Reasons The Sapphire Reserve Is Still In A League Of Its Own

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The premium credit card rewards landscape keeps getting more and more competitive. A couple of years ago the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card was introduced, which sort of became the undisputed most lucrative rewards credit card.

But lately we’ve seen several other incredible cards both introduced and refreshed. For example, a couple of weeks ago we saw the introduction of the Amex Gold Card, which offers an incredible 4x points on U.S. dining and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spend per year). We also just learned the details of the refreshed Citi Prestige Card, which will soon offer 5x points on airfare and dining.

With these recent changes, I’ve seen some people say “it’s your turn, Chase,” though I’m not sure I agree. I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve maintains its position as an industry leader. Why?

The basics of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

To cover the very basics, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee and offers:

  • A welcome bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months
  • 3x points on dining and travel
  • A $300 annual travel credit, which can be applied towards any purchase coded as travel
  • A Priority Pass membership with the ability to guest two people into lounges
  • Great travel and car rental coverage
  • A Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit
  • Visa Infinite perks, including 30% off Silvercar rentals of two days or more

To me this is essentially a $150 annual fee card ($450 annual fee minus $300 travel credit) that gets you 3x points on dining and travel, a Priority Pass membership, and more.

So, while other cards have introduced some great new perks, there are two primary reasons that I think the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still in a league of its own, and doesn’t necessarily need to respond (though I’d of course love to see the card add 5x points on restaurants, supermarkets, airfare, etc.). 😉

Being able to redeem points for 1.5 cents each

One of the things that still sets Ultimate Rewards apart from both Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou is the flexibility the points offer. All three currencies let you efficiently transfer points to great airline partners.

What sets Ultimate Rewards apart is that if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, including airfare, hotels, car rentals, etc. That’s a solid use of those points, meaning this is a flexible points currency that can be used towards the cost of paid travel, which is practical for many.

For all practical purposes, Citi ThankYou and Membership Rewards don’t offer the same:

  • The Citi Prestige is actually lowering the value of redemptions, and if you want to redeem points for airfare you’re limited to one cent of value per point, rather than the current 1.25 cents of value per point
  • The only way to efficiently redeem Membership Rewards points towards the cost of airfare is if you have the Amex Business Platinum, and even there the options are limited

Whether or not all of this is a huge deal depends on how you like to redeem points. Personally I don’t typically redeem points as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase, though I suspect I’m in the minority.

The Ultimate Rewards ecosystem

The other area where I think Ultimate Rewards beats the competition is when it comes to the ecosystem of cards that Chase has created.

There are three credit cards that directly earn Ultimate Rewards points:

Then there are four no annual fee credit cards that earn points that can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points, in conjunction with any of the above cards:

The fact that there are potentially four no annual fee cards (two of which are business, and two of which are personal) that you can pool with the Sapphire Reserve really adds value to the return that the card can offer on spend.

While Amex and Citi both have multiple cards with which you can earn Membership Rewards and ThankYou points, respectively, I don’t think the ability to pool points is quite as robust:

  • Citi doesn’t have any business cards earning ThankYou points
  • While Amex has lots of great cards, they don’t have as many lucrative no annual fee cards that you can use in conjunction with a premium card to maximize your spend

So with Ultimate Rewards I think you can have one card with an annual fee and then four no annual fee cards, and I’d say you’re doing a pretty great job maximizing your spend.

Bottom line

Sure, I’d love to see the introduction of 4-5x points on dining and all travel purchases with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. That would of course be amazing.

But being realistic, I don’t actually think Chase’s standing with the Reserve is at risk, in spite of the new competition.

Will my dining and airfare spend shift to a different card? Absolutely. But I don’t think that’s much of a loss to Chase. Much bigger picture, they’ve still created such a flexible and diverse ecosystem that there’s not a true alternative.

How does the new card competition impact your perception of the Sapphire Reserve?

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Comments

  1. Ben,
    With the new earnings for Citi Prestige, I’m curious about how you’re going for booking air travel and car rental. I love the coverage from the Reserve, but am tempted by the additional two ppd from the Prestige.

    Which way do you think you’ll be going?

  2. Hmmmmm I would argue that the CSR no longer has a “killer app” unless, as you mention, you’re one of the people who redeems at 1.5 cents. That’s indeed a good deal, but assuming you’re a point transfer man, I just don’t don’t where the unmatched value is. 3x is no longer industry leading, and there’s fourth night free or any other such feature. So it’s a fine card, but I don’t think you have made a successful argument that it is in “a league of its own.”

  3. I agree with this article somewhat. But the main purpose of these blogs/websites is to reedeem our points for premium travel. Not use our points on the portal, which I highly doubt you do yourself. The other point about the ecosystem is fair. But I don’t think that most consumers have both the reserve and one of the ink cards (I do but put little spend on the ink because of the categories). Also, if Chase does upgrade the Reserve, the first thing they’ll be looking to cut is the ability to transfer UR points from the Freedom cards and possibly the Ink cards since the Reserve redemption on the portal is 1.5 versus 1.25 and 1 on the other cards. I’d gladly pay $100 more for this card if they offered transfer bonuses to transfer partners like Amex does and had a few more transfer partners. And maybe add some annual credits for other things like Amex has with Saks. Also, status with a hotel progam should be a no brainer. Diamond status with Hyatt at the minimum?? All in all, I’m downgrading this card to the no fee Sapphire by the end of 2019 if I don’t see some additions to this card. Increase the annual fee and give more benefits imo. And redesign the card lol.

  4. for where I live, I get TREMENDOUS value out of the ability to transfer ulitmate rewards to United Mileage Plus. Despite some dilution of the program, they still offer the best redemptions and the best rewards across the Star Alliance network, particularly for DC (where I live) to Europe itineraries. You simply cannot transfer points from Amex or Citi to United. So I stay with Chase.

  5. How often do you redeem your points for fixed rate of 1.5 cents? I can’t imagine it’s alot, since the transfer partners hold much more value. Between the AMEX Platinum, Chase Reserve, and new Citi, they are pretty close, with Chase and Citi neck and neck due to better travel credit and slightly lower fees.

  6. Lucky,

    As I and others have pointed out many times, the Charles Schwab American Express Platinum allows you to redeem Membership Rewards Points for cash at 1.25 cents per point. So if you are interested in cash (for travel purchases or whatever else), the Amex Gold + Amex Platinum + Amex BB Blue earns 5% back for Dining and Supermarkets, 6.25% for airfare and 2.5% for unbonused spend. This beats the “cash back” value of the CSR + Freedom Combo, which is 4.5% for travel, 4.5% for dining and 2.25% for unbonused spend.

  7. I’d suspect most of the folks here have more than one of these cards so you can decide which one to use based on the circumstances. I personally don’t value UR points as much as I used to since the elimination of KE as a partner. Obviously that is one of those YMMV situations. I expect to hang onto the CSR card for now since it’s essentially a $150 card. Once I spend my $300 in travel next year I will put it back at the rear of my wallet. I’ve shifted my spend to the Amex gold for dining and groceries and the Citi TY Premier for most other things because I think Amex MR and Citi TY have transfer partners that are more valuable to me. I don’t think the CSR is the great leader it had been, but its still worthwhile for many.

  8. With all these articles on various blogs I kinda feel they are trying to downplay the impact it may have on Chase credit cards and I also fee most blogs oversell the Chase credit cards. With so many new restrictions around Chase apps its getting harder to accumulate UR points. Except United, SW and Hyatt Chase does not have worthwhile travel partners. If someone is mostly focusing on Hyatt stays, traveling domestic in southwest or international on United they may be Chase makes more sense.

    On the other hand with more points earning opportunities, more transfer partners (with frequent bonus) and better retention offers I am definitely gonna move majority of my spending to Citi/Amex combo.

  9. @Jason – I am also DC based. I find Avianca Lifemiles to be a better option for *A awards. Pretty sure their redemption rates are lower than UA’s for partner flights. They are a Citi TY transfer partner. Their web booking has improved, although I would agree it’s not as good as UAs.

  10. @raksiam – I understand that LifeMiles is an option and works for many, but honestly, I dont have the time or energy to deal with it. It always sounds like a hassle based on what people here/ Lucky/ others have detailed. UA may not be perfect (far from it) but its web site rocks for bookings, they in general fly where I need to fly anyway, and the overall chase cards all work together well. I dont spend enough overall to have it make sense for me to spread my spend over 2-3 “currencies”, so overall the Chase program works for me. Also, I’ve benefited tremendously from Chase’s 1.5 cents redemption for paid tickets – I fly a few places in the summer where the ticket prices can be extortionate – so this is a great value for me. But I do recognize ymmv per person. If I didnt live in DC I may think otherwise.

  11. @raksiam – also – I agree – I miss the KE redemption. I did their F redemptions to/ from IAD a few times and that was marvelous. But alas. If Citi transferred direct to AA then that would be a strong contender. But they dont.

  12. I was very excited about the Amex gold announcement – I have the card and I planned on closing when the annual fee hit but now I will keep it. For me, the reserve is still my primary card. for 3 main reasons:

    1) Many of the places I eat out code as dining with Chase but not with Amex.
    2) I spend a lot on trains, Ubers/Lyfts, metros, tolls, busses, Airbnb, tours ect. all things that code as travel with Chase.
    3) I live at a United hub so I find myself transferring to United quite often. I do know that I can book United flights with Amex points via Aeroplan but its so easy to do it through United.

    I will use the gold at places where I know it will code as dining and at supermarkets – I like to have both Chase and Amex points to keep my points diversified. If I am only going to take just one travel / dining card with me It would still be the Reserve.

  13. Anthony it depends. Amex makes it so much harder to get value, their travel credits suck. I might go that route when I go back but CSR makes it so easy. Amex makes it hard.

    Also thats $800 in fees for that combo. CSR combo is $450 with an automatic $300 back assuming you spend anything.

  14. I thought i would miss the KE redemption, as my family regularly travels from NY to ICN. However, I found that I was transferring to UA much more frequently to book on Asiana for the same direct flight. The availability is not as good as what KE usually offered, but when there is availability, the amount of miles were relatively the same AND the taxes and fees were lower.

  15. It all depends on average card member spend patterns, which I’m sure Chase and others mine the hell out of such data. For example, I earn mid-tier status with an airline each year which is about $6,000 in airfare spend, and I spend about $5,000 a year on dining. If I had to guess, I’m an average CSR card member. Am I going to switch to the Amex Platinum or Prestige to get an incremental 2x points, or about 22,000 points with my spending? Heck no, especially since I have two other no fee Chase cards, as Ben mentioned in the post. But I’m sure above average CSR card members who spend many thousands on airfare and dining will gladly make the switch.

  16. Obviously personal preference, but I gravitate toward companies that have their act together. Chase and AMEX cards and points programs are well run, Citi is second tier. Similarly I think Hyatt and Hilton are professional, while IHG seems sort of bush-league.

  17. Saying the CSR is in a league of its own is a real stretch. I am barely using mine anymore. Chase URs are really any more valuable than Amex MRs at this point.Since getting the new Amex gold all my dining spend has gone to amex. The only spend Chase is getting is travel on my CSR, categories on my ink card and any category spend that falls within the 5x points on my freedom. Everything else goes to Amex. My dining goes to amex, my grocery spend goes on amex gold, all my non cat spend goes on my amex blue business plus. In terms of benefits I get more back from the amex plat card. Chase is slipping and the CSR is certainly not in a league of its own. It may not even be the leader anymore.

  18. @Kunal I agree. This is the third article I’ve read downplaying the Reserve losing it’s top spot as an ultra premium card. And the points mentioned in those articles are pretty poor arguments.

  19. As Corey mentioned, the Amex combo is nearly a whopping $800. Additionally, the Amex has a number of strikes against it.

    -Centurion Lounges are awesome on paper but in actuality they’re overcrowded and increasingly facing access restrictions. Standing by for a flight with no confirmed seat? Get bent. Flight leaves after closing but want to grab a quick bite? Sorry, 3 hour rule. Sky Club access is a nice perk if you’re a Delta flyer, but for everyone else you may find you’ve got no access on a layover or arrival.

    -The Uber travel credit is frustrating to use. $15.00 every month (now doled out as Uber Cash which means you’ve got to commit to another $15.00 every month) really limits its usefulness.

    -The airline travel credit is equally frustrating to use. Unless you’re scamming it to buy gift cards, airline incidentals represent a terrible value. If I’m buying $200.00 worth of things onboard on say, JetBlue, it’s worth it to get JetBlue Card which will immediately save me $100.00. Same goes with other airlines.

    -The Saks credit is also frustrating, because it’s Saks. Great if I’m going to blow a lot on designer couture but awful if I’m looking to buy, well, anything else. Their inventory management is abysmal, and after having orders cancelled or shipping delays with half of my orders fulfilled I end up going over to Nordstrom.

    -No points bonus on hotels. OK fine, but that means your $800.00 credit card portfolio still needs another $100.00 credit card for getting a good return on hotels.

    -No travel protection – this is the CSR’s ace in the hole. For the 2 points/dollar you miss out on you have yourself covered if Delta Air Lines decided to strand you in Atlanta (which is what they do because they’re Delta Air Lines.)

    I’ve got both cards, but I’m strongly considering cancelling the Amex Plat. I really do like the Centurion lounges but I can’t rely on them, and for $550.00/yr I want something I can rely on. For most people having one card that earns slightly less but offers more convenience and less hoops to jump through is the way to go.

  20. – Transfer bonuses to airlines? No
    – Bonuses for spending? No
    – Increasing roster of transfer partners? No
    – Equivalent of Amex Offers? No
    – 5 points on airlines? No
    – 5 or 4 points on dining? No
    – 4 points on groceries? No
    – 2 points on entertainment? No
    – Highest commission for bloggers? Yes

    I would hardly call 3 points on ‘other travel’ which outside of airlines doesn’t have the same $ impact or 1.5c redemption on a portal (which only the unsophisticated points person would use) a league of it’s own.

    Is there a space for this card in your wallet? Yes, but only if you are fair in your reviews.

  21. The Citi Prestige updates will have no effect on my spending habits. I will be focusing on Amex MR and then secondarily Chase UR. Even though dining is my biggest category, the extra points are not worth it for subpar redemptions. Citi TYP are great if you want niche programs, long transfer times and terrible booking experiences. Avianca, EVA, Turkish do not make it easy to use points, and I’m not willing to take a gamble to wait on points to transfer to book award availability that vanishes in a day.

    Combine that with subpar travel protection on missed connections due to delays, and Chase will get my business if I do elect to get insurance. If I don’t, Amex Platinum will get my dollars.

    Primary car rental in US is also valuable. Nothing like a black swan event where you get into an accident and have to deal with your own insurance. I’d rather have peace of mind on this one. This benefit is so much more important that trip delay insurance. I have no problem fronting a couple hundred dollars, but not a few thousand if the car is wrecked and I owe money!

    I will be focusing on redemptions on Iberia, Aeroplan and ANA FFPs which give great value compared to any Citi TYP partner. The winning combo is CSR+Amex Plat+Amex Gold+Amex BBP+CFU+CF:

    CSR: flights for insurance, hotels, other travel, international dining
    Amex Plat: Perks, lounge access and direct flights for 5X points
    Amex Gold: US dining and restaurants
    Amex BBP: unbonused spend
    CFU: unbonused spend if Amex not accepted
    CF: 5X categories if worthwhile

    You might think annual fees are high, but they are not. CSR is net $150, Amex Plat is net $100 ($550 – $150 corp discount – $200 airline credit – $100 Uber credit), Amex Gold is net $0 ($250 – $100 corp discount – $100 airline credit – $50 dining credit) and then three no annual fee cards. Not I’m conservatively valuing the Uber credit and dining credits, but likely will recoup all dollars. All in it really comes out to $250 net for these cards.

    5X TYP sounds great on the surface, but if you peel it back and realize what you are getting, you will likely be disappointed. I’ll take a slightly fewer amount of points to get real redemptions on premium partner sweet spots.

  22. I agree, CSR is still in a league of its own, which is minor league.
    Amex Gold and Citi Prestige are both in major league.

  23. It is not that the CSRs benefits are no longer great, it is that I can get most of the same benefits from CSP, and if I am putting my spend on other cards due to better bonuses, I can no longer justify the additional cost of the CSR over the CSP.

  24. I will only have 1 premium card in my wallet, as I’m just about maxed out in my personal portfolio with ~10 cards and don’t want another $500 in fees to work through. None of the new premium card designs is going to pull me from my CSR, but that is mainly due to having a weird spend pattern for the next few years. AMEX Gold’s focus on US spend means it’s of little value as I start expat life, and while the 5x airfare for Citi is great, the rest of the “some travel agencies” vagueness means I’d have to spend more time than I care to making sure I’m getting max value for hotels and forgoing the 3x on all other travel from the CSR. Maybe in preparation for 2020 I will consider adding the Citi, but I’m not sure I’ll want to dilute my earning into all 3 currencies (+ cash back) and I’m currently certain I don’t want to ditch my URs for TYPs.

    That said, while I think the CSR is very very solid, the value props from other cards are very appealing for different demographics. but I’m not even sure AMEX or Citi *want* to kill the CSR, instead of building some high end loyalty and limiting Chase’s ability to ever turn a profit with it by siphoning a chunk of customers. I don’t kn ow that Citi would welcome a feeding frenzy of applications and a 7 year payoff that came with it; AMEX seems settled at being one of the premium cards instead of “the” premium these days.

  25. Chase points are pretty good for 1.5c spend.

    For Citi TY, for those who still have the Citi AT&T Access and More card, it is still a very competitive value. I do most of my shopping online, and I get 3x points on pretty much all my online shopping. Combined this with the new 5x on Airfare and Restaurant makes around 80% of my annual total spend.

    Chase UR has partners like United which I still value, and the ability to spend 1.5c per dollar. I also have the ink business with gives bonuses on cellphone and utilities.

  26. I frequently use my UR points from the Reserve for hotels that aren’t affiliated with another program, which allows for breaks from the major chains while still getting to pay with points. For example, the Surfjack in Honolulu has great redemption rates and often sales on the portal.

  27. I agree that the CSR still does have value despite Citi upping the game with the Prestige. However Amex gold and platinum both got slapped down by Citi in a single stroke. It isn’t worth 550 a year for a crowded understaffed Centurion lounge despite the decent food and beverages. Amex’s credits also suck compared to the competition.

    For me the changes to Prestige place it above the CSR. FWIW you can get 1.5 cents pp with 2 no AF Wells Fargo cards. The propel offers 3x on the same categories as CSR plus gas and streaming so if you don’t have time for miles Wells Visa Sig and Propel kinda beats CSR. Of course you can couple CSR and Freedom.

    Chase is still by far the leader overall in great cards. However the competition is chipping away and Amex’s value proposition is crumbling for it’s premier cards.

  28. @_ar
    $800 in Annual Fees with lame credits – No Thanks!

    I get pretty good value from my amex plat but it’s getting cancelled in Jan. I’ll pick up the everyday preferred for 4.5x on groceries and 1.5 on everything else and of course to maintain my MR balance. That coupled with my Citi prestige gives me.

    – Transfer bonuses to airlines? Yes
    – Bonuses for spending? Not sure what you are referring to.
    – Increasing roster of transfer partners? Yes
    – Amex Offers? Yes
    – 5 points on airlines? No
    – 5 points on dining? Yes
    – 4.5 points on groceries? Yes
    – 1.5 points on entertainment? No
    – Highest commission for bloggers? No as I’ll apply directly when I see a good offer for Amex EDP.

    I’ll probably pick up the CSR when I’m eligible for the bonus although I might only have it for a year. I got the CSP about 30 months ago. Of course to each their own but I think the value prop of gold and platinum got decimated by Citi. And I think the bloggers get good commission from Amex too.

  29. Just transferred to UA and downgraded CSR to CF since Hyatt is also devaluing. UR is no more attractive.

  30. @_ar

    For whatever this is worth…this is kind of part of Lucky’s messaging in his post, and why I’m sticking with Chase cards:

    – Transfer bonuses to airlines? Agree, weak spot for Chase but not huge
    – Bonuses for spending? You lost me with this one
    – Increasing roster of transfer partners? Depends on what partners you value. I’m based in EWR, so I highly value United
    – Equivalent of Amex Offers? Agree, but I get solid offers on no fee Amex cards like Business Plus
    – 5 points on airlines? Agree, weak spot for Chase but only if you spend a lot on airfare
    – 5 or 4 points on dining? Same as for my airline spend comment
    – 4 points on groceries? Big weak spot for Chase, but now you’re combining two Amex cards and not comparing CSR to either the Platinum or Gold. Plus I could get 5 points buying grocery gift cards at Staples with Ink Cash
    – 2 points on entertainment? I get 5 points when I buy theater gift cards at Staples with Ink Cash (no annual fee). That’s about all the entertainment spending I do. Plus you’re now comparing CSR to a 3rd card, the Citi Premier.

    Since you’re comparing CSR to multiple other credit cards, you missed:
    -5 points on quarterly bonus categories with Freedom. Slight pain in the ass, sure, but that’s a no fee card.
    -5 points on internet, cable, cell phone spend with Ink Cash, also no fee card.
    -5 points on office supply stores (if that’s a big spend area for you) with Ink Cash.
    -2 points on gas with Ink Cash.

  31. @CSue I have access to special corporate discounts since I hold a Corporate Green card. Very valuable in my situation.

  32. I still love Chase URs because they allow me to transfer to UA miles to get international F for so many airlines. (Ironically, I found Asiana to be better than KE and it’s so much easier to get Asiana F via UA miles than Amex transfers to clunky KE.)

    Also Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best protections on the award tickets I get. Nothing else comes close.

    Amex MRs transfer to fewer airlines that allow easy international F redemptions. BA also transfers from Chase URs but has ridiculous fuel surcharges (and BA F sucks for food). Emirates and Etihad suck for F awards–too many miles and not often available. Asia Miles aren’t bad but restricted, and their F supply is dwindling. Singapore is also a Chase UR partner anyway.

    Basically, while everyone decries UA, their miles are heads and tails the most valuable for premium awards for their own extensive route network and especially for their *A partners. No other alliance even comes close. Delta and Skyteam suck as fas as I’m concerned.

  33. @ Jay, Ivan,

    I’m not arguing against the CSR (or Chase, I mean I have 5 Chase cards!), just that each of these premium cards have pros and cons depending on your personal circumstances. If one is an expat, Amex Gold is useless. If one is based in DFW instead of EWR they may not care about United. If one is based in NYC, Uber or seamless are a no brainer, etc. etc.

    My point was that the CSR is not in a league of its own anymore… to say that is disingenuous and I was just making some points where it is not as competitive. It wasn’t meant to be some exhaustive list against Chase or for the other cards.

    Regarding commissions, Chase spent no official marketing dollars with the Reserve but do pay the highest commissions (marketing $). Amex has been in the luxury card space much longer and doesn’t pay as much.

    As for me, I earn all three currencies, and can offset the fee for all of them or derive benefits greater than the fee. This is a golden period for consumers who use credit responsibly.

    Finally, Amex sends out offers like – if you spend $3,000 in 3 months, we’ll give you 1,500 bonus points … that’s just an example, but you could earn say 1.5 points instead of 1. Maybe these are targeted but I get these every now and then, and even the Prestige has them.

  34. Bloggers are setting up the wrong fight.

    It is not Citi vs AMEX vs Chase.
    The biggest question is, do I keep CSR or downgrade to CSP.

    Redeeming at 1.5 cents isn’t what most people here are using, we go for the bigger ticket items.
    I find @Lucky is a bit of a hypocrite here. He downplays Citi to 1.25 cents YET HE WILL NEVER REDEEM CITI AT THAT RATE EVER.

    Again, I see this is CSR vs CSP.

    I would assume most of us here have CSR and either Citi and/or AMEX. So the TSA and Priority Pass doesn’t matter.
    The only question is the 3x (vs 2x) on non-air travel worth the extra fee. It get trickier since I have authorized users on my CSR (mainly for the car rental benefit). So my math will become 55+ another 75 each.
    Me alone = $55 over CSP. (at 1.5 cents, that would be extra $3,666 spend)
    Me+1AU = $130 over CSP. (at 1.5 cents, that would be extra $8,666 spend)
    Me+2AU = $205 over CSP. (at 1.5 cents, that would be extra $13,666 spend)
    Only tangible benefit is the extra 1x for non-air (Air will get 5x with Citi/AMEX). That means I (+ AU) have to spend at least $8,666 more on other travel just to break even holding CSR.

    Again, I don’t think the battle should be vs Citi/AMEX.
    Citi’s 5x with travel insurance is a game changer, it blows AMEX off my list for flights. Keeping the 4th night (even at twice per year) earned its place in my wallet. While AMEX does have many strong points for a keeper, I do think it might be a harder decision for those who don’t use the 4th night benefit to keep the Prestige.

    So CSR vs CSP. What’s in your wallet?

  35. _at
    I feel you, a league of it’s own is quite a stretch. There are a lot of factors that go into play when putting together your stack. I would value the amex platinum more out of DFW as the Centurion lounge there is pretty nice and all terminals are connected airside. It has less value in SFO where you can only access through Terminal three and one of the international terminals. The lounge is also small and crowded.

    Actually I’m taking advantage of that amex offer you are referring to so I should have caught on, it’s the first time I was targeted, I added it and forgot.

    I think you may have been annoyed by the shameless shilling for the CSR, but you get that on all the blogs for all the cards. For me the best high end card will be the Prestige as I spend over 1k a month on dining and about 6k a year on flights, so for me Prestige is in a league of it’s own. I may not get the CSR after I cancel my CSP. I might just go co-brand with Chase as they are definitely the leader in that dept.

    But overall I can get 4-5x on most of my spend and have access to amex offers with the everyday and prestige with more reasonable fees and an easy travel credit. If amex makes me a stupid retention offer for my platinum I’ll probably keep it for another year, but $550 is a lot.

  36. The writing is on the wall – when your two primary competitors spend less than you do on rewards, why offer a compelling value paradigm that *is costing you money* with no appreciable outcome?

    My prediction is that the 1.5x travel redemption option will be the first cut. Second will probably be a stricter definition of travel similar to CITI.

  37. ADP if the 1.5 gets cut I will probably cancel the CSR. I seriously doubt they do that. Now they may not let you transfer freedom unlimited points to it I could see that happening.

    Traveling in Europe I only do Economy since their business class sucks (except on Trains then it’s awesome)

  38. I think what a lot of the comments are getting at is the idea that all points don’t have the same value, and the value depends on who is using it. Obviously, if you are looking at getting that amazing F redemption, you’ll be transferring to an airline partner and citi versus CSR hangs on whether you’d ever use UA. I think it’s under-appreciated how much the absence of domestic availability dampens the usefulness of award ticket redemptions. First, you pay the “fuel” surcharge for the main tatl or transpac. Then you pay a second “surcharge” when you buy the domestic connection. Balancing it out, if you don’t live in NY/LA/Chi, $.015 towards cash fare isn’t so bad.

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