Chase announces limited-time Sapphire perks, benefiting at-home cardholders

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While summer is typically a time for vacations, road trips and other excursions, the coronavirus has brought travel to a halt for many Americans.

As a result, some credit card issuers are revamping the benefits of their travel cards to accommodate the home-based lifestyle of cardholders across the country.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can now enjoy additional rewards on grocery store purchases, bonus points toward past grocery, dining and home improvement purchases and more.

“Now more than ever we know our cardmembers want options to get the most value from their rewards,” said Matt Massaua, head of Ultimate Rewards and Loyalty Solutions at Chase, in a statement. “We’re continuing to give our customers choices so they have the flexibility to use their points in the most meaningful ways for them.”

A closer look at the limited-time benefits

With the Sapphire Reserve being the more premium option of the two (the Preferred charges a first-year $95 annual fee while the Reserve charges $550), Reserve cardholders gain a bit more from the added benefits. Both travel cards still offer their previous rewards structures and benefits outside of Chase’s short-term changes.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Bonus grocery category

As previously announced, Sapphire Reserve cardholders automatically earn a total of 5X points on purchases at grocery stores (up to $1,500 per calendar month, then 1X points). Grocery store pick-up and delivery services also count toward this category, as do a select number of food delivery services.

End of promotional period: June 30, 2020

$300 travel credit

Beginning June 1, 2020, grocery store and gas station purchases will qualify toward cardholders’ annual $300 travel credit. In the past, the $300 credit could only be earned by making qualifying travel purchases, such as flights and hotel stays.

End of promotional period: December 31, 2020

Pay Yourself Back℠

Starting May 31, 2020, cardholders will receive 50 percent more Ultimate Rewards® points when redeeming for statement credit against eligible grocery store, dining (including takeout and delivery) and home improvement store purchases. For a purchase to qualify, it must have been made within the last 90 days.

End of promotional period: September 30, 2020

Reduced annual fee for renewal

Chase’s previous policy announcement on the $100 statement credit toward card renewal has been updated. Now, cardholders who renew their Reserve card starting July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, will owe $100 less, taking the renewal fee from $550 to $450.

End of promotional period: December 31, 2020

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Bonus grocery category

Through June 30, 2020, Sapphire Preferred cardholders can enjoy an added 3X grocery store category for purchases of up to $1,500 per calendar month (then 1X points). No category activation is required and points will automatically be applied to the online account. Just as with the Reserve card, grocery pick-up and delivery and select food delivery services qualify toward this category.

End of promotional period: June 30, 2020

Pay Yourself Back℠

Cardholders can now earn 25 percent more Ultimate Rewards® points, rewarded as statement credit, by redeeming points toward past eligible purchases at grocery stores, dining and home improvement stores. Purchases must have been made within the last 90 days to qualify.

End of promotional period: September 30, 2020

Sapphire cardholders: Here’s what these changes mean for you

“I think these are smart changes — they reflect cardholders’ new spending patterns and compensate for the sharp decline in travel,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate.

With air travel at standstill for a majority of Americans, the premium travel perks of the Sapphire Reserve, in particular — such as lounge access and credit toward Global Entry and TSA PreCheck® — are unusable for the time being. This makes the addition of benefits unrelated to travel an added bonus for cardholders who might’ve been contemplating card renewal.

Is there a chance these benefits will be extended?

“While the perks could be extended past September, I think that alone should be sufficient to keep most cardholders around,” Rossman says.

Chase has already extended the timeframe to receive a lesser annual fee for Reserve card renewal. When first announced in April, only those with renewals between April 1, 2020, and July 1, 2020, qualified; now cardholders have until the end of 2020.

“Hopefully by the end of September things will be a lot better, and since travel tends to be booked well in advance, by the fourth quarter many people could be looking ahead to 2021 trips.”

The bottom line

As more and more travel cards lean into everyday categories and perks, those with multiple credit cards may have a choice to make.

“One potential downside for cardholders is overlap,” Rossman says. “Many high-end cardholders who used to have different cards (maybe one for transferable travel points, another cobranded with an airline and a third cobranded with a hotel) could all of a sudden have three grocery cards, basically… everyone seems to be leaning into that category.”

As the year progresses, time will tell how long issuers are willing to offer supplementary rewards categories and benefits.

“… It begs the question of whether or not it’s worth it to pay several annual fees for similar perks,” Rossman says.


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