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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?
Grocery Bonus Key Terms
- From November 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021, Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve members will earn more points for grocery store purchases.
- Sapphire Preferred — Earn 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent at grocery stores.
- Sapphire Reserve — Earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent at grocery stores.
- Earning rates for both cards are capped at $1,000 in grocery purchases per calendar month.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
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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