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Why I'm excited about the new Chase Sapphire Reserve changes

Jan. 20, 2020
8 min read
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Chase recently announced some major changes to its travel credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The issuer added new benefits, including Lyft perks, at least one year of DashPass through DoorDash food delivery service and $60 in annual credits to DoorDash for the next two years.

Unfortunately, these changes did come with an increase in annual fee — the Reserve now charges $550 per year.

The news was, unsurprisingly, met with some passionate responses. Many longtime cardholders expressed plans to either cancel or downgrade their Reserve. Others who had once planned on applying for the Reserve said they were starting to consider other options.

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However I am actually pretty excited about these new changes. While I'm not stoked about a higher annual fee, the changes have only made me more sure that my next move is upgrading from my current Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Here's why:

These benefits are helpful to me

One of the primary complaints I've heard regarding the new Reserve changes are that the new benefits are worthless. While I can certainly understand that these benefits may not be relevant to every cardholder, they do positively affect me.

As I've written on TPG before, I'm a fan of Lyft over Uber. I live in Charlotte, N.C., and I still check both apps in most cases, but I generally choose Lyft over other options unless there is a significant change in price and/or wait time. That's a personal preference that comes down to my experiences with Lyft's customer service and Lyft's other partnerships that allow me to earn rewards across multiple loyalty programs for every ride. It also makes the 10x earning boost on Lyft rides and complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership through the Reserve incredibly valuable.

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I'm an avid Lyft user, both while traveling and at home. The Lyft expanding earning potential and Lyft Pink membership perks are both incredibly valuable for me. (Photo by d3sign/Getty Images)

I'm also an avid user of DoorDash for food delivery. In my neighborhood in Charlotte, I've found that DoorDash has better prices and more variety in restaurants. Most of my favorite places to get delivery are available on DoorDash, including my favorite sushi place, the best Chinese takeout option in my neighborhood and my favorite pizza place with gluten-free crust options. Between late nights where I don't feel like cooking and movie nights with friends, I'm ordering delivery frequently. I had DashPass long before Chase added membership as a perk to some cards, so the addition of that benefit plus the annual credit are both good for me.

Of course, I'm a young professional living in a decently-sized city. A family of four living in a rural town in Arkansas (i.e. my parents and siblings back in my hometown) won't find the same value in these new perks. For me, they only add to the appeal of the card.

Related reading: Here's why TPG's Katherine Fan is keeping her Chase Sapphire Reserve

My yearly savings/earnings will still outweigh the increased annual fee 

Additional benefits rarely come without a cost in some form or another — typically either a devaluation of existing benefits or an increase in annual fee. Chase opted for the latter. The increase in annual fee is an added expense, and I'm certainly not excited to pay an extra $100 per year on a card that would have already cost me $450 in fees. But overall, the card's benefits (especially when you factor in the new changes) still more than outweigh the cost of the card.

Healthy restaurant food delivery background. Online shopping on smartphone, foil containers with meals on black. Photo by Getty Images
DoorDash has been by go-to for lazy dinners and movie nights with friends for a while, so these DoorDash perks will save me quite a bit over the next two years. (Photo by Getty Images)

That DashPass membership will save me an easy $120 for at least the next year that I was already planning on spending. The DoorDash credits are an easy $60 I would have certainly spent otherwise. I'll earn five times what I currently earn with my Chase Sapphire Preferred on Lyft rides, which will help me hit certain redemption goals at a faster pace. And Lyft Pink saves me $240 on an annual membership.

That's roughly $420 in additional benefits value — not including any additional savings from the perks beyond membership fee costs or added rewards earnings.

When you add in conservative estimates for how much the actual memberships themselves could save me, the value of benefits continues to rise. In 2019, I spent a total of $1,392 on 57 Lyft rides. The Lyft Pink membership could have saved me $208 on those rides, and the 10x on Lyft rides would have earned a solid 11,832 Ultimate Rewards points after the discount — more than $440 in total value. Last year, I also spent $1,669.08 on 75 total DoorDash orders. Assuming the average delivery price is around $3, that's $225 in fees saved with the DashPass benefit (not including potential service fee discounts since most of my orders end up being more than $12).

All in all, these new benefits could save me an estimated $1,085 this year (assuming I use both services at around the same frequency as before) — for just $100 extra in annual fees.

Chase didn't remove any existing benefits

With this update, Chase added benefits but didn't take any away. The $300 travel credit (which won Best Credit Card Perk at the 2019 TPG Awards) is still firmly in place, along with the card's stellar travel protections, 50% Chase travel portal redemption bonus, Priority Pass Select membership and up to $100 credit for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee.

Related reading: Chase Sapphire Reserve card review

Assuming Priority Pass Select membership is worth around what a Standard Plus membership costs (assuming you visit ~10 Priority Pass lounges per year), that's a $249 value. Add in the $300 travel credit, $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit and the approximate value of the new benefits, that puts the Chase Sapphire Reserve's perks at more than $1,000 in value. Once again, this isn't even including savings you'll potentially get from Lyft Pink or DashPass membership perks, points savings from the 50% redemption bonus or any value received from the sign-up bonus and bonus category structure.

(Photo by The Points Guy)
Chase didn't devalue any of its existing benefits, which isn't always the case when issuers update cards with new features and perks. (Photo by The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Nobody loves the idea of paying an additional $100 for an annual fee, especially when it was $450 to begin with. And I'll admit that I wasn't happy that Chase elected to suspend upgrade requests between the time of the announcement and the date of the fee increase. (This was meant to prevent people from escaping the first year of the increased annual fee, which was my original plan when the news dropped.) Even still, the added benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve far outweigh that additional cost for anyone who is a regular Lyft and DoorDash user. I understand that doesn't describe everyone, but I'd argue that the same can easily be said about the value of Amex's Uber perks and Saks Fifth Avenue benefits on The Platinum Card® from American Express or the restrictive up to $120 annual dining credit on the American Express® Gold Card. Enrollment required for select benefits.

There are certainly situations where it might now make sense to downgrade your Chase Sapphire Reserve, and as with any credit card, there are always going to be people that won't find enough value in the card to make the fee worth it. But overall, I'm still a genuine believer that this update was a positive one (at least for the next two years).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to call Chase to see about processing my upgrade request from the Preferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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.