Like a lightning bolt this morning, pretty much every miles and points blog covered a rumor that seems all but certain involving changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
These changes are, to me, both necessary and underwhelming, but let’s take a look at these changes that u/JC1812 discovered and posted on r/CreditCards (Reddit). For context, this user found PDF documents (I’ll link below) on the Chase website that appear to be new card terms.
In this article
Leaked Chase Sapphire Preferred changes
- $50 Annual Hotel Credit on hotels booked using the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
- 5X Points on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
- 3X Points on Dining, Streaming Services, and Online Grocery Stores (excludes Walmart and Target and wholesale clubs)
- 2X Points on travel (no change)
- 1X Points on everything else (no change)
- 10% Anniversary point bonus.
- Each account anniversary year, you’ll earn bonus points that equal 10% of your total spend in points from purchases made with your card during the previous account anniversary year at a rate of 1 point for each $1 spent.
Here’s the Sapphire Preferred program agreement document on Chase.com
Leaked Chase Sapphire Reserve Changes
- 10X Points on Chase Dining (Tock), and on Car Rentals and Hotels booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
- 5X Points on airline purchases when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
- 3X Points on dining and travel not booked via the portal. (no change)
- 1X Points on everything else (no change)
- $300 Travel Credit (no change)
Note: The document does not mention a 10% anniversary bonus like the Preferred does.
Here’s the Sapphire Reserve program agreement document on Chase.com
The redditor thinks these changes would take effect August 15th.
Ever since the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited got refreshed, it’s been a bit painful to see the premium level Sapphire cards have weaker earn rates. Still, Amex does that with the top tier Amex Platinum (pitiful earn rates) and the mid-tier Amex Gold (4x on dining and supermarkets).
The $50 annual travel credit reminds me of the Citi Premier benefit that gives you $100 back once per year on a $500 hotel stay. It’s nice, but as always, prepaid stays via a portal do not earn points or elite nights and do not confer your elite benefits on the stay. For many (like me) that is too painful of a tradeoff. For what it’s worth, the issuers get a large commission on sales via their portals, which is what funds the richer rewards.
Generally, to the above point, I hate booking via the travel portals for that same reason. I never want to prepay for a car rental and I definitely never want to prepay a hotel. Now, I will say that for those who set their travel plans in stone, the car rental 5x or 10x could be really nice. The portal says there are no cancellation fees on the prepaid car rental rates and with car rental prices sky high, a $1,000 weekly rental could really be softened by earning 5,000 – 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points! But were it me, I’d prefer to stay post-paid and use a service like AutoSlash to make sure I’m paying the lowest possible rate.
The 10% anniversary bonus on the Preferred is nice, meaning that you’d be earning 3.3X on dining. But if the anniversary bonus is truly not offered on the Reserve, then you are earning 10% more on dining with the $95 card than the $550 card? That would be bonkers and foolish of them – unless Chase’s goal is actually to get people to downgrade from the Reserve to the Preferred?
And keep in mind that the Amex Gold Card (Review) already offers a better earn rate, 4X, on dining.
The 10x on Chase / Tock dining on the Reserve is super limited as it is now, with available restaurants only in major cities and only for prepaid pickup meals.
Not only that, but the Preferred gets 3X Points on Dining, Streaming Services, and Online Grocery Stores (excluding Walmart and Target and wholesale clubs) which equates to 3.3X after the anniversary bonus while the Reserve earns 1X on all of these (except dining on which it still earns 3X)? What the heck?! (And again, the Amex Gold earns 4X on dining and groceries!) And lastly, only on online groceries?! Chase is sorely lacking a solid card for groceries and is really blowing it here with the “online groceries” instead of all groceries. (Also see: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Gold)
If this all holds and there is no associated annual fee increase, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (which still has that crazy 100,000 point bonus offer on!) becomes better than the Reserve in so many ways. Sure, if you need the Priority Pass membership and don’t have that on another card, the Reserve is probably still better (I have the same access on my Citi Prestige while the Amex lineup of cards has the Priority Pass version that excludes in-airport restaurants). (See all credit cards with Priority Pass airport lounge access).
I’m still digesting this all, but I feel like, given that I have full Priority Pass access on another card and don’t personally use the travel portal or Pay Yourself Back (which would give the 1.5x rate on the Reserve vs. 1.25 with the Preferred) because I use my points for transfer partners like Hyatt, these moves will pretty much force a downgrade to the Chase Sapphire Preferred on my next renewal. Keeping the card would be pretty much to preserve the ability to transfer out points (although I also have the Ink Business Preferred, so that feature is redundant) and for the primary car rental insurance coverage.
All in all, I’d have approached this refresh much differently to position the Sapphire Preferred as a “no brainer top of wallet” card, but alas, I don’t work for Chase…
A bit of really good news? If you apply now for the Chase Sapphire Preferred 100,000 point bonus offer now, you would get all the new benefits once launched (assuming this is all true).
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