Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Worth $550 per Year?

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We recently learned that the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, one of the most popular premium travel cards, is raising its annual fee to $550. It's never good news when a card raises its annual fee. However, Chase is also adding several new benefits to offset the increased fee, including new partnerships with Lyft and DoorDash.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Bonus Earn 50,000 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®
Chase's flagship Ultimate Rewards card. You get a $300 travel credit, airport lounge access courtesy of a Priority Pass membership and industry-leading travel insurance benefits. New cardholders earn 50,000 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®.
  • Earn 50,000 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Before these changes were announced, provided you traveled more than a few times each year, the Sapphire Reserve easily paid for itself year after year. With the incoming changes, a lot of people will be wondering if it's still a valuable card to hold, particularly with the higher annual fee.

In this post, we're going to scrutinize the benefits provided by the Sapphire Reserve, both old and new, to help you decide if it's worth holding at the new, higher price point.

Value Proposition Before Changes

Before Chase rolled out the new changes, primary benefits included:

Thankfully, none of these benefits will be dropped for the time being.

New Lyft Benefits

10X Earning on Lyft Rides

  • 10X Ultimate Rewards Points per dollar on all Lyft rides paid with Sapphire Reserve
  • This is an additional 7X compared to before.
  • Depending on how you value Ultimate Rewards, this represents between 15-20% back on Lyft rides.

One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink Membership

  • Worth at least $199
  • 15% off all Lyft rides
  • Priority airport pick-ups
  • Relaxed Cancellation Policy
  • Waived Lost and Found Fee
  • Three free 30-minute Lyft scooter or bike rides per month in select markets

Get a complimentary Lift Pink membership with your Chase Sapphire Reserve

New DoorDash Benefits

Complimentary DashPass Membership

  • Complimentary DashPass membership valid for “up to 2 years.”
  • Monthly $9.99 subscription fee waived through December 31, 2021.
  • Waived delivery fees at select vendors on orders of $12 or more
  • Reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more

DoorDash Annual Statement Credits

  • Up to $120 in statement credits on DoorDash Purchases
  • $60 through December 31, 2020
  • $60 in 2021

Get a Complimentary DashPass Membership and DoorDash credits with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Important Terms and Conditions

While the new Lyft benefits seem relatively straightforward, we noticed a couple of interesting items worth mentioning in the DoorDash Terms and Conditions. As you might assume, the clock doesn't start on your annual DashPass membership until you activate it yourself. The terms don't clearly state how the end of your complimentary membership is calculated, and we weren't able to get a clear answer by talking to Chase's customer service.

However, once you have activated your DashPass membership, you can see the end date on their “manage subscription” page. For example, one of our team members enrolled on January 22, 2020, and got an expiration date of December 31, 2021.

Editorial-DashPass Subscription

More importantly, the Terms and Conditions specify that “when your free trial has expired, your subscription will automatically convert into a paid DashPass subscription, and DoorDash will bill you the applicable fee”. This makes it even more important to know how long this free membership is supposed to last since you're going to be charged for the membership afterward. After you verify the end date, make sure you set a calendar reminder to decide if you want to renew on a paid basis. The terms and conditions do state that if you participated in a free trial or other promotional subscription, you “may cancel within the first 48 hours of your paid DashPass subscription and receive a full refund”.

Activating the New Benefits

Both the Lyft and DoorDash promotional memberships can be activated by locating and following the prompts under “Featured Benefits and Offers” in the Ultimate Rewards Portal. Alternatively, you can activate them individually. For Lyft Pink, sign-up here. For DoorDash, download the app here (Apple) or here (Android) and add your Sapphire Reserve as the payment option. You'll see the option to activate the complimentary DashPass membership once you've added your card.

Activate your new Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits

How to Assign Value

The value of each of these new benefits will be different for everyone. To decide what they're worth, you first have to ask yourself a few questions. Do you regularly use Lyft or other rideshare apps? What about food delivery apps? Will you get any value out of these perks?

Since I was wondering the same thing for myself, I started by looking at my habits from 2019. For DoorDash, it was straightforward. I spent exactly $0 on food delivery apps in 2019. Even with the $60 annual credit, I don't foresee this changing, so I value the DoorDash benefit at $0.

One of my AwardWallet teammates (who is also currently working through the math on the new Sapphire Reserve changes), orders 3-5 times per month from food delivery apps. If you consider an average savings of $4.00 per order, the DashPass should save him $192 each year, plus the $60 statement credit for a total of $252.

For Lyft, it was a little more complicated, since I use rideshare apps quite often.

  • In 2019, I spent $230.69 on Lyft Rides; if I had Lyft Pink at the time, I would have saved 15% or $34.60.
  • In 2019, I spent $578.18 on Uber Rides. Switching to Lyft and assuming similar prices, I would have saved $86.73.
  • If I had earned an additional 7X (10X total – 3X I did earn) Ultimate Rewards Points on all of this rideshare spend, I would have earned 5,662 more points. Valuing these at 1.7¢ a piece, that would equal an additional $96.25 in points earning.

Between the 15% savings on the ride fares and the additional points earning, these Lyft benefits would have been worth almost $217 total to me in 2019! If my spending habits stay about the same this year, this is the kind of value I can expect.

Evaluating Chase Travel Portal Spend

Although not a new or changed benefit, the 1.5 cents-per-point redemption rate on bookings through the Chase Travel Portal might be an essential factor in whether it makes sense to keep this card. If you know you'll be transferring points to an Ultimate Rewards partner, the Sapphire Reserve ‘s enhanced redemption rate through the Chase Travel Portal is irrelevant.

On the other hand, if you do use the Chase Portal, the Sapphire Reserve can help you stretch your points significantly further. If you're unfamiliar with these two redemption options, check out these links for our comprehensive guides:

In addition to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®—which gets 1.50 cents per point—there are six other Ultimate Rewards cards which are currently open to new applicants:

Let's look at a quick comparison between the Sapphire Reserve and it's closest alternative, the Sapphire Preferred. While $0.0025 per point may not seem like much at first glance, it can make a big difference:

  • If you value the CSR's $300 annual travel credit at cash value, then the new annual fee disparity between the Sapphire Reserve and the Sapphire Preferred is now effectively $155.
  • $550 (Sapphire Reserve annual fee) – $300 (travel credit) = $250 (net annual fee) – $95 (Sapphire Preferred annual fee) = $155 (fee disparity)

If we assume, for the sake of argument, that you get ZERO value from any of the other Sapphire Reserve benefits (including Lyft and DoorDash), then mathematically you break even with the Sapphire Reserve‘s annual fee if you redeem at least 62,000 points through the portal per year.

  • 62,000 URs * $0.015 = $930 (Travel Portal value with the Sapphire Reserve)
  • 62,000 URs * $0.0125 = $775 (Travel Portal value with the Sapphire Preferred)
  • $930 – $775 = $155
  • If you redeem more than 62,000 points per year through the Chase Portal, then the Sapphire Reserve is a better value.

I redeemed 63,105 URs through the travel portal with my Sapphire Reserve in 2019. This means I obtained an additional $157.76 in value from my points compared to their worth if I only had the Sapphire Preferred.

Sign-up Bonus

The Sapphire Reserve‘s current sign-up bonus is 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. If you conservatively value each point at 1.5¢ a piece, then this bonus is worth $750. In this regard, the sign-up bonus easily eclipses the annual fee and makes it easy to justify giving the Sapphire Reserve a try. If you aren't sure how the card benefits will work out for you, you can monitor during the first year, knowing the value from the bonus will put you solidly ahead of breakeven.

If you don't think the benefits will outweigh the increased fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great alternative.

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 a 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 & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 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 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Our Take

Each of these considerations and calculations will be unique to you and your lifestyle. If you regularly use the Chase Travel Portal, often book rideshares, and have been known to order some take-out, you'll have no trouble justifying the annual fee, even at the higher price point. Others who can’t use these benefits may want to consider the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred instead.

As a Sapphire Reserve cardholder, when I first read the news about the updated benefits and the raised annual fee, I reacted the same way a lot of people did. I felt disappointed. However, in the process of writing this post, I've realized just how much value I will continue to get from the Sapphire Reserve under the new program. My redemptions through the Chase Travel Portal notwithstanding, the new Lyft benefits alone will more than make up for the $100 increase. We'll have to wait and see how these benefits, which are currently only temporary, develop come next year.

How do you feel about these updated benefits? Are you still planning to keep your Chase Sapphire Reserve®? Do you have a different method of calculating its value? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  • Joseph Petrovic says:

    Still keeping it too, because the Priority Pass restaurant access easily provides my family with over $600 in benefits annually. I’m no fan of increased fees, but even if none of these other benefits had been added, it was still a keeper. If they pull an Amex and drop that though, the math immediately changes.

  • In my opinion yes. Overall, the roster of transfer partners is superior to the closest competition (AmEx), and the annual credits the CSR offers are easier to utilize, and the Lyft offer is a decent addition. For me, the CSR is still the overall winner amongst premium CCs.

  • The $300 credit is used almost as a given, add in the door dash that nearly pays for the card even if you only take a weekend trip somewhere. CDW is good, so is Priority Pass if you fly much. I currently have Amex Biz Plat, Citi Prestige and CSR but am probably going to cancel the Biz plat as the higher fee isn’t really worth it with the loss of the $200 American Airlines Gift card option…that made the fee worth it but the other benefits don’t seem to be worth the increase, between husband and me it is not worth it. Funny, Amex recently sent offer for 2nd BizPlat card….thought it was weird?

  • I would guess many (like myself) won’t really see much value from the card changes — it will be a negative. But certainly some will see a benefit.

  • I also was disappointed in the annual fee increase but I will keep my card. Points, Priority Pass, Travel Trip Interruption, Lyft, etc keeps me in.

  • Lynn R Lott says:

    I just got my CSR – to get in under the increase in AF. Most of these new benefits don’t help me – especially the Lyft Pink since it’s just 15% off vs. actual cash in your account like the AMEX Platinum gives you with Uber. I’ll try it for a year. I’m hoping the $28 pp (for 2) Priority Pass restaurant meals will pay off. And, of course, there’s the $300 travel benefit. So the jury is still out for me.

  • I don’t really use the Lyft or Door Dash benefits, so I would rather they kept the price down and not offered these.

    • Unfortunately I can guarantee you the price increase was happening no matter what. The “extra” benefits we got were added to help justify the increase, not the other way around. These new benefits did not cost Chase $100. Period.

      OR one exception would be yes these extra benefits do cost Chase more than $100, but they’re temporary and help ease customers into the new longterm increase before falling back to normal but we now pay $550 instead of $450.

  • Thanks for the interest. Still not sure it would be worth leaving AmEx Platinum. However, might be worth it to have both cards. Your take on that possibility?

    • It really depends on whether you can get value from the benefits that don’t overlap (i.e. Priority Pass lounges). I personally have the Amex Plat, CSR, and Prestige.

      I easily cover Platinum costs with Uber, Saks 5th Credit, and the Airline Fee credit + I visit the Centurion Lounge 5-10x per year.

      For CSR, now $250/year after the $300 credit, I’ll recover most of that via Lyft Pink with around $200/month in Lyft charges. I could drop the CSR if they don’t make Lyft pink permanent after the first year.

      For Prestige, I easily use the 4th night free 2x per year, so I come out way ahead on that card.

      It’s also worth noting that Amex eliminated Priority Pass restaurants. I use the $28 per person meal credit with my spouse a few times a year, so that adds another $56-$112 in value (but that benefit could be with either the CSR or Prestige priority pass.

      Again, really comes down to overall travel habits.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    I’m disappointed in the annual fee increase. The results may be worth it, but i prefer Uber over lyft anyway. Worth looking into though.

  • The Arts Traveler says:

    Is the annual $550 for Chase Sapphire Reserve card worth it? The answer is NO.

  • I think just comparing CSR with CSP isn’t a complete comparison. You also want to compare CSR with AmEx Plat ecosystem and Citi Prestige ecosystem.

    • Well, you could treat it like a playoff system, kind of. Pick the best Chase card (or ecosystem) and compare the top system from each setup. So you could weigh just the CSP and CSR (also assuming they’re paired with the two Freedoms) and decide which of those two cards is better for you.

      Then compare to Amex’s setup, then to Citi’s, etc. Just compare two things at a time and pick which is better slowly making eliminations.

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Love my CSR at $450, but not so much at $550. Since the $300 credit is a no brainer, is the extra $250 worth it? The best benefit for me is the Priority Lounge access, especially overseas (I REALLY wish PP had better domestic lounge access at ORD, DFW, etc.).

    So, how much will I be traveling overseas next year? (already paid the $450 for 2020). Well, if the coronavirus sticks around, maybe not so much. I’ll probably ditch the CSR and move on to a different, cheer card with long access.

    Overall, I think Chase may have squeezed too much of the value out of the CSR.

  • Thanks for the analysis. I transfer my points to Hyatt or other partners where I can get more than 1.5 cents of value, so the CSP seems better for me. Also, I’m well over 5/24, which makes it a moot point for now.

  • Good post. I like the breakdown you did of how the card would benefit you. It’s nice to have an example. I would have to have another benefit because like you said if you have delivery or use lyft often, etc it’s not great for me right now. I don’t travel as much right now so all the card with a higher fee will be examined closer once I do travel more and can take advantage of all the benefits.

  • Benefits aren’t worth the price increase.

  • I don’t think it’s worth it! I was going to upgrade my CSP this year, but decided not to after the price increase.

  • This breaks down the benefits nicely versus the higher annual fee. Unfortunately, it’s just not viable for me.

    • Same. Never used Lyft or Doordash before in my life and aside from using the $60 credit, I still won’t. They are probably losing me as a customer – but I think that may secretly be part of their intent: to reduce the user base and stop the bleeding.

  • It would be hard for me to justify the fee.

  • I do not have any use of the delivery service benefits.

  • I think the biggest benefits of this card are the priority pass and point transfers.

  • A key question here is whether the DashPass and Lyft Pink wind up being ongoing benefits. If they’re just intro benefits for a year or two, but the increased annual fee is permanent, then in the long run the CSR is a worse deal than it was before. If they’re long-term benefits (and one will use them enough to get significant value out of them) then it could be a better deal.

  • With the new fee and new benefits, I’ll pass on this. I don’t find them useful and have priority pass from another card.

  • The new $550 annual fee is absolutely not worth it.
    Chase must be out of their mind to think they can command $550 for the CSR.
    I’m going to cancel my CSR once I get charged with the higher annual fee.

  • Be careful with Doordash. Compare the Doordash prices with the restaurant’s own website prices. The restaurant’s prices I chose were exactly $2.00 LESS per item than the Doordash prices.

  • The new benefits definitely skew towards city dwellers. Very difficult to justify the higher fee if you are outside DoorDash delivery areas and don’t use Lyft much. I will stick with Sapphire Preferred.

  • Keeping it. i get far more value from the transferring to airline partners

  • I have another year of $450. Might stick with it first.

  • I think for a lot of people the answer is not worth it, but not sure for myself.

  • Lillian Dikovitsky says:

    Not sure if I will keep CSR or not. I like the full coverage insurance but haven’t found the lounges to be much of a benefit. Either there isn’t a lounge or it is in another terminal, etc.

  • I kept CSR primarily for primary car rental coverage in North America. $150 a year can be justified for this ($450 minus $300 that is easily used).

    Door Dash and Lyft pink provide very little added value to me so the increased AF is a showstopper.

    My 2020 credit card strategy will be $95 a year for CSP to keep primary car rental coverage / travel benefits and another $95 for a Hilton Amex Surpass that comes with 10 Priority passes for the occasional layover. Free weekend night and Hilton gold status are benefits that don’t overlap with CSP that I can also use more than justifying the $95 AF.

  • Not so excited but still probably keep card, reluctantly.

  • Overall, these changes will result in less people holding the CSR, which I think is one of Chase’s goals. There will be many who won’t use the DoorDash and Lyft benefits.

  • It is definitely not worth it for most.

  • Is it worth $550/year? Well, it is however putting it side by side with the Platinum card doesn’t even compare. That card gives Centurion Lounge access, Priority Pass (albeit minus the restaurants), and Delta lounge access when flying Delta. And I’m not even done. You also get BOTH Hilton and Marriott status. You also get 5x purchase categories and still so many more things too (an extra 4 hours on your rental car anyone?).

    So all that said, is the CSR worth $550? Probably. But it’s living in Amex’s shadow and not doing anything to catch up. Chase needs to give at least Hyatt Explorist status and allow United Club access when flying United or create its own Sapphire airport lounges. The CSR was an AMAZING card that for some unknown reason just stepped into Amex’s shadow.

  • We order food for delivery at least once a week so the Doordash credit and DashPass will be put to good use. However, Lyft is almost always more expensive in my city even with the Pink discount.

  • It was only a few months ago that I signed up at $450, and wondered if I would every break even. At least I have a while until the $550 fee will be due.

  • Always appreciate the insightful analysis. Had been considering product changing from CSP to CSR. However, I’ll stick with the CSP as the CSR changes and increased fee have actually decreased my interest in the card as it lessened the value to me.

  • The really puzzling thing is that they market this as *the* travel card, yet introduced benefits that are only available in select markets in the US. How are those of us who spend much of the year abroad meant to get real value out of these perks?

  • At this point, I am hoping that maybe American Express or other credit cards can offer something good like 100k pts to gather CSR users. I am definitely looking to hop to another premium credit card

  • I would vote yes. I love the restaurant feature with the Priority Pass. I use that with the airline lounge access and I don’t have to eat the meal on the flight. That gives me an extra 1 to 1.5 hours of sleep on the overnight long haul flights.

  • FloridaBound says:

    Definitely keeping this card

  • Edward Monrad says:

    Really not great for those who primarily use the card abroad!

  • $550 doesn’t seem worth it to me! I don’t often use DoorDash or Lyft and would probably only end up spending more to justify the added fees.

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