It’s official: Chase adds bonus categories, new perks to Sapphire card lineup
The rumors are true: Chase is officially adding new bonus categories and perks to its lineup of Sapphire cards.
On the heels of the complete revamp of The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase is updating two of its core Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
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Earlier this summer, rumors emerged of potential changes to these cards, which Chase has now officially confirmed. The issuer is adding bonus categories and new perks to these two heavy-hitters, effective Aug. 16, 2021.
Let's break it all down.
Changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred
The $95-per-year Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best, if not the best, travel rewards cards for beginners and experts alike.
Not only does it currently offer a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, but it also has a simple ongoing earning rate of 2 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on the broad category of travel.
These category bonuses will now be joined or replaced by the following earning rates and benefits starting on Aug. 16, 2021.
New category bonuses
- 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal
- 3 points per dollar on dining (up from 2x)
- 3 points per dollar on select streaming services
- 3 points per dollar on online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
These new category bonuses are significant, including marking the first time a Chase card has a permanent grocery bonus. Unfortunately, in-store grocery purchases do not count.
The 3 points per dollar on dining would match the $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve (as well as the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited).
Meanwhile, a 3x bonus on streaming is also appealing, but not quite a game-changer. Finally, the 5x bonus on travel booked through the Chase Travel portal is solid, but keep in mind that the portal is similar to booking through an online travel agency and may not be worthwhile for those who want to earn and use hotel elite status.
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$50 hotel credit
- A $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Ultimate Rewards.
The $50 hotel credit isn’t for any hotel booking — it must be used on a booking through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal. However, the statement credit is automatically applied to your account annually on hotel accommodations. The $50 credit does not earn points.
New cardmembers will start earning toward the credit immediately and existing cardmembers will start earning after their next account anniversary.
Cardmember anniversary bonus
- 10% of your points back each year based on your card spending
Perhaps the most intriguing new perk is a 10% anniversary points bonus for every cardmember year. You’ll earn bonus points that equal 10% of your total spend at a rate of 1 point for each dollar spent. Notably, it does not seem that category bonuses count toward this bonus.
For example, if you have a total spend of $25,000 on purchases made with your card during your previous account anniversary year, you will earn a 10% anniversary points bonus of 2,500 points after your account anniversary year.
Changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium rewards card with one of the most generous annual credits around: a $300 travel credit toward anything from hotels to flights and much more.
It also earns 3 points per dollar on dining and travel. The $550-per-year Sapphire Reserve will see more incremental changes compared to its Sapphire Preferred sibling.
New category bonuses
- 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining booked through Ultimate Rewards
- 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rental purchases through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal
- 5 points per dollar on airline travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal
Chase Dining is a recent addition to the Ultimate Rewards portal powered by Chase’s partnership with Tock. Earlier this year, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders were eligible to receive 10 points per dollar through Chase Dining as a limited-time promotion. Now, that's becoming permanent for the Sapphire Reserve.
In addition, Chase teased that later this year, Reserve cardmembers will have access to “Reserved by Sapphire,” featuring opportunities to book reservations at some of the most sought-after restaurants across the country.
While Chase Dining allows cardholders to book reservations at restaurants, order takeout or delivery and try out unique dining experiences, the platform is typically limited to urban areas and higher-end establishments.
The elevated earning rates on the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal are also a welcome addition. Still, there are limitations when you book through an online travel agency versus booking directly with a travel provider.
What’s particularly interesting is that with these changes, the Sapphire Reserve still has the same rate on dining even when compared to a no-annual-fee Freedom card (3x).
When do these changes take effect?
Chase says that all changes will go into effect on Aug. 16, 2021, automatically for both and new and existing cardholders.
Aligning with the Freedom lineup
In 2020, Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited launched new bonus categories, including 5x on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x on dining and 3x on drugstore purchases.
More importantly, these new bonuses came with no changes to the annual fee. Because of that, both cards have become even more desirable for their wide array of category earnings — all without a fee.
Similarly, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve also maintain their annual fees of $95 and $550, respectively.
Putting Ultimate Rewards front and center
Chase clearly puts the Ultimate Rewards platform center stage with both the confirmed Freedom changes and the Sapphire changes.
The issuer wants Ultimate Rewards to be your one-stop shop for everything from hotels to airfare, dining and more.
A $50 hotel credit on the Chase Sapphire Preferred gets cardholders in the door to Ultimate Rewards, especially for travel. Coupled with new bonus categories and an increased 3x (from 2x) on dining with the Sapphire Preferred (now matching the Sapphire Reserve’s earning rate on dining), Chase would love for you to keep on coming back.
Related: What Chase’s new booking platform acquisition could mean for you
Moving forward, the Chase Sapphire card family is expanding or changing its earnings categories based on what we’ve already seen with the Freedom card lineup. That makes both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve more enticing -- and valuable -- than ever before.
And don't worry — all existing earnings rates and benefits not explicitly being updated will remain.