In my thorough review of, and guide to, the Chase Sapphire Reserve I detailed the annual $300 travel credit feature of the card. It provides a major offset to the card’s hefty $450 annual fee.
The credit has turned out to be even better than expected. Yes, it’s still exactly $300 in magnitude but the credit applies to a surprisingly broad range of purchases, including E-ZPass reloads in many states. The speed with which the credit is applied is impressive also – the credit posts the same day that the travel charge posts.
I’ve also highlighted that you essentially get the $300 travel credit twice during the first year you have the card because the annual credit goes by calendar year, not card ownership year.
It turns out that for the Sapphire Reserve accounts, Chase is treating the December statement closing date as the point in time for which the annual travel credit calendar transitions to the following year.
My Sapphire Reserve statement closes on the 17th of the month. So on the 17th of December (or the next day) my annual travel credit “bank” reset to $300. All travel purchases which posted from that point forward were automatically offset by travel credits, up to the $300 annual limit.
See the image I created (below) showing my Sapphire Reserve activity, including travel credits.
As my transaction activity shows, any purchase which coded as travel was eligible for the annual travel credit. My December 2016 purchases which were reimbursed for my 2017 annual travel credit:
- E-ZPass reload ($25)
- Parking charge in NYC ($39)
- United checked bag fee ($25)
- NYC taxi charges ($6.62 and $9.35)
- Vacation home rental ($195.03)
Note that there were some purchases that you might think would code as travel but didn’t. For example, a purchase labeled as Quebec Bus Tour and one labeled Soc Des Traversiers Du Qu (a ferry ride) didn’t code as travel and therefore weren’t offset by travel credit. As always, the store or purchase name doesn’t drive eligibility – the official purchase coding does.
The net result: It’s still 2016 but I’ve already received my full $300 travel credit for 2017! You can view how much of your annual travel credit you’ve received by visiting the Ultimate Rewards site.
I’m very impressed with this facet of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. It will push the needle toward keeping the card. Because the applicability of the credit is so wide-reaching, it’s effectively the same as $300 cash to me. So it essentially drops the “net” annual fee of the card to $150 to me. Given that holding the Sapphire Reserve makes all my Ultimate Rewards points 20% more valuable for direct redemptions, I’m leaning towards holding on to the card. I have some more time to make that decision though as I obtained the card in August.
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Did you maximize your Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit for 2016? Share a note on your experience in the comments below!