Should You Wait to Upgrade CSP to CSR?

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Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve came out earlier this year, there’s been a lot of exciting chatter followed by disappointed rumblings from folks who can’t qualify for the card due to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

While a major draw of the Sapphire Reserve card is the 100,000 point sign-up bonus, the card also offers an impressive line-up of travel benefits that has some folks contemplating upgrading their existing Sapphire Preferred card to the Reserve. The question is, is it a good idea to upgrade from a Sapphire Preferred to a Sapphire Reserve card? That depends on a variety of factors.

The Bonus

The highlight of the Sapphire Reserve card is the 100,000 point sign-up bonus. It’s double that of the Sapphire Preferred and the spending requirement is fairly reasonable for most people. So if you’re primarily interested in earning more Ultimate Rewards points, then I would wait it out until you are eligible for the Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus rather than upgrading from the Sapphire Preferred.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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$0 intro first year
$95 annual fee
Earn 50,000 bonus points
when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Apply Now
Add to Favorites
Sign Up Bonus
$0 intro first year
$95 annual fee
Earn 50,000 bonus points
when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Annual Fee
Already have this card? Maximize your rewards.
Read the FTG Review »

 

The Benefits

That being said, the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Reserve is just one of the benefits of the card. The card carries a $450 annual fee and in return, it offers some terrific travel benefits. These include an annual $300 travel credit and a 50% bonus when you redeem points directly through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center. I’ve long touted the value that can be found on hotel and activity bookings through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center. Being able to get 50% more value is a huge benefit that, depending on the number of points earned and redeemed, can take the sting out of missing out on the 100,000 point sign-up bonus.

The Extra Point

Aside from the annual travel credit, the Sapphire Reserve also offers 3 points per $1 on travel and dining. This is just 1 extra point per $1 than the Sapphire Preferred, but depending on how much you spend in these categories, it can translate to a substantial haul and thus justify upgrading cards and foregoing the sign-up bonus for. But since most of us don’t spend $100,000 on travel and dining, the slightly higher earning rate hardly justifies an upgrade.

Cash Savings

Another thing worth taking into account when deciding whether to upgrade from a Sapphire Preferred to the Sapphire Reserve are the amount of cash you can save annually that may off-set the loss of the 100,000 point sign-up bonus. There’s the $300 annual travel credit, complimentary Priority Pass Select membership (potentially worth around $500), access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, and extra perks on rental car bookings. In addition, cardholders are eligible for a $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees every four years.

Other Options

Depending on how long you need to wait in order to be eligible for a new Chase card, it might make sense to upgrade in order to gain access to these perks. The 100,000 point sign-up bonus on the Reserve card is worth at least $1,500 so if you think you’re going to get at least that much value out of the Reserve card benefits until you are eligible for a new card, then I would not upgrade from the Sapphire Preferred and forego the sign-up bonus.

 

Citi Prestige Card
Citi Prestige® Card

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$450 first year
$450 after first year
40,000 Points
After $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
Read Review »
Already have this card? Track it and maximize your rewards.
Citi Prestige Card Citi Prestige® Card
Apply Now
Add to Favorites
Sign Up Bonus
$450 first year
$450 after first year
40,000 Points
After $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
Annual Fee
Already have this card? Maximize your rewards.
Read the FTG Review »

 

You should also take into account whether there are any non-Chase cards that offer similar recurring travel benefits. If you can apply for one of those cards and wait a reasonable amount of time to become eligible for the Sapphire Reserve card, then I would wait it out.

That’s something to mull over if you’re considering upgrading from a Sapphire Preferred card to a Sapphire Reserve and foregoing the lucrative sign-up bonus. Take into account the amount of time you’d have to wait to become eligible for the sign-up bonus (as well as the number of other sign-up bonuses you’d miss out on in order to remain under 5 applications in 24 months) and the value of the travel benefits.
I’d like your take on this: Do you think it’s worth upgrading from a Sapphire Preferred to a Sapphire Reserve card?

 

 

 

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