Credit Cards

4 Years with the Chase Sapphire Reserve – Why It is Still a Great Card

Written by Charlie

After 4 years of holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve, here is why I think it is still a great card and, maybe, even better than ever!

Just a little over 4 years ago, Chase launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve – and it took the card world by storm. It was not just travel enthusiasts that jumped at it, it went mainstream with regular media covering its launch as well as people who had never paid an annual fee before grabbing up the $450 annual fee card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve – 4 Years Old and Better Than Ever

Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve (this is an affiliate link – thanks for the support!)

Pro Tip: If you have not yet had the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, I highly suggest getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred first. Not only does it offer 60,000 points currently, but the annual fee is only $95 per year and you can always upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve down the road! If you choose to use this link to sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I will earn points as well – so thank you!

The Chase Sapphire Reserve in Covid-19

Now, it is 4 years later, the 100,000 point offer is gone, the annual fee was to have gone up, and travel has kind of fallen off a cliff due to Covid-19. Here is why this is still a great card in 2020.

You can read this post from last year for the changes that had happened to the Chase Sapphire Reserve over the years. This year, Chase had announced that the annual fee was going to go up $100 to $550 – and they were trying to “offset” it with some perks for Lyft and DoorDash.

However, COVID-19 hit and travel heavy cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve were facing a tough time ahead, especially with many of their holders coming up for renewals in the months ahead.

Chase adapted beautifully by first offering increased bonus points for things like grocery stores while also making 3 other big changes to help cardholders navigate a travel-halted world. (The bullet point section is from this post)

  • Annual Fee Lowered to Old Rate ($450) So, that is why Chase will be suspending that planned fee hike for all renewals between July 1 and December 31. This lines up with the $100 statement credit that they had been giving cardholders from April 1 until July 1. This means that, this year, your annual fee will still “just” be $450 for the year.
  • Redeem Ultimate Rewards for Statement Credits To go along with that, Chase will also allow you to login and redeem your Ultimate Reward points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point (same as booking for direct travel) for purchases that ring up as dining, grocery stores, and home improvement stores. This will be in effect from May 31 until September 30
  • Use Annual Travel Credit for Groceries and Gas And we have another one! Chase has the best travel credit around with $300 annually covering charges in the travel category. Now, until the end of 2020, that $300 annual travel credit will automatically be used for groceries and gas!

They also extended the Pay Yourself Back program through the end of the year and this has been an awesome way for me to pay for travel – without actually using Chase Ultimate Reward points for travel.

So, those were the adjustments that Chase made to the Chase Sapphire Reserve this year to help during COVID-19 – all of them good enough by themselves to warrant holding on to the Chase Sapphire Reserve for another year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve – Still a Great Card for Travel (When Travel Comes Back)

But, the travel perks are still great and, when travel comes back hard again, is the reason I had planned to keep the Chase Sapphire Reserve card anyway.

Travel Credit

We do spend money on travel – of course! Even if you travel only on miles and points, you still have taxes/fees on airline awards or even things like tolls when you are driving on interstates. The Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit wipes all of those things out!

It is super simple to use – just use your Chase Sapphire Reserve for any travel items and you will see the statement credit within a couple of days for the travel you spent on! We don’t even have to “manufacture” ways to use this travel credit, it will be spent!

That means we are getting refunded for $300 in travel we would spend already. While many would argue that shouldn’t automatically make the $450 annual fee a $150 annual fee card, it does work that way for us.

Plus, again, this year, that amount can be used automatically for groceries and dining – so I imagine everyone has used it by now!

Primary Rental Car Insurance

boston marathon travel

There are other cards that offer this as well but since I like to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve for all things travel, this is the card I use when renting cars. That means that I don’t have to worry about any damage that may happen to the car that is my fault. With primary insurance, Chase picks up the whole thing instead of serving as a backup for a regular insurance policy.

Lounge Access

Again, there are other cards that offer Priority Pass memberships at various levels. But, it is easy and unlimited (for the cardholder and up to 2 guests) and it applies to the authorized card users as well.

I have Star Alliance Gold status so since I mostly fly Star Alliance carriers, I have lounges at every airport. My wife, however, doesn’t have elite status. So, when she travels, it is nice that she can use lounges for free with her card. Or, if our family is traveling, we can get everyone in between the two of us.

Point Earning

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are other cards that offer the same or better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve with dining and travel. However, it is just so easy with the CSR!

For example, unlike some other cards, I can buy airline tickets through Kayak, pay for award fees, buy from the airline – and earn 3 Ultimate Reward points per dollar. With something like the American Express Platinum card, you need to spend at the airline’s website to get the 5X points.

Bottom Line

Before the coronavirus adjustments, the Chase Sapphire Reserve was already positioned as a very strong keeper in my wallet. Between the 1.5 cent redemption on travel (and now groceries/dining/home improvement stores), the lounge access for when I need it, the travel credit (also usable on groceries and dining), the primary rental car insurance (yes, I have been and will be renting many cars this year), and just how easy Chase makes all of it – the card was staying right where it is.

Now, what happens when that fee does go up to $550? Well, we will revisit it then. While I still will use the DoorDash credit this year, Lyft Pink and increased earnings do nothing for me. Also, we will see how many Chase points I have then since I have been burning a fair amount for grocery redemptions. 🙂

What are your thoughts about the Chase Sapphire Reserve, especially in 2020? Have you canceled it or kept it?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


    • I would say almost a certain 0% chance, but let’s say .001% just in case :). With what they have added to the card after saying it would increase (and then not increasing it) and by already giving purchases like groceries the same power as travel, I think they have covered themselves nicely against having to offset it any further. But, you could always try! And let us know!

  • I don’t buy tix through AE with AE plat and still get 5x pts. Unsure how accurate that statement is but fully agree that reserve is very valuable.

  • With the freedom unlimited now offering 5% cash back on travel, 3% back on dining and groceries, on top of the 1.5% back on everything, is it still worth it having the sapphire reserve, given the freedom unlimited is free vs. having to pay $450 / $550 on the reserve annually?