A couple of weeks ago we first learned about rumored changes coming to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. These changes have now been confirmed, and over the past couple of days cardmembers should have received emails regarding this. Specifically, as of August 26, 2018:
- The card will no longer award 3x points on the first $300 spent on travel each year (which is reimbursed as part of the $300 annual travel credit)
- The card will no longer offer price protection
- Members will be limited to bringing two guests into Priority Pass lounges, rather than being able to bring in unlimited guests
I view all of these changes as being reasonable. It was ridiculously generous that they awarded points on travel spend that was reimbursed, so I can’t blame them for viewing that as an easy cost cutting move, given that Chase is apparently concerned about whether they’ll ever be able to make money on this card.
As far as the price protection benefit goes, the problem was that a small percentage of people were using this disproportionately, so it wasn’t a sustainable benefit anymore.
I think we also all thought it was generous that the card had unlimited guesting privileges for Priority Pass lounges. Presumably that was intended so that a few people could get into the lounge, though we also saw situations where people guested 30+ people into the lounge, which based on what we know about the Priority Pass business model, was costly.
The change in Priority Pass guesting privileges
I’ve been getting quite a few messages from readers who have families, saying that they don’t think these changes are fair. Going forward the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card has a limit of two guests for Priority Pass (in addition to the cardmember, for a total of three), so the most common feedback I get is “this is horrible for my family of four, as I can’t guest my spouse and two kids into lounges anymore.”
There’s no doubt for families of at least four this is a negative development. Many are surprised that they didn’t make the policy “two guests or immediate family,” or something along those lines.
Others will disagree, and suggest that credit card companies shouldn’t be subsidizing those who have families in this regard. It’s a topic where you’ll see strong opinions on both sides.
But for a family of frequent flyers, I do think there’s a pretty straightforward solution here.
Add a Sapphire Reserve authorized user for $75
You can add authorized users to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card for just $75 each, and even authorized users get a Priority Pass membership. In other words, you could add your spouse or child as an authorized user, and then in addition to you both being able to get into lounges, you’d be able to bring in four others.
Authorized users on the card receive all the same benefits as the primary cardmember, with the exception of the $300 annual travel credit and the Global Entry fee credit once every four years. This is one of the better authorized user deals on a premium credit card.
Obviously this isn’t ideal for many, as getting the same benefits for some families will cost an extra $75 per year. However, I do think this is a fairly low cost solution, given the number of messages I’ve received from people saying “this card is now completely useless to me since I always travel with a family.”
For most, the overall value proposition of the card is still there
- Offers a $300 annual travel credit
- Offers triple points on dining and travel
- Offers a Priority Pass membership with the ability to guest two people
- Offers excellent travel protection benefits
- Gives you the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase, or convert points into airline miles
As I’ve often said, given the $550 annual fee and $300 annual travel credit (which anyone who has this card should be able to take full advantage of), I view the “out of pocket” on the card as really being $250 per year. For that you get triple points on dining and travel, the most valuable possible Ultimate Rewards points, and great travel protection. It’s money well spent.
If the card doesn’t work for you, you can always downgrade
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card but feel like the changes in the Priority Pass benefits make this card significantly less valuable, you can always downgrade to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a $95 annual fee, offers double points on dining and travel, gives you the ability to transfer points to Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners, and more.
To those who used the Sapphire Reserve to guest their family into Priority Pass lounges, how will you be dealing with these new restrictions?