Credit Cards

Chase Adds Great New Features to Their Sapphire Cards to Help During Travel Halt

Written by Charlie

While so many travelers are on the ground, Chase has adapted with some great new features for their Sapphire cards. Hint: Still get at least 1.25 cents per point without even traveling!

With airlines flying at a shadow of what they used to fill the sky at, hotels just starting to open again around the world, and car rental companies filing for bankruptcy, this is definitely not a time when many people are traveling. This has caused many travelers to take a long hard look at their work-house travel credit cards to see if they really can justify the annual fees.

Well, Chase knows you are doing that and they are adding new features to help you “cash out” your points for everyday purchases at the same rate that you would normally cash for travel. Let’s jump in and see what this looks like.

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Already, they have increased the earnings on cards for things like grocery shopping and other everyday activity. Now, they will even let you redeem your points as statement credits for those purchases – at the same rate that they normally only allow for travel. Here it is.

New Chase Sapphire Reserve Perks

Last year, Chase announced that they were upping the annual fee on their super popular Chase Sapphire Reserve to $550 per year. They tried to justify it with some new perks to help offset that (like DoorDash and Lyft) but that was not enough for many cardholders. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic grounding most travelers, the annual fee hike really doesn’t work.

  • 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!

That last one is a rather smart move on Chase’s part. For early adopters of the card (which would likely mean mega fans if they still have it), that annual travel credit renews for the new billing cycle for the new year. So, in my case, that means December 25 is when that travel credit recycles. For most of us, we have that spent fairly early in the year with new travel bookings. This new move by Chase will not help us but it will help the many, many people who got the card in the last year or so.

Deal or No Deal?

For many that use their Ultimate Reward points to pay directly for travel at the 1.5 cents value, this is a good way to still get that value while you are grounded. Not only that, but you can also use those points at grocery stores or home improvement stores to grab gift cards! So, if you are using your CSR for grocery store shopping, you are now earning 5X points. If you cash those out at 1.5 cents per point for gift cards at the grocery store (any retailer cards), you are essentially earning a 7.5% rebate in the form of a gift card on all your grocery store shopping. Not bad!

New Chase Sapphire Preferred Perks

As the little brother of the Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also got some new perks but at the lower rate of 1.25 cents per point.

This means that you can use your Ultimate Reward points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to cover purchases at grocery stores, dining places, and home improvement stores at the rate of 1.25 cents per point. This is in effect until September 30 as well.

Bottom Line

This was a good move by Chase. While these new perks may not be that appealing to many die-hard travelers who like to transfer the points out and already have used their travel credits, this move is perfect for the people that may have recently gotten the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This could keep them as customers longer and show them how much Chase really does value their relationship.

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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.