[Update: It’s official & new lounge info] Documents reveal changes coming to your favorite rewards cards

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Update 8/10/21: This news is now official and new benefits begin on 8/16/21. Chase also announced that they will open 3 locations of Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club – more info is added at the end of this post.

Forget the flat 2x or 3x dining and travel rewards that these cards have offered to-date.  New rewards are coming.  And these aren’t just rumors.  The leaked documents come directly from the card issuer itself.

Reddit poster “the_one_with_me” found that the Ultimate Rewards portal links to cardmember agreements that differ from the cards’ current rewards structure.  This suggests that these changes are in the works, but that the details wUpdatere leaked early.  Here’s what’s changing (hat tip Doctor of Credit):

Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Current rewards structure

  • 2x for Travel and Dining
  • 5x Lyft (through March 2022)
  • Points worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel & Pay Yourself Back

New rewards structure

  • Link to Sapphire Preferred document
  • Effective date: August 16, 2021 (confirmed)
  • 3x Dining, Streaming Services, and Online Grocery (excluding Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs).  Note from Greg: I think that “online grocery” means grocery ordering and delivery services like Instacart and Shipt.
  • 5x Travel Booked through Chase’s Travel Portal
  • 2x all other travel
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • 10% Anniversary point bonus: Each account anniversary, “earn bonus points that equal 10% of your total spend in points” based on spend in your cardmember year.
    Note from Greg: This adds an extra 0.1x to all of your spend.  If you spend $25,000 during the year, you’ll get 25,000 x .1 = 2,500 bonus points.  You do not get extra points based on bonus categories.  e.g. dining purchases (which will now earn 3x) effectively earn 3.1x not 3.3x thanks to this bonus.
  • $50 Hotel Credit: Each cardmember year, earn $50 back on hotels booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.  The portion of this spend that is rebated will not earn Ultimate Rewards.  Those who have the card open before August 15, 2021, will have to wait until their next account anniversary after that date to begin earning this credit.
  • Points worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel.  There is no mention of “Pay Yourself Back”.
  • Update: New card design will be available to new and existing cardmembers after August 16

My Take

When Chase introduced 3x dining and drugstore and 5x travel through Chase for the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited, I believed that they would quickly add the same for the Sapphire Preferred.  Well, it didn’t happen quickly, but it’s finally coming. We still don’t get 3x drugstore, but the other two components are coming, along with 3x streaming and online grocery.

Overall, in my opinion, assuming Chase won’t also increase the card’s annual fee, these are decent enhancements to the old Sapphire Preferred card.  3x dining does more than bring the card on par with the Freedom cards that earn the same because the Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees.  The 10% anniversary bonus sounds more exciting than it is.  Who spends enough on the Sapphire Preferred to turn this bonus into big points?  If you are spending that much, you probably should be using a card that earns better rewards to begin with.  The $50 hotel credit is a pure net win for anyone willing to book a hotel online once a year.

I don’t find any of the enhancements super exciting, but they do offer enough to make this once great card relevant again.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Current rewards structure

  • 3x Travel and Dining
  • 10X Lyft (through March 2022)
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit
  • Points worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel & Pay Yourself Back

New rewards structure

  • Link to Sapphire Reserve document
  • Effective date: August 16, 2021 (confirmed)
  • 10x on Chase dining
    Note from Greg: This sounds more exciting than it is because in practice, to-date, there are very few opportunities to prepay for dining through Ultimate Rewards.
  • 10x Hotel and Car Rental purchases through Chase’s Travel Portal
  • 5x Airfare Booked through Chase’s Travel Portal
  • 3x for all other Travel and Dining
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit
  • Points worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel.  There is no mention of “Pay Yourself Back”.
  • New: Starting later this year, cardmembers will have access to “Reserved by Sapphire” which will purportedly offer “exclusive” chances to book reservations at high-demand restaurants.

My Take

Just because it’s not in the document, I don’t think it is likely that Pay Yourself Back is going away.  However, if it does go away, that would be a big blow to the Sapphire Reserve’s value in my opinion.

Overall, I find the additions here to be underwhelming.  The ability to earn 5x for airfare and 10x for cars and hotels through the Chase portal is a very good addition, but personally I don’t spend enough in these categories to make this a blockbuster change.  I do like the fact that you can now get these best-in-class rewards for travel when using this card which offers best-in-class travel protections (see: Ultra-Premium Credit Card Travel Insurance Benefits).  On the other hand, I don’t like booking rental cars or hotels through online travel agencies (which this is) because then you do not earn rewards (other than credit card rewards) or get elite benefits with those bookings.

Other changes?

The documents listed above are Ultimate Rewards program agreements for each card.  There could be other upcoming changes to these cards that do no effect the Ultimate Rewards program.  For example, if there are annual fee changes, I wouldn’t expect to see any mention in these documents.  For the record: I don’t expect annual fee changes.  That was just an example.

Update: The official announcement of 8/10/21 indicates that there will be no changes to the annual fees on either card.

New Sapphire Lounge by The Club airport lounges coming

Chase has also announced that they will open new a few lounges. “Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club” airport lounges will be located at New York’s LaGuardia (LGA), Boston’s Logan Airport (BOS), and Hong Kong (HKG) and will be open to both Reserve cardholders and Priority Pass members. That last part is good news: even those with Priority Pass memberships from other issuers will be able to access the Sapphire Lounges. We don’t yet know when these lounges will open, only that opening dates and additional locations will be announced. From the way the announcement is worded, it sounds like these initial 3 locations are set to open this year.

Your take?

What do you think of these changes to the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards?  Please comment below.

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Brian C

Any idea when Chase will be updating their new CSP cardmember offer online to reflect the new earning structure? I thought this went into effect today but I’m not seeing it on the regular site offer nor on a new referral offer generated today, maybe I need to wait a bit longer for P2 to apply. Thanks in advance.

Brian C

Thanks, Greg. It looks like it got updated later on Monday. I see the new rewards structure now, even on a referral offer.

Buzz

I have the CSR. I’ve never had the CSP. My annual fee isn’t due until March. I think the plan may be to get the Ink Business Preferred and then cancel the Reserve. At a later date apply for the CSP. I’ve also got the Freedom Unlimited and both Business Unlimited/Cash no fee cards. I’ll probably cancel one of the business cards as well.

NK3

IMO, the CSR actually seems to be taking a big hit. So we get some bonuses by using the Chase travel/dining portals. Not mentioned with these enhancements is the presumed end to the Doordash & Lyft benefits. The Doordash $60 credit was always stated to be 2020 & 2021 benefits, and the Lyft 10x earning is supposed to go away in March 2022. So if those go away, and we are left with just these 5x and 10x bonuses, that is a huge downgrade (at least for me).

Like most of the commenters here, I tend to book directly with hotels for elite benefits, earnings, etc. Occasionally I will book through an OTA when there are no great chain options & I am booking an independent hotel. But even then, the 10x earning is not that great, when you look at stacking opportunities that are lost. Some of the last couple independent hotel bookings I made:

  1. Through Expedia, used my Citi Premier (3x TYP) which had a merchant offer for 10% off at Expedia, launched through Rakuten (3x Amex points), plus earned Expedia points (hotels earn 2x, it was a VIP property so earned 3x more, plus earned 30% more as Expedia Gold–even with the Expedia rewards deval that adds up).
  2. Booked a place through Hotwire, where I got >20% off the advertised rate, plus used a coupon code for 5% more off, went through Rakuten (5x Amex) and used CSR (3x UR).

In both of these situations, the benefits I got from stacking were better than the 10x I would have earned on the Chase Travel portal.

Vince

As a CSR holder, meh. Although I am generally satisfied w the card, improvements are always welcome of course. However these changes will not affect my spend/earn in any meaningful way.

Bill S

Any new benefits are nice (for the most part). But the only thing of value to me is the streaming credit for the CSP. I do not have the CSR but I don’t see anything exciting there either. I’m amazed at all the blog posts about the Exciting New Sapphire benefits. But I guess everyone values things differently.

Gary

as a CSR cardholder, these “enhancements” are weak!

Brutus

I fail to see how these additions will change anyone’s opinion about either card.

Chase had a chance to pick up some disgruntled Amex Platinum customers, but must have decided that it wasn’t worth the effort.

BenjiTravel

Am I missing something, or are the Reserve enhancements pretty worthless while the preferred enhancements do provide a little more value?

Stuart

These are a big fat meh to me. I long for the good old days of simpler benefits. The Amex platinum is the biggest offender with their barrage of rando credits like the equinox and second tier online subscriptions. I transfer my ultimate rewards to Hyatt anyway so I don’t care about the 1.5 you get from the csr. As it stands the preferred has an awesome sign up bonus and then it’s $95 for a weak card. Amex Gold all the way for me. Plus I love my Hyatt card and I’m in the 75% bonus category for my BOA card which is effectively free and I get 2.625 on all spend. I have everything covered for the moment. If I start traveling for work again I’ll look out for a decent card with priority pass. Otherwise the ultra premiums are losing me. I can get a separate card for my favorite airline, favorite hotel, other spend, and general travel, for next to nothing.

Barry

Right now I have a Sapphire Preferred card. I don’t even keep it in my wallet unless I’m traveling. I only keep the card and pay the fees for the ability to transfer points to travel partners and for the primary rental car coverage. 3X on dining might be enough to put the card in my wallet.

Esquiar

I’m looking to see a replacement for DD credits on CSR. The UR doc does not mention non-earning benefits, so I’ll hold out hope that we’ll see some new credits with the announcement. CSR is a real stinker at $250 net annual fee

Aloha808

The CSR enhancements are a nothing- burger in my opinion. The CSP enhancements might work for some people (those who want to book hotels through Chase), but overall they don’t look too special either if one has a CIP. Once Chase discontinues PYB on the CSR, I’ll downgrade it to a freedom flex, and use a CIP for transfers. Will still have 3x dining (and 5x Chase travel) with the Flex and 3x travel (and more) with the CIP.

Last edited 6 months ago by Aloha808
5150d

Just give Chase a call and they will reduce the annual fee when posted.

James

With the super easy $300 travel credit, $450 for CSR was fine. I value the $300 credit as an actual $300 because I don’t have to change anything and automatically use it in January.

So $150 for CSR (with slightly better earnings, travel protections, pay yourself back, etc) vs $95 for CSP was a no brainer.

I just don’t see the value in $250 effective AF when I can get basically the same thing for less elsewhere.

James

I will (almost) never book through portals even at 10x points, it just isn’t worth it.

Car rentals: The combination of status + corporate codes mean my rate is frequently half or less of hotwire/costco.

Hotels: Until it counts as an eligible booking, I’ll always book direct through Hyatt for nearly all my reservations. Status and eligible nights (plus globalist benefits/points) are way more valuable than 10x. Also OTA doesn’t get member/corporate discounts, so even the 10x points may only get you back to the “member” pricing.

Airlines: 5x is a maybe. Although I’ve learned over the last year that you’re in a much better position to get refunds or make changes if the ticket is directly with the airline. Is it worth an extra 2x? Probably not.

I’ve had the reserve since it was released. If they up the AF I’m going to either downgrade to CSP or cancel and re-apply for CSP. Or honestly just use an Ink card for the travel protections and ability to transfer points and for the first time in a REALLY long time not have any Sapphire cards.

Retired Gambler

Agree completely – I have the Amex Platinum and Amex Gold plus CSR so get better dining (plus grocery) credit from Amex. The Amex Platinum gives me 5X on airline purchases directly from the airline so don’t have to go through their portal. Frankly, the only thing I really use the CSR for at this point is non airline travel that isn’t at a hotel where I have an affinity card that gets me more value (or by using one of the many Amex offers that credit money back after a hotel stay).

Think I have hit the wall on the CSR. I don’t mind paying a net $250 a year ($300 travel credit is easy for me to use) if there were other benefits (financial or non-monetary) but that really isn’t the case. All I’m losing is increased rewards in some travel spend and the ability to go to the few Priority Pass restaurants (Amex Priority Pass doesn’t include that but Amex has a much stronger airport lounge access benefit w Platinum so I’m usually there). My renewal is August and I will probably pay for 1 more year just to see if they extend Doordash/Lyft into 2022 or provide any other benefits. Otherwise cashing out my Ultimate Points and canceling. Many complain about the recent Amex Platinum AF increase but the additional benefits more than offset it for most (definitely for me) and IMHO the CSR is not competitive with Amex Platinum now at all. Sure there is some better travel insurance but I’ll roll the dice on that and go w what Amex, my other cards, my home owners’ insurance provide. Frankly, I can’t recall a time I’ve used travel insurance (and I’ve traveled all over the world for 35 years) so it is hard for me to give that much value.

Gene

It bothers me that their $550 premium card is going to have the same dining multiplier as cards that cost nothing. I also don’t like that the CSP is excluding Walmart and Target from the online grocery category. They’re probably the most popular places to purchase online groceries from.

KC_Queso

Good points. I only now realized the Reserve won’t get the 3x streaming and online grocery that the Preferred gets.

Lynn

I totally agree. For me, that was one of the key reasons to keep Reserve over Preferred. I really don’t see this is a “premium” card worth $550 anymore. While I do regularly use the book with points feature to book hotels, and the Reserve offers a higher redemption, I’m not sure it is worth that much more. Booking car rentals will almost always cost more than using Costco, USAA, or others. Very disappointing if there aren’t other enhancements. Most of them are just “sound good” enhancements.

Lynn

The match of 3x on dining is seriously insulting. I fail to see how this card is worth so much more than the Reserve now. I do redeem points through the travel portal at times, but enough to make up the difference in AF?

Darin

I’m curious why you seem convinced that the CSP AF is not changing. Most of the benefits apply to existing cardholders as of 8/15, but the $50 credit only applies for people who sign up after that date. That seems like an indication that the AF may be higher and this benefit serves as an offset to soften the blow, which current members wouldn’t have to pay until their anniversary date. A higher AF would make this card pretty uncompetitive, but the first thing I thought of with the new terms was that they’re raising it.

K L

I’m going to bet that they’re going to up the annual fee on the CSP.

Larry K

The travel category is so hard to compare across cards given all the various requirements to use portals. It would be nice to isolate out the best cards for travel expenses that do not require portal bookings. Obviously platinum for flights. But for everything else I think the best points earning card may actually be the Amex green card?

Anyway, at 2.2x for general travel and 3.3x for dining and groceries holding the Amex green and gold over sapphire preferred to eek out the extra .7 or .8x might not be justified by the higher annual fees. For someone looking to simplify, especially adding in the streaming, preferred actually is not a bad one card option.

Last edited 6 months ago by Larry K
Harry

Finally I read another poster states what I’ve thought for awhile. Amex Green card is a very underrated travel card. 3X across the board period. I use it for everything except airfare. While I’m posting, Chase Sapphire is good for its SUB, after that it earns nothing that another card does not do better. I realize one has to have it or the Reserve for transferring.

James

The 2.2x and 3.3x is incorrect, as was indicated in the article and has been discussed on DoC. The 10x annual bonus is on the $$ spent, not the points earned. So, if you speant $1000 in a 3x category, you would only get 1 point per $10, not 3 points. 3000 points (from the 3x category) plus the bonus 100 (10% of the $1000 spent) is 3.1.

Wanderlust

Other then the fact you are getting points why is it better then a WF propel card for the travel and dine (no fee) and a amex blue for supermarkets?

Tom

CSR updates are super weak especially with the $550 fee. Think I will be downgrading to the CSP

KC_Queso

My first thought is card holders in our family just got letters about the annual fee increasing on the Reserve (one for 8/1, the other not until next Feb), which already got us all primed to product change. Why wouldn’t they have just included a note in there that says “but enhancements are coming” to keep us intrigued?

The 10x hotels booked through their portal reminds me of CapOne’s banner year of 10x with hotels.com and Amex Platinum’s standard 5x prepaid hotels booked through their portal. The 5x airfare booked through their portal reminds me of Amex Platinum’s much better 5x airfare booked direct with the airline (but without Chase’s robust travel protections). I’m usually not a fan of booking through OTA portals because they might not have the best rate, don’t have assurances they’ll help when problems arise, and we likely won’t get elite benefits.

Good to see them finally catch these up to the Freedom lineup but with no foreign transaction fees. I don’t mind the drug store category being missing as that’s spend we can do other places, such as at grocery stores.

I do think online grocery could also include the services where you shop via online/app and the store brings it to your car, like Walmart Grocery and Kroger’s Click List. But I much prefer the Amex Gold here in giving me 4x to actually go inside the grocery store myself and 4x for the online/app approach.

C.J.

It would seem to me that the Sapphire Preferred was the bigger winner in terms of enhancements. I just dropped under 5/24, so was thinking about adding the Preferred to my wallet, given the 100K UR bonus, but now need to ponder either waiting until August 15th (to grab the $50 hotel credit) or just going for it now. I was actually hoping that the Hyatt card would improve their enrollment bonus, and apply for it instead.

Dan

Agree that I wouldn’t use the portal for anything other than flights (since those do earn status points/miles).

Overall, I would have to see what else Chase changes, if anything, and whether or not the Lyft/DoorDash credits/bonuses continue, to decide whether keeping CSR or downgrading it is the best option.

Mikey

Totally agree on not using the portal. In fact, I would not even use it with airlines, because even though you get points/miles/status with them, if there is any change or cancelation (and lately that’s been common as you know), the airline treats it as an OTA ticket and now you can’t do anything online on the airline site or with their elite hotline etc. You have to deal with the Chase/Amex travel agency for all of that. Plus, in theory, even if the airline allows fee-free changes, Amex/Chase usually have a charge from their side for every change, making it ..er… not fee-free. I haven’t tried it to see if they are actually enforcing this during COVID, but at least for Amex, their website still cautions about this additional Amex Travel change fee. I’m going to find out in the next couple of weeks for one of my “free” United flight change if Amex is going to actually ding me to make that change (This was the one time I used Amex Travel for my flight booking enticed by the Biz Platinum 5x MR).