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Chase Sapphire Reserve increases annual fee to $550—is the card still worth the cost?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is going up to $550 starting January 12, 2020, a $100 increase. Is it still worthwhile to open the card?

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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 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, Select breaks down the value of the card so you can decide if the $550 annual fee is worthwhile.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 26.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

Terms apply.

 

Value of Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits

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.

  • Annual travel credit: $300
  • Priority Pass Select membership: $429
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit: up to $100
  • Lyft Pink membership: $239

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.

Alternatives to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card

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 a high annual fee, 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.)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • 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 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    18.24% - 25.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

And if paying $550 isn't an issue, you might want to consider another luxury travel card. The Platinum Card® from American Express annual fee costs $695 (see rates and fees) 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).

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within 6 months of card membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit Needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Learn more: When is it worthwhile to pay an annual fee for a credit card?

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Enjoy an intro APR on purchases plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
Plenty of rewards and benefits including 4X points per dollar for dining at restaurants worldwide