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A couple of keen-eyed Reddit users have discovered what appear to be new Ultimate Rewards agreements for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Assuming that the contents of these documents are genuine, we could soon see Chase announce some big changes to their two fee-bearing consumer Ultimate Rewards Cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- A $50 ‘Annual Hotel Credit’ will be introduced which will be valid for all hotel bookings made through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 5 points/dollar on most* travel purchases booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 3 points/dollar on spending made in the following categories:
- Dining at restaurants;
- Select streaming services;
- Online grocery (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- The card will offer a 10% anniversary points bonus which will see cardholders earn 1 point/dollar on 10% of the total spending put on the card (i.e someone spending $10,000 on the card in their cardholder year would receive 1,000 bonus points).
*Any hotel accommodation booked using the card through the Ultimate Rewards program that qualifies for the $50 Annual Hotel Credit, won’t earn points.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- The card will offer 10 points/dollar on most* car rentals and hotel reservations booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 10 points/dollar on Chase Dining purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 5 points/dollar on most* airfares booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review) will continue to offer 3 points/dollar for most* travel spending not made through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points/dollar on dining worldwide, and 1 point/dollar on all non-bonused spending.
*No points are earned on the first $300 spent on travel in a cardholder year.
It’s important to emphasize that none of this has been confirmed by Chase so this is just a big rumor for now (although the Ultimate Rewards agreements that I’ve seen look real enough).
The biggest thing to note is that while the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will be getting noticeably better if these changes actually take place, the changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card are not as impressive.
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will now earn bonus points for online grocery spending and for spending on select streaming services, and while it will see its earning rate on dining purchases increased, all the improvements to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card revolve around spending made through the Ultimate Rewards portal. That’s not great for Sapphire Reserve cardholders.
I’m cautiously pleased that both cards will be offering 5 points/dollar on airfare booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal as I expect this to be more useful than some are suggesting.
When I conducted a small experiment (almost two years ago) in which I checked the price of domestic airfares being sold by a number of major US airlines to the airfares being offered on the Ultimate Rewards portal (for the exact same flights), I failed to find a single discrepancy. Based on that very limited sample size (I think I checked 50 flights across 5 airlines) I’d happily book flights through Ultimate Rewards if they earned me 5 points/dollar (although I will always compare prices before I book).
When it comes to booking hotels through Ultimate Rewards (UR), I know that I’m going to be very reserved (no pun intended) about the opportunity to earn 5 or 10 points per dollar.
UR hotel bookings are classified as 3rd party bookings and do not qualify for elite status recognition, elite status credits, or hotel point accruals, and there are a lot of reports of hotels costing significantly more on the UR portal than they cost on the hotels’ own sites.
The enhanced earnings may be enticing, but inflated prices and the lack of elite benefits would possibly negate the extra points that are being earned.
I can’t remember the last time I booked a car rental through Ultimate Rewards so I don’t know how its pricing compares to the rental car sites and to the consolidators. Assuming the deals are comparable, the 5 or 10 points per dollar that will soon (apparently) be on offer will be very welcome, but I’ll reserve judgment until I have a chance to do a proper price comparison.
Clearly, it will be very good news if the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was to offer 3 points/dollar for dining worldwide as that’s what the (considerably more expensive) Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers right now, but I’m a lot less enthused by the idea of the Reserve Card offering 10 points/dollar for dining booked through Ultimate Rewards.
First and foremost, a lot of the “restaurant dining” that I do is done on the spur of the moment (so that won’t earn me 10 points/dollar), and a lot of the planned dining that I enjoy is reserved directly with the restaurant (over the phone – the old fashioned and more personal way) so that wouldn’t earn me 10 points/dollar either.
Secondly, Chase Dining doesn’t appear to be of any use anywhere other than in the United States so that means that all dining done abroad will continue to earn just 3 points per dollar…which is exactly where the cheaper Sapphire Preferred Card will now apparently offer.
For most holders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, this bonus on dining spending made through UR is not going to be particularly useful.
A key thing to note is that nowhere are we seeing any mention of what will happen to the annual fees that these two cards charge should these changes take effect and as I can’t see Chase giving holders of the Sapphire Preferred card a $50 hotel credit in return for nothing, the days of this being a sub-$100/year card may be numbered.
As Chase seems to be struggling to get anyone to pay the full $550/year that the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card now (supposedly) charges, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re not going to see a second annual fee increase in two years for this card…but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.
Rumors and paperwork that has appeared online appear to suggest that we’ll soon see Chase announce significant changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (review) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review). On the whole, the changes look to be positive but the Chase Sapphire Prefered Card looks to be the one that’s going to be improved the most…let’s now wait and see what happens to its annual fee.