Chase Adds Shine to Sapphire Card Duo With New Benefits

A man in an airport lounge chair with a laptop on his lap makes a purchase with a credit card.
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Chase announced Tuesday new benefits for its popular Chase Sapphire credit cards, energizing the cards amid an increasingly competitive market. Effective Aug. 16, these changes include new rewards-points-earning rates in several spending categories, an anniversary bonus, and a $50 annual hotel credit. What hasn’t changed are the annual fees these cards charge. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred gets significant updates to its earning rates, including 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase’s online portal. It’ll also feature 3 points per $1 spent on dining (including some delivery services), select streaming services, and online grocery purchases. Currently, cardholders earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Combined with a new 10% anniversary bonus on all spending, this card now has the potential to be a heavy earner in the Ultimate Rewards program. Cardmembers will also receive a $50 annual credit on hotel stays purchased through Chase’s travel portal.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gets some noteworthy changes, too. Starting Aug. 16, cardmembers will earn 10 points per $1 spent on Chase Dining purchases, hotel stays, and car rentals purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking site. They’ll also earn 5 points per $1 spent on air travel booked through the same portal. These new categories are in addition to the current 3 points per $1 spent cardholders earn on travel and dining purchases. 

“We are continuing to evolve benefits and introduce new perks to meet customers where they are,” said Marletta Ross, general manager of Chase Sapphire in a news release, “without departing from what they love most—travel and dining.”

These changes keep the cards relevant in the evolving competition for consumers. Competing cards such as the American Express Blue Cash Preferred offer 6% cash back on streaming and groceries, while Citi’s new Custom Cash card offers 5% cash back on your top eligible spend category each billing cycle. Although these cards offer a more generous return than the Chase Sapphire cards, their earning rates are also subject to spending caps—which can limit big spenders.

What’s more, both of these Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards rather than cash back. The Balance values Ultimate Rewards points at 1.40 cents each for the Preferred card and at 1.44 cents for Reserve, on average, depending on how you redeem them. That’s well above the flat 1 cent in value you’ll receive from cash-back cards.

The Sapphire cards’ refresh comes on the heels of American Express’s update of its flagship Platinum card, which got a raft of new credits and perks (but kept the same old earnings rates). It also got a hefty increase in its annual fee, from $550 to $695. In contrast, the Sapphire cards gain their new earnings rates and perks but keep their old annual fees: $95 for Preferred and $550 for Reserved.  

On Tuesday Chase also announced the locations of its first three luxe airport lounges: New York LaGuardia, Boston Logan, and Hong Kong International. Opening dates for those lounges were not released, however. 

Both credit cards are currently accepting new applications, although the new benefits don’t kick in until Aug. 16.