Chase’s Pleasant Surprise – Why I’m Returning to the Sapphire Reserve

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Chase Sapphire Upgrade

Chase Sapphire Upgrade

Not too long ago, I described why I downgraded my Chase Sapphire Reserve to a Chase Freedom Flex.  I have a pretty hot and cold relationship with Chase.  My wife and I love all the 5x Ultimate Rewards earning from the Freedom and Ink Business Cash cards, so much so that we focus our Chase spending exclusively on those opportunities.  But otherwise, I find Chase pretty boring compared to other card issuers.  Granted, I largely gave up on them after the 5/24 rule, anyway.  That’s worked out great for us.  But recently, Chase convinced us to return to the Reserve, as I partially expected.  Here’s why a Chase Sapphire Reserve Upgrade makes sense to us now.

Pay Yourself Back Is Useful (Enough)

The extra value I could derive from Pay Yourself Back was why I upgraded a Freedom to the Reserve in mid 2020.  With this simple upgrade, I easily obtained 50% more value on my cash redemptions – something I was already doing, anyway.  When my annual fee hit earlier this year, Chase hadn’t announced their longer term plans for Pay Yourself Back.  I was prepared for the worst – the removal of this feature.

Overall, Chase devalued the feature, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.  The good news was that Chase extended the feature through 31 March 2022.  The bad news was they took an axe to the most useful categories.  Now, the only Pay Yourself Back categories for the Reserve are Airbnb, Away, and dining (the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t get dining).  Within the bad news, though, I found just enough value for us to upgrade again – dining.  This category provides just enough redemption utility (along with the other positives below) to make the Reserve worth holding for us.

Chase Sapphire Upgrade
Disney World is one of several travel plans we have for 2022.

Hello There, Travel Credit

Based on Chase’s past tweaks, we enjoyed using the Reserve’s travel credit to erase grocery purchases.  Luckily, we’ll have the chance to do so again through the end of this year.  Too bad that option disappears in 2022.  However, in 2022 and beyond, can you believe it – we already have travel planned where we can use this credit.  We treat this as a true $300 savings – we aren’t inventing new trips for the sake of using this credit.

One Last Chance with an Excellent Dining Credit

By simply holding the Reserve, we receive $60 in DoorDash credit through the end of 2021.  In my opinion, the DoorDash credit is the best dining credit of any ultra premium card.  We can use as much or as little of the $60 whenever we want.  We don’t have to worry about it expiring until the end of the year.  Amex’s Uber and GrubHub credits aren’t as flexible.  And, in our experience, DoorDash’s restaurant selection is vastly superior to those of Uber Eats and GrubHub.

Chase Sapphire Upgrade
In 2022, I may need to replenish my Hyatt points balance for the first time in years.

A Bit More Redemption Flexibility

As I mentioned above and elsewhere, we’ve cashed out Ultimate Rewards for years.  But for the first time in seemingly forever, I may have a need to replenish my Hyatt points balance for future planned travel.  Of course, I’ll have to weigh that redemption against the Hyatt devaluation to assess if this redemption is truly optimal, but at least I’ll have the option.  We currently don’t have a transfer option to travel partners with our stable of Freedom and Ink Business Cash Cards.

Side Benefit – Priority Pass Restaurants

Full disclosure, this next one isn’t a primary reason we’re upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but we’ll take it.  With the Priority Pass membership provided by Chase, I can enjoy a credit at a variety of airport restaurants.  My Amex Platinum cards, the only ultra premium cards I currently hold, don’t offer such a credit.  Again, this won’t be a major benefit we leverage, but I do expect to use it at least a few times in the foreseeable future.  That’s a few more times than I used it when I previously held the card!

Question: How Do I Know If I'm Eligible For A Chase Bonus?

Chase Sapphire Upgrade – Conclusion

My transactional relationship with Chase continues.  Chase still bores me in general, but I’ll take what they offer if or when I’m eligible.  One of those areas we can benefit from is the flexibility to product change.  Citi’s product change policy is probably the best, but Chase’s is useful.  Will this be another one year dalliance with the Reserve, or something more permanent?  I expect the former, but would be pleased to have a reason for the latter.  In the meantime, I’ll be able to obtain solid benefits from this Chase Sapphire Reserve upgrade while I await other developments.  Over the next year, I’m specifically intrigued to see how Pay Yourself Back evolves.  For right now, I’ll just have to shrug and guess, but perhaps that’s the way Chase likes it.  How do you feel about the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Preferred, and their related benefits currently?  Has Chase done enough with these cards for you to stick around long term?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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12 COMMENTS

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12 COMMENTS

  1. I am still $860 out of Chase Bank they stole almost $4,000 from me they almost gave me 3300 back and I’m still out $860 so do I think Chase is a good bank not at this time

  2. With upcoming European trip in spring (fingers crossed, postponed 3x by covid) I am very happy to see the Airbnb PYB.

  3. you can cash out PYB without spending a penny by booking fully refundable Airbnb, then PYBing the charge, then cancelling the reservation as a FYI

    • Nevsky,
      I hear you! As with most things, especially Chase, I expect very little or nothing. Perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised again.

  4. Speaking of PYB, I was surprised to see the Flex card is offering that for Costco and something else I don’t remember.

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