On Nick’s mind (Dumping the Sapphire Reserve?)

Yesterday, Greg wrote about cancelling a credit card to which he had an oddly emotional attachment, the Citi Prestige card (See: Dumping my Citi Prestige card). His willpower is stronger than mine; with 5x on dining and flights, I’ve never been happier to pick up the check for friends and family and be reimbursed — I can’t yet muster the strength to cancel it. Thankfully, I don’t have to yet as I was charged the annual fee about six months ago, which was the reduced $350 fee I somehow got grandfathered into with a long gone Citigold account. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to that one for sure. However, I have much less attachment to Greg’s favorite credit card: at next annual fee, I think I’m going to cut the Sapphire Reserve from my roster. I think it is an overvalued card whose time has come. Here’s why.

First thing’s first: I’m not really putting my money where my mouth is

I feel a little guilty about one key thing: the annual fee on my family’s Sapphire Reserve posted and was paid a couple of months ago. For that reason, the card won’t actually be on the chopping block for quite a while yet. I kind of feel like it’s cheating to talk about why I don’t think the card is worth it while fully intending to hold it for most of another year yet. That said, this has been on my mind for quite a while and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it to me. Of course, we all need to make that evaluation on our own, and that’s where Greg’s ultra-premium card  spreadsheet comes in. But there are several things to which I won’t assign much value for this card that lead me to think I’m out on the Sapphire Reserve.

Reason one: I won’t use it for dining

The CSR almost never comes out of our wallets for dining. That’s because have the Citi Prestige card for 5x dining (for the time being) and the Amex Gold for 4x. I do like Ultimate Rewards points, but I don’t like 3 of them better than 4 Membership Rewards points or 5 Citi ThankYou points. So dining gets nearly $0 in spend on the CSR.

Interestingly, in the comments of yesterday’s post, there was some chicken-and-egg discussion terms of how to compare value with other cards in your wallet. In my case, the Gold is an unquestionable keeper. I’d pay the annual fee just for the ability to generate 100K easy points at US Supermarkets each year. Getting 4x on dining will be a great bonus prize if and when my Prestige goes away.

Reason two: I don’t get enough value using it for paid travel

At the St. Regis Bora Bora, I paid for the room on points and most charges with a gift card that came from Capital One miles.

Travel is the other Sapphire Reserve bonus category. The CSR card does get most of our travel spend thanks to its best-in-class travel protections. When I’m booking a flight for my immediate family, taxes and fees normally go on this card (or occasionally the Chase Ritz-Carlton card, which has the same protections).

However, the fact of the matter is that, contrary to what one might expect, we (meaning my family and I) don’t spend a ton of money his category every year. This year we’ve traveled more than usual, but most years I just don’t think we’d earn enough in the travel category to justify keeping the CSR. That’s for a variety of reasons.

One reason is because when booking travel for friends and family who would not qualify for travel protections through Chase, I use my Prestige card. It gets 5x airfare, 5x through travel agencies, and 3x at hotels and cruise lines. As I said, I think I’ll cancel the Prestige card when the next fee comes due, but at this point the CSR isn’t getting much of that spend (of course the CSR does get the spend when booking for family members traveling with us who would qualify for trip delay / interruption / cancellation coverage).

The Prestige also gets some hotel spend by default due to 4th night free bookings. Citi has killed the value of the 4th night free, but before they did I made quite a number of reservations for next year. If plans shape up on any of those bookings, I’ll have to do some math to figure out whether or not they justify keeping the Prestige for one more year. At any rate, the Prestige card gets the hotel spend on those 4th night free bookings (and indeed got the spend on a few this year). Additionally, if faced with the choice between 3x Ultimate Rewards or 3x Citi ThankYou points for a general hotel booking, I’ll currently take 3x ThankYou points given my love for the Turkish Miles & Smiles sweet spot (which is now bookable one-way online for anyone who missed that — though it may be going away soon).

Let’s say for argument’s sake that I spend $5K per year on travel. I generally don’t spend that much on travel (this year being a notable exception). If that were true, I would earn 5,000 more points per year with the CSR than I would with the Chase Sapphire Preferred (which earns 2x on travel). Is that worth paying the annual fee to keep the CSR? Even if we value the $300 travel credit at full face value (and despite the protests of the more scrupulous among us, I do), my “net” fee on the CSR is $150. Is it worth paying an additional $55 per year for 5,000 points? Before you say “of course it is!”, consider the ease of earning an extra 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points. With regular Visa and Mastercard gift card deals in recent weeks, I’ve been exercising 5x at office supply stores. It’s not that I don’t think 5,000 points is worth at least $55 (clearly it can be worth much more), it’s that I don’t need to keep the CSR to generate those points (and in fact have been generating them fee-free pretty easily this month).

The cards I’ll keep make for sure make a huge difference

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that my perspective is colored by the fact that I will definitely keep a couple of cards that make the CSR redundant.

This is Greg’s, but I’ll keep mine, too.

First up, for travel protection, I intend to keep the Chase Ritz card for the foreseeable future. I haven’t had any trouble using the $300 in travel credits on that card, I value Priority Pass with unlimited guests (I had no problem guesting in 3 adults with me on a recent trip for no fee), and the annual 50K Marriott certificate. Given that I intend to have Titanium status in 2020 and likely Platinum in 2021, having 4pm late checkout and hopefully breakfast/lounge access at a nice centrally-located Marriott at least once a year is worth at least a couple hundred bucks to me. The Ritz card has become a surprising no-brainer to me.  If I didn’t have the Ritz card for travel protections and Priority Pass, I’d likely dump this post rather than the CSR. However, flights can easily go on my Ritz card. Sure, I’ll give up some earning potential over using the CSR, but the truth is that I just don’t fly that many paid flights most years. I’m generally just paying award taxes on a credit card, and I don’t freak out about earning 4x Marriott points vs 3x Ultimate Rewards when I’m paying the $5.60 in taxes on a domestic award ticket, nor do I often book international tickets with high fuel surcharges.

Second, while I’ve long though about product changing away from the Chase Ink Business Preferred card, I think I’m going to keep it. While Greg said he doesn’t like to pay more than he needs to for insurance, I’m pretty happy paying $95 a year to insure our cell phones (since the Chase Ink Business Preferred offers cell phone insurance). Granted, I could get this coverage with a no-fee card, but cell phone insurance isn’t worth giving up a 5/24 slot for in my opinion. So in a world in which I won’t trade away a 5/24 slot for cell coverage, I am reasonably happy with paying $95 for it. The ancillary benefit of keeping the Ink Business Preferred is that it means I still have 3x on travel without the CSR. Sure, it’s up to a limit of $150K per year in the card’s bonus categories, but that’s a cap I can more than live with. So for those twitching about the fact that I said I wouldn’t pay $55 per year for the chance to maybe earn 5,000 points, fear no longer: I don’t actually have to pay for the CSR to get those points.

I already noted above that I’ll definitely keep the Amex Gold for 4x at US Supermarkets (on up to $25K in purchases per year, then 1x) I and will gladly use it for 4x at restaurants if I should drop my Prestige card.

If I can get 3x on travel with my other cards and 4x/5x on dining, and I’ll have the same or better travel protection and Priority Pass membership, what does the CSR offer?

Getting 1.5cpp isn’t as valuable as it is cracked up to be (to me)

The clear answer to what it offers is the chance to redeem points through the Chase portal at a value of 1.5c per point (it also offers the ability to transfer points to partners, but I also have that ability with the Ink Business Preferred). The ability to get 1.5c per point in value has long been considered to be one of the hot selling points on this card, and I’ll admit to having drunk the kool aid on this one a bit. I’ve used points at a value of 1.5c each more often that I expected I would have. However, I no longer think this benefit is all it is cracked up to be.

With the Chase Ink Business Preferred (or the Sapphire Preferred), one can redeem points at a value of 1.25c each through the Chase portal, so the CSR adds the ability to get a quarter of one cent more per point in value when redeeming for paid travel booked through the Chase portal. Those quarter pennies can add up if you redeem enough points through the travel portal. For example, if you redeem 100,000 points per year through the Chase Travel Portal with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get $1,500 worth of paid travel. With the Chase Ink Business Preferred or Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’d get just $1,250 in paid travel. That extra $250 in value could easily make the CSR a keeper for those who spend a lot of points through the Chase travel portal.

However, does it make sense to spend so much through the Chase Travel Portal?

If you’re booking flights, it certainly might make sense to be spending that much through the Chase portal. Flights are usually available for about the same price through Chase as they are through other online travel agencies (and even when they’re not, you may be able to get the help desk to help you with that). If you’re booking flights and prices are the same as elsewhere, it can certainly make sense to redeem Ultimate Rewards through the Chase Travel Portal. For those who spend more than I do on paid flights, the CSR can be well worth it.

For hotels, I think the value of using the Chase Travel Portal is dubious at best. That’s for a number of reasons. When booking hotels through the Chase travel portal:

  1. You give up elite benefits. In most cases, hotels won’t honor elite status benefits like free breakfast and late checkout when you book through a third party like Chase (there have certainly been exceptions, but it’s not the norm).
  2. You can not access promo codes / special rates. I frequently find a code of some sort to reduce the price of a hotel to something below the sticker price. When booking through the Chase portal, you can’t even access the AAA rate. For me, this means I’d be overpaying through Chase in many / most scenarios.
  3. You can not earn portal rewards. Any time I book a paid hotel stay, I use a shopping portal. We sometimes see portals offer as much as 10% back at various hotel chains — so even if prices are the same, you are paying a higher net cost than you could be if your preferred hotel offers any portal rewards.
  4. You do not earn hotel points. Between regular earnings and promos, I’d say that it’s not uncommon to earn something like 10% of your room rate back in the form of hotel points when booking with a chain that has a loyalty program. Stack the points you could be earning with the portal rewards you’re giving up and the AAA rate that you can’t book and the Chase Portal starts to look pretty overpriced.
  5. You could likely buy discounted Hotels.com gift cards and book the same properties for less (and earn 10% back in the form of Welcome Rewards). While there are some ins and outs to consider here, it may be possible to book the same hotels for less via Hotels.com with various stacking opportunities. While the downside is that you have to use cash rather than points, I think it’s hard to value the points at a full 1.5c each when you have another option like this to score big discounts on hotels.

In my case, I additionally have the ability to generate Marriott gift cards at a decent rate, which when combined with booking through a portal, using a discounted rate, and earning hotel points far surpasses the value of booking paid nights through Chase. I’d generally prefer to earn even 2% cash back and leverage that cash back with opportunities for savings on the room rather than use the Chase portal to book the room (and I say that as someone who has booked rooms with Ultimate Rewards points before). I feel like I’m losing too much value by redeeming points for paid hotel stays through Ultimate Rewards.

I won’t just cancel, I’ll downgrade

Of course, when the time comes to dump the CSR, I won’t cancel the account outright but rather downgrade it to a no-fee card like the Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom card. I still love Ultimate Rewards points, but I could potentially earn a net higher number of points per year by pairing one of those with my Ink Business Preferred.

Bottom line

While I could likely get similar results from Greg’s detailed spreadsheet, I don’t think I need to go that far to see that the CSR just doesn’t really hold much value for me given that the Ritz and Amex Gold cards are no-brainers for me. Particularly because of the Ritz card, with its better Priority Pass membership, identical travel protection, and better overall value given the combination of the $300 credit and the 50K Marriott certificate (not to mention the $100 Visa Discount Air benefit, which the CNB Visa noted in that post is losing but the Ritz card still has), I don’t think that the CSR will provide measurable value for my needs. I’m unlikely to book enough paid flights through the Chase portal to justify keeping the CSR for 1.5c per point in value and I feel like I am accepting a sub-par value if I book hotels at 1.5c each since booking via the Chase portal essentially requires me to overpay (in the form of giving up portal rewards, discounts, hotel points, or opportunities to stack Hotels.com for a cheaper deal). It’s hard to actually value that benefit at a full 1.5c unless booking paid flights, which I just don’t do all that often. At next renewal, unless Chase finds a way to add additional value to the CSR, I can’t see renewing it. If they actually up the fee to $550, I think tossing it in the circular file will become the no-brainer move for me.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

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HChris
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HChris

I get your calculation and I agree that everyone has to do their own calculation. I just called today and had to cancel my Amex Gold card because my employer has send me abroad and not once was I able to utilize the 4x on dining because not even Burger King accepts Amex here.

I am looking forward to the next couple months though because of the rumours of a CSR relaunch with increased bonus categories and a dining credit (and most likely higher AF). So I would say that you, Nick, are in a good position now since you can wait and see what comes from Chase and then reevaluate the situation.

tom
Guest
tom

if DoCs reports of the fee going to $550 play out, dumping CSR is a no-brainer

Jim
Guest
Jim

Your calculations seem odd to me. If you combine points from you 5x card with this card , 1.5 cpp become 7.5 cpp then you can see a lot of values. For example, 5K in spending (OD/OM, Staples) is 25K points that become 37.K points for travel redemption. Not enough value? Really?

Tonei Glavinic
Guest
Tonei Glavinic

It’s not 37.5k points – it’s 25k points that can be worth $375 through the travel portal, vs. $312.50 if you just have the CSP or CIP. Since he doesn’t spend a lot of points that way, it makes sense that the difference in redemption value through that avenue wouldn’t necessarily outweigh the $150 net annual fee to keep the CSR.

rich
Guest
rich

If you are putting “easy” $25K spend at grocery stores then there is some serious MS going on with gift cards. I have no intentions of spending $15K+ annually on gift cards. Those are the accounts that should be closed down.

Blue
Guest
Blue

25k/year…is not serious MS.

losingtrader
Guest
losingtrader

I spend >25k on groceries just between me and my 4 dogs. Of course, they do eat filet at every meal. Just sayin’

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Maybe if they billed the annual fee monthly or a low interest loan maybe HaHa ..Only the super high spenders can afford that card now . If they put limits and raise what u need to charge yearly they would do better.. If the card holder paid one min late or had a 30 day balance they would make the money back .
CHEERs

Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy

You did not talk about non bonused spend. Maybe if you had the Freedom unlimited you would feel different. Also, the I think whats great about the travel portal is the ability to book non-chain properties.For example travel to St Martin and you won’t find any chains, and the travel portal can open up some really great resorts.

Pam
Guest
Pam

@ Jimmy I just booked St Maarten (south end of the island). Greg wrote up the Sonesta cc earlier this yr when I was researching my own St Bart’s trip. We got the cc to break up the horrible travel time (from SB) by stopping in SM.

The Sonesta cc offer can cover at least 1 night at their top-tier property in SM. Recently reopened after the hurricane damage & worth $700-900/nt value.

Blue
Guest
Blue

I love the CSR 1.5x on the Expedia hotel portal for the types of hotels I like to stay in (small and independents) but I value at 1.42 to account for the opportunity cost of not buying on CSR. Between that and best in class travel insurance it is a clear keeper for me at net $150/year.

MAlMel
Guest
MAlMel

I agree with you on the Chase portal. I have found little value in it other than a couple of hotel reservations, only because I wanted a “free” one-night stay and the points per night were low. I figured I wasn’t wasting much.

My main reason for keeping the CSR has been the insurance benefits. I did not realize the Ritz card has the same, thanks for that info.

Also, when booking air through the portal, there are no taxes and fees to pay for with the CSR. Do you still get the travel insurance benefits on that ticket since you have the CSR? That has been a point of confusion for me.

LKay
Guest
LKay

Sapphire Car insurance coverage is the best (maybe you have it on the Ritz, but most of us don’t have that one)

losingtrader
Guest
losingtrader

More and more I’m thinking about discounted Hotels.com gift cards and just paying for suites

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Hotel .com is pretty good but some hotels u Can’t use GC’s nor do u get the 1 nite free deal @ 10 . They tell u that before .
CHEERs

Tonei Glavinic
Guest
Tonei Glavinic

i’m in a similar position – I almost never use my CSR at this point, and since I just got approved for the CIP I plan to cancel my CSR. Will have to re-evaluate what to do for dining spend when I lose the $350 AF on the Prestige though – while the Amex Gold is an attractive option, their limited acceptance outside the US would be a problem for me.

MSer
Guest
MSer

Amex Gold is for 4x dining and $25K grocery – one of the few no-brainer cards.e

gina
Guest
gina

Hi Nick,
Can you explain how you were able to use the $300 airline credit for the Ritz Carlton? Thanks!

Beth
Guest
Beth

Isn’t cell phone insurance now on all world elite mastercards? If so, does that change your argument to keep the Ink Preferred?

Biggie F
Guest
Biggie F

Call it confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, preaching to the converted, or what-have-you, but I’m with you on this one.

Moreover, if I could only have three cards, two of the three would also be Chase Ritz-Carlton and Chase Business Ink Preferred. (The other would be the Chase Hyatt Visa.) So it’s not Chase I don’t respond to.

Htdog
Guest
Htdog

I’ve come to similar conclusions. Amex Gold has made the CSR a backup card and I don’t think I spend enough on it to justify the cost over the CSP. Chase needs to add something if they want people to keep it.

toomanybooks
Guest
toomanybooks

I am coming around to Nick’s way of thinking on CSR. The Amex Personal Golds my wife and I hold are getting a serious workout. And my grandfathered Ink Pluses with 5x UR on tons of gift cards at Omax/Depot/Staples and cell charges and internet are the last cards I will give up.

It would have to be for me a weird situation to use URs at 1.5 cents as opposed to transferring them for Hyatt stays, at least until I hit Globalist each year. 5000-8000 points plus no tax at a cat 1 or 2 plus all the perks plus a status night worth what, $15-20, is pretty hard to beat.

And even then, at 70, 80, 90, 100 nights Globalists get 10K bonuses, so with proper timing that’s a rebate of 1000 per night.

Without CSR, what do people like for rental car insurance? I still have Diners Club Professional which is good, for which they don’t seem to charge an annual fee any more, but it might have expired on me.

frugalman
Guest
frugalman

I have lots of UR points. As a result, keeping CSR becomes my liability (for 1.5cent and transfer capability). Besides this biggest reason,

I value CSR also because
(1) I am cancelling all other high end cards (Amex Platinum, Amex Aspire, and already done prestige)
(2) primary car rental collision insurance
(3) good travel protection
(4) no pain to redeem the $300 credit (in contrast to Amex and Ritz)
(5) With so many card opening and closing, the churner like me ironically want to keep one card with wanted benefits (e.g. PP and global entry) stay still so I won’t worry about my assessment base each time.

What I don’t see as Nick does?
(1) I no longer value Ritz card as it used to be. A single 50K certificate is more a liability to me and the $300 credit is harder to get (still better than Amex). Marriott notoriously dump free breakfast for gold elite also angry me.
(2) I don’t need Ink Biz card either as it has no big bonus category (even worse than no-free Ink cash).
(3) For Amex gold, I don’t have that one. My concern is what if RAT team crack down on GC purchase at grocery store. You know that’s the only way to reach 100K MR points. Oh, I rarely dine out as it is too expensive for me.

To me, CSR is not only a keeper but also a long term keeper. So everyone is different. We agree to disagree. Think about your own situation and make a decision.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Nick, any thoughts on AmEx increasing their travel insurance benefits next year and if that could maybe factor into this discussion?

carlh
Guest
carlh

I understand your points, but I have actually found one area where the card pays for itself. Often, I have found domestic (both within the US and to Canada) first class tickets using the Chase portal with 1.5 cents per point. I can often purchase long haul domestic first class tickets for far less points than if I transferred the points to United or another program. It also allows me to fly Delta and Alaska, which I prefer, instead of being stuck with United and I can do it using less points than transferring to United. Typically, I have been spending about 30,000 to 40,000 points each way for flights of 1,500 to 3,000 miles. It also means I have a better selection of flights.
Hotels are a bad buy on the portal and domestic economy is often a poor purchase, but first class often works. It also means that you can earn points on flights as well. You also earn 3x points on the ticket purchase as well. I have found myself purchasing these tickets more than transferring to programs and using points to buy–especially with saver awards becoming more difficult to purchase.

William
Guest
William

I find it sort of funny that your so caught up with keeping your cell phone protection while Greg is like fck all insurance for the most part (sarcastically) lol

Also I’m a little confused why that cell protection means so much. Looking at my Verizon bill I pay $9 a month for insurance so that’s $13 more a year then if I had the ink preferred which I had but never used so I downgraded it to a cash card. Now I have 2 cash cards, 1 unlimited and a CSP. At $95 – possible chase offers I’m getting close to breaking even on my AF. I just don’t understand why the insurance matters so much when you could make it a cash, and just run up the points at office stores to offset the difference in insurance your paying. Like you said 5k points is nothing. I been hitting staples and office max and depot multiple times a day with both cards for the last 3 weeks almost and my volume isn’t even huge. The potential cash/points I’m earning easily offset the difference in insurance you feel protects you.

Also unless your running up advertising or shipping I’m lost on what value the preferred has over having say the CSP and premier. With ink unlimited combined with CSP I’m earning 1.5×1.25 = 1.87 points and with the premier and dc I’m earning 2.5 points, this negates a 2% cb card but that’s not part of the assessment. I’m just wondering why you chose an ink preferred over as many cashes as possible, one unlimited, and a CSP for car rental And travel protection.

If you keep a CSP and ink preferred your paying about the same as if I had a CSP and premier with multiple no annual free cards to compliment for bonus categories and then your not taking into account fees for thank you cards. I just found no value in ink preferred unless I was gonna spend a massive amount in advertising or shipping.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Some people have family cell plans with multiple phones making free insurance a large benefit

Pam
Guest
Pam

Yes, ATT almost $500/yr for their family plan coverage

LJJ
Guest
LJJ

Nick,

I think I mentioned this before and I noticed that Greg is considering it. You should consider writing about what’s in your wallet. I would love to see what your set up look like.

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

Might be a good time for you to write up a hotel credit card review. I do have some $100 Hotels.com Giftcards sitting around but haven’t looked at them because combining them seems like a pain, I’d like to because I get them cheap (15-20% off)

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

When AMEX comes up with a deal I will buy 20x$100 then Book one nite @ a time so it’s easy to cancel one nite @ a time too. When u look there may be a 3 nite stay but not a 4th .Prices go up close in and I may change the trip close in too .I have done that at many hotel stays check in and out in one stay .Hotels don’t care if u point that out at check in and never had to change a room .

CHEERs

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

Haven’t thought about that, thanks.

Parts Unknown
Guest
Parts Unknown

Combining them is really easy. If you have like 100 it’ll take some time, but it’s not difficult.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I actually just upgraded my one of my Freedom’s back to the CSR as I intended to cancel my Ritz with it’s annual fee coming up. I cam foresee the value of the 1.5x redemption being worth it to me personally, but only if the CSR stays at $450 per year.

With the news from DoC saying the CSR is going up to $550 per year to add some useless dining credit, I’d rather go back down to a Freedom, keep my own Ritz, and stick to 1.25x redemption’s on my Ink Preferred. You’re right that the CSR has become overrated as hell now, and it’ll only become worse if the annual fee goes up.

MAlMel
Guest
MAlMel

frugalman mentions another reason I would keep CSR: ability to transfer points. But isn’t this also possible if you have one of the Ink cards?

Regarding the emphasis on cell phone insurance, something I had originally missed when getting the Ink card was that it only pertains to phones purchased from the provider. We never buy new phones, we always purchase an older one on eBay, so it isn’t even covered.

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

Yes, ink plus (no longer accept new applicants) and CIP have the ability to transfer

Pam
Guest
Pam

@MAIMel correct, phone must be purchased from the provider. When I filed a claim, I had to prove it so fyi to readers to keep their purchase documentation if not otherwise doing a bogo, etc. purchase plan thru the carrier that would show on their statement

WR2
Guest
WR2

Welcome to the dark side! Despite your calcs being 900 UR off (no UR on travel credit, so in the rosiest of scenarios it’s still not a net $150 AF), there is rarely a use case for keeping CSR if you have CIP. Plus, CIP has those juicy 20k referrals. I will continue to do my CSR upgrade/downgrade cycle to double dip the travel credit, and I’ll be thankful for those that mindlessly keep the CSR year after year, for those people make this game profitable!

Mary Jane's
Guest
Mary Jane's

Nick, thanks for the great article. My portfolio is similar to yours. This is our first completed year of having plat/diamond status with Marriott and Hilton and I’m loving it. You can get spoiled really easily. My question is that you mention various portals but is the only way to get your elite benefits is to go directly to the hotel websites (and possibly pay with gift cards) or are there any portals that work with the hotels so you can get your elite benefits?

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Sir Nick
Great job on ur annual Travel Ins. infor and Greg’s post . I usually book Ins. every trip (3x+ a year @ $200 ) for the $500K ME .I called AIG Travel for which I have used for better or worse for 10 years . I TOAD her what I wanted and I’m booked with lots of free stuff which comes with the annual policy for $259.. U saved me many hrs of time plus it’s starts in May and I used my new Amex Green to hit the min. ..
Thank You!!
Time is Money !!
You Did Win the contest and c u @ the Yacht Club.
CHEERs

Ddager
Guest
Ddager

Premium card I keep – Amex Plat, Bonvoy Brilliant, CSR, Ritz, Aspire.

Main reason I have to keep CSR is travel insurance for cruise / tours. Rental car primary insurance can be replaced by Ritz but Travel insurance benefits alone seem to be good enough to keep. (If I take cruise or tour, insurance alone is easily $5-800.

As you mentioned, it kept losing the real value from other cards, but I didn’t find any good card to cover travel insurance like CSR does.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Read my Post Above Cheap yearly Ins AIG..
CHEERS

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

Timely post once again Nick. I was on the fence, but now i think I’ll downgrade. AF coming due on CSR on December 1, and i think I’ll downgrade to CFU for SM MS. Already have CIP for transfer partners and 3x travel. For dining spend I’ll use my biz Costco CC at 3% back. Thank you.

Also I think the CIP is an underappreciated card. Besides what you mentioned, it has bonus categories such as shipping, which not many other cards have (especially Visa). I’m more than happy to keep at least 1.

As far as travel protections, I’ve got the Amex biz plat, so I can use that as a backup for airline fee payment. I’m happy that Amex is finally bringing those protections onboard. I just wish they worked for OW and open jaw. CSR and RC still superior of course in that regard.

MSer
Guest
MSer

Wow, way too deep in the weeds for me. Absent MS-able bonus categories, whether it’s 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x bonuses, card bonus categories are effectively immaterial for those who MS. I get 500-1000x more points from MS than I do from real spend. So the cards I want/keep are all based on ability to MS.

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

To each their own. For folks that spend a lot in bonus categories, the bonus categories do actually matter.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

I have too many cards, so I have thought about cancelling the CSR as well. Here is why I am leaning towards keeping it:

1) My main “travel” expense is actually Uber/Taxi/Lyft, so a 3x “travel” category is essential for me (I know you can buy Uber gift cards, but I haven’t started to explore that yet). So I need to hold at least one of three cards: Amex Green, Citi Premier or CSR

2) The Chase portal is very good for redeeming for discounted longer haul first class flights. I recently redeemed for a JetBlue mint flight, for example. That redemption, along with transfers to Avios, Air France and Hyatt, are pretty valuable. I know I can get 1.25 cents with Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier, but the extra .25 cents makes a difference for big redemptions

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

In regards to your second point, if you can redeem for at least 60,000 points or so in airfare a year through the site, it’s a keeper. Otherwise, dump it. Mathematically, (airfare points needed = x = $150 annual fee/0.0025 cost difference = 60,000).

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Yup 60k points ORD>EU rt my INK can do that..Cool
CHEERs

Pam
Guest
Pam

$150 = net CSR fee. $95 = CSP fee. Diff = $55/.0025 point differential = 22,000 points spend on the travel portal needed to break even with the CSP (over the CSR)

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

They already have a premier though, so no need to compare it against a CSP.

The $150 annual fee cost comes from comparing the CSR against a freedom downgrade. Then you’re comparing benefit against the Premier that the poster said they already have

Pam
Guest
Pam

@ Aloha808 – Nick (& apparently other readers) plan to downgrade from a CSR to a CSP, a conclusion to his post. My math is to posit a future 22k+ point redemption (or the equivalent of 2 mid-range hotel bookings) might provide a financial reason for not downgrading.

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

Actually Nick specifically says above he would downgrade to one of the Chase freedom varieties, hence the annual fee comparison against a freedom.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Nick is effectively “downgrading” his CSR to the CIP (that he also already owns) by using its 1.25 redemption point/transfer partner capabilities instead, identical to the CSP (& not the CF). The CIP is also a $95 AF like the CSP (not the CF) – the math still holds up.

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

He’s not debating whether or not to keep his CIP, he is debating whether or not to keep his CSR or to downgrade it. How much would he save if he doesn’t keep it? about $150.

Pam
Guest
Pam

To accomplish his goals of retaining transfer partners & earn 3x travel, Nick must keep either his CIP or CSR. He cannot dump both cards to do what he says he wants to do, so one card must stay on the books with an AF – not $0 like with a CF/CFU. Goodnight!

Ken
Guest
Ken

This might be a dumb question but is Expedia considered to be a travel agency. I’m guessing no. No harm in asking I’m Thinking though

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

Expedia is considered as an online travel agency

GypsyJake
Guest
GypsyJake

Reading all these responses is making me get a headache but I can’t stop reading em, no family or friends are into our hobby yet they call me to help with hotels and flights…

You are all my people!

After spending over $80 @ Panera bread (soups and salads) I really don’t care about a net $55 difference between the 2 pre/res (the fee difference it’s ok) in my case my spend it’s closer than most customers, to each their own

Edit: I like the reserve, I had to stop to a chase branch to apply (None in Massachusetts) the hoops I had to go through to get it, I put $550 a month on parking Garage fees, on all my fast pass accounts another $100’ish So $650 on tolls and parking alone every month (Lists as travel) so for me it’s worth it Just slightly

Off topic: 2013 I was a mostly cash person, cc was just for planed big purchases to spread out payments and or emergency’s, now I don’t know what cash feels like anymore everything is on CC

Thanks for this site, helped me and family travel all over the world

Gwen
Guest
Gwen

I totally get this. I downgraded my CSR to the Prefered and I am now running an Altitude Reserve and Amex set up. While I love the real-time rewards, they are better than the chase portal, but – ill probably end up going back to CSR and getting rid of the AR. Why? The biggest reason is – United. I live in a United hub and since they have the most flights I go through them quickly. I use Lifemiles/Aeroplan when I can but sometimes I still need United miles.

Aloha808
Guest
Aloha808

The preferred (CSP) will Still allow you transfer your points to United miles , you don’t need the CSR for that.

JoeH
Guest
JoeH

For me, I am still leaning towards keeping the CSR because I use a large number of UR points in the “Things to do” travel category on the portal. This year we booked over 80k points worth on museum and park entrance fees as well as snorkeling and whale watching trips. I’d have a harder time making those fit in our travel budget with the bigger trips we can take with points. Florida and Newfoundland trips make it easy to afford outings – Australia and Europe trips, much more costly. I probably should still do the math – a. 25% drop in value may mean paying cash for an amusement park, but still utilizing the same number of points for everything else…

Phil
Guest
Phil

My hotspot for using Chase UR w/my CSR is car rentals. Saving ~33% is huge. I also book a few hotel nights and 1 or 2 flights each year. But, If the AF increases I’ll dump it and move the pts (~220K) to my wife’s CSP.

dizzy
Guest
dizzy

I”m pretty bummed bc my plan was to upgrade CSP to CSR after a year. I finally just got the CSP earlier this month. One reason I app’d that is bc I wasn’t sure my income (40k) was enough to get CSR. I had lowered limits on all other cards and got CSP limit of 8.8 k tho, doh! Probably woulda had a shot at the CSR then. Oh well, things always change in this game.

BTW just had an amazing trekking experience through the jungle in Colombia to la Ciudad Perdida booked via the Chase travel portal. Super awesome use of points, I never thought to do experiences thru there until recently. The portal also hooked me up with a flight that was unbookable on miles for some reason through all the other airlines I had miles with.