Skip to content

How your points strategy changes when you swap your Chase Sapphire Reserve for the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Dec. 28, 2021
9 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Until recently, the Chase Sapphire Reserve was one of the top travel rewards cards. My husband signed up soon after the card launched back in 2016, and we have frequently used his card ever since due to its bonus categories and lack of foreign transaction fees. In fact, since we travel full time as digital nomads and most of our purchases are for dining or travel, it became our go-to card while traveling internationally.

But with the Sapphire refresh earlier this year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card became more appealing to many Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders. After all, with the new perks on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, it became increasingly difficult to justify the Chase Sapphire Reserve's $550 annual fee. Plus, the elevated sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred earlier this year was highly compelling.

Some cardholders, including my husband, downgraded their Chase Sapphire Reserve card to a no-annual-fee card and then applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred earlier this year. Now, we each have our own Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card accounts, but neither of us has a Chase Sapphire Reserve. So, today I'll discuss several ways our Chase Ultimate Rewards points strategy has changed now that we don't have a Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Sign up for TPG's daily newsletter for more news delivered each morning to your inbox.

Pay Yourself Back and Ultimate Rewards travel portal redemptions become less appealing

(Photo by MStudioImages/Getty Images)

Chase loyalists know that you can maximize Ultimate Rewards redemptions by transferring points to high-value transfer partners. But if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can get 1.5 cents per point of value without transferring points when you:

However, TPG's valuations peg the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents per point, so even when we had a Chase Sapphire Reserve account, I never loved the idea of redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point.

But I could at least see the value occasionally. For example, we could redeem points for a flight through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal and get elite earnings on the flight. Meanwhile, if we'd booked the same ticket by transferring points to a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, we wouldn't earn toward elite status with the airline.

But now that we only have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — both of which give 1.25 cents per point of value through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal and Pay Yourself Back — I can't stomach redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. After all, I know we can get more value through transfer partners even if we don't maximize our redemptions.

Related: When is it better to use the Chase portal instead of airline transfer partners?

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Transferring to travel partners for less-valuable redemptions looks better

Hyatt Place Melbourne / Palm Bay in Florida. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Some Ultimate Rewards transfer partners are more valuable than others. Our guide to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value even has sections for top transfer partners and less-desirable transfer partners. And, as evidenced by our post on the best Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots, some redemptions provide more value than others even in the more-desirable programs.

My husband and I enjoy maximizing our rewards, so we've rarely transferred points when the redemption value wasn't well over TPG's valuation. Within the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, we usually gravitate toward high-value transfer partners such as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and British Airways Avios.

But now we're starting to consider transferring Ultimate Rewards points for slightly less valuable redemptions. I suspect a good bit of this shift is due to the fixed-rate redemption value of Ultimate Rewards points changing from 1.5 cents per point to 1.25 cents per point now that we don't have a Chase Sapphire Reserve. After all, even though I have no desire to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.25 cents per point, price anchoring certainly plays a role in my subconscious valuations.

But, to be fair, part of this shift is likely also due to our ever-growing balance of Ultimate Rewards points and changing priorities. After all, although transferable points are more devaluation-proof than airline or hotel rewards, devaluations are likely coming. And there are a lot of aspirational products and experiences we want to try once borders reopen, schedule changes and cancellations become less common and travel returns to normal.

Plus, I earned World of Hyatt Globalist for the first time in 2021 and plan to requalify in 2022. So, I'll likely need to transfer some Ultimate Rewards points into the World of Hyatt program for some 2022 award stays. And although I'll avoid redeeming points if the redemption rate is too low, I likely won't aim for significantly higher than 2 cents per point when deciding whether to book a paid rate or transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Related: TPG releases brand-new points calculator to make award bookings easier

Utilizing different cards for purchases

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

I mentioned earlier in this article that the Chase Sapphire Reserve was previously our primary card when traveling internationally. But neither the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card nor the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has automatically taken its place in our wallets. Instead, we're currently spending as follows:

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

As you can see, downgrading the Chase Sapphire Reserve encouraged us to reconsider our go-to cards. In doing so, we've started actively using more cards and earning more rewards on purchases that we'd previously have put on the Chase Sapphire Reserve for simplicity. For example, while we previously put most of our dining on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, now we earn more rewards by using the American Express Gold Card or the Citi Prestige Card.

Related: How to assess and build your credit card portfolio

Bottom line

Two years ago, I expected we'd keep my husband's Chase Sapphire Reserve for the long term. But between an increased annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, new perks on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and a compelling sign-up bonus, it became easy to drop the Chase Sapphire Reserve and pick up the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earlier this year.

Especially as travel and life continue to change amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it's worth considering whether your card lineup should also change. But realize that how you use and value your rewards may also change as you optimize your credit card portfolio. And ensure that you have a plan to transfer, redeem or otherwise protect your transferable rewards before closing or downgrading a card.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more