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 — 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

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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