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Chase increases Sapphire Reserve annual fee to $550 with new benefits

Lyft and DoorDash join strong cardmember perks.

Starting late January, Chase is increasing the annual fee on its popular Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card to $550, according to recent rumors. This move puts the card on equal footing with Amex’s Platinum Card, which jumped to $550 from $450 in 2017.

Given the industry trend of card companies trimming benefits from reward cards to save on rising costs, it’s a wonder Chase took so long to offset the value of its Reserve card. Much of the annual fee, for instance, covered the card’s annual $300 travel statement credit.

What to expect with a new Chase Sapphire Reserve

The changes to Chase’s popular rewards card are relatively few, but create interesting wrinkles to how a cardholder can use the card to maximize value. Here are the major changes expected from Chase:

  • The annual fee is increasing from $450 to $550.
  • Lyft is added as a new earning category. You’ll earn 10x points on all Lyft car rides.
  • Cardholders receive a complimentary year of Lyft Pink, with membership valued at $240.
  • Cardholders receive a complimentary year of DoorDash DashPass, with membership valued at $120.

How to get the lower annual fee before the update

According to as-yet-unconfirmed chatter, new cardmembers can lock in the current $450 annual fee by applying for a Chase Sapphire Reserve by January 12th. New cardholders who make it under the deadline will enjoy the card’s new benefits, but at a lower cost.

Existing cardholders who have accounts that renew by April are expected to pay the old annual fee, with the increased annual fee kicking in the next membership year.

How the changes affect Sapphire Reserve cardholders

A $100 increase to the card’s annual fee may sting, but it sounds like you’ll retain the card’s many benefits while gaining a few more that might offset the hike.

You must do some work to make up for the card’s annual fee.

Before the anticipated hike, you could make up for the card’s annual fee by using the $300 travel statement credit and taking advantage of other travel perks. Chase automatically applies this travel credit to eligible travel purchases, which makes it like receiving $300 off of your flight or hotel stay. Taking advantage of additional perks, like staying at a few Priority Pass lounges, could bump you over that $450 value mark.

Now, those perks alone may not cover the cost after the fee increase. This isn’t as big a deal as it might seem since, presumably, you’re also using your Reserve on travel purchases and earning solid points along the way. Plus, cashing in on your new complimentary memberships is a $360 value itself, though these are a one-time redemption.

The Reserve is now a strong rideshare credit card.

Not many credit cards offer 10x points in a spending category, but that’s what Chase is expected to offer with Lyft. Its partnership with the rideshare giant will result in the highest rate among available rideshare cards. This is likely a direct answer to Uber credits offered by the Amex Platinum Card, though potentially a stronger value, depending on how often you ride with Lyft. Comparatively speaking, the Platinum Card offers up to $200 in Uber credits each year. But that’s where the card caps out.

It’s an oddly solid card for city dwellers — at least for a year

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders are expected to get a free one-year membership to two programs: the recently unveiled Lyft Pink and DoorDash. Lyft Pink offers a 15% discount on car rides and perks like complimentary bike and scooter rides. DoorDash lets cardholders order food without delivery fees and at reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more. While these services are valuable to anyone traveling in unfamiliar areas, they are especially helpful for city folk and others who rely on rideshare and food delivery more often.

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