Ever since the Chase Sapphire Reserve was launched, it has been one of the best premium credit card products on the market. With a stratospheric 100,000 sign-up bonus during its launch period (which I’m bummed I missed), a hefty travel credit, and good earning and redemption rates on travel, it has held a solid place in my wallet. Earning points with other Chase cards and redeeming them for 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal has been one of my favorite ways to use Ultimate Rewards.
But this past year I finally realize it might be time to part ways with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s why:
Reduced Need for Priority Pass
The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides a complimentary Priority Pass membership for primary cardholder and any authorized users. This membership allows the cardholder plus up to two guests (unless limited otherwise by the lounge itself) to receive complimentary access to lounges within the Priority Pass network. I’ve enjoyed using this membership during our travels over the past couple years.
However, I have a second premium card that I plan on keeping that also offer Priority Pass: the Hilton Aspire American Express card. I plan on keeping this one, which makes the Priority Pass membership from the Chase Sapphire Reserve less critical. The one downside to keeping an American Express card with Priority Pass is that we won’t have access to restaurants within the network, including the two at San Francisco International Airport. But I can live without this. My most recent usage was at LAX at P.F. Chang’s.
Two Credits, One Fee
As I upgraded my former Chase Sapphire Preferred card to the Sapphire Reserve, I ended up with an offset cycle for the annual travel credit and the annual fee. My annual fee hit in August each year, while the travel credit reset in February. This has effectively let me redeem two travel credits over the past couple years, while just paying one fee. Canceling the card this month will let me save $450 while getting $600 in credit.
I’m not sure if it always works like this, but this is an interesting artifact of upgrading to the Sapphire Reserve rather than applying outright. The other side of the card is that upgrading doesn’t give you a sign-up bonus. But since Chase 5/24 would have made a new card approval impossible, upgrading was the only option I had.
Transfers Will Happen Once Again
You might be thinking, “what about points transfers?” And that is a fair point. By downgrading to a Chase Freedom card instead of a Sapphire Preferred, I will not be able to transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to airline or hotel partners. But I can live without this, as I plan to apply for the Ink Preferred business card once I drop below 5/24 this winter. I can live without transfers for 4-5 months. We’ll just keep accruing points.
On the very slight chance Chase does not approve me for the Ink Preferred once I am under 5/24, I could always upgrade my other Freedom card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’m mainly looking to hold two Freedom cards to be able to maximize the quarterly bonuses, but I would gladly ditch one to be able to transfer points. Travel plans are also locked in for the foreseeable future, so I am not expecting to need to do this.
What About Ancillary Benefits?
Another consideration is the protections offered by the Sapphire Reserve. I have other cards that offer travel protections for trip delay and cancellation, and also for lost luggage. I’m content enough with a couple other card options.
What will be a bummer to lose is the primary collision damage protection offered by the Sapphire Reserve. I rent cars fairly regularly. Keeping the card just for this benefit has certainly been a consideration. I need to go through my other cards to see if I have protection with another product. Eventually, I plan to pick up a United MileagePlus Explorer card again, which offers this benefit.
On the one hand it sad to be dropping my favorite premium card, but with $450 on the table, I just can’t justify keeping it this year. We’ll see if I ever pick it up again, or upgrade another card to it again in the future. It’s been a fun ride, Chase Sapphire Reserve!