Is The Chase Sapphire Reserve Still Worth It? (2021) I One Mile At A Time

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review), is one of the most coveted premium credit cards. It has been a popular card since its introduction five years ago. But, much has changed. The annual fee for the card has increased and coronavirus has changed consumer behavior. We recently witnessed significant changes in both Sapphire and Mastercard cards.

With this in mind, I decided to address the question of the Sapphire Reserve's worth relative to other cards and the Sapphire Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits

Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee and provides the following long-term major benefits:

3x points for all dining and travel purchases. Plus 5x points for flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. 10x points for hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

A $300 per year travel credit that can be used towards almost any purchase of travel (I would say it's as good as cash).

You have the ability to use all your Ultimate Rewards points to earn 1.5 cents per point towards travel purchases.

Priority Pass Membership with Unlimited Visits and the Ability to Take Two Guests

Great coverage for car rentals and travel coverage

Access to Priority Pass Lounge access is an amazing perk

Many changes have been made to Chase Sapphire Reserve since early 2020, for both good and bad. Some perks are temporary while others are permanent. The following changes are possible:

Sapphire Reserve's travel credit is extremely valuable

What is the cost of the Sapphire Reserve?

It has been easy for me to justify Chase Sapphire Reserve over the past year, given all the temporary perks such as a Lyft Pink membership or a DoorDash credit. But, I have used the credits and don't receive more. So what next? Although I expect card benefits to continue to evolve, perhaps with limited-time offers, I wanted to get as much information as possible about the Sapphire Reserve's current value proposition.

My Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $550 annual cost and a $300 annual travel credit. This card is more or less as good as cash and I would consider it to cost $250 per year. I already spend $300 on travel.

You can use the travel credit towards any type of travel purchase

I receive the best Chase Ultimate Rewards hub cards, 3x points for dining and travel, great travel coverage and car rental coverage, Priority Pass membership and much more. It costs $250 per year. An annual fee of this magnitude is reasonable considering the value I receive from Ultimate Rewards. But is there another option?

Why I don't spend much on the Sapphire Reserve

I was a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Reserve's ability to earn 3x points for dining and travel. It was also a great way to use it for almost all purchases within those categories. It's not the competitive advantage it used to be.

Citi Prestige is my preferred restaurant.

I have ceased using the Sapphire Reserve to make my airfare and dining purchases. My card currently offers no bonus spending except for non-airfare purchases. It is also possible to breakeven by hotel spending, as I earn 3x points with the Citi Prestige and Sapphire Reserve.

This is still a significant category. It means I can use the card to book rides, train tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, etc. Lyft's 10x points are a big category for me. However, it is only valid until March 2022.

Is the Sapphire Reserve still right?

This has made me wonder if the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still the right card for me. Or if it should be downgraded to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (review), or just keep the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Let me tell you what I think the Sapphire Reserve perks are and why they don't matter to you when considering these cards:

For 3x points on dining or travel, I currently only value 3x points for non-airfare purchases. I'd rather spend other purchases on the Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum.

The $300 annual travel credit is more or less what I consider it to be at face value.

The travel and car rental insurance is very important to me as it makes my life easier.

Sapphire Reserve allows you to redeem points for 1.5 cents per travel purchase (rather than 1.25cs). However, thats not something I value as I prefer to transfer Ultimate Rewards points directly to hotel and airline partners.

While Priority Pass memberships are valuable, I also have access to other cards so it doesn't seem like much.

Silvercar used to offer a 20% discount, which I valued, but Silvercar has since closed all airport locations so it's not something I use anymore.

Since the company left airports, I have stopped using Silvercar.

I don't know where to go from here. What should I do? Should I keep my Sapphire Reserve or downgrade to Sapphire Preferred? Or should I just keep the Ink Preferred

I would like to have a premium Ultimate Rewards card

The most fundamental reason I want to keep those three cards is because they enable me to unlock the full value the Ultimate Rewards program.

If I have one or more of these cards, I can transfer points earned on the no annual fees 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.

Chase's no-annual fee Chase cards have helped me see the overall value of Ultimate Rewards.

Two options would be available to me if I decided not to keep the Sapphire Reserve.

Option 1: Upgrade to Sapphire Preferred

You can downgrade the Sapphire Reserve to Sapphire Preferred. This is an attractive option, considering the recent changes to this card.

The Sapphire Preferred now offers 3x dining points, which is comparable to the Sapphire Reserve

Sapphire Preferred now has 10% anniversary bonus points. This makes it more attractive for everyday dining and spending than the Sapphire Reserve.

Sapphire Preferred now offers $50 per year in hotel credit. This could be a great deal for many.

The Sapphire Preferred offers excellent travel protection.

I would be giving up my incremental Priority Pass membership (which is not a huge deal), the ability redeem points for 1.5 cents each toward travel (which I don't really value) and 3x points on non-airfare travel purchases.

The question is whether it's worth paying the higher annual fees (minus the annual travel credit) to earn bonus points on travel purchases. I am seriously considering this card upgrade option for my next annual fee.

Now, the Sapphire Preferred also offers 3x points for dining

Option 2: Cancel my Sapphire Reserve and continue with the Ink Preferred

The Ink Business Prreferred is a $95 per year business card offering 3x points on your first $150,000 in combined purchases. This includes travel, shipping, and internet purchases. It also offers advertising purchases with search engines and social media.

This card is amazing because it offers 3x points on travel, but the cap is 3.

I could save quite a lot on annual fees if I cancelled my Sapphire Reserve. I would still be able transfer points to partners and still earn 3x points for travel. The loss in the long-term would be minimal.

Ink Preferred offers 3x points for travel

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a well-rounded travel rewards card which has held its value well. It's still worth the investment to have Ultimate Rewards points on your card. This is especially true when you consider the four amazing no-annual fee cards Chase Freedom Flex (Chase Freedom Unlimited), Ink Business Unlimited (Ink Business Unlimited) and Ink Business Cash (Ink Business Cash).

The Sapphire Reserve isn't as easy to use now that I have moved my dining to the Citi Prestige over the years and my travel to the Amex Platinum. Add in the significant improvements to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Reserve doesn't offer much more value than the Preferred.

In a few months my annual fee will be due. I'm going to have to do some serious thinking.

What do you think about the Sapphire Reserve's value proposition?