We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Don’t Give Up Transfer Flexibility by Downgrading Both of These Popular Travel Cards!

Don’t Give Up Transfer Flexibility by Downgrading Both of These Popular Travel Cards!

Million Mile SecretsDon’t Give Up Transfer Flexibility by Downgrading Both of These Popular Travel Cards!Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Lots of folks have a couple of Chase cards with annual fees.  And want to save money by closing or downgrading their accounts.

Retirement Travel
You Might Lose the Ability to Get Big Travel With Small Money Like Award Nights at the Park Hyatt New York If You Downgrade Your Annual Fee Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Earning Cards

Million Mile Secrets reader, Shirley, commented:

I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cards for ~1 year and and my annual fees are almost due.  I want to avoid the $450 annual fee.  Can I downgrade them both to a no annual fee card and keep my points?  Do I have to keep one card open to transfer points to airline and hotel partners?

You can avoid duplicate benefits and save on annual fees by downgrading the Sapphire Reserve OR Sapphire Preferred to a no annual fee card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited.  But I would NOT downgrade both!

Because you must have an annual fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card open in order to transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners.

Before downgrading, you should consider if you regularly make travel or dining purchases.  Because the value of the bonus points you earn with the Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred can be worth much more than the annual fee expense on the cards.

Perks With the Sapphire Reserve Can Easily Offset the $450 Annual Fee

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve Increases Value of Your Ultimate Rewards Points

The Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards both earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are my favorite kind of points!

With the Sapphire Reserve, you get all of the same benefits as the Sapphire Preferred, plus a few extra including:

Last Chance To Earn 100000 Points With The Chase Sapphire Reserve
Lots of Points Enthusiasts Keep the Sapphire Reserve in Their Wallet Because of the Terrific Perks

To get the extra perks with the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll pay a higher annual fee.  The Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $450 per year.  While the Sapphire Preferred annual fee is $95 per year and is waived the first year you have the card.

But the additional perks of the Sapphire Reserve can easily offset the annual fee.  For example, the $300 travel credit effectively makes the Sapphire Reserve annual fee $150 ($450 annual fee – $300 travel credit).

And depending on your spending habits, you can easily get more than $150 worth of value by making purchases in the 3X bonus category.  For example, 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points linked to your Sapphire Reserve are worth $150 in travel when you redeem points through the Chase travel portal.

And earning 10,000 points in a year isn’t difficult.  This would require spending ~$3,300 per year (~$275 per month) on travel and dining purchases (~$3,300 in travel & dining purchases / 3 points per $1).

Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on Travel & Dining Purchases With the Sapphire Reserve, Which Can Get You Much More Value Than the Cost of the Card’s Annual Fee

Plus, consider the savings from accessing a Priority Pass lounge 1 or 2 times per year.  Keeping the Sapphire Reserve open can definitely make a lot of sense!

I’d Downgrade the Sapphire Preferred to Save on Annual Fees

Link:  Avoid Duplicate Card Perks and 2 Annual Fees by Downgrading the Sapphire Preferred

Folks like reader Shirley who have the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards can consider downgrading the Sapphire Preferred to a no annual fee card.

This way, you can save $95 a year by not having to pay the Sapphire Preferred annual fee.

For example, after getting the Sapphire Reserve, I downgraded my Sapphire Preferred to the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited.  Or you can also consider downgrading to the Chase Freedom.  Here’s a comparison of both cards.

 Chase FreedomChase Freedom Unlimited
Rewards Earning RateEarn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in combined purchases) in bonus categories each quarter after activating offer

Earn Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Travel PartnersOnly if first transferred to a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, Chase Ink Plus (no longer available), Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), or Chase Sapphire Reserve cardOnly if first transferred to a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, Chase Ink Plus (no longer available), Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), or Chase Sapphire Reserve card
Annual Fee$0$0
NotesBonus categories change each quarter, and must be manually activated.

This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee in US dollars for each international transaction.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited does NOT have bonus categories, but has a higher non-bonus earning rate than the Chase Freedom.

This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee in US dollars for each international transaction.
Full ReviewMy review of the Chase FreedomMy review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

When you downgrade, you will NOT be eligible to receive the new card sign-up bonus.  But your:

  • Account history information will transfer to the new card
  • Credit card number will be the same
  • New card will NOT show up as a new account on credit report

And downgrading your card is not automatic.  Chase will review your account for eligibility when you call the number of the back of your card.  Usually, you’ll need to have the card open for ~1 year before making a change.

Bottom Line

Avoid duplicate card perks and 2 annual fees by downgrading the Sapphire Preferred OR Sapphire Reserve to a no annual fee card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

I would NOT downgrade both cards if these are your only annual fee Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.  Because you must have 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards card with an annual fee active in order to transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners.

Keeping the Sapphire Reserve open and downgrading the Sapphire Preferred can make sense for a lot of folks.  Because the Sapphire Reserve gets you all of the same benefits as the Sapphire Preferred, plus a few extra like a $300 annual credit for travel purchases.

Although the Sapphire Reserve has a higher annual fee, it can easily be offset by the annual travel credit and value of the points you earn in the 3X bonus category (travel & dining purchases).

If you’re in a similar situation to reader Shirley, I’d love to hear which Chase card you’re downgrading!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

8comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Thanks for the article! I have both the sapphire reserve and preferred and am ready to downgrade the preferred to a freedom unlimited as you recommended. My question is, will they allow me to keep the same credit limit that I have currently on the preferred (15K), and also will I be eligible for the 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months of the freedom unlimited?

Have Reserve, Freedom Unlimited, Freedom, Ink Cash, IHG, Southwest Plus, Southwest Biz, (just recd Sapphire to replace Fairmont but didn’t activate yet…previously had Sapphire for many yrs); husband has Reserve, Freedom, Ink Cash, Ink Biz Preferred, Hyatt, and same situation with Fairmont to Sapphire. Reserve fees will be coming due. Will keep my Reserve card but not sure if we should keep both, or Sapphire for my husband….advice? He’s gotten the bonus on the Sapphire a few times.

Thanks for the good article.

Slightly different but would like to ask–
the A/E SPG and Chase Marriott cards.. do you need both?

Million Mile Secrets

The Chase Marriott card is great because the free anniversary night can easily offset the annual fee. But I think the AMEX Starwood card is great for everyday spending. Here’s a post with a comparison of the perks on both cards.

https://millionmilesecrets.com/2016/12/11/amex-starwood-or-chase-marriott/

Derek (DebrianTravels.com)

We just downgraded my wife’s Sapphire Preferred to the Freedom Unlimited. Our plan is to sign up for the Sapphire Reserve for her given the latest rules change. The process was simple and since I still have a Sapphire Preferred and household transfers are permitted, she can move her points from that card to mine until she can get out from under the 5/24 rule and get the Reserve.

http://www.debriantravels.com/blog/2017/9/4/downgrading-the-chase-sapphire-preferred-to-the-freedom-unlimited

Million Mile Secrets

Great strategy! Thank you for sharing.

What if I have the reserve, preferred, and business preferred? Can I cancel the reserve and the preferred and just keep the business preferred? Will I still be able to transfer points to hotels and airlines?

Million Mile Secrets

Great question! You can still transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners with just the Ink Business Preferred.

One thing to consider is points linked to your Sapphire Reserve card are worth more when you book airfare, hotels, or car rentals through the Chase travel portal. You get 1.5 cents per point instead of 1.25 cents per point with the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred.

https://millionmilesecrets.com/2017/01/02/chase-sapphire-reserve-increases-value-of-your-ultimate-rewards-points/