This Is The Deadline To Lock In The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Lower Annual Fee

Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.

Note: The deadline to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve at the lower annual fee of $450 has now passed.

Chase will be pushing through some changes to its high-end Sapphire Reserve credit card next week and as well as adding a few new benefits card issuer will be increasing the Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee from $450 to $550.

At $550/year ($250/year once you account for the $300/year travel credit) the Sapphire Reserve’s value proposition is far for clear for most people but at the current rate of $450/year ($150/year once you account for the $300/year travel credit) this is still one of the best travel cards around and we now know exactly how long there is left to lock in the lower annual fee.

Traveling For Miles partners with for all its credit card needs and this is what we have now been told about the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

“Any application submitted before the 8:45am takedown on 1/13 will go through at the $450 Annual fee. The $550 annual fee will become effective on CardRatings when the card is relaunched on 1/14.”

I haven’t had a chance to clarify what timezone 8:45am refers to but if you assume that it’s Eastern Time you’re not likely to go far wrong.

I can’t vouch for any other links to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that you may find elsewhere but, as far as the links within this post go, 8:45am on January 13th is the cut-off (but I wouldn’t leave it that late!).

What You Should Know About The Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual Fees:

  • Primary cardholder – $450/year (limited time left)
  • Authorized users – $75/year

Welcome Bonus:

Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. With Chase Ultimate Rewards points being redeemable at 1.5 cents each for travel via the Ultimate Rewards website this values the welcome bonus at $750.

Earning Rates:

  • 3 points/dollar for all travel spending
  • 3 points/dollar on dining worldwide
  • 10 points/dollar on Lyft spending (from 12 January 2020)
  • 1 point/dollar for all other spending

Key Benefits:

  • $300/year travel statement credit
  • Redeem points for 1.5 cents each via the Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • $100 credit (every 4 years) towards Global Entry membership or $85 credit towards TSA PreCheck membership.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Primary rental car protection
  • Trip delay protection
  • Trip cancellation/interruption protection
  • Lyft Pink Membership (from 12 January 2020) – get 15% off all Lyft rides
  • DoorDash DashPlus membership (retails for $9.99/month)
  • $60 DoorDash credit for 2020 and 2021
  • Select benefits at sbe properties (more info here)

Find out more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

What I Love About The Case Sapphire Reserve

Note: For the purposes of this post I’m going to ignore the upcoming increase in the annual fee. I’ve said what I think about that in an earlier post and this post is aimed at anyone considering applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve before the fee increase kicks in.

I’ve been a fan of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card since the day it was released and despite the fact that other cards have since upped their game to compete with Chase’s flagship offering I still think that it’s one of the very best credit cards on the market….here’s why:

$300/Year Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire reserve may cost $450/year but a key benefit that comes with the card is an annual $300/year travel credit which effectively reduces the annual fee to $150.

Each year Chase will rebate cardholders the first $300 of travel spending and with Chase’s “travel” category being one of the broadest around (not only does it include airfare, car hire, and hotels but it also includes taxis, rideshares, parking, tolls, public transport and lot more) it’s very easy to earn back a significant percentage of the annual fee very easily.

1.5 Cents/Point Of Value Through Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Ultimate Rewards points that the Sapphire Reserve card earns can be used to purchase travel (airfares, hotels nights, etc…) at a rate of 1.5 cents/point through the Ultimate Rewards portal and this can be a great deal.

Using points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal gets you around the issue of having to find award availability because the points can be used to book any cash rate that’s available and, because as far as the airlines and hotels are concerned you’re paying a regular cash rate (you give Chase your points and then Chase buys you the airfare/hotel stay) you get to enjoy all the benefits of whatever elite statuses you have and you get to earn miles, points and status credits as you would have done had you paid for the trip with a credit card.

Easy To Earn 3x Points On Travel & Dining

Chase’s definition of “travel spending” is so broad that it’s actually quite hard to find something that you may categorize as travel spending that won’t earn you 3 points per dollar – I’ve earned bonus points from car parks, toll booths, ferry tickets, and even a scooter rental.

Also, the Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t require cardholders to book directly with airlines or hotels if they want to earn the bonus points – bookings made through 3rd parties like Expedia, Orbitz and will all qualify for enhanced earnings.

Things are much the same when it comes to earning bonus points from eating out. Where people have been known to have issues earning bonus points from dining when using cards like the Amex Gold Card there are rarely such issues with the Sapphire Reserve.

Whether I’ve been dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, eating at a fast-food outlet or having a drink in a bar/pub (with no food consumed at all) I’ve always earned 3 points/dollar when using my Sapphire reserve to pay the bill.

Priority Pass Select Membership (Including Priority Pass Restaurants)

Plaza Premium Lounge Rio de Janeiro (International Departures)
Plaza Premium Lounge Rio de Janeiro (International Departures)

There are two Priority Pass related reasons why I like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Firstly, I like having a Priority Pass membership which gets me and two guests into a variety of lounges worldwide. Not only do some of my trips take me to locations where my airline status doesn’t get me into a lounge (and Priority Pass has me covered) but, even when I can enter a lounge courtesy of my airline status, my status generally only allows me to bring a single guest with me into the lounge and that’s not of much use to me when I’m traveling with both Joanna and MJ…so it’s nice to be able to fall back on my Priority Pass membership to get us all into a lounge.

Secondly, for a fee of $75 Joanna is an authorized user on my Sapphire Reserve card and, as an authorized user, she gets her very own Priority Pass membership. This is exactly the same type of membership that I get so she’s guaranteed lounge access when she’s traveling without me (assuming there’s a Priority Pass lounge where she’s traveling) and she can guest 2 people into the lounges free of charge too. For $75 that’s a pretty sweet deal.

Points Transfers To Hyatt

The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi (booked courtesy of Chase Ultimate Rewards points)

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs (all at a ratio of 1:1) but my absolute favorite is Hyatt.

Hyatt may not have a particularly large worldwide footprint when you compare it to Marriott, IHG or Hilton but it does have some very nice hotels and an award chart that I consider to be the friendliest of all the major hotel loyalty programs.

With the Sapphire Reserve making it relatively easy for me to earn a significant number of Ultimate Rewards Points every year, I’m able to transfer those points over to the World of Hyatt and then book properties that I probably wouldn’t otherwise be booking (cash rates are too high).

The ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to the likes of British Airways, United, Emirates and Singapore Airlines are all also very nice options to have…but it’s the transfers to Hyatt that I enjoy the most.

Primary Rental Car Cover

The rental cover that you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve when you use the card to pay for your car rental and decline the rental company’s CDW coverage is primary and not secondary (as it is for most other credit cards).

As I like the idea of not having to get my own insurance company involved should anything happen to a car that I rent I’ve used my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book every one of my car rentals since I first got the card…and I was using the Chase Sapphire Preferred before that.

Get The New Benefits Without Paying The Increased Fee

A new earning rate for Lyft rites kicks in next week

Ok, so this isn’t a reason why I’ve been a fan of the Sapphire Reserve card for so long but it’s a very important point to bear in mind if you’re thinking of applying for the card right now.

Anyone who successfully applies for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card before 8:45am on January 13th (though one of the links I’ve provided) will have access to…

  • The new Lyft Pink membership benefits
  • The new Lyft earning rate of 10 points/dollar
  • DoorDash DashPlus membership
  • $60 DoorDash credit for 2020

…all while still only paying a $450 annual fee.

Essentially, anyone successfully applying for the Sapphire Reserve before the stated deadline will get the chance to try the card out with all its new benefits without having to pay any more than the current annual fee – if nothing else this will give people 12 months to figure out just how often the new benefits come in useful (or save money) before they have to decide if the increased annual fee is worth it.

Trip Delay Insurance

Now that the Platinum Card from American Express offers trip delay insurance (on top of the 5 points/dollar on airfare spending) you may think that the trip delay insurance that comes with the Sapphire Reserve isn’t such a big deal…but you’d be wrong.

The Amex Platinum only offers 5 points/dollar on spending that’s made directly with the airlines while Chase’s broad travel category will see you earn 3 points/dollar on airfares regardless of how they’re booked (e.g. through Orbitz, Priceline, etc…).

What this means is that when you find a great airfare on a consolidator site which you then cannot replicate on the airline’s own site (something that happens disappointingly often) you will not be able to earn bonus points if you book the fare using the Amex Platinum card – there’s no such issue with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Also, the Platinum Card from American Express stipulates that a roundtrip or open-jaw booking is required for a cardholder to be covered for trip delay insurance while the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s cover imposes no such restriction.

Who Cannot/Should Not Apply?

  • If you currently have a Chase Sapphire card (either the Reserve or the Preferred version) you cannot get the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
  • If you’ve received a welcome bonus on either of Chase’s Sapphire cards in the past 48 months you cannot get the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
  • If you have opened 5 or more new card accounts in the past 24 months you are unlikely to be approved for this card.
  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve is aimed at those with excellent credit so if you don’t have a credit score that’s solidly into the 700s I suggest you take a pass on this card (note: a high credit score still isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be approved).

Bottom Line

I don’t like the upcoming changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve anymore than most people but while the card can be had for an effective cost of $150/year I maintain that it’s one of the best travel rewards cards that you can get….but you only have until early on January 13th to lock in the current annual fee.

The 50,000 point welcome bonus (valued at $750) may be, on its own, a pretty good reason to apply for the Sapphire Reserve card but it’s the benefits that the card offers that make me love it as much as I do.

Thanks to the annual travel credit, the Priority Pass membership, the easy points earning, the ability to spend points on travel at 1.5 cents each and the great consumer protections that the card offers the Chase Sapphire Reserve rarely leaves my wallet.

That may no longer be the case once I have to pay the increased annual fee but, while all these benefits can be had for a net $150 per year, I think the Sapphire Reserve is a no brainer.

Use this link to find out more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve