Chase Sapphire Reserve: Should I keep it?


I no longer redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each.  I used to do so regularly.  I once was so flush with Chase points and I was spending them so seldomly that it would have been silly not to redeem them this way.  But now I find myself transferring points to Hyatt in droves, and I regularly get far more than 1.5 cents per point value that way.  Given that I’m no longer doing those 1.5 cents per point redemption, it begs the question… Am I crazy continuing to pay $550 per year for a card that offers the same 1 to 1 point transfers as the $95 Sapphire Preferred?

A few months ago, in the post “Chase Sapphire Reserve: Why .25 cents is worth $250,” Tim wrote that he considers the Sapphire Reserve card a keeper specifically because of the card’s 1.5 cents per point redemptions (With the Sapphire Reserve card, you get 1.5 cents per point value when paying for travel through the Chase portal or when using Pay Yourself Back).  Tim’s reference to “.25 cents” in the title is because he could alternatively get 1.25 cents per point value with the $95 Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred cards.  So, the Sapphire Reserve gives him .25 cents per point more value, and he calculated that he redeems enough points at 1.5 cents per point each year for the .25 cent boost to more than cover the Sapphire Reserve card’s higher annual fee.

For the record, the Sapphire Reserve card costs $550 per year, but with $300 back in automatic statement credits for travel spend.  So you can simplify things to say that, after rebate, the Sapphire Reserve costs $155 more than the Sapphire Preferred.  The actual difference is arguably a bit more because you don’t earn rewards on the $300 of travel spend that is rebated, but $155 is accurate enough for posts like these.

Okay, so getting back to my situation.  Tim keeps the Sapphire Reserve because of its 1.5 cents per point redemptions, but I’ve stopped doing those altogether.  I tend to transfer my points to Hyatt, and the cheaper Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred cards are equally good at doing that.  So maybe I should cancel or downgrade my Sapphire Reserve.

Of course, there are other features of the Sapphire Reserve that stand it apart from the Sapphire Preferred.  One of the biggest differences is that the Sapphire Reserve card provides Priority Pass membership for access to participating airport lounges, free meals at participating airport restaurants, and even free massages at participating airport Be Relax spas.  That’s great, but I don’t personally ascribe any value to this feature of the Sapphire Reserve because I have other cards that provide equally good Priority Pass benefits (both the Chase Ritz-Carlton card and Capital One Venture X card offer equally good Priority Pass benefits but both offer authorized users for free and those authorized users also get Priority Pass).

There are two Sapphire Reserve features that continue to make the Reserve card valuable to me: best in class travel protections and 3x travel earnings.  Let’s look at each briefly:

Travel Protections

In our post, Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred, we show features of the two cards side by side, including a section comparing travel protections.  The Sapphire Reserve bests the Sapphire Preferred by providing roadside assistance, better trip delay insurance (6 hour vs 12 hour), emergency evacuation & transportation, and emergency medical and dental coverage.  In fact, the Sapphire Reserve comes out on top in a side by side comparison with all popular ultra-premium cards (see: Ultra-Premium Credit Card Travel Protections).

The only card that matches the Sapphire Reserve card’s travel protections is the Ritz-Carlton card.  I also have the Ritz card, so you might think that I wouldn’t value these travel protections on the Sapphire Reserve, but I do.  In order to get these travel protections, you need to pay a portion of your travel with the card.  Since the Sapphire Reserve card earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points for all travel, I always prefer to use it for travel purchases rather than the Ritz card which earns 3x Marriott points only for certain types of travel and, to me, Marriott points are only worth about half what Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth.

3X Travel

The Sapphire Preferred card earns 2x for travel and the Sapphire Reserve earns 3x.  The more I spend on travel, the more valuable this difference is.  Yes, I could earn 3x travel with the Ink Business Preferred card, but then I wouldn’t get as good of travel protections as I get with the Sapphire Reserve.

Travel Protections + 3X Travel Earnings

If I were to get rid of my Sapphire Reserve card I would divide my travel purchases across two cards.  For any travel spend in which there is even the slightest chance of my needing travel protections, I would use my Ritz card.  For all other travel spend, I would use my Altitude Reserve card (which offers 3x for travel & mobile wallet payments).  Altitude Reserve points are worth 1.5 cents each towards Real Time Mobile Rewards and so I value those points much more than the Marriott Bonvoy points earned with the Ritz card (I value Marriott points at around 0.8 cents each).

This hybrid approach to travel spend makes it difficult to estimate the extra value I get from the Sapphire Reserve card.  Let’s say I conservatively value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.6 cents each (I know that I’ll get much more value than that with transfers to Hyatt, but that’s the price at which I’m a buyer of points), Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, and Altitude Reserve points at 1.4 cents each (I would expect to get 1.5 cents per point value when redeeming these points, but that’s a bit of a hassle so I value these points slightly lower).  If I knew how much travel spend I was likely to do annually going forward, I could estimate the extra value of keeping my Sapphire Reserve:

Assuming $12K annual travel spend ($1K per month) and $8K of which where I care about travel protections:

  • Sapphire Reserve: 3 points/dollar x 12000 dollars x 1.6 cents/point = $576
  • Ritz + Altitude Reserve Alternative:
    • Ritz: 3 points/dollar x 8000 dollars x 0.8 cents/point = $192
    • Altitude Reserve: 3 points / dollar x 4000 dollars x 1.4 cents/point = $168
    • Total: $360

In the above scenario, points earned with the Sapphire Reserve card are worth $216 more than points earned with my alternate card scenario.  When combining this $216 value (vs. my best alternative) plus the Sapphire Reserve card’s automatic $300 travel rebate, the Sapphire Reserve card’s value to me comes very close the card’s annual fee.  If I can confirm that the travel spend estimate is realistic or on the low side, then I can confirm that the Sapphire Reserve card is still worth keeping.

I looked at my Sapphire Reserve account and saw that my travel spend this year to-date is close to double the amount estimated above.  My wife and I have been travelling much more than usual this year (including nearly the entire month of February on the California coast) and so I’ve been spending more on travel than usual despite often using points to pay for hotels and flights.  So, while I think it’s unlikely that we’ll keep up this extreme level of travel spend, I do think that my $1K per month estimate is reasonable for future spend.


Despite the fact that Tim finds it worth keeping the Sapphire Reserve card for its 1.5 cents per point redemptions and that I don’t ever plan to do those again, I’m going to keep my Sapphire Reserve card for at least another year.  The combination of 3x earnings on all travel spend plus best-in-class travel protections plus the annual $300 travel rebate is worth more to me than the card’s $550 annual fee.  For now.  If I find in the future that my travel spend has declined significantly, or if other cards appear on the scene that offer equal or better rewards and protections for travel spend, then I’ll take another look.  For now, the Sapphire Reserve has kept its safe place in my travel wallet.

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When evaluating the 3x travel question, why isn’t the Amex Green considered as part of the analysis? The difference between CSR and CSP as the Amex Green annual fee. Then the decision becomes enhanced travel protections vs the Amex Green credits and use of the Amex points.


Dropped mine — stuck with a combination of a CIP and a Ritz which covers all the most important aspects — 3x travel, transfer partners, travel protections — all with a net lower fee once calculating in the benefits of those cards. And the Ritz Priority Pass is superior with free AUs, and all AUs having access for free. Regarding the travel protections on the Ritz and relative points earning vs the CSR, isn’t that $$ amount very small at the end of the day for those who primarily book award travel? How many $5.60 fees does one have to do in order to justify the cost difference between the Ritz and the CSR? Add in a CFU and 3x dining is covered. The only thing missing there is the 1.5 cpp, which is not being used.

Randy B

Probably use the Doordash more than most so the Dashpass and $5 a month is a big benefit for me putting it closer to the CSP. Do some stackery with TCB and Slide and we are talking about serious savings vs the headline prices.


Most of my Ultimate Rewards transfers are to Hyatt now, i ditched my CSR when the annual fee climbed and i haven’t looked back.


I cancelled my CSR because the DoorDash didn’t make up for $250 net annual fee. Giving CSP better dining earning, focusing all new benefits on a travel portal, and playing long automated messages when I call all make the card feel non-premium. If I ever get below 5/24, I want to pick up WoH and CIP for transfers; hope they stop the deceptive WoH advertising and start offering a real bonus


“playing long automated messages when I call”
Get off your high horse dude. Its a known fact that Chase actually loses money on the CSR, especially with people like us who like to maximize value and don’t give any shits about loyalty. Don’t know what makes you feel entitled to a dedicated concierge when you’re a loser to them, and this is a credit card provided by a bank, not an escort service. Besides, you having to call in for something these days when pretty much everything can be done online signals that you’re a noob.

Last edited 17 days ago by TBS

Wow, unnecessarily vicious. I brought it up because Chase used to advertise no-wait phone service as a feature of the Sapphire cards.

Last edited 17 days ago by Esquiar

I guess I’m just less addicted to the Chase sphere than most, but I’d MUCH rather get 5x airfare with Amex Plat/Citi Prestige than get 3x with CSR. I get PP with both of those other cards so that’s a wash. I get travel protections through an annual travel insurance policy with Allianz. I never buy tickets in the travel portal. All of my UR earning comes through my CIC (Office supply 5x) and Freedom/Flex categories. With that scenario, why would one not downgrade to CSP?


You’re completely ignoring the fact that the 5x is only on airfare, and like Greg said in the post, his travel spend is not on hotel/flights since those come through points.


Not with Prestige. The 5x category is broader than just airfare. I put hotels on hotel cards. If I’m somewhere overseas that has no Hyatt etc., I use an OTA which also posts as 5x with Prestige. My larger point is that he didn’t even allude to anything outside of the Chase sphere, yet it’s a valid data point worth including.


I was on the fence to downgrade mine to a CSP until I had a car rental in Iceland that had a tiny (less than 1/2 inch) crack on the windshield. It was so inconspicuous that it didn’t even pop on the damage report picture and I couldn’t get a good picture of it on my phone. The rental agency charged me $1700 (!!!) to “fix” it.

I was seriously worried that my claim would be denied since there’s no way that damage warranted a $1700 claim. The claim was approved and paid out as soon as I got all my paperwork in, no questions asked.

The peace of mind and lack of hassle makes this card a keeper long-term for me even if the upfront benefits can’t offset the annual fee.


Is the car rental protection better on the CSR over the CSP? I thought they both offer the same primary coverage aside from roadside assistance.

Frank Wilson

Doesn’t the CSP provide the same rental car damage coverage as the CSR?


I believe the primary car rental insurance protections are the same. My CSP coverage for a bumper scratch paid for the equivalent of 10+ years of CSP annual fees.


do chase UR points expire if not have any of the fee cards?




No but you cannot transfer them to partners. You can only use them through Chase’s shopping portal (and maybe as cash back statement credits at .01/each?).


And make sure you transfer the points away from the card before your cancel it


Last month asked for a retention offer and was given a $250 credit. I was
shocked as I had previously asked for my girlfriend and they offered nothing
and we cancelled that card.

Also we were hit last year in a rental car. Chase Sapphire Reserve handled
everything, paid out $8k for car damage and our insurance was never notified. Much better than I expected.


If you have a Chase Freedom, why not do an upgrade/downgrade carousel?

  1. Use up the $300 travel credit on CSR as soon as it is available, then downgrade to Freedom.
  2. Upgrade another Freedom to CSR. You’ll have the $300 travel credit that cardmember year. It will reset, and again use it up quickly. You should get $600 credits for one $550 AF. Then downgrade this card back to Freedom.
  3. Upgrade the other Freedom back to CSR. Repeat step 2 to get $600 credits for one $550 fee. Repeat this upgrade/downgrade process year after year.

Have you done this? Does this work lol?


Yes. I have seen this mentioned on r/churning, so I am not the first.

I read once that Chase limits any given customer to 2 product changes per year across all products, which I guess could be something to keep in mind. I only read that once, though, so I am not sure if it is in fact a hard rule, a guideline, or maybe not true at all. Just FYI.


Lol this is like asking for a shutdown. And Chase has been known to do that in such cases..


Is the 3X on travel valid on all travel expenses even when not booked on the Chase travel site?




It’s 10x if booked through the Chase portal. Unfortunately I tried that, and while 10x equals a significant amount, it’s not enough to offset the added cost of plane tickets purchase through the portal, i found.

Last edited 19 days ago by D Y

Its 10x only on hotels and car rentals, 5x for flights.


Im sure the economics of your keep vs cancel decision are far different from me, but I personally would never keep CSR. I would double dip the travel credit, cash out/transfer whatever I needed and cancel/downgrade. Previously I wouldn’t keep CSP either, but I realized that just one referral bonus pays more than my AF, so I’m going to keep mine.


Yeah Greg is a travel blogger and you’re a loser sitting in your cave all year.

Last edited 17 days ago by TBS

Yeah, you’re a big winner, trolling blog commenters that you have no clue about with logical fallacies. Pretty sad. Hope things get better for you soon.


Off thread but who cares.Got hurt in Hawaii 2/12, AIG got me home First class with nurse then sending me a $8K check to settle .All from a $249 annual Ins policy I didn’t want to buy.I’m lucky I’m always careful…
Let’s see what my INK does when I get bills and I opened the claim..

Last edited 20 days ago by Cavedweller
Mary Jane

Thanks for the input, Cavedweller, there is something to be said for getting independent insurance. I tried to put in a claim for roadside assistance (all of $50) with Sapphire Reserve-never could get through to them…I guess I’m just happy that I never had to put through a serious claim.


I called them and told them when it’s All over then I’ll cash something. So far INK said claim open and and sent me forms. My claim was Hawaii but this is my only ins outside the USA so I have to do it right or don’t go..Till 65 I had 4 different ins. policy’s so felt very Safe..

The trip home HNL>ORD was $8k with a nurse not a buddy like AIG wanted !!!

Happy Travels play Safe !!!

Last edited 20 days ago by Cavedweller
Mary Jane

Cavedweller, I just want to make sure I understand clearly. Which insurance paid for the nurse-CSR? The older I get, the more important travel insurance is for me. MJ


Post says AIG and they covered it no out of pocket costs.Some IF u have no primary Ins as in Medicare(USA only) they switch to primary.On ph now asking IF yes on AIG policy will switch to $100K medical from $50K..My Med evacuation is $500K u need that.

Last edited 19 days ago by Cavedweller

Curious as to when this happened to you? I had a last minute trip cancellation in early 2017 and it went great. This is part of the reason I have kept my reserve card—if this is a new issue, it changes the cálculos.

Mary Jane

Gina, I’m fortunate that we really haven’t had to put in a claim. My car battery died and I thought, what the heck, CSR claims to have roadside assistance so I’ll call them for reimbursement. Trying to get through to whoever they subcontract with was a joke. I ended up giving up but I’m glad to hear that your claim went through.mj


My husband & I have put a lot less spend on my CSR since he got the CSP a year ago with the 100k SUB. That gets our dining spend now because of the 10% back (after we have max’d 5x dining on Custom Cash cards for Preferred Hotels redemptions). But we still have enough Travel with non-chain hotels/timeshates to warrant that extra point (we do a mix of Hyatt transfers & Chase travel portal purchases).

The $300 Travel Credit & $60 Door Dash credits gets the $625 AF (primary + AU) down to $265/yr. I consider that cheap primary car rental insurance I don’t have to pay at the rental counter. It only takes 1 large dent on a trip at $1,700 to make that amount up for years. Our C1VX only earns 2x so also not a sound option for us with 12+ rentals/yr (especially at current rental prices). That said, I am waiting to see some DPs about C1’s rental car insurance payouts but right now Chase is on top of it with providing coverage letters for anywhere in the world pre-rental along with solid claims paying after-the-fact.


I was referring to the CSP 10% anniversary bonus (dollar amount spent x 0.1) deposited back into his account in the form of points The CSP otherwise earns the same 3x bonus points now as the CSR on dining so we use it now instead for a little added points boost for that spend category.


Dining is the fastest way for us to build up URs (besides 5x gift cards on Ink) which we find to be the most useful & valuable currency. The extra .10 in points + the $50 hotel credit much more than covers his CSP AF & speeds up our UR accumulation.

We also now max out 4, 5x Custom Cash cards (no AF) for 120k TYP/yr from dining which is all we are really interested in considering the 10% back cap at 100k points with the Rewards+.


CSPs also get an annual 10% anniversary points bonus. It’s the second point under Additional Value with Ultimate Rewards:


The terms in your link does not state whether the purchases required to meet the initial spend counts towards the 10% bonus. What do you think?


With Greg’s $12K cash annual travel spend assumption, if put all on the CSP, that 10% anniversary points bonus would be 1200 UR, worth less than $20, which can almost be neglected as a factor. It sounds better than it is.


Certainly specific to a person’s own spend level, for us it’s a nice annual boost


Hi Greg. What happens to future trips that we have paid with the Reserve should we cancel it-is the travel coverage still extant, or is it lost?

Nick Reyes

This certainly is a good question. In the guide to benefits, it says (just an excerpt):

Covered Trip means any pre-paid tour, trip or vacation when some portion of the cost for such travel arrangements less any 50 Questions? Call 1-888-675-1461 redeemable frequent flyer miles, points, coupons or certificates, or other types of redeemable Rewards has been charged to your Account:

• while the insurance is in effect

I would have expected to have seen something saying that your account must be open and in good standing to make a claim. Maybe it does say that somewhere (I didn’t read the whole guide), but all I’ve noticed so far is that it says it has to have been paid for while the insurance was in effect. Therefore, I’d think that prepaid stuff would still be covered. However, for example, if you have a hotel booked that charges a big cancellation fee when you cancel (and you cancel the trip after cancelling your card), then I think you’d be out of luck. But I don’t really know.


I sadly had to use the reserve insurance back in 2017-it was spectacular, and relatively hassle free. Something I don’t want to lose. Thanks.


Great analysis Greg. It goes to show you that a small upfront cost can be outweighed by an increase in annual earning or benefits. For me, I spend about 10k a year in rental cars and another 30k in hotels and and like primary rental car insurance protection. The decrease in the earning power of the RC, BofA PRE and CSP makes the CSR the winner. The AR would be a winner for me, except for the fact that nothing ever seemed to code as travel and the real-time rewards sucked when I had it.


I haven’t gotten the CSR because there’s another option (besides the Ritz and AR) that I put travel spend on, which is 2x on BOA Amtrak, worth 2.8 cpp x 2 = 5.6% lately when redeemed for sleeper travel. Actually worth a bit more as there is a 5% rebate on redeemed points. A bit niche, though.

When comparing the cost difference between CSR and CSP I’d include the CSP hotel rebate, not valued at the full $50, but given some value at least.


Niche, maybe, but a really fun niche!

Steve S

Does the Capital One venture X factor into the Convo? (not for you, but for others that may be contemplating the numbers and consideration of a split card strategy for travel)
CapOVX has decent travel protection too right?


The venture x has good trip delay and rental car coverage but very poor trip cancellation/interruption insurance. I don’t think it offers the emergency medical or emergency evacuation coverage, either.


AMEX, Chase, & Capital One each have the same PP benefit for their premium cards – cardholder can bring 2 addtl guests. And each offers the authorized user a complimentary Priority Pass membership, then THEY can each bring 2 guests. Unlike Amex & Chase, however, you can add on authorized users for free with C1.

Citi Prestige is most generous of all with access for the cardholder, 2 addtl guests + their immediate families. Best when travelling with more than 1 child.


Except Amex doesn’t offer PP for restaurant locations.


Right…was addressing getting a family of 4 in on PP


Greg, $576 – $360 = $216, not $276. So less than the $250 EF and that is ignoring the $14.40 lost due to not earning points on the $300 travel credit. At the same time, there is also the hassle factor of using 2 cards instead of 1 and the DoorDash credits might be worth $20-$30 total. In any case you spending $24k+ on travel clearly makes the CSR worth keeping.

Generally speaking, for most of us it’s only worth keeping AF cards when they’re absolute slam dunks. For instance dealing with the Amex plat coupons for a net $50 in value or calculating +$25 net from the CSR based on projected travel spend would never be worth it IMO.

Retired Gambler

Some of us don’t nickle and dime to determine if a card is worth keeping down to the last penny. Maybe I’m just in a different financial situation that I don’t care. I have 5 cards w AF over $250 (Amex Plat, CSR, Amex Gold, Amex Marriott and Delta Amex Platinum). IMHO the first 4 are slam dunks to keep without doing a lot of math. I typically get enough value from Amex Plat to easily offset the vast majority of the AF and then you add Centurion Lounge, International Airline Program and other benefits. Plus been a member since 1986 so have an affinity for Amex. CSR is net $250 and, to me, the benefits are worth the fee but YMMV. Amex Gold is a slam dunk w credits to cover the AF and 4x on dining/groceries. Marriott Amex has a $300 credit and a free 50,000 certificate so that alone covers my AF. Only one I may drop (or downgrade) is Delta Platinum Amex. Lifetime Gold w 3,000,000 miles so none of the travel benefits (baggage, preboarding, etc) benefit me. I’ve found companion ticket to be difficult to use when I want to (couldn’t use it this year for planned trips for example) so likely will drop to Gold or cancel this one.

As usual this is a personal matter but if I figure I have to do the math down to the last dollar to justify the AF I likely shouldn’t be paying it anyway. Also, I never haggle with retention offers since I find begging beneath me.


This is exactly my point. It sounds like you are getting great and obvious value from your cards. I, too, will keep a card without hesitation if I am getting tons of value out of it. However, if the value proposition isn’t as clear as it is in your case, I don’t see anything wrong with an analytical approach, regardless of financial position.


I’m in the same boat, although I wouldn’t call it “nickel and diming”. Just “different strokes for different folks”. But even if one is will to pay a net positive fee for the benefits it’s never a bad idea to know (to the extent it can be calculated) what the actual annual cost to you is.


Yes play the Game ur way there is way to much time spent on pennies and perks I don’t need.
Meanwhile spend ur time on ur health or making lots of Green..

Greed is Good and Fire the Slackers so U can spend the Money !!!


Kind of a basic question, but how do you define “travel spend” if you’re usually paying for hotels/flights with points? Car rental and dining whilst traveling? What else?


I’ve never done a cash redemption with my CSR card and was planning to cancel it earlier this year and apply for the elevated CSP bonus. Unfortunately (?), through force of habit I asked for a retention bonus and received a $250 statement credit. So I’ll keep it through the next annual fee and hope the higher bonus appears again on the CSP around then.

Bob Johnson

Did you consider any retention offers, also?


I was thinking that too, our CSR is renewing in the Fall and we are thinking about removing it from our cards we have. It does offer amazing travel protection but we have cards that match so many of the other benefits.


Why not call and tell them the truth that you’re thinking of closing the card and see if they offer anything?


I completely disagree with your $0.014 value on Altitude Reserve points. They are worth exactly $0.015/pt, are real cash so they are fungible, and are very easy to redeem. If anything, they are worth slightly more than $0.015/pt because you earn points on erased charges.

For example: if you redeem 10,000 UR on the Chase portal for a $150 plane ticket you end up with a $150 ticket and 0 UR. If you book direct a $150 plane ticket with the AR and use RTR to erase the charge, you end up with a $150 plane ticket and 450 AR points. And if instead you are transfer 10k UR to XYZ program you aren’t earning elite qualifying segments/flights/points/whatever, hotel stays, or points from the stay whereas you are earning them when you book cash, plus the ability to go through cashback portals, etc.

Also, considering you can earn 100,000s of AR points a year and cash them all out in one fell swoop, it seems silly to dock their value $100s of dollars for what amounts to 3-5 minutes of work.


I wouldn’t pay $1 for 100 pennies but they are worth the same. Discounting cash redemption doesn’t make sense to me.


I agree with you that AR points are worth 1.5 cpp, but they cannot be worth more than that. Cash back isn’t worth more because one still earns points for purchases. Instead, UR (or MR, etc) should be discounted further. Your example shows UR to be worth ~1.4325 cents each for airfare via the UR portal or even less for if factoring in other discounts. Hotels via the UR portal are an even worse value proposition. Likewise points transferred to a partner should be discounted by 7-10% depending on status with that partner.

Mary Jane

Greg, you must have been an accountant in a former life. Your analysis is pretty impressive!


I’m married to an over the top conservative accountant, but he lets me play this game because he loves the free trips and the fact that he doesn’t have to pay taxes on the awards! LOL


I helped my sister (WAY OVER THE TOP Accountant) with this too. She said it was a Scam HaHa.Only been doing this 1995..CHEERs