Chase Sapphire Reserve Temporarily Lowered Its Annual Fee Due to COVID
The fee went up, then down, in 2020. Now, thanks to Chase’s partnerships with Lyft and DoorDash, cardholders can earn bonus points and great discounts on rides and food deliveries as well.
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These new affiliations will apply to several of the issuer’s rewards credit cards, but most significantly impact the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Here are all the details and how you can make the most of the new perks.
Major changes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Almost as soon as it debuted in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve quickly became one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards. Among its outstanding benefits are its earning rates. Starting August 16, 2021, the card racks up Ultimate Rewards points in the following way:
- Ten points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases
- Ten points per dollar on hotel stays and car rentals made through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Five points per dollar on air travel purchases made through Ultimate Rewards
- Three points per dollar on other travel and dining, including takeout and delivery
- One point per dollar on all other eligible purchases
If you have this card, these points can be redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a fixed rate of 1.5 cents apiece. Now through September 30, 2021, they can also be redeemed via Chase’s new “Pay Yourself Back” feature at the same rate toward dining (including restaurants, takeout and delivery), groceries, home improvement stores and about a dozen eligible charities. Points can also be transferred to over a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs, including JetBlue, Southwest, United, Hyatt, and Marriott.
Sapphire Reserve cardholders receive up to $300 back in statement credits each year toward travel purchases. Reserve cardholders are also eligible for either a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit (up to $100 once every four years) and get access to Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. These benefits are not changing.
The card’s annual fee rose substantially from $450 to $550 for new accounts starting January 12, 2020, and for existing accounts that renewed on or after April 1, 2020. Given recent developments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Chase lowered the annual fee to $450 this year for card renewals, or provided customers whose fee came due between April 1 and July 1 with a $100 statement credit.
To compensate, as well as to counter increasing competition from premium rivals like The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase added new benefits as part of its partnerships with both Lyft and DoorDash.
With DoorDash, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can count on up to $120 in credits: $60 to put toward orders in 2020 and $60 for 2021. No activation is required to take advantage of this offer, but you must use your card to pay.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can register for up to two years of complimentary DashPass membership, which usually costs $10 per month. Members enjoy waived delivery fees and reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more from participating restaurants. DoorDash estimates this at over $100 in value per year, saving members $4 to $5 per order on average. Cardmembers just need to activate this offer by December 31, 2021.
As for the Lyft partnership, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can earn a whopping 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022 instead of the three points per dollar they earned before. Cardholders are also able to enroll for a year of complimentary Lyft Pink membership. This normally costs $20 per month. The benefits include a 15 percent discount on all car rides, priority airport pickups, fee-free cancellations up to three times per month if you rebook within 15 minutes, waived lost and found fees, three free 30-minute bike or scooter rides per month, and surprise seasonal discounts and offers.
What makes this even more interesting is that Lyft recently partnered with Grubhub to offer Lyft Pink members the ability to register for complimentary Grubhub+ or Seamless+ membership. The benefits include unlimited free delivery from participating restaurants, exclusive perks including free food and discounts from popular restaurants, and donation matching through Grubhub’s Donate the Change program.
Benefits With Other Chase Cards
Folks with some of Chase’s other cards will also benefit from the new Lyft and DoorDash associations. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card members qualify for at least a year of complimentary DashPass membership. Those with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Student, and Slate cards can enroll for three months of free DashPass membership, after which they will be eligible for a 50 percent discount for the following nine months.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Ink Plus cards will earn five Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 2022. If you have the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom Student, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, or Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card, you can earn 5 percent cash back on rides.
What These Changes Mean
Overall, these are excellent developments for Chase cardholders. Earning five points or five percent cash back per dollar spent on Lyft rides can save consumers serious cash depending on their rideshare habits. Only time will tell if Chase and Lyft will extend this benefit beyond March 2022.
The DoorDash and Grubhub partnerships are harder to maximize due to the limitations on memberships for most cardholders. Getting $120 in credits and at least a year of waived delivery fees with DoorDash and the Chase Sapphire Reserve can add up to decent savings, but only if you actually use DoorDash frequently.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s higher annual fee brought it into line with its main competitor, The Platinum Card from American Express, which raised its annual fee from $450 to $550 two years ago. Thankfully, Chase recognized that lowering it back to $450 for cardholders this year would take some financial strain off their customers, though.
For its part, the Amex Platinum Card offers up to $200 in annual Uber credits and refunds cardholders up to $200 per year for airline incidental fees. It also includes a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee statement credit (up to $100) and gets travelers into Priority Pass, Centurion, and Delta Sky Club airport lounges. Cardmembers earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel and prepaid hotel bookings made through Amex Travel and some hotel bookings, making it a strong earner if these are two of your main purchase categories.
On the other hand, if dining is a major expense, you might be better off with the American Express® Gold Card. Its annual fee is $250, but cardholders receive up to $100 in credits toward airline incidental fees and up to $10 per month ($120 per year) in statement credits toward Grubhub and Seamless food deliveries as well as at some major restaurant chains. The card earns four Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), and on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then one point), plus three points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
If you can take advantage of the new Lyft, DoorDash and Grubhub partnerships through your Chase card, be sure to sign up for them. Then monitor your purchases over the coming months to see how much value you are actually getting and whether it makes up for any annual fees you have to pay.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.
This article was originally published in January 2020, but has been updated with new information in October 2020 and August 2021.