Chase Introduces New Grocery Spending Bonuses for Sapphire Cards

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This week, Chase announced a couple of new benefits for its Sapphire credit card line. First, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders will earn bonus points on grocery store purchases starting in November. Second, Sapphire Reserve members can now use their $300 travel credit towards offsetting gas and grocery purchases.

We knew it was only a matter of time before Chase did something to improve the value of these travel-oriented cards. But do these updates provide enough value to make them worth keeping?

Earn more Ultimate Rewards points for your grocery purchases.

Grocery Bonus Key Terms

Given the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve‘s bonus categories (dining and travel), Chase felt it necessary to temporarily expand the value of these cards for those not traveling. Though, unfortunately for those with big families, this elevated earning rate is only applicable to the first $1,000 spent per calendar month.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 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®.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring an 60,000 point signup bonus 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®.
  • Earn 60,000 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®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Sapphire Reserve $300 Travel Credit

  • Gas and Grocery purchases now qualify for the Sapphire Reserve‘s annual $300 travel credit.
  • This expanded benefit applies to any travel credits available through June 30, 2021.

One of the primary benefits of the Sapphire Reserve is the annual $300 travel credit. That's because it automatically reimburses cardmembers for up to $300 in travel purchases every year. Since the card is targeted towards regular travelers, the ease of its use causes many to view it as essentially a $300 rebate on the card's annual fee.

However, with travel on hold for many, it's difficult for some cardholders to realize this value—unless you are making travel purchases for the future.

The Rest of the Story

Chase has recently revamped its credit card lineup. Last month, we saw the release of an all-new product called the Chase Freedom Flex℠ (review). Around the same time, Chase announced a total refresh of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®‘s benefits. Instead of simply earning 1.5X on all purchases, cardholders suddenly got three new bonus categories: travel purchased through Chase (5X), dining at restaurants (3X), and drugstore purchases (3X). 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
The everyday workhorse of the Ultimate Rewards family of cards earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day of the week. While the Freedom Unlimited earns cash back on its own, the points earned become even more valuable when you hold an Ultimate Rewards card with the ability to transfer points to partners.
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants
  • Earn 3% on drugstore purchases
  • Earn 1.5% on all purchases
  • New Cardmembers earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Between the new Freedom Flex and the refreshed Freedom Unlimited, the benefits of the Sapphire line seemed stale. Both Freedom cards now earn 3% cash back (or 3X points) at restaurants and drugstores. That's the same earning rate as the $550-annual-fee Sapphire Reserve and better than the 2X earning rate on the $95-annual-fee Sapphire Preferred.

This led many of us to assume it was only a matter of time before Chase revamped these products. This temporary grocery store spending bonus certainly helps. However, Chase is going to need to continue to improve the Sapphire cards to be competitive with its own Freedom cards.

Final Thoughts

I'm glad to see Chase offering new and improved benefits for its Sapphire line. Grocery store purchases have spiked during COVID-19, making this a valuable category for almost everyone. However, the spending cap of just $1,000 per month is a bit of a disappointment.

These updates are in addition to Chase's list of other new benefits members got this year, including:

While these benefits can be valuable to the right people, many aren't something that members would have bought anyway. Consequently, I'm not totally convinced Chase has done enough to widen the shrinking gap between its no-annual-fee products and its mid-tier/premium products.

I was hoping to see something like a 5X bonus category (the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited now earn 5% cash back on purchases through the Chase Travel Portal) or an improved dining bonus. Hopefully more improvements are on their way.

How do you feel about Chase's Sapphire updates?

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Comments

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    I’ve been keeping my Sapphire card in my wallet with little use recently so this is good news that will convince me to use it at the grocery store. Thanks for the heads up.

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    William Dillon says:

    This chase benefit is welcomed but should be larger given lack of travel opportunities this year. Also why limit groceries to $1000 ? Chase needs to step it up to compete w Amex in my view given the price increase last year

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    This temporary bonus is tone-deaf. Many Chase cardholders run multi-card setups, and this bonus is only useful if you don’t currently have a Freedom card, and/or haven’t recently applied for a Freedom. I have the (extinct) Freedom and the Unlimited, and am still in the first year, so 5x on groceries beats this 2x on my CSP. Even after that ends, the 3x on the Freedom Unlimited/Flex can be used to buy UNLIMITED grocery gift cards at drugstores, so the only reason to ever use my Sapphire for groceries is on an international trip.

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    Even assuming you value the $300 credit at face value, that’s still over $3300 worth of grocery spending necessary to just break even on the remaining annual fee at a 1.5 cent valuation on the points – think this will sadly be the year I cancel the Reserve.

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    Christine Bethke says:

    Hope that the CSR has another enhancement. Their free cards have higher earning potential .

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    Extra points for grocery is definitely a popular addition this year for good reason.

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    Chase points back is nice but Not a card saver.

    Overall Chase Saphire Reserve card is a failure compared to travel card’s like AMEX Platinum.

    Chase during NO TRAVEL pandemic time has offered minimal options as airport lounges have been closed(Priority Pass), Travel insurance is worthless with no INTERNATIONAL travel and many US states have had quarantine requirements,

    Flexibility of $300 travel credit was decent but still makes CSR a loser compared to AMEX PLAT.

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    x3 is too weak…the CSR needs x5, otherwise there’s still no reason to use the CSR for grocery shopping over other cards.

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    The grocery bonus is not a deal maker, but definitely a step in the right direction.

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    The past 6 months we’ve just been using the citi double cash MC for everything and with all that’s going on in the world it’s refreshing to know that we get 2% cash back on EVERYTHING and not even think about what category we’re spending on and what card to pull out to use. Using the Virtual Credit Card app provided by Citibank is great and an added bonus for peace of mind when can use temp CC numbers for the oddball online purchase not done thru amazon or ebay.

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    Bonus grocery spend added to pay yourself back is a win win

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    Better late than never to the grocery bonus party!

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    Chase is making is impossible to obtain new cards even with 700+ score ( And they want our tax payer money from treasury) WOW

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    Good start by chase but they have to do more to compete with their own freedom flex which now has 5% back on travel (albeit booked through chase). They at preset have to match this and make the preferred and reserve better!

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    They really need to do this since there is virtually no travel because of the pandemic. I think most would cancel if they did not do this.

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    3x on groceries, meh ! For myself this is hardly an incentive as I just picked up a FLEX. I was certainly hoping for something more exciting to get my monies worth.

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    Mike Sullivan says:

    Does it include INSTACART?

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    Definitely a disappointment. With limited travel allowed during this pandemic they should have done this for both groceries and gas at a minimum.

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    I am looking forward to the additional bonus on my CSR for grocery shopping.

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    Thanks for writing about the Lyft benefits. I didn’t know about that before today. That free scooter rides would come in handy! How fun!

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    Right as I signed up for a Freedom so this bonus category does nothing for me.

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    I am excited about this as I do not have a good grocery credit card. And 3x is better than 1.5 I have been getting with the Freedom Unlimited.

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    What about the initial 5x grocery bonus good for one year on the freedom line of cards

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    Finally a bone…. Now at least I can drown myself in $300 worth of ice cream since we can’t travel anywhere

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    Paul L Davis says:

    Did you not mention or did I miss it the five times point spending on grocery stores on the freedom unlimited and the freedom flex for 12 months

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    Something is better than nothing, but I still feel these cards have fallen behind their competitors and also behind their Freedom offerings.

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      Agreed.

      Plus, as a holder of the CSR – whose travel protections far exceed those of the Freedom cards – the Freedoms’ 5x earnings on travel booked through Chase Travel holds no appeal.

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    2X for groceries is still not high enough to compete but comparable to earnings from Citi double cash card.