement, the merchant name shows up as the individual business name and not as a Hilton resort, but it does so on its billing address and that resort does show up as a qualified resort when I checked it on the Hilton website. They keep insisting 8-12 weeks. Oh, they also ignored my email when I showed them the hotel bill as proof. I guess I am being too impatient, since even if it takes two to three months, I can get it back nonetheless. Thank you.

  4. @pushslice…No foreign transaction fees period for ALL outside the country spend.
    Also to answer your second post top down: No purchase of AF for upcoming year (AF is completely separate from ANY spend. You must pay AF when calendar year is reset). Yes all travel expenses will be reimbursed up to $300 making your intial AF only $150 as Lucky stated. Yes 3x ONLY on the purchases made for travel and dining. 50k SUB ONLY on the $3700 spend if the $300 travel reimbursement is included in your 4k spend. Hope this helps!

  5. Phill,
    yes thank you, that’s helpful. One more question, if I may: If i redeem my points for travel purchase via the Ultimate Rewards site, what exactly is my available ‘marketplace’ for purchasing? Is it just the airlines and hotels that participate in the ‘1:1 points transfer’ option into loyalty programs? Or is it more airlines than that?

  6. When does the credit reset? I PC’d to this card in November and used up the credit before the end of the year. Is it on cardmember anniversary?

  7. Had some unused credit at the end of the year, so used what was left to charge up my Florida Sunpass for tolls. Credit posted the next day.

  8. I have a question… Because I have both a CSR and CSP renewal coming up in a couple weeks for my second year. I use my CSR all the time, it’s my daily card. I was planning on downgrading the CSP since I never use it. Someone suggested I do this which I was unaware of:

    -I can wait for travel $300 credit to refresh on CSR. Use it.
    -Downgrade CSR. I wasn’t aware they refund AF within 30 days of charging it.
    -Upgrade my CSP to CSR and pay the $450 but get another $300 in travel credit.

    — Does doing this switch effect my credit score or credit line on either card.

    Is that a solid strategy?

  9. @pushslice you can certainly transfer Chase points to one of the airline partners, but that doesn’t mean you have to fly with them. For instance, while you can’t transfer Chase points to Delta, you can transfer them to Virgin Atlantic and book Delta award flights.

    If nothing is showing up or you want to be picky, you can book with the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, which will give you 1.5 cents per point toward travel without the limitation of using transfer partners. Note the value there is nowhere as good as transferring points when it comes to premium cabin travel.

  10. The best part of this card (besides the $300 travel credit) is the fact that if you use it to get 3X points or say, restaurants or travel, you can use those 3X points to send to United for miles. So lets say you get 1200 points (for $400 on restaurant spend), then you can use that for 1200 United airline miles. So you spent $400 to get 1200 airline points. Great deal! So get this card, it’s great!

  11. @stinsley — A no-brainer. The CSP is obsolete when you also have the CSR and use the latter all the time. You are paying an AF of $95 on CSP for no reason. Downgrade it to the Chase Freedom Unlimited (CFU), which has no AF and awards 1.5x on ALL purchases. Then you’ll use your CSR for dining and travel and the CFU for all else, and watch your pot UR points grow and grow and grow 🙂

  12. @farsighted99 — True, but one can do even better on dining with the CSR by joining the United MileagePlus Dining program in which one can easily earn the VIP status to begin earning 5x UA miles on dining with any registered CC. When you dine at any participating restaurant (you get a listing of all participating restaurants in your neighborhood), you’ll essentially double dip when you pay with your CSR: for the same purchase on dining, you’ll earn 3x UR points AND 5x UA miles. So, you are essentially earning 8x with the CSR on dining because, as you noted correctly, UR points are just an extension of UA miles if MileagePlus is the FF program that you patronize. The scheme does not work as well with the Citi Prestige because Thank You points do not transfer to UA miles, so you’ll end up with 5x TY points and 5x UA miles, which you cannot combine.

    Cheers!

  13. I usually used Amex platinum card for all airline tickets except in the beginning of the year I use CSR just to get the $300 credit. Last week, I booked a UA ticket with CSR and later that night I canceled it cuz I had a change of plan. Since it was canceled within 24hrs, I thought the charges will just show as “pending” and disappear in couple of days. Lo and behold, I checked my statement tonight, the charges actually turned into “Sale” and there was the $300 “travel credit” followed by the credit from United!

    What a easy way to cash in the travel credit without spending a dime.

  14. @CoreyL – I would not celebrate just yet. When Chase sees that UA gave you credit for the ticket, the $300 travel they issues you for it will, without a doubt, be reversed. I can guarantee it, unless you are extremely lucky…

  15. Can I get the sign up bonus if I already have the Sapphire Preferred? I’m considering switching my daily spend onto a Reserve, but don’t want to miss out on the bonus.

  16. Here’s an obscure question:

    As a Sapphire Preferred cardholder, another benefit is Trip Cancellation insurance. (Provides reimbursement if a covered loss prevents you from traveling on or before the departure date and results in cancellation of the travel arrangements.)

    Anyone know if I’m covered if I rent a prepaid car through Hotwire/”hot deals” or does the coverage only apply if I rent the car directly from the rental car company?

  17. @DCS thanks for the reply. I totally understand points your making… But i’m asking a different question.

    Anyone have feedback trying this trick? See my original question

  18. @tinsley — Sorry for providing information on what I thought made sense because your question, as worded, did make much sense to me (like “Upgrade my CSP to CSR and pay the $450 but get another $300 in travel credit”, when already have the CSR)…

    G’day and good luck!

  19. @DCS definitely appreciate the feedback! Clarified my question below

    -I can wait for travel $300 credit to refresh on CSR. Use it up within 30 days.
    -Downgrade CSR. Apparently Chase refunds annual fees within 30 days of being charged. So in essence, I would be getting a free $300 travel credit.
    -After downgrading my CSR I would upgrade my CSP to CSR and pay the $450 but get another $300 in travel credit.

    So basically – I would be paying $450 for $600 in travel credit

  20. “In subsequent years, your $300 travel credit is valid starting on your anniversary account date, which would be 12 monthly billing cycles after you opened the card.”

    My anniversary date is in September. My account shows this: “Take advantage of this year’s $300 Annual Travel Credit by making eligible travel purchases. (Your next year’s $300 Annual Travel Credit will begin after your statement closing date in 12/2019.*)”

    Mine has consistently reset after the December close date, not my anniversary date.

  21. @stinsley – Whatever you’d like to accomplish is not worth it. The CSR or the CSP are cards that you keep and use, not cards that you play games with.

    In any case , I can tell you that “After downgrading my CSR I would upgrade my CSP to CSR and pay the $450 but get another $300 in travel credit” still makes no sense, but whatever you try, you’ll not get the $300 travel credit twice in the same year, especially since you’ve already had the CSR, which will have a record. When you downgrade or upgrade, the record of the card you are upgrading or downgrading becomes part of the record of the replacement card.

  22. Super Random Question….if I book an excursion through Trip Advisor, would I get 3x points on something like that?

  23. Also I bought a shuttle service and had to cancel it a few weeks later. The charge used part of my $300 credit. When the refund was done, it was just applied to my balance, they didn’t roll time off my annual credit.

  24. I purchased airline tickets, and then within 24 hours decided I didn’t want to take the trip anymore. The tickets were cancelled within the 24 hours as allowed for a full refund. Chase took the airfare from my annual credit of $300. After a few weeks of not seeing it reversed, I called Chase. The customer service rep told me they don’t do reverses and commented that I pretty lost $298 of my annual credit. On top of that her additional comment was that “at least the airline refunded you”, what a joke! Is there anything I can do? Anyone else experience this before?

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