Though I’ve not mentioned it here, the top bloggers in the world of points & miles have all let us know about Chase’s new offering that’s meant to compete with the Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum.
The card comes with a $450 annual fee – not waived the first year – which is similar to those cards. But whereas the Platinum comes with an annual $200 airline credit (and you must specify which airline) and the Prestige has an annual $250 airline credit, the Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 annual credit good on any type of travel. Since these credits are valid for a calendar year, that means that in the first year you have the card you can get $600 in travel credits which totally offsets the annual fee. In future years it knocks the annual fee down to $150, which is quite reasonable for a card like this.
Like the Freedom cards and the Sapphire Preferred, this new Sapphire Reserve card earns Ultimate Rewards (UR) points that can be transferred to a number of airlines and hotels:
- Air France/KLM
- British Airways
- Korean Air
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
I don’t know if people are applying for this card at record rates or not but they’ve actually run out of card stock for it! It was supposed to be issued on a metal card, similar to the Sapphire Preferred but apparently the demand has far exceeded Chase’s expectations so people are receiving temporary plastic cards until the metal cards can be issued.
What’s driving this demand? Likely the sign-up bonus. Credit card sign-up bonuses are the best way to quickly increase your stash of points and miles and the sign-up bonus for this card will do that. Those who spend $4000 within three months of the approval date (note: NOT the date you activate the card) will receive a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. All of the transfer partners above convert URs to their programs at a 1:1 rate. So that could be a number of domestic economy tickets or a one-way international ticket in a premium cabin.
But what other benefits does the card provide? As I mentioned above there’s the $300 calendar year credit for travel expenses that can include luggage fees, taxes on award tickets, probably even an airline charge, but also things like Uber charges, parking fees and Air B&B payments.
The card also earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel purchases and on dining worldwide. It’s the only card I know of that earns that much for dining. As someone who eats out a lot this will become my go-to card for dining except for dining expenses in the US during the quarter where the Freedom card earns 5 points per dollar. The exception would be for dining purchases abroad any time of year because the Reserve card does not incur foreign transaction fees while the Freedom card does.
This card will give a statement credit for up to $100 if you choose to sign up for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. You also get complimentary airport lounge access at over 900 Priority Pass Select lounges worldwide. Special car rental privileges are available from National, Avis and Silvercar when you book using the Reserve card. Access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection network is included as well.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is covered when you book with the Reserve card. It also provides primary collision insurance when you rent a car. Trip Delay, Emergency Evacuation & Transportation are also included.
And finally, if you choose to use your UR points like cash to book through the UR travel portal your UR points are worth 1.5 cents each, making them half again as valuable as points you may earn from the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred or Ink cards!
My experience applying
Chase has what is known as the “5/24 rule” when reviewing credit applications. If you have applied for more than 5 cards from any issuer, including as an authorized user, within the last 24 months, you can almost bet your application will be denied. There are exceptions of course, and for those with Chase branches in their area, having a personal relationship with banking staff can help. But there are no Chase banks in my area so that was not going to help me if I got rejected.
I had 6 personal Chase credit cards, which meant they’d extended me a great deal of credit already. I didn’t necessarily need more credit, so I was willing to re-allocate the credit limits on existing cards to make way for this new one.
I applied for the card on Thursday and, as expected, I received a “decision pending” message. I immediately used Chase’s Secure Message (SM) feature and sent in a note asking for it to be forwarded to the reconsideration department (since that is not one of the items available in the SM drop-down box). In my note I offered to close my Sapphire Preferred if needed, as long as I didn’t lose any of my existing UR points, if they’d allow me to have the new Reserve card. The very next day I received an SM from Chase telling me they’d cut down the credit limit on my Preferred card and I was the proud owner of a new Reserve card!
Eventually I plan to downgrade my Preferred card, which has a $95 annual fee, to a Freedom Unlimited card which has no annual fee. Everything the Preferred has is covered by the Reserve so I don’t see a need to keep paying for both cards.
The Citi Prestige card will lose its American Airlines Admirals Club access in mid-2017 and after that I don’t see a need to keep that card – and its $450 annual fee. My new Reserve will take its place as well.
All in all it was a painless process and I hope to have my 100K points within the next couple of months!