Chase Sapphire Reserve Ups Its Fee: Is the Card Still Worth It?

The benefits still outweigh the now-higher annual fee

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve card has gotten a lot of attention since its debut in 2016, but it’s now in the news for a less positive reason: The card's already steep $450 annual fee has jumped up to $550. 

Chase confirmed this change on Jan. 8 while announcing a partnership with DoorDash and Lyft, which gives cardholders some new benefits, so there are all sorts of new card details to digest. Here’s what you need to know about the Chase Sapphire Reserve changes, and why this premium travel card is worth paying an even higher annual fee for. 

What’s Changed: Higher Annual Fee & New Benefits

If you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and your annual fee is due before April 1, 2020, you’ll snag the $450 annual rate for one more year. However, all new applicants and everyone who renews after April 1 will pay $550. 

If you recently applied for this card (prior to Jan. 12, 2020), you’ll pay $450 annual fee for your first year as a cardholder.

On top of the significant annual fee change, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders now have a handful of new perks with Lyft and DoorDash:

Lyft Ride-Hailing Benefits

All Lyft rides charged to a Chase Sapphire Reserve card will earn 10 points per $1 spent through March 2022. Cardholders also get a year of Lyft Pink membership, which allows you 15% off all rides, three free 30-minute bike and scooter rentals each month, priority airport pickups, and relaxed ride cancellation rules. 

DoorDash Food Delivery Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve already lets you earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining, including DoorDash delivery orders. Now you’ll also get reimbursed for up to $60 per calendar year in DoorDash payments with the card until the end of 2021 ($120 total). There’s also a complimentary one-year DashPass membership, which waives food delivery fees on orders over $12 for cardholders who activate the offer through the DoorDash app before Dec. 31, 2021. This is worth about $100.

If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Slate, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or a Chase Ink Business Cash card, you also have some new benefits. See our card reviews for details. 

What Hasn’t Changed: High Rewards Earning Rate & Statement Credits

Thankfully, Chase didn’t completely overhaul the entire Chase Sapphire Reserve card offer. It still carries these rewards and perks: 

  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases (plus 1 point per $1 on everything else)
  • Points are worth 50% more when used to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select lounge access (a $429 value)
  • Travel insurance benefits, including primary auto rental collision damage waiver; trip cancellation, interruption, and delay reimbursement; and lost luggage coverage

To learn more about everything the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers, read our full review

How Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve Compare to Other Travel Cards?

Despite the now-higher annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card remains a competitive premium travel card. The annual fee matches what’s charged by the elite American Express Platinum card, but the Platinum card has much more valuable airport lounge access benefits (it gives you access to the same Priority Pass lounges as the Chase Sapphire Reserve does, plus Delta Sky Clubs, plus International American Express Lounges and Centurion Lounges.

However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve still holds its own when stacked up against other premium travel card offers. Its quality travel benefits (some of which are highlighted in the chart below) have competitive values and are perfect for frequent travelers who want to get more out of each trip, which is what premium travel credit cards should do. 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also boasts one of the most valuable bonuses among premium travel cards right now. If you spend $4,000 within three months of opening an account, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points, which are worth $750 when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but possibly even more if you transfer them to a travel partner that’s part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. For comparison, The American Express Platinum card bonus is worth about $714 and the Citi Prestige bonus is worth about $500, based on our valuations. 

Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Still Worth It?

Yes, easily. Even if you only use the card to charge $300 a year in travel expenses, you can make up for the annual fee by using just two of Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual benefits:

The more benefits you enjoy, the more value this card has, too. Apply for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck to use the $100 statement credit ($85 for TSA Precheck), and you’ll be even further ahead. Using the new Lyft and DoorDash perks (which have a total annual value of about $399) tips the scale even more. 

Other Travel Credit Card Options

If you can’t stomach paying a $550 annual fee, or won’t use Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits to recoup the cost, here are some good travel credit card alternatives with much lower annual fees: 

Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee): This card offers 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and includes several quality benefits, such as primary rental car collision insurance and travel insurance. Plus, just like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s connected to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, so points are worth more when used to book travel through Chase and can be transferred at a 1-to-1 rate to 13 travel loyalty programs. For the Preferred, points are worth 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards platform. 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card ($95 annual fee, waived the first year): You’ll earn a consistent 2 miles per $1 spent and enjoy a few good travel perks that the Chase Sapphire Reserve also has, such as travel accident insurance and Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement. The Capital One Venture Rewards program also has a number of airline transfer partners if you want a little flexibility when it comes to how rewards are used, too.  

Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card (No annual fee): If you were drawn to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for the wide variety of travel and dining purchases that earn extra points, this is a comparable no-annual-fee option. You’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent on eating out and ordering in, gas, rideshares, transit, and on travel purchases, including flights, hotels, homestays and rental cars. Just know that the no-annual-fee trade off means there are few travel insurance perks and no travel statement credit benefits.

Article Sources

  1. Chase. "Chase Introduces New Cardmember Benefits With Lyft and DoorDash." Accessed Jan. 10, 2020.

  2. Chase Credit Cards. "Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card." Accessed Jan. 10, 2020.

  3. Capital One. "Venture Rewards from Capital One." Accessed Jan. 10, 2020.

  4. Wells Fargo. "Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card." Accessed Jan. 10, 2020.