[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card made a big splash when it was introduced in August 2016. The card launched with a number of enticing travel rewards, and Chase was initially so swamped with applications, it literally ran out of the physical cards.
One chief catalyst for the initial demand was the card’s mega-signup bonus. Chase offered new Sapphire Reserve cardholders 100,000 bonus points when they spent $4,000 in the first three months — a $1,500 value when those points are redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
But that signup bonus is about to get less lucrative by half: Chase is slashing it to 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in your first three months as a cardholder. Per the bank’s website, applicants have until January 11 to apply online for the card with the existing bonus. They have until March 12 if you apply at a branch, according to a report in The New York Times.
So with this drastic reduction in bonus points, is it still worth applying for the card post-January 11? Well, that depends …
Should I Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
First up, you should find out if you’d even qualify for the credit card. Most of the lucrative travel credit cards on the market require good or excellent credit to qualify. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 30 days, on Credit.com.)
Beyond that, you need to think about the cost of having this card. The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is $450, with another $75 added for every additional user, which is pretty substantial. So, you’ll have to consider if this is something your wallet can handle paying on a yearly basis.
And, just like any other card, you need to consider your habits. Are you someone who routinely carries a balance or do you typically pay your card off when the statement arrives? Either way, you’ll want to take note of the interest you’ll be paying if you don’t pay your balance in full. The annual percentage rate (APR) for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is a variable 16.24% to 23.24%.
With these things in mind, there has to be some big rewards if Chase continues to expect new customers …
The Perks of the Sapphire Reserve
… and, in many respects, there still are. As we mentioned, Chase is cutting the signup bonus in half (to 50,000 points instead of 100,000). While that sounds pretty drastic, those 50,000 points still have a $750 value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (using Chase Ultimate Rewards nets you an additional 50% value with the Sapphire Reserve).
The card earns three points for every dollar spent on travel and restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar spent on all other qualifying purchases.
Cardholders will still receive up to $300 in annual travel credits and a $100 reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application. The card also gets you access to more than 900 airport lounges as well as special privileges at participating luxury hotels and car rental agencies. The card comes with a number of travel protection policies and programs as well.
Is Chase Sapphire Reserve Still a Good Value?
The great travel features are probably most valuable to frequent jetsetters who will actually use the annual credits, airport lounges and other travel benefits. Those customers will see more long-term value in the card, and, for them, the signup bonus may just be icing on the cake.
If you’re an occasional traveller who won’t frequently use these features, this card might not get you much return on that $450 investment. In other words, if you’re still starry-eyed over the signup bonus after it’s cut in half, you may want to slow down and consider other cards.
Comparing the Sapphire Reserve to Other Travel Cards With Signup Bonuses
The Sapphire Reserve isn’t the only travel credit card that touts a signup bonus. And, if that $450 annual fee is now looking way too steep, given your travel habits, there are some more affordable alternatives. (Note: See card agreements for full details.)
The Chase Sapphire Preferred (read a full review here) is the bank’s more affordable travel rewards option. The 50,000-point signup bonus, which you can get after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, holds a value of $625 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards (going through Chase Ultimate Rewards nets you an additional 25% value with the Sapphire Preferred).
This card offers two points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. Cardholders won’t get access to airport lounges or special benefits at luxury hotels, but they’ll pay much less for the privilege of ownership and still receive certain travel protections.
Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
APR: 17.74% - 24.74% Variable
The Venture Rewards credit card from Capital One (see full review here) earns an unlimited two miles for every dollar spent on all qualifying purchases, with 100 miles equaling $1 in travel rewards. As a signup bonus, Capital One offers 40,000 miles, equal to $400 in travel, after new cardholders spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of having the card.
Annual Fee: $59 (waived the first year)
APR: 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
At publishing time, the Venture credit card from Capital One is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.