There is always a debate when it comes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I think we can agree the Preferred is a great starter card, but what about those of us who have had the Reserve for some time? How long can you continue to justify the significant annual fee?
My Chase Card Line Up
To help set the stage, here are my current Chase cards, the annual fee associated with each card and notable benefits or spending strategies. Keep in mind I am well over 5/24 as of August 2019.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550) $300 annual travel credit
- Chase Ink Business Cash ($0) 125k per year in Ultimate Rewards earned from 5x at office supply stores
- Chase Southwest Premier Business ($95)
- Chase Freedom ($0) 5x on quarterly categories, 30k per year in Ultimate Rewards earned
- Chase Freedom Flex ($0) 5x on quarterly category bonus, 30k per year in Ultimate Rewards earned
- Chase Freedom Unlimited ($0) 1.5x on all purchases
- Chase World of Hyatt ($95) annual free night certificate and bonus certificate after $15,000 in spending
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy ($95) annual free night certificate
- Chase IHG ($49) annual free night certificate
My Reserve Card
I have had my Chase Sapphire Reserve since the early days of its launch. In fact, I had both the Reserve and Preferred when you could still have two Sapphire Chase products. The Reserve used to be my go to for dining and travel for 3x points. But as I diversified my card portfolio, I had other options for dining and travel bonus points.
I enjoyed using the portal before 2020, but it has become obsolete in my mind due to COVID. During 2020, I basically just cashed out points via Chase Pay Yourself Back and used it for current and future travel. In total, I cashed out over 200,000 points in 2020.
The timing of my annual fee and travel credits is off. My travel credit hits in December, but my annual fee hits in February. By now, I've already spent my travel credit for the year. I also spent my $60 Door Dash credit and the $120 Peloton credit. Finally, I moved my remaining points after cashing out to Hyatt for my planned trips in 2021.
Two words: American Express. Back in August 2019, after I went over 5/24, I began to diversify my points. I started with an American Express Gold Card. My travel goals changed and my points earning strategy evolved. I just kept picking up new cards–American Express Hilton Aspire, Green Card, Delta Reserve, Hilton Surpass, Blue Business Preferred, and finally a Charles Schwab Platinum in 2021. Not to mention, I sprinkled in some Citibank AA cards and a Citi Premier card, most recently.
Secondly, I have now accumulated a stash of miles, including American Express Membership Rewards and various hotel brands beyond Hyatt. I think building a diverse portfolio of points allows you to step back a little. I had always built up my Chase Ultimate Rewards with the intention of transferring to Hyatt, Southwest or other airlines. Finally, I find American Express Membership Rewards much easier to earn and quickly accumulate. I also love the Amex Offers, which adds an additional value to the cards.
What I Am Losing
I think the biggest loss is the travel insurance and protections. Six hours versus 12 hours is significant when you're traveling. The Chase Sapphire Preferred has good protections as well, not just to the level of the Reserve. This will force me to research and dive into American Express' protections. Secondly, I will no longer have the ability to cash out at the higher rate of 1.5 via Chase Pay Yourself Back. However, as I mentioned, I already cashed out a good chunk of my stash in anticipation of downgrading my card.
Everyone has to decide what is best for their needs and goals. Read our comparison for a full breakdown of benefits and fees. As for me, I think downgrading is the smart move for the upcoming year. As I do every year, I will revaluate plans next year. I will continue to build up Chase Ultimate Rewards via my Ink cards and limited Sapphire Preferred use. I will also focus on increasing my American Express Membership Rewards. Have you had to make a similar decision? Are you debating a downgrade? Come over to our Facebook group and let us know your thoughts.