I wrote last year about an incredible sign-up bonus with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. That bonus is no longer available, although they still offer a bonus of 50,000 points– this is worth $750 if redeemed for travel, and you can apply here (note: I would receive a referral credit) to take advantage of that. You would have to spend $4000 in the first three months. I am writing today to offer my experience actually using the card so you can decide if it is the right tool for you. It has been amazing for me, and it has paid for itself many, many times over.
The major downside of this card is the annual fee: You pay $450 for the privilege. However, you also get a $300 travel credit which shows up automatically and is applied to almost any category of travel that you do. To my mind, that means that the practical fee of this card is $150. Essentially, everyone who applies for this card is going to spend $300 on hotels, flights, cruises, or some other travel expense.
That $150 a year gets you a number of perks and privileges, but I want to talk about a very specific one- the ability to redeem the points you earn for travel. For everything you spend, you get 1 point per dollar. You can take that as a 1% rebate if you like. For travel and dining out– two things on which I spend a great deal– you get three points per dollar. This is effectively a 3% rebate, and that is already great deal. Where it gets interesting, however, is if you redeem your points for travel. This makes your points worth 1.5 cents each, which means a 1.5% practical rebate on all purchases and 4.5% on dining and travel. That deal is unbeatable, particularly since you aren’t tied to any particular hotel chain, airline, or cruise line. I have received the triple point so far on American, United, Royal Caribbean, several different hotel chains, and every restaurant I eat at.
To get that deal, you have to book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The news here is mostly good. The experience is user friendly, and I have already used the points from the sign-up bonus to book a trip to Vegas for me and a buddy. That process went perfectly smoothly. The trip is on American, I can see my reservation, and the cost is precisely the same as it would have been in cash on the American website. Had I not had enough points, I could have used the points I did have at 1.5 cents per point and paid the rest in cash. This is also a better deal than frequent flyer tickets, because the airline sees this as a revenue ticket and will thus give me miles for it. There are a few challenges, of course. While you can book the cabin you want, you cannot book specific fare classes. That means you have to be careful to avoid problems such as the dreaded basic economy fare on American and other airlines. You can avoid that, however, by comparing the cost to the cost on the airline’s website. While that can but a bit cumbersome, it is still as easy as booking any other reward travel with a great deal more flexibility.
On balance, this card has saved me a couple of thousand dollars because I travel and eat out a lot. It is easy to use, and I would certainly do it all again. If you would like to apply for the card I would appreciate it if you would follow the link and apply here so I get the referral credit. It has been an excellent card for me. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section below and I will do my best to provide an honest answer. Happy travels!