One of the great features of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the $300 annual travel credit. I covered it in some detail in my Ultimate, Definitive Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. According to Chase it covers a broad variety of travel purchases, including airfare, hotels and tolls (and many more).
In most cases this credit should work out just as you might expect. However, there can be instances when a travel purchase is coded by the merchant as some other type of sale and then it doesn’t get auto-reimbursed in a program like Chase’s.
To confirm that E-ZPass account replenishments are indeed counting as travel and triggering reimbursement I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve to add $20 to my Maryland E-ZPass account as soon as I got my Sapphire Reserve card. I was instantly credited the $20 as soon as the transaction went from pending to posted!
Because the E-ZPass reload is categorized as travel I earned 3X points on it (3 pts/dollar x 20 dollars = 60 Ultimate Rewards points).
There is a chance that reloads for another state’s E-ZPass system could code differently. If you have any reports on that please share in the comments below. (A reader named Dennis shared a comment below about New York state.)
I did some quick spreadsheet math – I’m on pace to spend $219 on E-ZPass tolls this year. That’s a bit depressing.
Side note: I’ve long believed that electronic toll collection was pushed by politicians because they knew that it would enable them to increase tolls much faster than if everyone was still using cash for tolls. When you have to reach into your wallet and pull out cash and physically hand it over to a toll booth attendant it registers more than cruising through with E-ZPass, with nary a sound or physical indication you just paid.
That $219 a year amount could be entirely covered by the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit and leave me with $81 toward other travel costs. Obviously the $300 is “free money” at this point so we want to be 100% sure we don’t end the year without claiming all of it.
Of course the annual travel credit is issued once per calendar year so I get the $300 amount in calendar year 2016 and again in calendar year 2017, meaning it’s actually $600 of value in the first year of card membership!
Note that I proactively added the $20 to my E-ZPass account in this case. Because you can add to your E-ZPass account preemptively it’s a great option to ensure you max out the Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit if you don’t plan on charging other travel charges before the calendar year ends. Top up your E-ZPass account now and then draw down against it over time.
You can actually add to a family member’s or friend’s E-ZPass account. I topped up Patty’s account with $100 of funds using my Sapphire Reserve. The fact that it was someone else’s E-ZPass account wasn’t an issue – I received the travel credit and 3X points.
With this confirmation it’s an absolute no-brainer to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve for my E-ZPass account!
Are you using an E-ZPass from another state? Is it coding as travel? Have other ways you plan to use the $300 annual travel credit? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!
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