a close up of food
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In a sense, when Chase raised the Sapphire Reserve annual fee to $550 a year, from $450 a year, it went there and stayed there. But in another sense – and reality – most people paid $450 for their annual fee last year. That’s about to end.

Chase was among the most generous in the highly competitive premium credit card market during the pandemic, choosing to offer a $100 renewal credit to cardholders when the Sapphire Reserve annual fee hit their accounts, offsetting for a lack of travel and fluidity around benefits.

As people get back to moving again, Chase confirms the annual fee is headed back up, or back to where it was, and that the discounts are out. The big question now is: will upcoming leaked changes around the card be enough to keep cardholders compelled?

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Ending $100 Sapphire Reserve Renewal

Sure enough, the rumors were true. When my Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee hit this year, a $100 renewal credit was included, for a net $450 annual fee. With many trips on hold, it was a welcomed gesture, even though DoorDash credits and Lyft Pink memberships had already helped to soften the blow.

Soon thereafter, it became an accepted fact that Chase would automatically offer a $100 renewal credit when the annual fee came around, in response to card benefits with arguably diminished value in the short term. Just about everyone paid $450 to renew their card in late 2020 and the first half of 2021.

According to OMAAT, this policy will continue through July on card renewals for people who held the Sapphire Reserve prior to January 12th, 2020, but come August 1st, the $100 annual fee credit is coming to a close.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card will once again revert to $550 a year, and that’s that. Basically, if your card renews from August onwards, it’ll be $550 per year. This news is all ahead of what could be a huge shift in Sapphire Reserve card benefits, which are expected to be released on August 15th, or teased ahead of that date.

a glass bowl with food in it next to a credit card

Upcoming Sapphire Reserve Changes

So what might change? Points earning rates, for one.

Chase started offering up to 5X points on travel booked through Chase Travel on many no annual fee rewards cards such as the Freedom Flex, while Sapphire Reserve holders paying $550 a year were left with 3X on travel purchases, and started scratching heads accordingly.

If leaked updates hold true, it appears up to 10X on certain food purchases and 5x on travel could well be in the cards for the Sapphire Reserve, as could a whopping 10X on hotels and rental cars booked through Chase Travel.

That would instantly become the most rewarding hotel booking card on the market for most travelers, particularly those not focused on elite status with hotel chains. If prices match popular online travel agencies (OTA’s), such as Expedia or Hotels.com, but 10X points are offered at Chase Travel, Chase will absolutely pick up a larger share of hotel booking volume.

Ultimately, one way or another, it’s going to be a big month in change for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, with a major refresh expected. American Express just raised the annual fee on the Platinum Card to $695 per year, but added $1400 in potential benefits in the process to help justify the move.

Chase has the benefit of seeing how the response to the Amex changes play out, and calibrating their own changes accordingly. It won’t be long before we get to see what’s on offer from the Sapphire Reserve, along with the return of the $550 annual fee.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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