Wow: Chase responds with new COVID benefits on CSR and CSP


Greg recently put together a COVID-19 credit card enhancements ultimate guide. In our Frequent Miler on the Air episode that week, we talked about how Amex basically stole Chase’s lunch money in terms of response to the pandemic and Greg predicted that Chase probably would have to respond. In finally breaking his 2020 failed prediction streak, Greg was right: Chase is making some awesome changes for CSR and CSP holders that could be a great deal for many readers.

Sapphire Reserve vs Preferred

New perks for Sapphire cardholders for 2020

Chase has added some very intriguing perks for Sapphire cardholders this year.

Here are enhancements to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card:

  • Redeem points at a value of 1.5 cents each towards a statement credit used to offset purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments from May 31 through Sept. 30.
  • Use any remaining balance from your $300 annual travel credit toward purchases at grocery stores and gas stations from June 1 through the end of the year (automatically applied)
  • Renewal annual fee lowered to $450 after July 1 through 2020 (in place of the $100 credit some cardholders have received)

That is very interesting. First of all, it means that the $300 travel credit will be incredibly simple to use this year. I imagine most readers would organically spend more than $300 at grocery stores and gas stations from June 1st through the end of 2020. If you didn’t previously value that pretty close to face value, it would be hard to argue it much less than face now.

The ability to redeem points at 1.5c each to offset grocery, home improvement, and dining purchases is totally unprecedented. While I prefer to use my points for outsized value toward premium cabin travel, it is hard to ignore the opportunity cost of doing so with this limited-time opportunity to cash out for big value. I imagine that some readers will be thrilled to get excellent value out of points that are otherwise sitting dormant, particularly those will massive balances (Greg, are you listening?).

Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders will be able to redeem points towards a statement credit used to offset purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments from May 31 through Sept. 30 at a value of 1.25c per point.

Keep in mind that both cards currently offer bonus points on grocery store purchases (5x on the Sapphire Reserve and 3x on the Sapphire Preferred). See this post for a full list of COVID-19 credit card enhancements.

Bottom line

This is a big and swift response that seems directly aimed at competing with the enhancements that Amex enacted at the beginning of this month. I’m both surprised and impressed with Chase’s response. I imagine that many cardholders will find these improvements to be both positive and helpful. For CSR cardholders in particular, a reduced renewal fee (for those with upcoming renewals), the $60 DoorDash credit this year and next, and these added enhancements very much increase the value proposition of keeping the card for at least another year.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

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[…] More details about the above Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred enhancements can be found here and here. […]

[…] Chase has introduced a fantastic new benefit for Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders….  The basic idea is that you can exchange your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against certain categories of purchases.  For example, currently you can redeem points, at full travel value, to offset restaurant, grocery, food delivery, and home improvement store purchases.  Here’s the link to use this feature yourself. […]


Do you guys know if I will lose the 5x on $1500 groceries if I cash out my UR on them?

Greg The Frequent Miler

My statement credits from using this feature have posted to my Sapphire Reserve account, but I have not lost the points earned on the associated purchases.  I read that as confirmation that we continue to earn points on purchases that are “erased” with this feature.


“See this post for a full list of COVID-19 credit card enhancements.” missing link there?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Thanks! Fixed. There’s now a link to this post:


I have 200K points and am cashing out. I don’t like booking through portal (customer service received when AA cancelled a flight with $6K value explains why) and I haven’t made much use of points transfer. I will keep the card this year because of the fee reduction but was on the fence before the changes and was keeping only because of the inability to cash out points. I suspect I will be on the fence again….and maybe I should just cash out and cancel (but my Global Entry will be up for renewal soon and I need to use the benefit on other cards for my kids). A post on the rules of getting a Sapphire Reserve bonus would be great – my husband got it 4 years ago, cancelled a year later. Now if only they will extend the grocery bonus – we have been maxing that out with grocery shopping including gift cards where the grocery store gives bonus points on gift cards. And when will USBank step up?

[…] Wow: Chase responds with new COVID benefits on CSR and CSP […]


Nick, with the extra temp benefits, is it more beneficial to get the bonus for CSR than a CSP’s even at $550 AF?


Really depends on how much use you can make of the temp benefits. If you sit on 1 mil points you’re interested in cashing out than opening CSR makes more sense since you can potentially get extra $2.5k.


Agree. Those who have sizable UR balance and also have Inks, would be better off to cash out at least a portion of the balance when leisure travel is very uncertain even for 2021 – it all hinges on how the vaccines would work or the continuation of the Pandemic / recurrence in the usual Flu season…
Knowing what we have known now, I am much less optimistic to those who think by 2021 we would be all fine and ready to travel…


Just upgraded today. Going to get 1500 gift cards before June 1st. Then I have an amazing liqour store in a gas station, so will buy 300 bucks there to use the travel credit so it doesn’t get auto applied at the grocery store. Then another 1500 to Max out that months grocery 5x


My understanding is that auto application of credit starts June 1st


I am considering applying for the CSR in a couple of months. Is it safe to assume that I would still pay the $550 annual fee and that only renewals are getting the discounted $450 fee?


I don’t have a massive balance of UR; maybe close to 200K. I got to support family of four so will keep these for travel when the time comes. Won’t be able to accumulate more UR as Chase tighten up (biz) credit cards approvals.

Joseph N.

Let me write an honest headline:

Chase introduced 5x points on grocery spending to keep CSR usage from plummeting. That was only partially successful, so Chase introduces another grocery bonus to keep CSR relevant.

One thing you have to give credit to Chase for, they are the best at coming up with ways to keep their cards on top of customers other cards.

I give the suits at Chase credit for a good idea, but it is not a “big” idea. It shifts a little spending at the margin, but the combination of the cliff dive in the quality of Chase’s customer service this year and the 0% APR offers by competitors means I am still going to cancel CSR as soon as the $550 AF returns. Heck, once 5x goes away in 2 months, even a $450 AF is going to be pretty unjustifiable.

Parts Unknown

If you can’t figure out how the AF just got completely nullified then you definitely should cancel. This just became a negative cost card.

Joseph N.

If you want to keep CSR because of its benefits, thumbs up, but letting me redeem my points for 1.5 for groceries does not mean this just became a negative cost card, not even close. I already get redemptions that good by transferring to Hyatt.

Parts Unknown

I tend to keep cards that issuers pay me to hold (usually, sometimes I just cancel out of spite). I think we were lucky in that our CSR AF is due next month, if it had been due in April we probably would’ve downgraded.

Eddie Robinson

Does this mean I’ll need to spend $1,800.00 in grocery stores in June in order to maximize the 5x promotion? (This assumes I’ve spent $0 towards my annual travel credit)


Yes, I guess so. First $300 would be written off and will not count towards 5x


I find Chase to be the least aggressive at customer retention offers. I do not care much for their CSR or CSP, or any of their business cards. UR program is overrated and overhyped. Customer Service is very average and will never throw you a bone even if you’re a big spender.

Joseph N.

I think everyone would agree. Chase is no longer hiring “A list” customer service employees. CSRs are now argumentative instead of helpful. Chase no longer asks me to “rate” the CSR after a call. Even sending a secure message gets an infuriating response. A cancellation call to Chase never elicits “Gee, why?” as a response. Maybe Chase has decided to use their marketing dollars to cater to the MSers and give up on the rest of us.


Wonder if I can offset a purchase made on a Freedom card at 1.5 if I’m a CSR cardholder, or is it only for a purchase made on the CSR?


Wonder if I can offset a purchase made on a Freedom card at 1.5 if I have a CSR, or will it only work for a purchase made on a CSR?


I think it is awe-inspiring of Chase. Chase is aware that some families may be struggling, and using the travel credit and points to buy food is extremely helpful for those who need it or who haven’t used their credit yet. Well done!

It is time for Amex to step-up and do a similar act for those of us with Gold cards, which cannot use the credit this year. I wish Amex added a no-fee charge card to its portfolio.

Joseph N.

A no AF charge card from American Express? What do you think you would get from a no AF charge card that you cannot currently get from the no AF Everyday card?


I can’t downgrade from a Green or Gold to an Everyday card and maintain my 30-year history.


How is it awe-inspiring serving top-credit customers with this. Someone who can spare 550$ for a shiny card will not be struggling to pay for groceries.


Maybe they weren’t…. things change fast

TN Churner

Wonder if it would be possible to transfer points from CIC or CIU and then use it to offset VGC purchases at the grocery store. Would make for a crazy 7.5% cash back rate if buying VGCs at OD/OM with the CIC


Don’t the fees knock it down closer to 6 percent? Unless I’m misunderstanding I see it something like this. Buy $300 GC at for $309. (Or $200 at OD for $206, etc.). Net is 1545 points plus $300 GC. Now buy $500 GC at grocery for $506 using sapphire during 5x period. Net is $500 GC plus 2350 points. Use the 1545 + 2350 points to offset $61 on CSR for grocery purchase. Total net outlay is $754 for $800 in GCs. $46 earnings on $754 spend is basically 6.1 percent cash.

TN Churner

If you buy GCs during OD/OM and staples promos you could make a small profit that would offset the activation fee of the grocery store VGC


What about any changes/adjustments to AMEX’s travel credits on premium cards, such as Aspire? Yes, they made a change re. Resort Credit spend at restaurants, but I’m still stuck with unused travel (incidental) credits. Any plan for AMEX to recognize this and roll out a change similar to what Chase did?


Wonderful! I was having a huge debate on whether to keep the card or not. At this point, I don’t know whether I will be traveling at all or not this year so this makes the decision much easier.


Me Too get rid of them..


It’s great having ANY use for the $300 travel credit, but it’s an odd blend for groceries right now. Does that means you have to use up the travel credit before you can collect the 5X points? I guess I’ll use the Freedom card this month instead. Like the rest of the world I’m not burning a lot of gas these days.


These are positive developments. I think since there’s no announcement on Ritz there’s a good chance that we’re not going to get anything there for the credit. Not surprising for reasons you guys have mentioned — being a discontinued card.

I wonder if this means that those of us with renewals later in the year can use the credit after the annual fee posts to pay for groceries and gas. I renew in September and I think this means I could use my 2020-21 $300 credit for groceries or gas if I do so by December. That’s not really a huge deal given that I assume I would have travel to spend on anyway in 2021 to use the credit, although I’m really accumulating so many travel credits and vouchers right now that it’s not as free of doubt as I might have thought. So getting the $300 for gas or groceries later this year will be a nice thing.

I’m eligible for another sapphire bonus in late 2021 so I was debating keeping this card later this year but now I think it’s an easy decision.


Now Citi needs to step up to the plate…


It’s nice to see them do something, but the CSR changes aren’t too exciting for me personally. I’ll take the $100 off the annual fee (though it really just means a delay of the increase in annual fee). But I already used my annual travel credit and I wasn’t using my points at 1.5 for flights so I don’t see myself doing it for groceries.

It is very nice to see them give a way to use points at a decent value to people who may be cash-strapped at the moment though.


The thinking of transferring pts to partners would yield greater value is really no longer valid, or it is so passe due to the loss of the most valuable partner, and the continuous, multiple devaluations of the remaining partners.
Hyatt might be the ONLY still worthy partner there but that if not for the delay of dynamic pricing, even this “value” can be questionable.

At minimum 70 to 90K one way business class on UA plus the cash payment on taxes, versus one often can find low to mid $2K cash R/T revenue tickets to Europe that can earn you points, the “value” there was before has long gone.

Anyone who still thinks transferring to partners always yield a better “value” seriously need to have this thinking reexamined.

Therefore cashing out hundreds of thousands of pts at 1.5c is very attractive even to those who DONT need the cash at all. The only consideration is whether Chase would shut down accounts on “award abuse” if someone aggressively liquidate his UR stash taking advantage of the new benefits.


Any news on modified use of the Ritz card credits?


Have they done anything for JPM Reserve / Palladium cardholders yet? I imagine they want to keep all their customers, even for discontinued cards.

Robert Weisberg

The main question here is whether you could buy gift cards at the grocery stores and use the points at 1.5%. Is there a cap or limit? Would gift cards be exempted?

[…] perks that are accessible from home.  Chase added grocery bonuses to a bunch of cards, and later announced enhancements to their Sapphire cards.  Citi made it easier to earn the Prestige card’s $250 travel credit.  And Amex surprised […]