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Related posts (Read these first!):
–Chase’s Highest Ultimate Rewards Signup Bonus Ever: Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Point Bonus Is Now Live; Get $2,100 In Travel!
-Chase Sapphire Reserve Additional User Benefits And Lounge Guesting Policy Are Awesome, Plus Application And Spending Strategies!
Chase took the mileage world by storm last week with the launch of the Sapphire Reserve card.
With an unprecedented 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points signup bonus, $300 in automatic annual credits and triple points at an extremely broad swath of travel categories, a lounge membership that allows for unlimited free guests, free Global Entry/PreCheck, primary car rental insurance for every country in the world, no foreign transaction fees, and a redemption system that allows all Chase points to be used as real airline/hotel miles or as a travel credit with a generous 50% bonus, the Sapphire Reserve really can be called the ultimate travel credit card.
Of course many people previously had a $95/year Sapphire Preferred card. That card becomes redundant once you have a Sapphire Reserve card. Sapphire Reserve costs an extra $55/year after the $300 annual travel credit, but the benefits are worth far more than that.
Many people have asked if they should be cancelling their Sapphire Preferred card.
A better idea is to downgrade the card to a no annual fee Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card. You can downgrade it once you have had it for 12 months. You don’t get a signup bonus when you upgrade or downgrade a card, but you’re better off applying for cards that have higher signup bonuses anyway.
-With Freedom Unlimited you’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar everywhere. You can then transfer points earned on that card to Sapphire Reserve in order to transfer those points into real airline/hotel miles or to use with Sapphire Reserve’s 50% bonus for redeeming points for travel. In fact all of your everyday purchases should be made on Freedom Unlimited and only dining/travel purchases or purchases made outside of the USA should be made on Sapphire Reserve. By doing that you’ll earn at least 2.25% off everyday purchases and at least 4.5% off dining/travel purchases.
You can pay your taxes for a 1.87% fee and still come out ahead thanks to the guaranteed minimum value of 2.25% due to earning 1.5 points per dollar on Freedom Unlimited multiplied by the minimum travel redemption value of 1.5 cents per point for Sapphire Reserve cardholders.
-With Freedom you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on rotating categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. Maxing out those $6,000 in category bonuses will net 30,000 points per year. This year those categories included:
Q1: Gas stations and local commuter transportation
Q2: Grocery stores and wholesale clubs like BJs, Costco, and Sams Club.
Q3: Restaurants and wholesale clubs.
Q4: Wholesale clubs, Holiday shopping (Likely Amazon.com) and more to be announced.
In July there was even a bonus 10 points per dollar category for Freedom and Freedom Unlimited.
Last year there was also a “Q5” bonus that earned 10 points per dollar on Freedom.
If you have multiple Freedom cards you can earn the 5x bonus for spending $1,500 per quarter on each of them.
Which Freedom card should you downgrade to?
It really depends on how much you spend on everyday purchases and how likely you are to maximize the Freedom’s rotating category spending.
The true advantage of Freedom over Freedom Unlimited is the extra 3.5 points per dollar on those rotating categories. In other words spending $6,000 on Freedom bonus categories per year would net 30K points on Freedom versus 9K points on Freedom Unlimited or a potential 21K bonus points. You would have to spend more than $42,000 per year for Freedom Unlimited to come out ahead of Freedom.
However not everyone will max out their Freedom bonus category spending, which makes the math much cloudier. Limited time 10 points per dollar bonuses also cloud the math. Tax payments that will make sense on Freedom Unlimited won’t make sense on Freedom.
I downgraded my Sapphire Preferred to Freedom Unlimited. That wasn’t a major decision for me though as I already have 3 Freedom cards.
Have you been approved for Sapphire Reserve? What will you do with your Sapphire Preferred card?