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One of the most talked about credit cards the last couple of years has been the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It started out with a bang by offering 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points and many other benefits with a total value over $2000 the first year. Unfortunately, there are Chase Sapphire Reserve changes that are happening. Some changes are minor, while others may indicate further devaluation down the road.
Popular Benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been the card to beat with so many excellent benefits. Even though the sign-up bonus has been reduced to 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the 100,000 that was offered when it was first released, it is still one of the most highly recommended credit cards available.
We’ll get to the changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve in a minute, but let’s review the major benefits of this card first:
- $300 in annual travel reimbursement, which helps to offset the $450 annual fee
- 3x points on travel and dining
- 50% bonus value on Ultimate Rewards points when redeeming for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement
And then there are other benefits that the Sapphire Reserve shares with its sister cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Business cards, such as:
- 1:1 Points transfer to partners, such as United, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, and Southwest Airlines
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions
- $0 foreign transaction fees
All in all, it is easy to see why the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is such a popular card even though the annual fee is right up there with premium competitors like the Citi Prestige, US Bank Altitude, and American Express Platinum.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Changes Coming August 2018
In a leaked memo initially shared by Doctor of Credit, Chase revealed some negative changes to the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Most of us freak out a little when we hear about changes because we assume the worst, especially for a card that has been so lucrative for travelers.
However, when you pause, take a deep breath, and then carefully review the changes, they aren’t that bad. And they could have been significantly worse!
Assuming that this leaked memo is correct and nothing changes between now and when the official Chase memo is released, here are the Chase Sapphire Reserve changes.
Priority Pass Lounge Access Limited to Two Guests
We’ll start with the change that is most impactful to the widest range of readers. The Priority Pass Select membership currently allows you to bring in an unlimited number of guests whenever you visit a Priority Pass lounge. And we wonder why lounges seem so packed these days?
The new rules will limit complimentary admission to the cardholder plus two guests going forward. This is no problem for singles and couples. You’re even fine if you have one child.
However, if you’re a family of 4+ or if you’re traveling with friends or co-workers, getting into the lounge just became a lot more expensive.
Additional guests beyond the two guests will be billed at $27 each.
How to get around paying $27 per guest
There are two ways to counter this change – add your spouse as an additional signer on your account or combine Priority Pass memberships to bring in additional guests.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can add additional signers to your account for $75 per year. And each additional signer would receive their own Priority Pass Select membership, which would provide admission for them and two guests.
Or, if you have other premium credit cards in your wallet that also include a Priority Pass membership, use that Priority Pass card to admit your other guests.
Lost Price Protection
One of the least used benefits of premium credit cards is price protection.
With Chase, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, for a maximum of $2,500 per year, for items that you found a lower price within 90 days of purchase.
Not that this change is not restricted to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Chase is implementing this change across all of their credit cards effective June 1, 2018.
No Points Earned on $300 Travel Reimbursement
The Chase Sapphire Reserve change coming that is least concerning on the surface is that you will no longer earn Ultimate Rewards points on the $300 in purchases that are part of your annual travel reimbursement.
Travel purchases earn 3x points, so this $300 in purchases would earn 900 Ultimate Rewards points. With a minimum value of $0.01, you are losing at least $9 in value. If you were to redeem these points for travel at $0.015 per point, then we’re talking $13.50 in value. The value could be a little higher if you were to transfer these points to one of the travel partners and redeemed for aspirational travel in premium class airfare or a high-end resort hotel.
Overall, it’s not a lot of money. Right now.
The more concerning part of this change is the ability and desire for Chase to begin excluding certain purchases from earning Ultimate Rewards points. With Chase excluding these purchases, what types of purchases will be excluded next? We’ve already seen American Express Platinum excluding some gift card purchases from earning American Express Rewards points. Could Chase follow suit?
Conclusion of the Sapphire Reserve Changes
If you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, these changes shouldn’t have much of an impact on your decision to keep the card. And if you are considering applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, these changes shouldn’t stop you from applying.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve changes coming do sting a little and you should always review your cards each year before paying the annual fee to see if the card still deserves a place in your wallet. In my opinion, the remaining benefits make having the card and paying the hefty annual fee worth the money, such as the $300 annual travel credit and the 50% bonus value to Ultimate Rewards when redeeming for travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.