Chase has introduced a feature revamp for their Sapphire line of card products which means that as of August 16, 2021 Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve card holders can enjoy additional benefits.
While the Sapphire Reserve will mostly profit from increased multipliers for purchases through the Chase Travel Portal (useless for most) the Sapphire Preferred is getting some valuable new features.
From the looks of it Chase wants to make their Sapphire line more attractive to travelers, trying to steer their travel spend not only to these two cards but also tie these bonuses to the Chase travel portal which is basically an Expedia sleeve but without the ability to use any coupons and other discounts.
These are the new options for the Sapphire Reserve:
- 5X Points for Flights purchased through Ultimate Rewards (Chase Travel Portal)
- 10x Points for Hotels & Car Rentals through Ultimate Rewards (Chase Travel Portal)
- 10x Points when using Chase Dining (prepaid restaurant reservations!?)
I’m not sure how this Chase Dining is supposed to work but while the 5X/10X sound high they come with a lot of limitations.
Purchasing travel through the Chase Travel Portal means that it’s no longer a direct purchase but third party. This often results in being unable to use status benefits with hotel and car rental companies. For flights is not as much of an issue however keep in mind that if you have to make any changes prior to your trip you can’t contact the airline as they will always refer you back to the OTA where you booked it.
The good thing about getting the 5X from my Amex Platinum is I can book directly with the airline. Of course the downside there being that you earn only 1X on everything else and that sucks big time. As such I always found the CSR to be a great middle road considering the 3X earning on all Travel and Dining which thankfully will remain.
The annual fee of US$550 will also stick (for now).
It looks a little bit better when it comes to the Sapphire Preferred:
- 5X Points for all TRAVEL services purchased through Ultimate Rewards (Chase Travel Portal)
- US$50 annual hotel credit when purchased through Ultimate Rewards (Chase Travel Portal)
- 3X Points for all dining worldwide
- 3X Points on online grocery store purchases
- 3X Points on select streaming services
- 10% annual points bonus (Sign Up Bonuses don’t count)
The annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred will remain at $95.
This makes the Sapphire Preferred significantly more attractive for people who are looking at a low cost credit card that comes with lots of earning potential. My guess is that with the revamp of the Preferred Chase tries to counter the rather attractive Amex Green Card while the Reserve still competes with the Platinum.
Not everyone likes to pay large amounts of money upfront and $550 are $550. I previously wrote about what played into my decision to keep the Reserve Card, mainly that I like the $300 flexible travel credit and the priority pass as well as the option to add authorized users for small amounts of money and issue them a priority pass that way.
The fact that there is a lot of value in the Sapphire Reserve if you really want to squeeze it probably plays into Chase’s decision to make the Preferred card more attractive. Despite the much lower price Chase doesn’t lose as much money on Preferred customers.
Chase has gone over the benefits portfolio of their Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve card to add additional features that allow for increased points earning especially related to travel services purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Chase likely receives a commission for these purchases and at the same time these portals don’t allow you to use coupon codes such as 15% off hotels which means with each hotel booking made through the UR channel you’re already leaving that on the table. Not even talking about the lack of elite benefits as it’s now a third party booking. I sometimes do use OTA’s such as Orbitz for independent hotels that don’t have their own loyalty programs.