Chase Sapphire Reserve Value
Like many things in our hobby, my wife and I have swayed each way on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. At times, we couldn’t be less interested in the card. In others, including the last few years, we’ve been highly attentive. We’re somewhere in the middle now, waiting to see what happens next. My wife recently downgraded hers to a Freedom Flex, and I’m considering upgrading a Freedom to a Reserve (or maybe the Preferred). The card’s benefits, including the uncertainty of a big one, play into our current view. Here’s what I think of the Chase Sapphire Reserve value right now, particularly the benefits in our situation.
Annual Travel Credit
The most reliable benefit of the Reserve in my view, the annual travel credit is easy for us to fully consume. There aren’t any huge strings attached like buying through the Chase portal or monthly use-or-lose allotments. If a charge categorizes as travel, we receive a statement credit, up to $300 for the cardmember year. This broadly applicable benefit can be taken even further with those in two player mode – be curious and pay attention. Like the annual benefit, my valuation is remarkably simple.
Annual Benefit Value: $300
Priority Pass Select
The Reserve offers Priority Pass Select membership to cardholders, AKA the membership with the restaurants. Long story short, cardholders can use this card at about 30 or so airport dining outlets and receive a $28-30 credit for at least two individuals. Participating restaurants change, and the exact credit amounts and individual restaurant policies differ, so do your homework before visiting any location.
Of course, cardholders can visit all of the usual Priority Pass lounges. And I’ve done more of this over the years than the restaurants. Actually, I still haven’t used the Select membership on dining – not once. But I do value that option, albeit at a small amount, since I like having that benefit available to me if or when I need it. The Citi Prestige and UBS Visa Infinite also provide this perk, but those two aren’t feasible options for me.
Annual Benefit Value: $50
Pay Yourself Back
We now come to the benefit which has brought my wife and I back to the Reserve a few years ago and may again in the future. Back in May 2020, Chase launched the Pay Yourself Back benefit. Pay Yourself Back enabled Preferred and Reserve cardholders to obtain 25% and 50% more value, respectively, for their Ultimate Rewards points when they’re used in certain categories. For years prior, I had been cashing out points at one cent each, so my return skyrocketed 50% with a bit of targeted spending.
I’ve enjoyed the useful categories Chase has offered since, including grocery stores, travel, dining, among others. The Reserve has provided better categories than the Preferred and the business cards, in my view.
But there’s been an elephant in the room more recently. For quite some time, Chase has announced Pay Yourself Back extensions and categories, at least the most useful ones, each quarter. Cardholders like us are on our heels, not sure what to make of this benefit beyond those three months. Plus, they’ve killed the 50% extra value of the Reserve in big categories, opting for 25% in still-useful categories like grocery stores and gas stations currently.
I’m tired of the uncertainty. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I cannot rely on this benefit providing continued value over a full annual fee period. If I pick up the Reserve again, I’ll have low expectations for this benefit and be pleasantly surprised when useful categories appear.
Update: Since this post was submitted, Chase updated us on second quarter Pay Yourself Back categories. My views are unchanged.
Annual Benefit Value: $0
Everything Else – Nice, But Nothing Special
When one looks at Chase’s marketing of the Reserve, the wealth of benefits is undeniable. What’s not as apparent is that most everything else it offers can be obtained from other cards. And a few other items I don’t really care about, anyway.
The Reserve earns 3x on travel and dining. The Preferred is also 3x on dining; travel’s close behind at 2x. It’s the same thing with the 5x earning on airfare booked through the Chase portal. Earning 10x on hotels and car rentals through the portal, 10x via Dining through Ultimate Rewards, and 10x on Lyft does absolutely nothing for me.
DoorDash DashPass is definitely useful for us. But we already get that benefit – from another Chase card. We get TSA PreCheck and Global Entry credits, if we ever want to use them, from other cards, too.
A bunch of other stuff we don’t use, although many others do: 50% extra value when travel redemptions via the Chase Portal, Luxury Hotel Collection access, Instacart and GoPuff credits, etc. We don’t care about the Reserve’s rental car insurance benefits – we haven’t rented a car in years.
You probably get the point by now.
Annual Benefit Value of Everything Else: $0
In our situation, my wife and I value the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits at $350 in return for one $550 annual fee. Bigger picture, I feel like one of three things would need to happen for us to pick up the Reserve again: Chase announces more permanent Pay Yourself Back categories worthy of an upgrade, a future limited-time PYB Category is worth us essentially renting the card, or I leverage PYB and other benefits at a value exceeding the annual fee. The middle option would entail us sitting on a substantial points balance and waiting for a worthy redemption, something that’s not our style with bank points. We’ll see how things develop, and I’ll report back. How do you feel about the Reserve right now? Why’s it worth the annual fee to you, or not?
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I am in my mid 60s and CSR is my most valuable credit card. Amex Platinum is 2nd. To me the travel CSR insurance benefits are superior. In 2021 we had only charged an earlybird check in on our Southwest flight from Dallas to Vegas. The rest of the flight was paid for with points and another card for the tax. My wife fell in our bathroom in the Venetian and broke a tooth. She had to have a root canal and crown at a Vegas dentist. Total cost was $2007. The CSR insurance paid $1957 of the expense. This year I was in New York City leaving January 31 to come back to Dallas and our flight was canceled due to the ice storm in Dallas. We ended up being delayed 3 nights in New York because of conditions in Dallas. We had charged the $5.60 flight fees on Southwest using points for our airfare. CRS paid us $1000 of our extra days expenses for our flight delay. We enjoyed 3 exta days in New York with most of our expenses being reimbursed.
The Priority select benefit has also been valuable to us. Last month at Washington Reagon airport we had lunch at a priority pass restaurant. Since each have a CSR priority pass select card we took each other as a guest at the restaurant. We had four $28 credits to use. We were able to have lunch, drinks, and takeaway salads and still not exceed the total benefits of $112. Only expense being he gratuity. While we have regular priority pass acccess through our Amex platinum the added benefit of use at the restaurants is very valuable.
I charge all my rental car expenses on the CSR because of the primary insurance benefit. Most other cards only offer a secondary benefit. While I have never had to file a claim my assumption is that he primary woud be a better benefit.
Right now CRS is the only card that I have which I can transfer mile for mile to both Southweet and Hyatt which for me is valuable.
While I have a small stack of other cards which provide great beneifts overall CSR has to be the best card i have in my wallet
I have kept my CSR card for several years for exactly the reasons you listed.
@ Brutus – yeah agreed, otherwise it’s just slapping a new name on an outdated product. The bonus cats were always great with Prestige, just what you then did with them the issue! I spent several months aggressively accumulating TYP to transfer to Choice 1:2 for some Cambria/Ascend stays. Those were great and excellent value, but I need some other options to go any further with spend. Wouldn’t a permanent AA partner be nice?!
Any value assigned to the $5 monthly Door Dash credit and $15 monthly Instacart credit?
No. See the Everything Else section for more.
What about the travel insurance protections on the Reserve? Or are the protections on the Preferred similar/equal?
The Preferred and Reserve have some differences there, but also plenty of similarities. Check them out here.
The travel insurance stinks. I’ve made two straightforward claims on cancelled flights. The first one took about 7 months to get my recovery. The second was filed last March and still no payment. The company Chase uses, eclaimsline.com, are a bunchof ripoff artists that make ridiculous demands for documentation that doesn’t exist or uses excuse after excuse to continue to deny claims. This “benefit,” in my opinion is worthless. As a matter of fact, with all the time you waste filing and refiling documents, probably makes the “benefit” have negative value due I’ll probably end up having to sue them to recover a $280 claim.
Nope….CSP is only 2x Travel (to CSR 3x) & if you rented thous of dollars in cars/yr (which you say you don’t) & charged enough high-end hotel stays, parking, & tolls that 1x makes a sizable difference. Combined with the extra points earned from Lyft, Door Dash, & bookings on their travel portal using points or miles def makes it a keeper for us
Updated, Pam. However, spending on travel to the extent where an additional 1x would make any substantive difference is the opposite of what I want to do. But based on your description, it sounds like the Reserve is working out great for you!
Every category the CSR/CSP has a multiplier can be matched or exceeded by other individual cards/programs. The real value of the CSR, for me, is redeeming points on the portal. It only takes a few portal travel purchases at .25 more than CIP or CSP to come out ahead. You have to redeem at least 62,000 points to get an additional $155 value but that’s literally 3 chain hotel stays!
These days $1k/nt vacation hotel stays are not that unusual. And to see that reduced to paying only 60,000 URs on the portal is such a nice feeling & discount – like magically erased!
Pam, each person has different circumstances and different objectives. As Benjy stated, it sounds like the CSR is working out great for you. My wife and I spend a ton on travel – high-end hotels, etc., etc. We’ve had the CSR for a while. But, given our circumstances and objectives, which are not static, we’ve found other cards that are providing greater overall value. And, our CSR is headed for a product change. My sense is that Benjy is also finding better solutions. Our positions don’t invalidate the value that the CSR provides to you (or anyone else). In a way, that’s the beauty of the game.
@ Lee ~ you & Benjy are also right for your spending patterns, I was only presenting mine with consideration of 3x over 2x. URs are my very favorite flexible travel currency & I try and maximize their accumulation. If that wasn’t the case though, I would instead use my Bilt Rewards card exclusively.
$0 AF; 3x dining; 2x travel and double those multipliers on the first of each month. 1x on my HOA I can’t get anywhere else without paying a processing fee. Primary car insurance & 10 travel partners (incl AA & Hyatt). I have earned 62k points in 2 months from their various programs. Bilt would be my personal go-to over the CSP if I was only wanting no fee and reasonable accumulators. In fact, nowhere else to earn 3-6x AA (not on Citi or Barclays cards!) or Hyatt points (on co-branded Chase cards), & Hyatt is where a lot of my URs are transferred anyways. Thanks for your comments
PS Citi will unveil its new Strata Elite card. It will replace the Citi Prestige. BUT, it will be an all-in-one silver bullet card. When you see its category earn rates, I suspect you will be tempted to abandon the CSR.
@ Lee – problem with Citi/TYP are its transfer partners. They will be well-served to do a major overhaul before seriously taking on Chase, Bilt, or even AMEX with a new launch!
Let’s hope you’re right. I’m skeptical of the claim that it will be an “all-in-one silver bullet card.”
I completely agree with this valuation. PYB was very attractive to me over the last 3 years, and now Chase has made it nothing but a standing tombstone for no value. The 50% travel redemption and transfer values keep it just above par for me, but it might not take much for CSR to lose its luster after holding it over 6 years.