This past month I was up for renewal of my Chase Sapphire Reserve (my favorite travel credit card) and with a lack of travel and dining it seemed like an obvious choice to cancel the card, but I decided to keep the card.
Here are the five main reasons I decided to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve during COVID:
Earlier this year, Chase offered 5X points on groceries from 5/1 to 6/30 on up to $1500/month in spending. I don’t actually spend that much on groceries and instead bought gift cards to ensure I maxed out this bonus category. By spending the full $3000 I earned 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points or $300 in free travel from this bonus category.
In July, Chase added new bonus categories including 10X points on streaming services on up to $1500 over three-months. I learned that any Apple purchase would trigger the 10X points so I maxed out this bonus category by adding $1500 to my Apple Account. This also earned me 15,000 Chase UR points or $300 in free travel and I’ll be using it to buy my next iPhone.
Chase also announced a 3X points grocery bonus starting in November for six months. I plan to max out the $1000/month limit which will earn me an additional 18,000 Chase UR points or $360 in free travel.
Just from these three bonus categories, I will have earned more than 48,000 Chase UR points/$960 in free travel. While I know not everyone has the ability to put this kind of spending on a card, Chase has offered a lot of value if you plan your purchases right and don’t mind buying gift cards.
Chase recently announced you can use the $300 travel credit on gas and grocery purchases, in addition to travel. I’ve never had a problem redeeming this credit early each year because I love to travel, but it’s nice to see some flexibility offered on this benefit. The good news is that this will also be offered again next year for purchases until 6/30/2021.
Normally, the way to get the most value out of your Chase UR points is by booking travel through one of Chase’s many transfer partners like Hyatt or United, but I’m not doing that in the middle of COVID-19. Chase introduced the Pay Yourself Back program allowing you to redeem Chase UR points at a value of 1.5 cents apiece at grocery stores, home improvement, and dining purchases until 4/30/2021. This is a great way to offset increased spending during the pandemic and I’ll definitely be using this benefit.
In January 2020, Chase announced that the Sapphire Reserve annual fee will increase to $550 in 2020. New partnerships with Lyft and DoorDash gave more value for cardholders, but I haven’t used Lyft since March, so it’s hard to value that benefit personally. Doordash on the other hand I am using quite a bit this year.
Sapphire Reserve cardholders get $60 in annual DoorDash statement credits for 2020 and 2021 and a free one-year DashPass membership. This was a nice benefit to have as I’ve been ordering more takeout and have saved a bunch of money on delivery fees thanks to DashPass. I easily value this benefit at a minimum of $100 per year.
Due to COVID-19, Chase announced that most cardholders would get a $100 discount on the annual fee upon renewal this year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve normally has a $550 annual fee, but I only had to pay $450 this year as my card renewed in October.
Chase has done a great job at keeping it’s most loyal Sapphire Reserve cardholders happy by offering temporary bonus categories, more flexibility on UR points and the travel credit, and by offering new benefits. By maxing out many of the temporary bonuses, I earned enough to offset the annual fee for the next two years alone, without factoring in many of the other benefits of the card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve will continue to be a key part of my credit card rewards strategy for many years to come because I’m focused on the long term and I love to travel. I’ve gotten great value from this card over the years, and when travel resumes, I will be ready to use my points again.
I hope Chase continues to find new ways to add more value for cardholders long term, but for now, I see no reason to cancel the card, and in fact, I’d encourage others to apply for one of the Chase Sapphire cards.
Chase is currently offering an 80,000 point bonus for the Sapphire Preferred and 50,000 point bonus for the Sapphire Reserve. While you might not be traveling due to COVID-19, there is still a ton of value to be had from both cards, and now is a great time to start building up your points for when travel resumes in a post-COVID world.
Of course, you need to use credit cards responsibly and pay them off in full each month, otherwise, the rewards will be lost to interest and fees. If you aren’t responsible with credit cards, then travel and points credit cards are not for you, and I’d encourage you to focus on gaining control over your spending, paying off debt, and budgeting for the future.
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