Is The Chase Sapphire Reserve Still Worth It? (2021)

Is The Chase Sapphire Reserve Still Worth It? (2021)

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) is one of the most popular premium credit cards. Since the card was introduced about five years ago, it has been a no brainer for many. However, a lot has changed, both in absolute and relative terms — the card’s annual fee has increased, coronavirus changed a lot of consumer behavior, and we recently saw significant changes to both Sapphire cards.

With that in mind, I wanted to tackle the question of whether the Sapphire Reserve is still worth it, both in absolute terms, and relative to other cards, including the Sapphire Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, and offers the following long term major benefits:

  • 3x points on all dining and travel purchases, plus 5x points on flights booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 10x points on hotels and car rentals booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • A $300 annual travel credit, which can be applied towards virtually any travel purchase (I’d say that’s good as cash)
  • The ability to redeem all of your Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases (in addition to transferring them to airline and hotel partners)
  • A Priority Pass membership with unlimited visits and the ability to take two guests
  • Excellent travel coverage and car rental coverage
Priority Pass lounge access is an awesome perk

Since early 2020 we’ve seen many changes made to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, both for better and worse. Some of the new perks are temporary, while others are permanent. These changes include the following:

The Sapphire Reserve travel credit is super valuable

How much is the Sapphire Reserve “costing” me?

For the past year it has been quite easy to justify the Chase Sapphire Reserve, given all the temporary perks, from a Lyft Pink membership to a DoorDash credit. However, I’ve now used those credits, and don’t receive any more of them, so what happens next? While I imagine card benefits will continue to evolve (perhaps with new limited time offers), I wanted to crunch the numbers as best I could on the current value proposition of the Sapphire Reserve.

My Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee, and for that I’ll receive a $300 annual travel credit. Since that’s more or less good as cash, I’d consider this card to really “cost” me $250 per year, since I’d spend $300 on travel anyway.

The travel credit can be used towards virtually any travel purchase

For $250(ish) per year I’m receiving the best Chase Ultimate Rewards “hub” card, 3x points on dining and travel, excellent travel coverage and car rental coverage, a comprehensive Priority Pass membership, and more. Given how much value I get from the Ultimate Rewards program overall, paying an annual fee like this isn’t unreasonable, at least on the surface. Is there a better option, though?

Why I’m not spending much on the Sapphire Reserve

When the Chase Sapphire Reserve was first introduced, I loved the ability to earn 3x points on dining and travel, and used it for virtually all purchases in those categories. However, that’s no longer the competitive advantage that it once was:

My dining spending goes on the Citi Prestige

In other words, I’m no longer using the Sapphire Reserve for my dining and airfare purchases. At this point the only “bonused” spending going on my card is non-airfare travel purchases. For hotel spending it’s also breakeven, since I earn 3x points on the Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige.

In fairness, this is still a significant category, as it means I’m putting things like ridesharing, car rentals, trains, hotels, and more, on the card. The 10x points on Lyft is a huge category for me, though as of now that’s only valid through March 2022.

Is the Sapphire Reserve still right for me?

All of this has me wondering whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still right for me, or if I should downgrade it to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) or maybe just keep the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review).

When considering these cards, let me share what perks of the Sapphire Reserve I do and don’t value at this point:

  • For the 3x points on dining and travel, at this point I only value 3x points on non-airfare travel purchases, since I’d rather put other purchases on the Amex Platinum and Citi Prestige
  • I value the $300 annual travel credit more or less at face value
  • I value the travel and car rental protection, as that really comes in handy for my travels
  • The Sapphire Reserve lets you redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases (rather than 1.25 cents), though that’s not something I personally value, since I’d rather transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners
  • A Priority Pass membership is valuable, but I also get this through several other cards, so incrementally I don’t think that’s worth much
  • I used to value the 20% discount on Silvercar rentals, though Silvercar has now closed down all airport locations, so it’s not something I use anymore
I don’t use Silvercar anymore since the company pulled out of airports

Where does that leave me? Should I keep the Sapphire Reserve, should I downgrade to the Sapphire Preferred, or should I just keep the Ink Preferred?

I want to keep a premium Ultimate Rewards card

On the most basic level, the reason I want to keep one of those three cards is that they allow me to unlock the full value of the Ultimate Rewards program.

If I have one of those three cards, then I can transfer the points earned on the no annual fee Chase Freedom FlexSM (review), Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review), Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review), and Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review), to Ultimate Rewards partners.

For me the value of the overall Ultimate Rewards ecosystem remains unchanged thanks to Chase’s great no annual fee cards.

If I were to consider not keeping the Sapphire Reserve, I’d have two options.

Option #1: downgrade to the Sapphire Preferred

One option is to downgrade the Sapphire Reserve to the Sapphire Preferred. With the recent changes made to this card, this is a really compelling option:

  • The Sapphire Preferred now offers 3x points on dining, so it’s on par with the Sapphire Reserve
  • The Sapphire Preferred now offers 10% anniversary bonus points, so it’s actually more compelling for dining and everyday spending than the Sapphire Reserve
  • The Sapphire Preferred now offers a $50 annual hotel credit, which many could get value from
  • The Sapphire Preferred also offers great travel protection
  • I’d essentially be giving up an incremental Priority Pass membership (not a big deal), the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel (which I don’t really value), and 3x points on my non-airfare travel purchases (which is the only real loss here)

To me the question comes down to whether it’s worth paying the higher annual fee (minus the annual travel credit), in order to earn some bonus points on travel purchases. I’m seriously considering this card downgrade option when my next annual fee comes due.

The Sapphire Preferred now also offers 3x points on dining

Option #2: cancel my Sapphire Reserve and stick to the Ink Preferred

The Ink Business Preferred is a $95 annual fee business card that offers 3x points on the first $150,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

This is a phenomenal card given that it offers the same 3x points on travel as the Sapphire Reserve (though it’s capped).

If I canceled my Sapphire Reserve I’d save quite a bit in annual fees, I’d still be able to transfer points to partners, and I’d still earn 3x points on travel. Long term the loss would be fairly limited.

The Ink Preferred also offers 3x points on travel

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an incredibly well rounded travel rewards card that has maintained its value well. Not only that, but having a card earning Ultimate Rewards points is still very much worth it. That’s especially true given that it opens up value with four fantastic no annual fee cards — the Chase Freedom FlexChase Freedom UnlimitedInk Business Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash.

However, with me having over time shifted my dining spending to the Citi Prestige and my airfare spending to the Amex Platinum, the Sapphire Reserve isn’t quite the slam dunk that it used to be. Now add in the major improvements we saw to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and there’s not that much incremental value for some of us to having the Reserve over the Preferred.

My annual fee is due in a couple of months, and at that point I’m going to have some serious thinking to do…

How are you feeling about the value proposition of the Sapphire Reserve nowadays?

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  1. San

    The 10x points utilizing the Chase Portal is intriguing to say the least. It somewhat, from a points perspective, renders my Chase Hyatt card useless.

    The Chase Hyatt gives Discoverist off the bat, which yields 5x points on stays and 4.1 (that 10% bonus) so its roughly 9.1 points per (the 5x isn't on taxes, which these days makes up some 20% of the bill).

    10x with no status is already MORE, and...

    The 10x points utilizing the Chase Portal is intriguing to say the least. It somewhat, from a points perspective, renders my Chase Hyatt card useless.

    The Chase Hyatt gives Discoverist off the bat, which yields 5x points on stays and 4.1 (that 10% bonus) so its roughly 9.1 points per (the 5x isn't on taxes, which these days makes up some 20% of the bill).

    10x with no status is already MORE, and can transfer in. Sure, at Globalist you might get 10.5x points roughly, but then the Hyatt card does have the annual fee as well.

    I guess for status, I'll continue to leverage the Hyatt Card. But the combo of Preferred and Hyatt card seem to be doing me some good vs dumping it all for Reserve.

  2. Stu

    I've had the Chase Sapphire card for a few years now. It had been serving me OK, but I feel like the service has degraded so much that I am seriously considering moving my ~$25k/year spending to another premium card. In short, I am finding that I have to talk to agents at the call center for the simplest of issues, and that this service is extremely disappointing. This is a long rant, apologies.

    I've...

    I've had the Chase Sapphire card for a few years now. It had been serving me OK, but I feel like the service has degraded so much that I am seriously considering moving my ~$25k/year spending to another premium card. In short, I am finding that I have to talk to agents at the call center for the simplest of issues, and that this service is extremely disappointing. This is a long rant, apologies.

    I've been saving up my points and recently used them for a much-needed vacation in Europe. The booking site is one of the worst I have seen, either in browser or in the app -- which just overlays a mobile browser in the app. It is slow and extremely difficult to manage existing reservations. The first major problem was that I found I could not cancel refundable hotel reservations online, either on the app or chase.com. While every other travel site I know lets you cancel in a few clicks, Chase has added this "virtual agent" chatbot, which you must use to cancel. Every single time, the chatbot has not been able to process my request. And yes, I turned off all ad-blockers, used 4 different browsers, and 3 different operating systems -- I work in IT.

    This means that I had to call in every time I wanted to cancel, refund, or (some times) just change a booking. And the call center experience is so poor now, it is just like it is when you call into a mass market travel site like Expedia. I remember that when I first got Chase Sapphire, it would only take a "press 1 for English" to be connected to a human. Now, I have to navigate all kinds of phone trees before I am connected to an agent. The agents also seem to have been outsourced, and I have had difficulty explaining the most simple requests, even though I speak slowly and in a midwestern "newscaster" accent. On average, it takes me about 10 minutes to cancel a booking through the phone.

    The final straw was my most recent stay, in which I had a confirmed booking for two nights, which had been booked about 10 days out. I arrived around 9PM, and the hotel had apparently overbooked and had no rooms. They had booked me in a different hotel that night, then they said I would have to check out and move to a third hotel the next day. I did not want to move hotels -- I was jetlagged and had to make some Zoom meetings mid-day. I opened up Kayak (Chase rewards booking is super slow) and found over a dozen hotels nearby with immediate availability for two nights. But the hotel refused to rebook me in the same hotel for both nights, I suspect because hotels #2 and #3 had the same owners. Also, the rates for last minute booking were about 50-75% more than the equivalent cost I paid in points. So I understand why the hotel wants to save money, even though I detest it.

    So I called the Chase call center, thinking that this is exactly the reason I got a premium card. First, I had extreme difficulty even explaining what the situation was to the first agent, who kept trying to extend my stay at the original hotel for a third night. I talked to a supervisor, who finally understood the situation. Once they understood, they offered to just cancel the entire reservation at the stated 50% cancellation fee penalty. I objected, obviously. After being put on hold for about 15 minutes, they finally offered to cancel with no penalty. This would have left me having to pay a premium last-minute price, so I refused. I told them that Chase needed to book me a room in the same hotel for two nights, and that I would not pay more than my original reservation. The Chase agent/supervisor simply refused, and said there was nothing I could do and nobody else I could talk to.

    It was now past 10PM, and so I took the hotel's offer to stay in a different hotel that night and to move to a third hotel the next day. But If I had just booked through Kayak or whoever, this is what I would have expected to have to do. So why would I put all of my points into Chase Rewards? I could just get a 1.5% cashback card and book with a travel agent directly. Or if I want the kind of premium travel card with a fully-featured website/app and high-quality call center agents, where should I move my spending to?

  3. Aaron

    “The Sapphire Reserve lets you redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases (rather than 1.25 cents), though that’s not something I personally value, since I’d rather transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners”

    Yes, transferring is normally a great use. But I wouldn't be so quick to write off this perk. There are also times where the fares are low enough where the 1.5 cpp feature makes more sense, instead of...

    “The Sapphire Reserve lets you redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases (rather than 1.25 cents), though that’s not something I personally value, since I’d rather transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners”

    Yes, transferring is normally a great use. But I wouldn't be so quick to write off this perk. There are also times where the fares are low enough where the 1.5 cpp feature makes more sense, instead of transferring.

    Case in point, a couple months ago, there was a RT business class deal from the US to Europe for about $1500. When using the 1.5 cpp feature, it came to about 100k points.

    That’s actually cheaper than most US-Europe J awards and you earn miles on top of that. Plus, you don’t have to worry about finding award availability. Especially when you start looking beyond 2+ seats, when the awards become a lot harder to find.

  4. CLG

    Hi Ben, I'm in the same place as you, and my new $550 annual fee hit on September 1st... so this is a real dilemma for me. While I agree with your above, call it, tangible analysis where you can put value metrics to comparing Preferred vs. Reserve, the place I am hung up is the small, but potentially significant, differences in the purchase & travel protections / insurance benefits. Key to me are (1)...

    Hi Ben, I'm in the same place as you, and my new $550 annual fee hit on September 1st... so this is a real dilemma for me. While I agree with your above, call it, tangible analysis where you can put value metrics to comparing Preferred vs. Reserve, the place I am hung up is the small, but potentially significant, differences in the purchase & travel protections / insurance benefits. Key to me are (1) the purchase protection limit per transaction of $500 vs. $10,000 and (2) the 6-hour vs. 12-hour delay threshold, if booking airfare here vs. AmEx Platinum.

    Mathematically, I know it only takes 1 incident on the purchase protection difference to make the Reserve "the winner" for life due to the minimal annual fee difference, but when overlaying the probability I would use that coverage makes the comparison much more difficult...

    So, I have ~20 days left to decide to downgrade or kick the can down the road until next fall!

    CLG

  5. Jill

    I remember this credit card was the greatest thing ever to come out in society since sliced bread
    Man, the mighty have fallen

  6. Andy 11235

    Maybe this post already exists in the archives, but I think it would be helpful to examine it from the perspective of "if cash flow and travel don't justify having three premium credit cards, which is best." I get the CSR has become a "has-been" among travel bloggers, given changes to the Citi cards and the Entertainment Book (oh, right, Amex Platinum). However, I'm sure between business and personal use, your charges run into 6...

    Maybe this post already exists in the archives, but I think it would be helpful to examine it from the perspective of "if cash flow and travel don't justify having three premium credit cards, which is best." I get the CSR has become a "has-been" among travel bloggers, given changes to the Citi cards and the Entertainment Book (oh, right, Amex Platinum). However, I'm sure between business and personal use, your charges run into 6 figures. How does the math change at different spending levels (e.g., How much dining spend do you need to justify the Prestige)? What do you see as the use case for each card?

    1. Kafka

      This was a great question last year, as travel spending fell. For example, the CSR doesn't earn anything on the first $300 of travel, so at lower levels you'd be better off with, say, an Amex Green or Citi Premier, or US Bank Altitude Reserve.

  7. iamhere

    There's one important reason to keep the reserve card which you forgot or always seem to not mention - 50% bonus on redemptions via Chase travel or "pay me back" feature. If you use your chase cards appropriately (e.g. freedom/flex, freedom, ink, Reserve, etc) then you can easily rack up quite a balance of points which can be redeemed through your Reserve account. This difference could easily be worth more than $250.

  8. Joe

    Ben,
    Why don’t you apply for the Salphire Preffered Card
    That way you can get that signup bonus
    Plus you can cancel your reserve card

  9. Alex

    I just downgraded my CSR to a Freedom Flex(I already have a Freedom Unlimited). I was able to transfer all my chase points to my Ink Preferred.

    It’s been over 4 years since I got the CSR bonus. I can now apply for the Sapphire Preferred and will get the new 100k bonus. That bonus is worth way more than the extra CSR perks especially when you consider the new $250 annual fee($550 -...

    I just downgraded my CSR to a Freedom Flex(I already have a Freedom Unlimited). I was able to transfer all my chase points to my Ink Preferred.

    It’s been over 4 years since I got the CSR bonus. I can now apply for the Sapphire Preferred and will get the new 100k bonus. That bonus is worth way more than the extra CSR perks especially when you consider the new $250 annual fee($550 - the $300 travel credit). It’s been a good card but just not worth it now especially considering how little travel I have been doing because of COVID.

    If I start traveling again I might upgrade to a CSR in the future but for now the Sapphire Preferred will work well for $150 less each year.

  10. AC

    My annual fee came due as the changes were implemented. After weighing my options, I decided to downgrade, considering I mainly transfer all of my points to Hyatt anyway. I feel good about the move, because of having the AMEX Platinum, Gold, and other cards to fill the void. Plus, the new $50 hotel credit really makes this card sooooo affordable!

  11. AC

    To me the changes made to CSR didn’t increase the value and I’m disappointed the Door Dash and Lyft + benefits ended in 2021 (have already used them and cancelled Lyft Pink). I use Amex Plat for airfare and Amex Gold for dining (4X). Only thing use CSR for is travel (and not for a hotel where a co-branded card gives better value).

    Just renewed and got $300 credit (out car rentals on it...

    To me the changes made to CSR didn’t increase the value and I’m disappointed the Door Dash and Lyft + benefits ended in 2021 (have already used them and cancelled Lyft Pink). I use Amex Plat for airfare and Amex Gold for dining (4X). Only thing use CSR for is travel (and not for a hotel where a co-branded card gives better value).

    Just renewed and got $300 credit (out car rentals on it last few trips). Either cancelling or downgrading next -August before renewal if no additional benefits added

  12. Anthony

    While the CSR is kind of underwhelming, it does make sense to have a 3x travel card for transit, Amtrak, subway, random boutique hotels, etc. So many people would benefit from having a Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Green.

  13. Ben

    Right there with you. Leaning more and more to canceling (after transferring points maybe to Aeroplan) and getting the Amex platinum for that 100k signup bonus.

    1. Andrew

      If you're not aware of the resy offer for amex platinum you need to check it out. 125k plus 15x at restaurants and small businesses on 6k spend.

    2. John T.

      It's $6k for the 125k bonus points in 3 months and 15x up to $25k in spend on dining and small biz for the first 6 months.

  14. Thomas

    I was considering the exact same thing, as my AF is due next month. I've downgraded to a Slate Edge and will be reapplying for a CSP for the 100k points. The math didn't seem that compelling to me after the AF fee hike and not having certain "perks" go away (Doordash and 1.5 cents/point for restaurants in particular).

  15. Marc

    I'm thinking about getting rid of mine too but would love to get the 100,000 bonus on the Preferred. How do I need to go about doing this? Cancel the Reserve and then wait a certain amount of time? How long before I can apply to get the Preferred? Hopefully they'll continue to offer that bonus for a while! Thanks for any insight!

    1. Santi

      I'm in the same boat... thoughts here...?

    2. EC2

      Wait 48 months from when CSR bonus was awarded and not have the CSR. Need to downgrade it.

    3. John T.

      Downgrade the csr to a freedom flex or cancel if you like. If you downgrade make sure your available credit with chase isn't more than or close to 50% of your income, if it is then call in to reduce it. Look and make sure the bonus was atleast 48 months prior. Wait about 5-10 days(or 30 if you want to be super safe) from downgrade/cancel and then apply for the csp.

  16. Adam L

    Bottom line: 1.5 cents for Pay Yourself Back or travel redemptions is still the best value for the most general users. Most (all?) of the power users on this aren't thrilled with the earnings or the transfer partners. But guess what? most users don't care. Can they top off their United accounts? Great! Can they get a 1.5-cent floor for redemptions on basically any flight they want to take? Perfect!

  17. pstm91

    My annual fee will post next month and I have been really considering downgrading to CSP. I do, however, spend enough on misc. travel through hotels, trains, ridesharing etc that I will probably renew. As long as the $300 travel credit is there, I don't consider it to be too bad. I couldn't justify the new insane annual fee on the Plat, and those perks certainly didn't warrant renewing the card for me. Having just one of them now is also motivation to renew it.

  18. InLA

    We save sooooooooo much money with the Reserve card because we don’t have to buy trip cancellation/interruption insurance when booking cruises. We purchase a separate annual policy through GeoBlue for unforeseen medical expenses.

  19. DCS

    Good analysis. The only problem for me is "points currency dilution", which can occur when one earns points in too many different points currencies, to pptentially lead to one not having enough points in any one denomination. For that reason, I have no Citi cards because that would mean earning Citi Thank You points, in addition to earning Chase UR and AMEX MR points, which I already have significant numbers of. My preference is to...

    Good analysis. The only problem for me is "points currency dilution", which can occur when one earns points in too many different points currencies, to pptentially lead to one not having enough points in any one denomination. For that reason, I have no Citi cards because that would mean earning Citi Thank You points, in addition to earning Chase UR and AMEX MR points, which I already have significant numbers of. My preference is to keep adding to the latter two currencies...

    So, my current strategy is to put all my airline ticket purchases on my AMEX Plat (5X) and all my spend on domestic dining on my AMEX Biz Gold (4x), all of which earn AMEX MR points. I have a lot more UR points, so I would like to keep adding points in the denomination. Therefore, internationally, I still use the CSR almost exclusively for both dining (3x) and "travel" (3x), defined very broadly to include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis (10X on Lyft is huge!) , limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages (the italicized items get most of the spend, including domestically). For everything else I use the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5x).

    I tend to stick to cards that I already have, so I am not at all tempted to downgrade the CSR to the CSP, especially since the latter awards less points on items in the category "travel" that I use the CSR for.

    YMMV.

    1. Eskimo

      While you would probably disagree as always.

      If you are truly trying to maximize your benefits, you should be holding on to as many cards that you can benefit from and no limiting to Amex or Chase. As long as you can spend more than the cost of additional annual fee of the card you use in the bonus category.

      However in your case, without the Prestige x5 dining, if you spend a lot, the...

      While you would probably disagree as always.

      If you are truly trying to maximize your benefits, you should be holding on to as many cards that you can benefit from and no limiting to Amex or Chase. As long as you can spend more than the cost of additional annual fee of the card you use in the bonus category.

      However in your case, without the Prestige x5 dining, if you spend a lot, the Citi cards don't really benefit you that much.

      But for people who does have Amex Plat, CSR, Prestige, holding all 3 cards is a bit costly. I would agree with @Lucky that if 1 of the 3 cards is to be downgraded it would be CSR, consider that other 2 cards would already have you covered. Unless you are really spending 20-30k on other "travel".

    2. DCS

      I made my argument. I have way over 1M points, all transferable to airlines in my primary alliance (*A), doing it my way. For my and many others' circumstances, your approach is nonsensical...for the reasons I gave, if you care to reread the comment.

    3. Kafka

      Agreed: 15,000 points in three different currencies is much less valuable than 45,000 in one (unless you're booking Air France or the few other universal transfer partners). Add to that the trend toward devaluation, so by the time you accumulate enough points for a redemption, you likely need more points.

      The challenge is figuring out how much you value each type of point, factoring in how often you can use it (adequate point supply+redemption available+acceptable...

      Agreed: 15,000 points in three different currencies is much less valuable than 45,000 in one (unless you're booking Air France or the few other universal transfer partners). Add to that the trend toward devaluation, so by the time you accumulate enough points for a redemption, you likely need more points.

      The challenge is figuring out how much you value each type of point, factoring in how often you can use it (adequate point supply+redemption available+acceptable transfer rate), the opportunity cost to earn (card vs card), the opportunity cost to redeem (miles vs cash), and the opportunity cost of holding points versus redeeming at a lower value (e.g. PYB or cash back) and earning interest.

    4. Joe1293

      @DCS
      What about Amex Hilton Aspire Card?
      Don’t spend on that card?

  20. Steve

    I actually enjoy the ease right now of redeeming points for 1.5 through pay-yourself back. I already have too many points on my travel accounts anyways so after this 1.5 drops im dropping this card. It is pointless if you transfer your chase points to travel partners.

  21. Miamiorbust

    Adding some context on spend levels, perhaps in a table, would be helpful. It is fine to think about maximizing spend for individual categories across amex, citi and chase if you have substantial spend ($100,000+ annually). For readers spending $10,000 annually I don’t think the strategy above works well. You’ll have relatively small number of points in each program and/or take longer to reach point thresholds for useful redemptions. I get this is Ben’s strategy...

    Adding some context on spend levels, perhaps in a table, would be helpful. It is fine to think about maximizing spend for individual categories across amex, citi and chase if you have substantial spend ($100,000+ annually). For readers spending $10,000 annually I don’t think the strategy above works well. You’ll have relatively small number of points in each program and/or take longer to reach point thresholds for useful redemptions. I get this is Ben’s strategy but not sure holding multiple cards across programs has the same economics for most other people.

    1. DCS

      I fully concur! It is what I term "points currency dilution>/i>, which my strategy (below) is designed to avoid.

    2. DCS

      Bug report! I have noticed that an improperly terminated HMTL tag to change font propagates to other comments. Now all the comments are italicized!

    3. DCS

      It looks like the bug can be fixed by just by properly terminating html tag the next comment...

    4. Ren

      With the Amex Green, that would also eliminate the benefit of the non-airline spend. Doesn't seem too rewarding to keep since he already has that card.

    5. Kafka

      Slightly more, actually, as the CSR doesn't earn points on the first $300 of travel spend but Green would. He must value UR above MR.

    6. david

      Agreed. Basically, I only want to be in one ecosystem and the question is which one as a whole works better for me. Given that I've gone with Chase, the CSR has some benefits over CSP (I don't have other sources of Priority Pass, the 1.5c vs 1.25c minimum is pretty useful). I'm not sure I won't downgrade when my next annual fee comes due in April, but it's a tougher question as someone whose...

      Agreed. Basically, I only want to be in one ecosystem and the question is which one as a whole works better for me. Given that I've gone with Chase, the CSR has some benefits over CSP (I don't have other sources of Priority Pass, the 1.5c vs 1.25c minimum is pretty useful). I'm not sure I won't downgrade when my next annual fee comes due in April, but it's a tougher question as someone whose annual spend isn't high enough to make paying the fees for multiple premium cards reasonable in the first place. The other option would be to switch entirely to Citi, which has some benefits (a new crop of sign-up bonuses, possibly better earning rates) and some drawbacks (as a mostly-economy flyer, Chase's 1.5c/point value does more for me than transfers usually do). Amex is really out of the question because so many places outside the US don't accept it - and what good is a travel card that you can't consistently use while travelling (again, another case where that's fine if you spend enough to make having both a premium Amex card and a premium Chase or Citi card worth it, but not for those of us who don't).

  22. EC2

    I’m looking to downgrade it to the Flex. My AF came due 9-1. I have the Amex Gold and use it a lot more. The only real benefit that I’m losing is the restaurant option with Priority Pass. Otherwise I have it thru Aspire. I have primary rental insurance the my (grandfathered) Diners Club MasterCard. I was was going to ditch it regardless soon as I will outside the 48 month window to apply for...

    I’m looking to downgrade it to the Flex. My AF came due 9-1. I have the Amex Gold and use it a lot more. The only real benefit that I’m losing is the restaurant option with Priority Pass. Otherwise I have it thru Aspire. I have primary rental insurance the my (grandfathered) Diners Club MasterCard. I was was going to ditch it regardless soon as I will outside the 48 month window to apply for CSP. Can’t have both and didn’t see the $250 residual value in keeping it. Plus cannot have too many high AF cards and just got upgrade offer to Delta Reserve card.

    1. Alonzo

      I'm in the exact same boat. Flex looks really good with no AF and I have the Amex Gold.

    2. EC2

      Keep in mind that you have 40 or 41 business days from when your AF posts to get full credit if you downgrade. After that it is prorated.

  23. Chris

    Is the Reserve the obit priority pass that allows usage at restaurants in the airport still? I spend 100s yearly at the corona beach house in Miami with that.

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DCS

Good analysis. The only problem for me is "points currency <i>dilution</i>", which can occur when one earns points in too many different points currencies, to pptentially lead to one not having enough points in any one denomination. For that reason, I have no Citi cards because that would mean earning Citi Thank You points, in addition to earning Chase UR and AMEX MR points, which I already have significant numbers of. My preference is to keep adding to the latter two currencies... So, my current strategy is to put all my airline ticket purchases on my AMEX Plat (5X) and all my spend on <i>domestic</i> dining on my AMEX Biz Gold (4x), all of which earn AMEX MR points. I have a lot more UR points, so I would like to keep adding points in the denomination. Therefore, internationally, I still use the CSR almost exclusively for both dining (3x) and "travel" (3x), defined very broadly to include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, <i>car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis (10X on Lyft is huge!) , limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages</i> (the italicized items get most of the spend, including domestically). For everything else I use the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5x). I tend to stick to cards that I already have, so I am not at all tempted to downgrade the CSR to the CSP, especially since the latter awards less points on items in the category "travel" that I use the CSR for. YMMV.

Miamiorbust

Adding some context on spend levels, perhaps in a table, would be helpful. It is fine to think about maximizing spend for individual categories across amex, citi and chase if you have substantial spend ($100,000+ annually). For readers spending $10,000 annually I don’t think the strategy above works well. You’ll have relatively small number of points in each program and/or take longer to reach point thresholds for useful redemptions. I get this is Ben’s strategy but not sure holding multiple cards across programs has the same economics for most other people.

Alonzo

I'm in the exact same boat. Flex looks really good with no AF and I have the Amex Gold.

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