Posted by William Charles on July 25, 2017

Published on July 25th, 2017 | by William Charles


[Updated For 2018] Keep, Downgrade, Cancel: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase has been sending out Chase Sapphire Reserve year in review’s to cardholder obviously in an attempt to get cardholders to keep the card after the first year. I thought we should repost this and update it so people can look carefully on whether it makes sense to keep, downgrade or cancel the card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve was launched on August 22nd of 2016 this means that the annual fee is going to be payable for a lot of people soon. There’s no doubt that it provided great value in the first year (100,000 points and 2 * $300 travel credits) but is it worth keeping the card long term? If it’s not worth keeping long term, should you cancel it or downgrade it to another card? Let’s take a look in this edition of Keep, Downgrade or Cancel. You can view other posts in this series below:

What’s Important To Know

Let’s look at a couple of facts before we get started:


Choosing to keep the card should be a simple decision, if you get more value out of the card than the annual fee of $450 then the card is worth keeping – otherwise you should downgrade or cancel. Realistically the $300 travel credit isn’t worth $300 as you’re always able to get a discount on that travel. I’d value it at 95% of facevalue on the extremely high end and 80% on the low end (that’s what you should be aiming for if you’re cashing this benefit out). That gives us a real range of $240-$285. Update: Some people disagree with this in the comments, if you can get the full $300 in value then great. My counter argument would be that if somebody was selling $300 in travel credit, would you pay $300 for it? At the end of the day assign the travel credit you feel is reasonable and use that as your working point. The aim of this section of the post is to get readers to determine how much they actually value this travel credit. If you’re using it for tolls that you can’t save money on normally and other fees then that’s great and you’re probably getting closer or the full $300 in value.

In the first cardholder year, you’ll be utilizing this benefit twice though (remember it’s based on a calendar year). Let’s say you got the card now, you’d use the travel credit now and then again in early 2017. This means you’d need to wait until 2018 again to use the benefit, so you’d only be able to use it once in your second year of being a cardholder (rather than twice in your first year). If you have the newer rules applied to you then you’re still only able to get $300 in one cardmember year so the same rules applies.

Are the other benefits worth $165-$190? I think you can make arguments both ways. Again, 1.5¢ per point for travel isn’t as good as 1.5¢ in cash or statement credit (Frequent Miler talks about this more here). The good thing about this benefit is that it applies to all of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including points earned on other cards such as the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ink Cash & Chase Ink Plus. Obviously every point you redeem this way is worth up to an extra 0.5¢.

The ability to transfer to Chase travel partners is also a feature of the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus. Obviously this card is strictly better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, so if you held that card you’d be saving $95 a year by getting this card (at least in our calculations for determining the value of the $450 annual fee). Chase Ink Plus does obviously give you the extra $25,000 spending capacity on 5x categories compared to the Chase Ink Cash, but if you were only holding that card for the ability to transfer to travel partners then downgrading to the Chase Ink Cash if you held this card would make sense.

How useful the Priority Pass membership and it’s guest access is, will likely depend on what sort of other premium cards (if any) you hold. For those without lounge access from other cards this is a huge benefit, but if you hold something like the American Express Platinum then it’s basically worthless. The other thing worth considering is that this card also gives your guests access to the Priority Pass lounges as well.

[Read: Premium Cards Compared: Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Platinum & Citi Prestige]

The earning rates on this card are quite good, especially for restaurants as the next best is 3% cash back. There are other options out there in the travel category, but 3x Chase UR would still be one of the best if not the best. Hopefully you have a good idea how much you spend on these categories and what cards you’re currently using for them so you can make a direct comparison. Primary rental insurance is a big one for a lot of people, the other insurance products are also pretty good.

Another thing we didn’t mention is that it might be possible to get a retention offer on this card, I’m not very confident that this will be possible but it’s too early to say definitively.


I’m always of the opinion that downright cancelling Chase branded cards doesn’t make sense, the reason is that you might as well downgrade those to either a Chase Freedom Unlimited for the ability to earn 1.5x Chase URs on all purchases with no annual fee, or the ability to earn 5x Chase URs on the Chase Freedom‘s rotating categories.

The best option between those two cards really depends on your spending habits, but I personally believe that the majority of people would be better off with the Chase Freedom and it’s rotating 5x categories.

Our Verdict

Getting this card for the first year used to be incredible value ($600 in travel credits and a sign up bonus worth a minimum of $1,000 for an annual fee of $450? Yes please). From year two onwards, making a case for keeping this card isn’t too difficult either. That being said, it’s definitely not for everybody – especially if you struggle to get value out of the $300 travel credit. That’s what really reduces the hurt of this annual fee from the massive $450. Some people might also want to cancel the card to get the sign up bonus again, just keep in mind this card does fall under the 5/24 rule and that you need to wait two years in between Chase sign up bonuses on the same card.

So far Chase has only made changes to this card that affect it’s value in the first year (lower sign up bonus and travel credit based on cardmember year) it will be interesting to see if they change the long term value proposition or not.  Do people like this series of posts? Let me know in the comments, if there is interest I’ll make more of an effort to post them.

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The big disagreement I have is your fake on the lounge access benefit. This card (supposedly) allows unlimited guests, which is a huge plus vs Amex Platinum or even Prestige. I often travel with various friends or family members who’d be excluded with those cards. I know that’s not true for everyone or even most people but I think it’s an important distinction nevertheless.

Personally Audrey, as a frequent flyer I wish they would allow zero guests and I have written to AMEX to suggest they do the same for their Platinum lounges. IMHO, airport lounges have become overrun with large families or people who travel once a year that happen to get arbitrary access because they have a certain credit card. I think any Priority Pass benefit should always be limited to only the cardholder.

Hmm just because you have nobody special in your life doesn’t mean that everyone else should be banned bringing someone into the lounge, I do agree the number of guests should be capped as its not really appropriate for the brady bunch to come through the lounge because one person has the card, but allowing one guest is perfectly reasonable.

Agreed w/Limiting the number to 2 people is reasonable and adding a surcharge for additional guests if fair. Actually writing to AMEX to limiting to 1 person is extreme but bringing in a family of 9 people is excessive abuse.


And why is that,

Then fly business class and enjoy the benefits of exclusiveness of lounges offered only to premium travellers, then you will have no complain

If you cant then the others also cant change their acts too

It is benefit that has been given,

I am not frequent traveller, but i do travel internationally 3 to 4 times a year, if i wanted exclusiveness or secludness of lounges then i should not have come to priority pass lounges instead should have paid for business class lounges

The problem of this is that PP lounges have their own policies, and many of them only allow up to 2 guests. It depends on “availability”.

Some even don’t allow guests ie Alaska.

I think I’ll keep it after next year. I don’t think the travel credit will be too difficult to get at all, so then it’s all about the $150 AF vs $95 for CSP vs $95 for Citi Premier for me. One thing that I never see any bloggers discuss is the potential for retention offers. I know there are no guarantees, but we already know that very few people get offers for CSP but do get offers for almost every other Chase card. I would be a little surprised if there’s really NOTHING available for CSR. Besides that, I spend a decent amount on dining.

I think the fact that the credit can be used for Uber rides makes it 100% of value for those who take a lot of uber rides or rides of lot of value. The credit wont help me too much this year, since it will be offset with the $450 fee, but next year it should be a no brainer.

The lounge is not that good if it happens to not be in the terminal in which you’re traveling, or at least close by. For most United club people, using priority pass lounge is is not that practical.

I’m not sure that I would value the $300 travel credit any less than $300. I use uber enough during the year, and taxis, and hotel expenses, that easily add up to $300, and using this card over another card for those purchases isn’t foregoing any discount, as you mentioned

I value it at what you can get cash for it – so 80% or $240 since you could buy gift cards for airlines and sell them around 80%.

To me that’s a complete waste of the extra $60. There’s no way i’ll be spending an year without those basic travel purchases that the CSR covers. This is definitely worth the full $300 and not a penny less. Having a premier travel rewards card and not even using it for $300 of any kind of travel in an year should be the biggest reason alone for cancelling the card, instead of calculating cash equivalents of any kind.

That is how I value things – what their cash value is not that I would use it in that manner – to each their own. I don’t think anyone can value it at the full $300 though. Most of what it covers can be bought at a discount. Plus you are locking up $300 interest free to be used at a later date. It is an interest free loan to chase which forces you to use that card for those purchases. Not to mention the opportunity cost lost by not putting that spend on min spend where you get anywhere from 20-40% back on your purchases.

If you spend over $300 on travel with this card, then you clearly get $300 out of it.

Now if you think that your $300 travel was only worth $240, then i guess you need to spend $375 to $300 out of it, based on some magic 80% rule.

If you travel a lot on your own dime, its pretty easy to spend $300.

Calendar year for the credit? CS told me it was anniversary year to use the credit.

Misinformed CSR. Credit is calendar year.

When did you apply for this card? If it was in the last 2 months (after May 21) then CS was correct. Otherwise they made a mistake by telling you the new rules when you are actually grandfathered into the old rules.

This is true, only if you applied before the change in may.

I’m of the opinion that the $300 travel credit should be valued at 100%, since it applies to such a broad range of spend. Ubers, taxis, urban and commuter trains, parking, tolls, etc.

If it was limited to flights, rental cars, and hotels I would agree with 80-95%.

Agreed. I use the travel credit in the course of my daily life on things I can’t get discounted further. Very easy to get 100% value.

Can you clarify your comments regarding the less than face value $300 credit? If you’re paying with cash then there are plenty of times it’s worth $300; Outside Amex offers or buying gift cards at a discount of course. For example our family is going to spend a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. I’ve not found a way to get that discounted through creative means. There are many more situations just like it.

ProjectX, I wondered the same thing about DOC’s comments regarding the “face value” of the $300 credit. I’m not sure I follow either….I look forward to hearing his thoughts.

In regard to Great Wolf Lodge, I actually found an easy way to get a discount: I received a 10% cashback offer on my PNC 1-2-3-4 card as part of the PNC Purchase Payback program. I get this offer regularly but I used it for the first time 2 weeks ago. My credit was instantaneous even though my family is not staying there until January.

I’ll take 10% cold, hard cashback over 3 (or 4.5) URs any day of the week. 🙂

Does public transport count towards the travel credit? If so, then I value that travel credit at the full $300 since I spend a non-avoidable $800+ a year on public transport.

It should- I have received credit for adding funds to my bus pass.

I have the CSR and have received travel credit for purchases on the San Diego MTS and for the Oklahoma and North Texas toll roads.

Purchases covered by the travel credit still earn 3x points.

Many transit agencies do qualify, but if possible make a test purchase before buying a monthly pass.

3x on my train pass and uber rides on top of dining make this a keeper for me.

But many get public transit pre tax through work

This: “Realistically the $300 travel credit isn’t worth $300 as you’re always able to get a discount on that travel. I’d value it at 95% of facevalue on the extremely high end and 80% on the low end (that’s what you should be aiming for if you’re cashing this benefit out). That gives us a real range of $240-$285.”

Thanks for pointing that out. Some people tend to ignore that fact. Like how some people justify that deals from Amex offers offset the annual fee for some Amex cards with annual fee, but also keep blogging about how they save with Amex offers. Yeah….

Rant over…

For now

I don’t get it. If I put $300 on my local public transportation card and get $300 reimbursed by Chase why would I value the benefit at less than $300?

Because some people believe that if you open two bank of america cards and MF the heck out of them and go to walmart buy sell gift cards on ebay and do a bunch of stuff you can save a couple of cents and therefore is better than just getting $300 off instantly.

And like to waste their time. CTA and parking in Chicago is around $300 a year here.

for you , yes 300 dollars. for person who gets motel, hotel, not 300 dollars.

Not everybody uses public transportation

I don’t that get your $300 credit comment either. It’s pretty easy to find “travel” you can’t get any discount on with other cards.

According to Nerdwallet (link removed, please do not link directly to affiliate shills), Chase counts parking lots and toll bridges – I don’t think I ever saw any discount on those. So if one is in such situation – I bet most big city people are – that credit pretty much worth 100%.

Or, if you dare, just pay rent with RadPad..

Re: “(link removed, please do not link directly to affiliate shills)”

DoC, do you have the ability to edit the text of comments? Tone-wise and logistically, that looks like something that would have happened by moderation as readers can’t (to my knowledge) edit their own comments.

Except not everybody uses parking lots and toll bridges. I have never used a toll bridge and I sure wouldn’t be using $300 in parking.

I like this series of posts. One thing I’d like to see addressed in it is strategies for handling points balances. I currently have the Citi Prestige, Amex Plat, and CSP. My wife has the CSR. We’re obviously not going to keep all of those cards, but I need to figure out what to do with my TY, MR, and UR points balances once I decide what to keep.

Is it worth paying $95 or more per year to have the ability to transfer UR? Is it a better choice to burn TYP at 1.6 cents on AA now while we can, or speculatively transfer them somewhere? Or suck it up and keep the Prestige at a $250 net annual fee? I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do, and it;s not made any easier by the constant modifications and devaluations of the programs and cards.

I second this idea. Been going through the same thing.

Let’s not forget that travel expenses you get credit for also earn 3 UR points per dollar.
That is, for every $300 spent per calendar year you get a $300 credit and, depending on how you intend to redeem, between $9 (cash) and $13.5 (travel) worth of points.

This is a good point. Hadn’t thought of this. One thing to note, though is it looks like, at least for me, that the $300 in travel that’s credited back is not good for the min spend.

The Points Guy had an interview with the head of Chase branded cards and she stated very clearly that covered expenses are counted toward minimum spend, however, membership fee is not.

I was told otherwise. Credited purchases do not count toward spend bonuses or card rewards.

That is incorrect. Purchases that are credited back from the $300 travel credit also earn 3x UR points.

I second that. Reimbursed spend on trusted traveller program applications (e.g., TSA, Global Entry) counts, too.

One of the biggest things this card has that NO ONE mentions is the Travel Health insurance! They cover up to $2,500 medical emergencies when you are 200 miles away from your home!!!! I have had some many times that I travel (even locally) and I get sick and I have to pay my deductible for urgent care or hospital and when I travel to dangerous places I buy medical insurance, when you choose a deductible of 100 (I used to do) I pay A LOT of premium like $100. If I choose a deductible of $1000 or even $2000 I could pay only $10-20 in insurance premium!

Heck 200 miles is from my house to the beach! Having the ability to get my insurance deductible covered is awesome!

There are companies that offer that service (such as AFLAC) and they charge monthly like $15…

This is true, but there is one caveat to note… the coverage requires your book some portion of your travel on a common carrier with your CSR. This means cruise ship, airline, train, etc. but not road trips. I contacted Chase to confirm and they said my car isn’t considered a common carrier 🙁

Thanks for this clarification regarding personal vehicles. How about rental cars?

Any Datapoints of people that got a CSR and then product changed another chase card to a CSR?


with 23 open cards…cant keep them all.

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