Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it with new benefits and temporarily lowered fee?

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve® consistently ranks as one of the best travel credit cards. It may even be the best premium card out there.

But the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $550, not waived the first year. You might ask yourself if the card benefits are enough to make paying the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it. After all, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card come with a $95 fee and a higher welcome bonus — 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

It’s worth the annual fee for many who value the card’s ongoing perks. For example, it has new Lyft and DoorDash credits, and it comes with an annual $300 travel credit.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve absolutely can be worth the annual fee, but it’s not for everyone.

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve worth it? You bet — the welcome bonus alone is enough for two free nights at the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun. (Photo by Joseph GTK/Shutterstock)

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee worth it?

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 in travel) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. You can also earn an unusually large amount of points when spending in the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel category — 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on a wide variety of travel purchases (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining worldwide and 1 Chase point per dollar on all other purchases.

Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee

Let’s look at how the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits add up.

Temporarily lowered annual fee

This is a move Chase has made in light of COVID-19 halting travel and rendering your card’s travel benefits nearly useless of late. Chase will only charge a $450 annual fee to anyone renewing their card between July 2 and December 31, 2020. In other words, if you’re planning to renew a Chase Sapphire Reserve this year, will pay $450 instead of the standard fee of $550.

Value: $100 (really just a savings)

New (temporary) bonus categories

Between July 1 and September 30, 2020, you’ll receive earning rate improvements for streaming services, gas stations, and Instacart (a pretty neat grocery delivery service). You can read this post for all the details.

For gas stations, your bonused spending is capped at $1,500 total. You’ll earn 5 Chase points per dollar with your Chase Sapphire Reserve. Bonused spending for streaming is also capped at $1,500, but your earning rates are slightly better, at 10 Chase points per dollar. And with Instacart, your spending is capped at $3,000, with an earning rate of 5 Chase points per dollar.

$50 Instacart credit

Also from July 1 and September 30, 2020, you can receive up to $50 in statement credits towards Instacart Express membership.

Instacart Express is a subscription of sorts for those who use Instacart regularly. You’ll pay a flat fee and receive free delivery on orders costing $35 or more (a savings of up to $7.99 per order). You’ll also benefit from reduced service fees, which would normally total 5% of your order. And you won’t be subject to price surges. Annual membership costs $99 per year, but you can alternately purchase a monthly membership costing $9.99.

It’s worth noting that Chase is likely to add more 5x earning categories after these current ones expire. They’re trying desperately to hold onto cardmembers right now, and the pandemic continues to be more stubborn than any of us would have predicted.

Value: $50

Annual travel credit

One of my favorite Chase Sapphire Reserve perks is the card’s annual credit of up to $300 for travel purchases. When you use your card for any travel purchase (like Airbnb, airfare, hotels, Uber, tolls, rental cars, parking, etc.), you will automatically be reimbursed until you’ve spent a total of $300 on travel. The travel credit is so easy to use that for most people the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee will only amount to $250 out of pocket because of the $300 you’re getting back for travel purchases you were going to make anyway.

Just note that while you normally would earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel purchases, the $300 in travel that is reimbursed as part of the credit won’t earn any points. I usually end up using my annual travel credit within the first few weeks of the year and most people spend much more than $300 combined in qualifying travel categories.

Value: $300 annually

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit

The up to in $100 statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck also helps offset the card’s annual fee – and it will save you time at the airport. Once you’re approved for either program, you can use the TSA PreCheck expedited security line (if your airport has one) when you’re flying with any eligible airline and you won’t have to worry about removing your shoes, belt or laptop.

Normally TSA PreCheck costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100. Both are valid for five years, but if you pay either of those fees with your Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get the fee reimbursed for one program, up to $100. Remember, it’s usually better to apply for Global Entry because it comes with TSA PreCheck eligibility. You can use this perk once every four years, so when the time comes to renew, it will be reimbursed as long as you have your Sapphire Reserve card.

Value: $100 every four years

Priority Pass airport lounge access

The Sapphire Reserve is one of the best credit cards with lounge access. It comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, better than lounge membership available for purchase. It can save you hundreds of dollars per year if you fly a lot and use lounges frequently, because a one-day lounge pass can easily cost $50+. With this Priority Pass Select membership, you get unlimited lounge access for yourself and two guests.

Another perk of Priority Pass membership is that there are a growing number of Priority Pass restaurants. The rules vary slightly depending on the location, but in general, you’ll just need a same-day boarding pass and proof of your Priority Pass membership to get $28 to $32 dollars off your bill per person for up to two people. That’s more than enough to cover a beverage and a meal.

Value: $429+ annually

DoorDash benefits

DoorDash benefits have been added to a handful of the best Chase credit cards, but the Sapphire Reserve has the best perks. First you can earn up to $120 in DoorDash credit, you’ll get $60 in credits in 2020 and another $60 in credits in 2021. You’re also eligible for at least one year of complimentary DashPass membership. DashPass normally costs $9.99 a month and gets you waived delivery fees on orders of $12 or more at participating restaurants. You must activate the DashPass membership by Dec. 31, 2021.

Don’t forget, you’ll also be earning 3x Ultimate Rewards points on DoorDash purchases.

Value: $180 annually (through 2021)

Lyft perks

Certain Chase cards are set to earn more for Lyft rides. The Sapphire Reserve will earn an exceptional 10x Ultimate Rewards points on Lyft rides. Not only that, but Reserve members will also be able to receive a year of complimentary Lyft Pink (normally costs $19.99 per month), which comes with the following benefits:

  • 15% off all Lyft rides
  • Three free cancellations a month (if you rebook within 15 minutes)
  • Three free bike/scooter rides per month
  • Priority airport pickups
  • Waived lost and found fees
  • “Surprise offers” — including seasonal discounts and exclusive savings

If you spend $667 on Lyft rides in a year the 15% savings will make up for the $100 annual fee increase by itself. The problem is that the complimentary Lyft Pink membership is only valid for one year from when you register. To take advantage of this new benefit you need to activate the Lyft Pink membership by Mar. 31, 2022.

Value: At least $240 annually

Travel protections

The Sapphire Reserve has some of the best travel insurance credit cards out there:

You’ll also get these coverages when you pay for your travel with your card:

  • Trip delay insurance – You can be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for delays of six hours or more, or ones that require an overnight stay. Eligible expenses include, lodging, food, incidentals and ground transportation.
  • Baggage delay insurance – Coverage of up to $100 per day for up to five days if a bag has been delayed for six hours or more.
  • Lost luggage coverage – You’ll receive up to $3,000 per person each trip for checked or carry-on luggage that is lost or damaged by the carrier.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance – This perk will provide you with a reimbursement of up to $10,000 per person per covered trip (maximum $20,000 per occurrence) for prepaid expenses if your trip is cut short or cancelled for a covered reason, like severe weather or illness.

It’s also one of the best credit cards for car rentals, because it comes with primary insurance which covers damage or theft.

Value: Potentially thousands annually (hopefully not!)

Chase Pay Yourself Back

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a new benefit Chase calls “Pay Yourself Back.” You can now redeem Chase points as a statement credit to offset purchases at dining establishments, grocery stores, and home improvement stores. From May 31 to September 30, 2020, you can redeem your points at a rate of 1.5 cents each — the same rate at which you can redeem your points for travel through the Chase Travel Portal.

This is pretty cool, considering travel is uncommon right now. But if you’re a loyal MMS reader, you know that this is still far from the best ways to use Chase points, You can save the cash back you earn towards paid travel later though, if you want! Pay Yourself Back is valuable in that you’re guaranteed to get a value of at least 1.5 cents per point in cash.

Bottom line

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with an annual fee of $550 — but the card’s $300 in annual travel credits are easy to use and effectively bring the cost down to $250. The question you need to ask yourself is, “will I get more than $250 in value from this card’s benefits?” If you can consistently take advantage of the Priority Pass Select membership, that alone can well offset the annual fee. Personally, I use rideshare services enough that the 10x points and Lyft Pink savings will offset the recent $100 annual fee increase by itself.

If you utilize all the remaining benefits noted above, you’ll have no trouble getting at least $874 in value each year.

But, if the DoorDash and Lyft perks aren’t that useful to you, or you don’t travel often enough to get decent mileage from your Priority Pass access, it might not be worth getting (or keeping) this card over the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which only has a $95 annual fee.

Depending on your spending and travel habits, it should be easy to decide whether keeping the card long term makes sense for you.

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

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! :)

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1 month ago

If you are paying $550 for the annual fee and also paying out the $300 on travel that you will get credited back to you, you will have paid out $850 total. Then you are only getting your $300 back. You will have still paid $550 for the annual fee. The credit does not reduce the annual fee down to $250. And you only get $500 worth of points. You are still down $50.
I got the preferred instead. They are basically giving you $600 worth of points and it only cost you a $95 annual fee. So you are getting $505 for free.

Reply to  c3collar
1 month ago

Your comment makes no sense. The CSR annual fee is $250 after the $300 credit because you were going to pay for the travel anyway.

Reply to  c3collar
1 month ago

Actually you don’t pay anything to get the travel credit. You charge it to your card and you get a statement credit up to $300, nothing comes out of your pocket. So even if you didn’t use the card for anything else except $300 of travel you will only have paid $550 annual fee and received $300 worth of travel, net effect of having paid $250 to Chase.

3 months ago

how’s that Priority Pass going to be going forward with COVID?? I’d imagine these lounges will look a lot different – and not necessarily for the better.

3 months ago

love love love my chase card but won’t be renewing it this year. too big an increase for too little useable new benefit. shame it’s been my go-to card for many years.

Reply to  Phil
3 months ago

$100 increase is not that big a deal given the price you’re already paying for this card before the increase. It has tremendous benefits and you’re likely using this card because you travel and spend enough to make good use of it. Even though I’m not happy with the hundred dollar increase it would it in the lease stop me from renewing as this is my go to card for everything. Everyone needs to stop whining about the hundred dollar increase, go find me a better card.

5 months ago

To me the 1.5 cents per point is a HUGE deal. I use it to book trips to Philippines for 48000 point. Cant beat that! I will continue to make sure I get enough value each year.

Muskan Ahluwalia
6 months ago

My husband and I are going to discontinue using this card. These perks are not of any use. Chase has to watch out, cause they are going to be losing alot of customers just cause of the $100 dollar hike. It was as it is a very expensive card compared to their competitors and now its not worth it at all.

6 months ago

We loved the benefits of the card but it is no longer worth it to us with the increased fee. We live overseas and don’t even have the option of using Door Dash or Lyft. So we’ll be canceling our card before our next yearly payment is due.

8 months ago

Everyone is forgetting that the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the only one that lets you transfer points to United. If you value United and the ability to use their miles for premium cabins to Europe then the additional fee is worth it. I have received well over 3-4 cents value for business class over the years

9 months ago

If you do the math then this card is barely competitive and when you add the $150 fee then it’s terrible. Sometimes I wonder how these types of cards get promoted like they’re some godsend.

If I spend 50,000 per year on whatever credit card I choose then I earn 1%, 1.5% since we’ll assume we are using CC rewards for travel. Ignore the fact that you will be somewhat limited since southwest and some carriers may not be on their website.
This means I earned $750 or $600 once you subtract the $150 fee. I get 3x bonus points on travel but this most likely doesn’t include AirBNB and may have limitations if you want those points. 3X points if I spend $3K on travel a year which has $135 value. So the total is $735.

Now if I have a standard 2% card with no fees. 2% on $53000 (no travel bonus on the $3K). I’ve earned $1060. I can use these funds with any business (i.e. airbnb, southwest, or whatever else isn’t included via chase)

This is all under the assumption that I want travel money. A simple cashback card can go towards anything and I don’t feel like I have to utilize my points to justify my $450 credit card.

Reply to  Stephen
6 months ago

FYI you can transfer points to your Southwest account, or you can call the # on your Reserve card and they will book Southwest flights for you and use your Rapid Rewards points.

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Stephen
9 months ago

You’re right that cash back cards have the nice flexibility in the sense that the rewards can be used for pretty much anything.

How points and miles-earning cards like the Case Sapphire Reserve win out though, is that depending on how you redeem them they can be worth upwards of 2-10+ cents per point.

1 year ago

Hard to bring myself to signup for that spend requirement and the bonus to be received. Would like at least 75000 bonus

Grumpy Texan Travel
1 year ago

CSR is a much more well-rounded card than AmEx plat. That card is only good if you fly all the time.

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Grumpy Texan Travel
1 year ago

Agreed – the CSR is a great card! I also have the Amex Platinum, and I’ve found myself using the CSR a bit more frequently because I’ve often found more value out of Chase points compared to Amex Membership Rewards points. But to each their own!

1 year ago

I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred since May 2012. Does anyone know if I would be eligible for the bonus if I try to upgrade to the Reserved?

Reply to  Kevin
7 months ago

The latest rule is you can only receive an intro bonus to Chase Sapphire family of cards once every 48 months (or 4 years). Upgrade from one Sapphire to another does not qualify for intro bonus, and “One Sapphire Rule” applies (only one active Sapphire card at a time). To get around this, one can product change their card, and then apply for the Reserve as long as it has been four years from the original bonus earned.

Grumpy Texan Travel
Reply to  Kevin
1 year ago

No bonus when upgrading. 100% certain.

Reply to  Kevin
1 year ago

Do you have a Chase Freedom or Freedom Unlimited? If so, you can save any accumulated points in that account. Then cancel your CSP. Wait 30 days and apply for the CSR and earn 50k points.

1 year ago

I have an Amazon Prime credit card which was issued by Chase, would this preclude me from receiving any bonus points if I applied for a Chase Sapphire Reserve card or any other Chase card with a sign on bonus.
I also have a Chase Ink Business Preferred card

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Brian
1 year ago

They’re considered different products, so you are eligible to earn a welcome bonus on the other Chase cards you mentioned.

One thing to keep in mind though is that if you’ve had the card before and have previously earned the bonus on that specific card, you may have to wait anywhere from 24/48 months to earn another intro bonus.

But it sounds like you’ve never had the other Chase cards you’re mentioning in your post, so you should be good to go!

1 year ago

This card is so not worth it. I get better points using my Uber Visa, Amazon Prime Visa, and Citi Double Cash back simultaneously. I’m an avid traveler and thought this card would be worth it, but it’s not. Biggest $450 mistake of my life.

Reply to  Rachel
1 year ago

Yeah that 2% back on flights+hotels really crushes the 4.5% from the CSR for all your ‘Avid traveling’. Fee is $150 net so unless you kept the thing for 3 years then you’re literally just lying.

Obviously this post is just corporate spam from Andrew but if you’re really an avid traveler then this card should easily crush your combo for traveling (and hint, you can still use you Amazon and DC cards even if you have a CSR)

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Rachel
1 year ago

Hi Rachel!

Definitely to each their own. Were you not able to find good value from redeeming points?

This is by far one of my favorite cards. I often get more than 2-3 cents per point in value from redemptions, and the $450 fee is effectively $150 because of the $300 travel credit the card offers 🙂

1 year ago

My most favorite card – I cancelled the rest with annual fees except for the Amex blue preferred for groceries. This card also gives 50% bonus miles if you make reservation from Chase travel. It usually costs 80,000 mileage for RT to Asia, but from Chase Travel, I’d only use about 52K miles. Lounge privilege is amazing privilege, pay for the fees by itself. Got stranded at the airport multiple times due to weather, we love the lounge !

Fran Ellsworth
1 year ago

I have a sapphire preferred now, but would like to upgrade to a reserved. If I went through you, would you get credit? Also, would I be eligible for any bonus points?

Reply to  Fran Ellsworth
1 year ago

You would need to wait 48 months after receiving a bonus on your CSP before canceling and applying for a CSR to earn points.

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Fran Ellsworth
1 year ago

Hi Fran,

Unfortunately, if you decided to upgrade the card you would not be eligible for the welcome bonus.

Chase also has some other strict application rules. For instance, new cardmembers can only have 1 version of a Sapphire product, and to be eligible for a welcome bonus on a Sapphire card, you can NOT have earned a welcome bonus on any version of the Sapphire card in the past 48 months.

1 year ago

I haven’t even had this card for a year and it’s paid itself off over an over with lounge access for myself and family. Even though when I signed up it was for 50k points, it’s still the top card in my arsenal.

Reply to  gt
6 months ago

So, when you say lounge access for your family- your card/lounge access will also include your spouse and children? And limit for kids? I only have 3 but still wonder if my one card/lounge access will be fine for all of us.

Hideki Yamada
1 year ago

If you travel even half-way frequently, this card’s annual fee pays itself off and more. We received 100,000 points as a bonus when we signed up, and that paid for a ticket and a half to Japan. The sign-up bonus is not as generous any more, but the handsome payoff still is on the plate for taking for anyone who travels regularly. We are well on our way to another free ticket to Japan from the points earned!

On the other hand, if you do not travel much, e.g., just one airline trip a year, then do not bother. This card is strictly for people who travel regularly.

Luke Vader
1 year ago

Have had the CSR for 2 years, and it’s an excellent card if you can utilize enough of its [many] benefits.

One benefit you didn’t mention is primary rental car insurance (although certain countries are excluded), which could be worth a lot to some travelers.