This week at Frequent Miler, the Sapphire Reserve was on trial: It has been called the best travel card on the market and a must-have for frequent travelers. Is it guilty as charged? Or will you set it free from your wallet? With early adopters facing a choice between paying the annual fee or possibly changing to a card that’s free, Greg analyzed his decision-making process, how to get the travel credit multiple times, whether or not you can still get a free bag on your flight even if you pay for it with your Sapphire Reserve, and the value of the travel insurance benefits. With the many facets analyzed, the ball is now in your court. In non-Sapphire related news, Greg shares a couple of mistakes with BOA and we looked at the latest promotion from Upside. All of that and more in this week’s Frequent Miler week in review.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the launch of the Sapphire Reserve, but when that $450 annual fee hits, it sure won’t be that hard to believe anymore. Is it worth keeping the Sapphire Reserve? Should you product change to the Sapphire Preferred? Or a Freedom card? For my family, the answer kind of surprised me. I never expected that we’d use the travel portal much at 1.5cpp, but it turns out we have actually redeemed a lot more points that way than I would have anticipated. It”s not my first choice for using Ultimate Rewards points, but it has come in handy enough that considered along with all of Greg’s arguments in favor of keeping that we’re going to hang onto it (just one in my family) for now. What about you?
If your answer to the first question was “cancel”, not so fast — have you maximized your travel credits? Should you stick it out a few more months and trey for three? Depending on when you opened your account, Greg’s got the answer.
Nobody bats a thousand, and Greg struck out on his most recent card application. Thankfully, he shared the details so we could learn from the error of his ways and grab a couple of great data points that could prove very useful on future Bank of America applications.
Upside recently ran a great promotion for $250 back on a package booking of $400 or more. This week, the offer has switched up a bit: $200 back in gift cards on any booking of $400 or more — meaning that you no longer need to bundle Uber credit in order to get $200 in gift cards on a $400 flight — and while this particular promotion ends 8/31, Upside confirmed that the travel itself can be booked for any time up to as late as the schedule allows. Hotel bookings still seem to require an Uber credit. I’ve been impressed thus far with Upside’s customer service; a couple of readers have noted free upgrades and proactive customer service solutions that exceeded expectations. Especially with regard to paid flights, I think this deal is hard to beat.
Are you eligible for coverage when you just charge the trip taxes to your card? Will it cover the car if you rent a Corvette? Which card has the best insurance? I don’t know as though we yet have an answer to that last question. I’ve long felt it to be the Citi Prestige card, at least in terms of trip delay coverage — and truth be told, I haven’t yet booked a flight on the Sapphire reserve (apart from pay-with-points) since I prefer the protection on the Citi Prestige. However, I am still awaiting the final resolution of my first Prestige trip delay claim (I submitted my paperwork late in the window), so I’ll hold off on calling it the best. All that said, I’m interested in Greg’s analysis of how the ancillary travel insurance benefits (like emergency medical evacuation) stack up between the different major issuers and look forward to a complete guide to come.
My answer: when you fly Southwest 🙂 — just one of the many benefits of a companion pass is 4 free checked bags if we want them. That aside, I ran into an issue with the title question earlier this year: I booked a super cheap United flight ($40 each for a one-way from New York to Myrtle Beach). I assumed that my bag would be free since I am a Mileage Plus Explorer card holder. I booked with my Citi Prestige for trip delay protection. Rookie mistake. Little did I know that I had to have paid with my Mileage Plus Explorer card in order to get a free bag. Check out our new resource page so you don’t end up paying for bags you expected would be free.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Check back soon for this week around the web and our month-end last chance deals.