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Last week, I outlined reasons as to why I viewed the recent changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve to be largely negative. If you still love the Reserve Card and plan on keeping it, then it’s great that it still works for you. However, if you are in one of these situations and are negatively affected, then how do you plan your credit card strategy going forward?
Transferring Ultimate Rewards Points
If you still love your Ultimate Rewards points and want to keep them alive, then you can always downgrade to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You’ll still continue to earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining. If you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.
If you can get a business credit card, then the Chase Ink Business Preferred is an amazing option. A close look at all of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points earning cards reveals that this card still has the highest sign-up bonus. You can currently earn 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. With this card, you’ll miss out on the dining category with a simple 1x. However, you’ll earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel, just like on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Please note that Chase’s 5/24 rule applies to both these credit cards
Fixed Redemption Value
If you love fixed points redemptions, then the Sapphire Reserve would still give you the best value. Also, if you plan on having just a single premium travel credit card, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve will suit your needs.
Valuing the Priority Pass
If you have more than one premium card, your value of the second priority pass benefit pretty much becomes zero. For example, I have the Hilton Aspire Card, which currently has a sign-up bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points. I already get Priority Pass Select with this card. In my case, it was an easy decision for me to downgrade from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to the preferred. I had a second priority pass option and wouldn’t have lost much after downgrading. If you are in the same situation and have another card that offers you Priority Pass, then you can jump ship.
Exiting the Chase Ecosystem
If you have a handful of points remaining and intend to cancel the Chase Sapphire Reserve and exit the Chase ecosystem, you have a few other options. However, if you only have a few Chase points in your account, it may be a lot easier for you to quit the Chase Ecosystem.
In my case, I still have two $95 annual fee cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Ink Preferred. These cards ensure that my points transfers are active. I also get a decent return on everyday spend and end up spending $190 in annual fees. If you plan on closing the Sapphire Reserve and existing the Chase points ecosystem altogether, I’d recommend American Express Membership Rewards points as your next best option.
If you travel occasionally but still spend substantially on travel and dining, then the Amex Green Card is a fantastic option. You’ll earn 3x Membership Rewards points for each dollar you spend on the card.
You’ll earn 3x Membership Rewards points on flights. In addition, you’ll get 4x Membership Rewards points on dining worldwide and on groceries in the US. The one downside of this card is that you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $250. In return you’ll get $100 in airline fee credits and a $10 Grubhub/Boxed Credit each month. I’m not a big fan of how these credits work and wouldn’t recommend you signing up for this unless you’re already doing business with the aforementioned brands.
This is a very underrated hotel card in my opinion. You get complimentary 10 priority pass visits each year. The card also gives you Hilton Honors Gold status, which is extremely valuable. With Gold status, you can get complimentary breakfast, which can be a big money saver.
Credit Card Strategy
The Chase Sapphire Reserve still has a few things going in its favor. It has a simple $300 travel credit, unlike the airline fee credits on Amex’s cards. Also, it offers a great fixed value points redemption value. The only card that beats the Sapphire Reserve in this regard is the Business Platinum Card. However, the Business Platinum Card has a $595 annual fee and suffers from the same downsides as other premium Amex card, due to the complex airline fee credit benefit.
If you’re not a frequent user of Priority Pass, then your decision to downgrade is a lot easier. If the airport you frequent has a Centurion Lounge or a Delta lounge, then it’s a lot easier for you to switch to the Amex Platinum or the Delta Reserve.
The Pundit’s Mantra
In essence, if you’re looking to think beyond the Chase Sapphire Reserve, then you have to think about which points ecosystem you want to be in. If you love Hyatt Hotels or fly frequently on Southwest, then your decision is a lot simpler. In my case, I’m loyal to Hilton, thanks to their massive global footprint. The Hilton Aspire already gives me Diamond Status and Priority Pass select. Whenever I want to switch it up, I transfer Ultimate Rewards points and book a stay with Hyatt. With airlines, your decision making is largely dictated by the airport you frequent. If your home airport is a Delta hub or has a Centurion lounge, then the Amex ecosystem works perfectly for you.
Look at transferable points programs as sports teams. The ecosystem is designed to keep you a part of the system. If you are on team Amex, there’s a good chance you’ll do business with one of their partners like Delta or Hilton. If you continue on team Chase, then there’s a good change you’ll do more business with the likes of United, Southwest and Hyatt.
I always recommend collecting more than points currency so that you have more options. More options also protect you against any possible devaluations. However, your credit card strategy may be different. After Chase Sapphire Reserve made changes, what changes have you made to your travel credit card strategy? Let us know in the comments section.