You splurged for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Now what?
Use the card's points and perks before that $450 annual fee kicks in again.
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Dear Cashing In,
Although it’s kind of expensive, I got the new Chase Reserve credit card because it comes with a 100,000-points sign-up bonus. Once I get those points, should I just go ahead and cancel the card? I don’t see myself hanging onto it long term because it has a $450 annual fee. – Bryant
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, launched in August 2016, is generating a lot of interest. Before it was even released, The Points Guy blog called it “the must-have card of 2016, if not the most appealing credit card ever.”
Another indication of its popularity: When it came out, so many people signed up for it that Chase ran out of the metal cards, and instead has been sending ordinary, common-person plastic Reserve cards. (Ugh!)
The big draw, of course, is the 100,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points. Cardholders receive them after spending $4,000 in the first three months. (As far as I know, there have been only three other cards that have offered 100,000 points or miles to the general public: Capital One Venture, Chase British Airways and Citi Executive AAdvantage.)
Chase says the points alone are worth $1,500, which is the value if you use the points on Chase’s travel portal. If you transfer those points to an airline, such as United, you can milk even more value out of those 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
The downside of the card is the $450 annual fee. While it may be tempting to get the points and then get rid of the card, you could be losing out. There are two reasons: First, if this is the only card you have that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you will lose the points if you cancel. Second, you’ll want to make sure you use the card’s other perks before canceling.
Let’s talk first about the points. If you’re planning to cancel the card before your second year begins (and the $450 fee is charged again), then you should start thinking now about how to use the points. Before canceling the card, you’ll want to do one of three things: Use those points, get another Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, or transfer the points to an airline or hotel partner.
Unlike credit cards associated directly with airline programs, Chase cards do not allow you to retain your Ultimate Rewards points if you close the only Chase account linked to those points. (In addition, if your only remaining card is the no-fee Chase Freedom card, you will have some restrictions on how you use your points.)
Also, you will want to keep the account open to take advantage of some of the other perks with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. These include:
- Global Entry. If you ever travel by plane, you may want to sign up for the U.S. Customs & Border Protection’s Global Entry program to expedite the security process. The Global Entry fee is usually $100, which Chase will credit back to you if you pay for the perk with your Chase Sapphire Reserve. Global Entry is good for five years and allows you to breeze through customs and airport security lines (which is actually called TSA PreCheck and is included with Global Entry). You have to appear for a short, in-person interview and pass a background check.
- Travel expenses. The card gives you an automatic credit for travel expenses charged on it, up to $300 a year. Actually, if you receive the card before December, you can receive credit for $600 in expenses, because the expenditure year runs from December to December. Spend $300 before December and $300 after December, and the card should reimburse you for all of it, according to the card’s terms and conditions.
- Lounge access. The card comes with Priority Pass Select membership, which allows you free access to certain airport clubs. Although most of the lounges are abroad, there are some at major U.S. airports including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York (LaGuardia and JFK), San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. You have to sign up for this membership through Chase.
You might consider noting on a calendar when your annual fee will come due again. When that day comes, consider if the card is still worth the $450 annual fee. But don’t close it prematurely, until you have a plan for your points and can take advantage of the other perks.
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