The Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa card is a fantastic choice for any millennial who travels, takes Uber, eats out, and who can also manage their finances. In this post I’ll recount my experiences leading up to, and currently as a Reserve cardholder.
Prior to Chase, I had exclusively used my American Express (Amex) Delta credit card for a number of years; and reaped some of their rewards along the way, such as free flights and free checked bags.
For all of you money geeks, you may recall the big hype around the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and its 50,000 bonus points. I started noticing more and more friends with that blue metal credit card and decided to give it some serious consideration.
At the time I was happy with Amex and didn’t see a reason to open another line of credit. Amex charged $95 annually for the Delta card I had, and the Chase card would also cost me $95 annually (after the free introductory year).
There was no justifying paying these two fees for credit cards, so I had to figure out an alternative. I didn’t want to simply cancel my Amex credit card because I had a long line of credit history attached to it and closing the card would ding my credit score.
Once I came up with a game plan- negotiate with Amex to eliminate my annual fee or downgrade my card to a no-fee card (shockingly they fulfilled my first wish)- I decided I would open the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Immediately this became my full time card. (I use a credit card for every possible expense), and I collected the 50,000 sign up points and earned 2x points on all dining and travel! I was happy with my decision.
Not even a year later, Chase drops an out of this world credit card offer. They launch their Chase Sapphire Reserve card with a whopping 100,000 bonus points, 3x points on all travel and dining, elite travel benefits, and $300 annually in travel credit! Insane! So what’s the catch you ask? Well, besides requiring a really great credit score to be approved, the card has a $450 annual fee. Outrageous, right? Personally I would never pay that much for a credit card, but would I pay $150? Turns out I would. After all it was only $55 more annually than my current card but it came with a lot more perks.
If you’re confused as to how I just came up with the $150 annual fee, let me explain. The annual fee for Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa is $450, but you receive $300 in travel reimbursements, bringing the net cost of the card to $150. So unless you never take Ubers, taxis, the subway, airplanes, trains, or stay in hotels, Airbnb, etc. then this card is not for you.
However, if you’re like many millennials and spend money on any of the aforementioned (at least $300/year), then this card’s net cost to you is $150. The travel credit is reimbursed as you go. It’s not even as if you have to wait until the end of the year to get the $300 back. If you take a $7.00 taxi this month, you will have a $7.00 credit on your statement.
I found myself with this glorious offer hanging in my face, but with the same predicament I was in not even a year ago. (Potentially having to pay two annual fees or closing a card and hurting my credit score.) Game plan time, again.
I called Chase before applying for the Reserve card and fortunately Chase was keen on my pitch to switch my Preferred card to one of their no-fee credit cards before my 1st annual fee hits (remember I hadn’t even had the Preferred for a year and therefore was still in the free introductory period). In addition, they would transfer my 50,000+ points earned on the Preferred to the new Reserve account. Great!
After getting all of my [credit] ducks in a row, I applied for the Reserve card and was approved. Today the Reserve card remains my #1 go to credit card. I have over 220,000 points, (worth over $3,300 cash) with Chase after only a brief amount of time with them and have paid a grand total of $150 in fees! I never pay a bill late or not in full, so I’ve not paid a dime more to them.
Besides the $300 reimbursement for travel, below are some of the other benefits I’ve personally taken advantage of thus far.
3x points on travel and dining. On your statement Chase lists under each transaction how many points you earned. I’m surprised by how many of my transactions earn me 3x points. I guess I like to eat and travel!
Airport Lounges. This perk came in handy recently on my international honeymoon. We had a couple of layovers and accessing the lounges in Athens and Rome was a great perk! The free food, drinks, Wi-Fi, plus being out of the main hustle and bustle are fantastic. I cannot emphasize how much I enjoyed this.
No foreign transaction fees. Also on my honeymoon I was happy to know every time I used my card I was not incurring any transaction fees. It’s silly to pay those fees anymore as many cards offer no foreign transaction fees, so definitely look into switching if you travel and still pay fees.
Application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. I’ve had Global Entry since 2011 and recently renewed it in 2016 (required every 5 years) for $100, unfortunately just before I opened this credit card. Upon my next renewal it’s nice to know I’ll be reimbursed. For all of you who do not have Global Entry, YOU NEED TO GET IT NOW. In my opinion, there is no point in applying for TSA Pre-Check alone. Global entry includes Pre-Check privilege.
Trust me, when you step off an 11 hour flight at JFK and see the line for customs is 60 minutes long, you will realize in that moment as you simply scan your own passport and walk right out of the airport, that you would have paid $1,000 for Global Entry. Plus, having TSA Pre-Check for all of your national flights is pretty awesome too!
Insider Rewards. Though I’ve not used any of my points yet, I have done a few searches on Chase’s rewards travel platform. I found the user interface very well designed and easy to use. I’ve explored booking a hotel to see how many points it would cost, of course it always varies by date of travel and luxury level. What I liked was that you could simply slide a bar to choose how many points you’d want to pay with vs. actual dollars. Your points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents per point.
As you can see the theme here is travel. And as surveys have shown, millennials value experiences the highest when asked what’s important to us. I’m willing to bet many of you reading this easily spend $300 annually on the “travel” category. If so, look into the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa.
Unfortunately, the 100,000 bonus points offer has been reduced to 50,000- which is still a nice bonus! As always, please spend responsibly and know what you are signing up for. NEVER pay a bill late or not in full. If you can’t follow those rules, you probably should not be using a credit card.