Is it worth keeping the premium credit card for 2021?

OK class, for our next discussion...

I have had a Chase Sapphire Reserve card for almost 4 years. Mine renews Jan 1 and the fee goes up from $450 to $550. In these times of no travel, is it worth keeping? One option is downgrading it to a Sapphire Preferred. Its fee is $95 and you keep your UR points. Benefits aren't quire the same, obviously, but not bad. The first travel expense you book with Sapphire Reserve, you get a $300 credit, so the card's annual fee is really $250, assuming there will be travel in 2021.

I wonder if Chase will lower the fee in the upcoming months. I haven't found anything on the Internet about people negotiating the fee down.




  • We don't have one but not sure I see the value of either for the annual fee. Looks like the Reserve doesn't include the $$ for Global Entry/tsa pre though that's only a $25 per year savings. Also only 2x vs 3x on travel charges.

    We have a Costco citi visa. No annual, 3% on travel & restaurants, 2% all costco and 4% gas. Also doubles the warranty on Costco purchases like appliances. Drawback is the rebate has to be redeemed at Costco so not great if you don't shop there.

  • Claudia- I think you were referring to the Preferred (the cheaper one with less benefits) rather than the Reserve.

    I debated canceling my Reserve card and reapplying in 6 months so that I could get the new enrollment bonus. I decided not to as I would lose my insurance coverage (from the card) on my upcoming Tauck trips and wouldn't be able to get the 50% bonus on using my points for upcoming travel (I'd have to cash them out when I cancelled).

    As far as keeping the card, I still get enough benefits when I travel to justify the $550 fee ($625 with the extra card for my wife). The points are worth the equivalent of 4.5% when used to book travel, so that pays for a lot. Chase is the only travel card I know of that gives you bonus points for any travel (including Tauck). Most of the others just cover hotels and airfare. The lounge passes are great when I don't have lounge access from my business class tickets. Add to that travel insurance (I don't take the Tauck insurance), the best rental car insurance out there, and TSA reimbursement and it still makes sense when traveling (it was a loser this year, obviously). The only downside is the absolutely horrible customer service on travel booked through Chase that happened during the pandemic. Couldn't get through to them on the phone at all. Hopefully, that will never recur.

  • I asked my husband about this one. We have Amex Platinum, or rather he does and I have the free Gold card attached to it. We get other benefits and of course we continue to get points that can be used for anything such as paying for Amazon purchases
    We have always found their customer service excellent. It’s our main credit card. We have an American Airlines card and a rarely used card we use to pay in Costco since they stopped taking Amex. We have no intention of cancelling the card. Anyway, I thought everyone here was more optimistic about how soon travel will be resuming than I am!

  • Ken, you're right I got the names mixed up.

    Our airfare and Tauck expenses have all been covered by the 3% rebate plus we use it at home for all dining out ( not much of that this year). No cost for a second card and each has its own acct number so If one is stolen and canceled the other is still good.

    If you didn't need to buy Taucks guest protection I can see how that alone would be worth it.

  • I've never purchased Tauck's travel insurance and never really paid attention to the Chase insurance, either. I was looking at the Chase perks earlier today, before my post, and there is some medical coverage, as well. I just renewed my Global Entry last year, so have several years before I'd be using that benefit again. Still, I'm thinking that I'll probably keep the Sapphire Reserve. Maybe they'll come up with some additional offers in the next few months to help retain customers. I signed up for the Lyft Pink (one year membership) perk at the beginning of the year and only used it twice back and forth to the airport for a winter trip.

  • Not that we’ve used UBER since this all happened, but AMEX gives you a $15 monthly credit on Uber rides. We have also been getting a $5 credit every time we buy anything on line from a small business....we’ve been very surprised how many businesses are classed as Small, seeing $5 credits popping up on our account more than we would have thought.

  • I, too, have the AMEX Platinum that has a fee of $550. There have been several perks this year that, if used, can significantly reduce the net fee. In addition to the Uber benefit (which I don't use) and "shop small" benefit (which has expired), they've been offering a $20 credit per month when you charge wireless phone service from a US provider to the card. I believe that that benefit expires at the end of the year. There's an annual $200 rebate for airline purchases -- not tickets, but things like upgrades and on-board purchases -- and access to Delta lounges, even when flying economy. The biggest benefit, however, is the customer service. I'm very happy with it.

  • American Express Platinum - I think the mobile phone credit is great and I always use the Uber benefit - they bump up the credit to $20 in December. Another great benefit that I have been taking advantage of is the Saks Fifth Avenue $100 credit per year. You get $50 applied to purchases (Jan-Jun) and another $50 (Jul-Dec). I'm all for free $$$. The lounge access is great and with Priority Pass there is always a lounge available in addition to Delta when not flying business class or traveling in areas that do not have the Centurion lounges - which are very few. I flew to Phoenix a few weeks ago and was looking forward to using the Centurion Lounge-- but of course it was not open. It's worth it to keep - It's only money - the easiest asset to replace (IMO).

  • Just read that Chase is adding 3x points for groceries to the Sapphire Reserve card benefits.

  • I renewed my Sapphire Reserve card this past June and the annual fee was advertised at $550. When I got my first bill they gave me $100 credit on my annual fee bringing it down to $450. Now they are permitting groceries and gas charges to count towards travel and I received an additional credit of $300 on groceries bringing the fee down to $150. I also renewed my Global Entry early because U.S. Customs said it could take 6 months to a year to complete the renewal process, another $100 credit for that brought my annual fee to $50.

    It seemed worthwhile in my case.

  • edited October 2020

    I've heard stories, but wonder if AMEX will negotiate the annual fee? Ever since they raised the annual fee I've considered dropping my Platinum status. I just got a $50 "Appreciation Credit," for what I don't know, but at least it effectively dropped my fee a tad. Without travel we don't use it much, though sometimes we forget- my wife forgot to put her root canal and crown on it. That was a biggie. We've used it once or twice, but rarely use the companion certificate since most of our travel has been outside the US and even in the US we don't fly main cabin/coach.

  • Yes - AMEX sent me an email the other day stating there was a change in my flights for the Jordan-Egypt tour (December 2020). AMEX asked me to call if i wanted them to initiate any change process. I received a full refund of my business class airfare within 48 hours. I didn't have to talk to United Airlines at all. Now I can be more flexible with my travel plans as I do not have to be in the box of using my travel funds within a specific time frame- the flight wasn't cancelled, it just involved an additional layover. This was a seamless and pain free process. Yes, keeping the premium card is worth it for me.

  • Alan, let me recommend you look at the FlyerTalk site, specifically the credit card programs, American Express forum and then look at the thread entitled "Retention Offers". If you have never requested a retention offer there is a high likelihood that you will get a significant credit for your next renewal. At the top of that thread there is a Wiki that shows many recent offers. For those that have the Chase cards there is a similar thread, but the likelihood of getting a retention offer for the Chase Sapphire Reserve has been very low.

  • I’m just re reading part of this thread. Amex no longer do companion tickets and haven’t for a while.

  • edited November 2020

    I’m just re reading part of this thread. Amex no longer do companion tickets and haven’t for a while.

    We have the Delta/AMEX card which I believe still awards companion certificates- in fact we currently have two in our account. I don't know when we got them, but they don't expire until 12/31/2021.

  • taxare
    Alan, let me recommend you look at the FlyerTalk site, specifically the credit card programs, American Express forum and then look at the thread entitled "Retention Offers".

    Thanks. I'll check them out to see if they discuss the Delta/AMEX card. I figure it can't hurt to ask.

    I regularly visited FT to track the conversion of Delta's 777 business class seats to suites. Not enough were done when we flew to Africa the last time but we finally snagged one not long after all had been converted. However, shortly thereafter and before our flight, Delta made the surprise decision to retire all 777s as a COVID cost-cutting measure and they changed the aircraft assigned to our flight! :'(

  • We've kept/are keeping our Sapphire card active. Despite the pandemic, we've booked $15k or so worth of trip deposits and interim payments, so 1) got the full $300 annual travel credit and, 2) 3x bonus for the travel charges (I value Chase point-->UA miles very conservatively at $0.02/point though we always get far greater value using them for international business class flights), so ~$600+. They have also been doing a number of promos to offset the loss of travel, most recently, 3x bonus on groceries up to $1000/mo through April. Better than our 2x grocery bonus with our legacy UA Visa, so that'll be another 6 month * ~$800/mo * 1 extra point per $ = $96. Have also heard, as another reported above, that for the moment they are refunding the annual fee down to the former cost (I'll find out if this is still the case next month). All of this is a bit of a game, but for us there is still an incentive to keep the card. If travel resumes somewhat normally by the middle of next year, then the big travel payments start happening.

  • taxare
    Alan, let me recommend you look at the FlyerTalk site, specifically the credit card programs,

    I'm looking for the thread on the Chase Sapphire reserve on Flyertalk and can't find it. can you provide a link? TIA

  • Taxare- I haven't gotten around to checking Flyertalk, but just finished an online chat with Delta/AMEX. I laid out my case and summed it up by saying, "in my situation and with COVID, it just didn't make fiscal sense for me to keep my card," a true statement. Then, the offers started. I held out, but finally accepted the third or fourth offer- enough money, when combined with the recent loyalty/appreciation credit, to more than cover our recent Platinum renewal fee, if we charged $2000 for a certain amount w/in 3 months. That will be no problem since we will be purchasing flights for next year's XMAS Mkts in early January.

    Could I have bargained more and received more? Probably, but this works, at least for this year.

    I read an interesting analysis of the various credit card and frequent flyer programs. In one instance it said most airlines make (more?) money on frequent flyer programs than actual fares. That seems to be a stretch. Everyone unknowingly pays too much for their tickets and extra revenue more than covers any losses due to people redeeming points/miles. The airlines make even more when points/mile go unused, which is the vast majority according to the article (FlyerTalk, The Points Guy?). There are likely similar situations with CC cash back. The CC companies aren't giving away something for nothing- you or the retailer are paying for it somehow.

  • BKMD, This is the link for the archived 2019 retention offers, there is a current thread for 2020. All of the Chase cards are in the same thread. The Wiki sorts them. There is also a separate thread for the CSR. I hope this helps.

  • A new benefit from Chase Sapphire Reserve worth looking into (and using):

    They now offer Pay Yourself Back via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Redeem points at 1.5 cents each to offset purchases made at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments, including take-out and delivery services. This is the same reimbursement rate as when booking airfare through the UR portal.

    As I'm not booking flights at this time, I'm using my points to get statement credits for many of my recent purchases. To maximize point value, only pay yourself back for purchases in the above categories. It's pretty clear which purchases qualify for the 1.5 cents/point when you go through the process. And you can go back 90 days on purchases and receive a statement credit.

    Some more details here:

    They are also including food/grocery purchases in crediting your $300 annual travel credit, which takes some of the bite out of the high annual fee.

  • Another new benefit of the Sapphire Reserve card is that the Priority Pass lounge pass now allows you to take up to two guests into the lounge with you at no cost. That means that if you travel with your spouse there is no longer a need to pay the $75 fee for an additional authorized user in order to get lounge access for both of you.

  • Ken - that must have been location dependent as I've brought guests into Prio Pass lounges without an extra charge.

  • BKMD-
    Maybe it changed a while ago and I didn't know it. I just became aware of the change when I got a new Priority Pass card in the mail and it had the new policy on the mailer. When I signed up a few years ago it was definitely one pass got one person in and they would charge your credit card automatically if you brought in a guest. There were a lot of complaints that couples would hand two cards to the attendant and they would just run the entry on one card resulting in a charge. Maybe the complaints caused the change.

  • Just looked at my Sapphire Reserve account online and was pleasantly surprised to see the annual fee charged on 1/1 was $450 and not the higher fee of $550 they announced early last year.

  • Interesting. The website still says $550 for new cardholders. Maybe you got grandfathered. Mine renews next month, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

  • Credit card holders fall into those who do the math and see value in high-fee cards, and the rest of us. I know there have been some lucrative introductory offers on Platinums, but I'm in the camp that says there are plenty of credit cards with decent benefits and zero fees. I happen to love Barclays even though travel and dining are only 2.2% back, but somehow their website is so clean and clear and yes, fun to use, that it is the equivalent of flying Virgin Atlantic. My calculations often show that the differences in a year's rewards can be trivial; i.e. they won't change my life. Let's face it...we are all clearly privileged, even if some would argue that our cleverness and financial savvy may have combined with pure dumb luck to put us where we are today.

  • These cards.are a bit like the all inclusive museum, transport, etc passes that people wonder if they should buy when touring a city. You have to look at how you would use it and do the math. No one size fits all. I'm very happy with our Citicorp Costco visa card but it's not for everyone.

  • Of course financial decisions are very personal. And these cards are nothing compared with the infamous Black Card! I've looked at City Passes, but I'm such a bad tourist, prefer just wandering around, that they are rarely for me. I remember the Austrian Tourist Office one off-season handed them out at the airport, so of course that was a no-brainer.

  • When our flights were cancelled that we had booked with Amex points, they gave us cash back instead. We did not have a choice.Not knowing when we would be using points for flights in the near future, we liked that!

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