The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card was introduced nearly 2.5 years ago, in the summer of 2016. It quickly became one of the most popular premium credit cards, and demand greatly exceeded what anyone was likely expecting.
However, the credit card landscape has no doubt evolved over the past couple of years, as we’ve seen the major credit card issuers racing to outdo one another. When the Sapphire Reserve was introduced, the triple points on dining and travel were revolutionary bonus categories, though arguably that’s no longer the case.
So in this post I wanted to take an updated look at this card, and really crunch the numbers as to whether this card still makes sense, or whether you should consider another card instead.
The benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve
- 3x points on dining and travel
- A $300 annual travel credit
- 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
- A 20% discount on Silvercar rentals
Priority Pass lounge access is an awesome perk
The way I view it, the card really costs me about $150 per year “out of pocket.” That’s because I value the $300 travel credit more or less at face value, since any purchase coded as travel is automatically deducted up to that limit. There’s no effort required to maximizing that benefit.
In the past this card more than justified itself for the 3x points on dining and travel, since those are categories many of us spend a ton in.
Then there’s the Citi Prestige
Within the past week, huge changes have been made to the Citi Prestige Card. The card now offers 5x points on dining and airfare purchases. That card earns Citi ThankYou points, and personally I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points roughly equally (about 1.7 cents each).
So what does this mean? I’m no longer using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for my dining and airfare purchases. At this point the only “bonused” spend going on my card is non-airfare travel purchases. For hotel purchases 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 Ubers, many hotels, and more, on the card.
The value I’m personally getting out of the Sapphire Reserve
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, or maybe just keep the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
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 Citi Prestige
- I value the $300 annual travel credit more or less at face value
- 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 value this
- Personally the 20% discount on Silvercar rentals is one of the most underrated benefits of the card, as that benefit saves me a significant amount every year
I rent from Silvercar with some frequency, so the discount comes in handy
So, 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?
Why I want to keep one of those three cards
On the most basic level, the reason I want to keep one of those three cards is because 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®, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card, and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, to the Ultimate Rewards partners.
For me the value of the overall Ultimate Rewards ecosystem remains unchanged thanks to their great no annual fee cards.
Option #1: downgrade to the Sapphire Preferred
Based on my personal situation, the pros of this would be that I’d essentially save $55 per year (one card has a $450 annual fee though offers a $300 travel credit, while the other card has a $95 annual fee).
The downside here is that I’d give up a point per dollar on my non-airfare travel purchases, and I’d also no longer get the 20% Silvercar discount.
The 20% Silvercar discount saves me more than $55 per year, so I don’t think this would be worth it to me.
Option #2: Cancel my Sapphire 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 the equivalent of $150 ($450 minus the $300 travel credit). I’d still be able to transfer points to partners, and I’d still earn 3x points on travel.
The way I view it, the only thing I’d really be losing is the Silvercar discount.
It’s funny how for me the value proposition of the Sapphire Reserve is coming down to a car rental discount code.
I like renting from Silvercar, though it’s tough for me to say with certainty whether or not I’d save $150 per year using that code. I don’t rent cars often, but when I do, I use Silvercar whenever possible. So if I spent $750 per year with Silvercar I’d break even here.
So yeah, I’m not 100% sure how the math on that would work out in the future.
Having a card earning Ultimate Rewards points is still very much worth it, especially since it opens up value with four fantastic no annual fee cards — the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash.
However, with the Citi Prestige offering 5x points on dining and airfare, the Sapphire Reserve isn’t quite the slam dunk it used to be.
Based on my situation, downgrading from the Sapphire Reserve to Sapphire Preferred doesn’t make sense. However, giving up a Sapphire Card and just using an Ink Preferred seems like it could be a good option — I’d still earn 3x points on travel, I’d just be giving up the Silvercar discount.
Given that I think the Sapphire Reserve is more or less breakeven for me at this point, I plan to hold onto the card for now. We’ve seen so many credit card changes lately that I want to see how things evolve. But it is interesting to me how things are changing.
Has the Citi Prestige changed your math on the Sapphire Reserve? Where do you stand?