Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Worth the new Fee?

Something that I am asked frequently is what travel credit card I use.  I always rave about the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR).  I’ve now paid for two years of CSR usage, but whenever anyone would ask me if it was worth the cost I used to immediately answer with a resounding YES!

However, I just got an email that said they are raising the annual fee to $550 from the already kinda high $450.  With that new cost, it now brings the basic fee to $250 (since I usually spend the $300 travel credit within a few weeks) instead of the old $150, so I need to analyze the pros and cons a bit more closely.

So my choices are a) keep the card and pay $100 more; b) downgrade my card to another Freedom Unlimited (aff link so we both get a bonus if you sign up with my link) which you can have multiple of AND it doesn’t charge a fee or c) cancel the card. I always want to preserve my credit history as much as possible so I will not be canceling the card. That just leaves PAY UP or DOWNGRADE.

Reasons to DOWNGRADE

– I already paid for my TSA pre-check/Global Entry ($100 value)

– I already redeemed my sign up bonus (about $1000)

– I have never used Door Dash so I’m not sure how well it works in Portland

– I only use Lyft once or twice a year (I read somewhere that if you spend $650 on Lyft that it makes up for the $100 increase too, so look at your Lyft/Uber history and see if it’s worth it)

Reasons to PAY UP

Door Dash: The email I got said that they are introducing new “benefits” that include 10X points with Lyft and Lyft Pink membership as well as Door Dash.  Prior to this email, I had never even heard of Door Dash, but apparently, they will give a $60 credit for 2020.  I think I can use the whole $60 credit in the month that I will be home in the US over the summer (that would bring my out of pocket cost from $250-60=$190). Or you could think that $60 is only $40 away from the extra $100 increase!

Priority Pass Select Membership: This is the biggest thing that makes me hesitant to downgrade to another Freedom card because I heavily use my Priority Pass (PP) to get into various lounges when I travel every couple of months.  Considering that most lounges would require you to pay $50 to get into the lounge, you would only need to visit 5 lounges per year to make up the whole $250 annual fee (after the travel credit).  I easily meet that goal because I visited 9 lounges just from July until now (3 lounges just on my way to Indonesia, I brought 2 friends into a lounge with me for free in October, and 5 lounges during my December holiday).  I still plan on using PP to get into another 5 lounges during my May break and my trip home this summer.  Not to mention the fact that I get to bring 2 free guests so my son is always free to enter the lounge as well.  That means I get at least $700 in value out of this perk alone (more if you consider that I can get a $25 restaurant credit for guests at some airports).

Easy to use overseas: You can’t forget the original reasons why I loved this card so much: no foreign transaction fees, 3X points for travel, and 3X points for restaurants.  Because I live in a low cost of living city, in a mostly cash-based society, I basically only use my card for travel, restaurants, and the grocery store for 10 months a year while living overseas, so this card is exactly what I need.  I usually use it enough to get about $500 worth of points for me which is still a few nights at a nice hotel.

Final Word

This card is still worthwhile for me, for now, because I travel so much, the ease of using the Chase Unlimited Reward points, plus the $500 worth of points I get, plus the Priority Pass benefit that I use more than 5 times a year, AND the travel credit.  Last year, my annual fee was paid on March 1st, so I hope that I will be one of the lucky few who will squeak through with another year of the $450 price anyway.

If you only travel once or twice a year and don’t care for lounges, then I recommend just using the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. This card has some of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but with a lower annual fee of just $95.  If you are still on the fence, you can check out this post at Upgrade Points for an even more in-depth report on all of the CSR benefits since I only focused on the benefits that I use the most.

Comment below! What is your favorite travel credit card? Have you used the Chase Sapphire Reserve? Are you planning on downgrading or canceling it? Is it worth it for you to keep it? 


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