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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Chase Sapphire Reserve
TPG reader Matt sent me a message on Facebook to ask about redeeming a credit card benefit:
“Does Sapphire Reserve just give me a credit for the first $300 I spend on travel, or can I choose to apply the credit to specific charges?”
When the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card was introduced in August, one of the benefits that stood out to me was the $300 annual travel credit. For anyone who would normally spend at least $300 on travel each year, the Sapphire Reserve credit essentially lowers the card’s annual fee from $450 to $150. That makes it an even better value for the other benefits you receive, like lounge access and primary car rental insurance.
One of the most attractive features of the travel credit is that it posts to your account automatically after you make an eligible purchase. That might seem restrictive if you want to apply the credit to a specific charge, but I think the easy redemption process is one reason why it compares so favorably to the competition. You don’t have to select a qualifying airline in advance or call customer service to apply the credit like you do with some other cards.
Another great aspect is that the credit is delivered very quickly. You should see it post to your account the same day as any eligible purchases, so you don’t have to wait until your card statement closes. You also don’t have to use the credit all at once; you could make many small purchases (like Uber rides), and you’ll be reimbursed for each one individually. Once you’ve used up the full $300, you’ll simply stop receiving credits until the new calendar year.
If you have your heart set on redeeming the travel credit for a specific charge, you could consider pre-paying some of your expenses. For example, if you’re planning a getaway and want to use Airbnb, you could purchase gift cards and then use those to book when you’re ready. This should work fine so long as you buy directly (so the purchase is coded as travel) and not from a third party. You’ll be locked into using that travel provider, but that shouldn’t be a problem if your plans are set.
The one thing you shouldn’t do is use a less rewarding card in order to preserve the credit for a specific use. Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on a wide variety of travel purchases, so it will often be your best option to maximize points. It would be a shame to put off using the credit and end up earning fewer points (or worse yet, forgetting about the credit entirely), so you might as well just use it right away.
For more on the Sapphire Reserve travel credit and other benefits, check out these posts:
- When Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit Expire?
- Questions and Answers about Chase Sapphire Reserve
- How I’m Using My 100,000 Points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card