The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a cult-like following ever since it launched in 2016 to an overabundance of applicants — so many that Chase ran out of the metal to make the card. But the card is getting some major updates this year that have cardholders second-guessing whether it's truly the best luxury travel credit card.
New applicants will now pay a $550 annual fee starting January 12, 2020, and the price is going up for existing cardholders on April 1, 2020. That's a $100 increase from the current $450 fee.
I lucked out when I applied and got approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earlier this week, locking in the $450 annual fee for a year — and you can too if you apply by January 11, 2020. However, I wasn't expecting the annual fee to increase right away. Now that I'll be charged $550 next year, I'm questioning the value of the card.
And so are existing cardholders. There has been a lot of chatter on forums, such as Reddit, with existing cardholders complaining about the fee and considering cancelling the card.
Below, CNBC Select breaks down the value of the card so you can decide if the $550 annual fee is worthwhile.
10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3X points on travel worldwide (immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit), 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide, 1X point per $1 on all other purchases
50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
16.99% to 23.99% variable
5%, minimum $5
Chase confirmed that all existing card benefits are remaining, and a few new perks are being added to help compensate for the increased fee. Here's an analysis of how much each perk is estimated to be worth.
If you take advantage of all these benefits, the total estimated value of the perks is approximately $1,388. That more than offsets the $550 annual fee. And that's not including the other benefits that are harder to estimate value, such as daily breakfast for two and room upgrades at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
Not everyone is an extreme optimizer, and it might be hard for some people to use all the perks offered by the Sapphire Reserve card. If you don't want to pay an annual fee, there are travel credit cards with no annual fee, such as the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, which also offers 3X points on travel purchases.
3X points on dining out and ordering in; gas, rideshares and transit; flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals; and popular streaming services. 1X points on all other purchases
20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
0% APR for 12 months on purchases and qualifying balance transfers
14.49% to 24.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Introductory fee of 3% ($5 minimum) for 120 days, then 5% ($5 minimum)
Or you can consider downgrading to the similar Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a lower $95 annual fee. (Compare the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card.)
5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 2X points on travel and dining worldwide, 1X points on all other purchases
80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
And if paying $550 isn't an issue, you might want to consider another luxury travel credit card. The Platinum Card® from American Express also costs $550 a year and offers premium travel perks, such as lounge access, Uber credits, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits and airline fee credits (see rates and fees).
5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within 3 months of account opening
See Pay Over Time APR
See rates and fees, terms apply.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.