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When the Chase Sapphire Reserve burst onto the scene just over a year ago, the credit card industry — and all of us points and miles junkies — were taken by storm. Not only did the card offer an outstanding 100,000-point sign-up bonus, but the earning potential on the card is also fantastic. If you’re even a little like me, you’re traveling. A lot. Which also means that you’re eating out. A lot. The ability to earn three points per dollar spent on both of those categories is incredible. Throw in a $300 annual travel credit and other lucrative perks and the value proposition becomes even more appealing. Plus, the Ultimate Rewards points earned with the card are some of the most valuable ones around and are able to be transferred to a multitude of partners, which allow you to redeem for some incredible travel experiences.
The card has been scrutinized heavily, with some wondering if it was too lucrative for consumers. I said that we’ll truly be able to gauge the success of the CSR once the time to renew came along — despite all the perks, there were bound to be some people turned off by the $450 annual fee. Apparently, however, not that many feel that the high annual fee is unjustified. According to a report from Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase has said that many cardholders are renewing the card for another year, and that it’s had a positive effect across Chase’s range of cards — spending on all cards rose 13% over last year and card revenue rose 3% according to Chase’s CFO Marianne Lake.
Honestly, I’m not surprised. It’s just so easy to get a ton of value from this card — in just over a year of earning and burning with the card, I’ve leveraged the plentiful transfer partners to book incredible awards, like a one-way flight from Bali (DPS) all the way back to New York (JFK) in Korean Air first class for just 95,000 Ultimate Rewards points that were transferred to Korean Air’s SkyPass program. Plus, I’ve been saved by the card’s built-in purchase protection, taken advantage of special access and events provided by the card and more. The easy-to-use annual travel credit effectively reduces the annual fee to a reasonable $150, and the additional perks like a Priority Pass membership and a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck are the icing on the cake.
There’s no doubt the card has been tremendously popular for the issuer — Chase ran out of the metal it uses to make the card after it first launched, and now it’s now begun to clamp down on access to the card. You’re no longer able to apply for new accounts with both the CSR and its sibling the Chase Sapphire Preferred, likely because Chase knows just how valuable its points are. With the issuer taking steps to limit access to the card, it’s not unreasonable to believe that if you canceled your account you wouldn’t be able to get the card again, or at the very least get another sign-up bonus. It’d also be hard to go back to earning less than 3x on dining and travel — I’ve found that I’ve earned significantly more points with the CSR than I would have if I had only been using the CSP (which offers 2x on dining and travel).
Hearing that Chase is seeing these kinds of numbers is great news for consumers. If the issuer wasn’t making money on the card, or if people were ditching the product en masse, that could lead to Chase changing the value proposition of the card. Hopefully these findings will encourage Chase to stay in this game for the long-haul. As long as this card presents such as strong value, it’ll be the workhorse in my credit card arsenal.
Finally, the card has become a cultural phenomenon and pushed the battle of the high-end credit cards into the limelight. Having the CSR permits you to join “the cool kids club” in a way — whenever I’m out to dinner with friends or even on a date, if the person isn’t paying with CSR I can’t help myself but give them a lesson on why the Sapphire Reserve is a no-brainer — maybe that’s why I’m still single!
Did you decide to renew your Chase Sapphire Reserve for another year?
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SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,000
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on all travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®