If there has been one pattern over the past couple of years, it has been changes to credit cards related to dining. We have seen new dining perks get rolled out left and right and also new bonus categories come into the picture. And now, there are rumors that some big changes are coming to the Chase Sapphire Reserve in the dining (and annual fee) department!
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It is rumored that the Reserve will get some sort of dining credits similar to some other competitor cards.
For example, the American Express Gold Card has a monthly $10 dining credit that can be used on food delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless. And then of course the Platinum Card has a monthly Uber credit that amounts to $200 worth of credits.
If the Chase Sapphire Reserve were to get some sort of credit it would likely be a $10-$15 monthly credit and my guess would be that it could be used on something like food delivery services.
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Increased annual fee
There is also a rumor that the annual fee might be increased to $550 — the same amount as the Platinum Card. This would not surprise me at all because the Chase Sapphire Reserve already has such a generous $300 travel credit. Adding new benefits in the form of dining credits seems like it would necessitate an increased annual fee.
This higher annual fee means that the Chase Sapphire Preferred will likely be more attractive to beginners. Many beginners are understandably turned off by the Reserve’s $450 annual fee so now that it might be increased to $550, I imagine that even more people will be turned off.
So I think it will continue to be a good strategy to first jump on the Chase Sapphire Preferred for the high welcome bonus of 60,000 points and then consider your upgrade options after one year when you are more familiar with your spending habits and needs for credits and travel perks.
But if you already know you will use all of the credits for the Sapphire Reserve, then you probably want to apply for the Sapphire Reserve before the annual fee increases since you will likely be able to take advantage of the new credits. Some links are apparently already testing the higher annual fee so I would recommend to act quickly.
I think we are going to continue to see credits issued along with increased annual fees across different cards. I don’t know the data for these issuers but I would venture to guess that a sizable group of people do not take full advantage of these credits (breakage). This allows the issuers to profit more via annual fees each year.
This is yet another reason why I am interested in creating WalletFlo. I think that we will be seeing more credits come out over the next couple of years and it will become increasingly cumbersome to keep track of all of the differences and intricacies of these credits.
For example, if you have three or four cards issuing a monthly dining credit, it can be easy to forget to use one or two of those cards to maximize your credits. It is also difficult to keep track of all of the different types of restaurants and food delivery services that the credit works with.
But with an app like WalletFlo you will have a breakdown of all of your credits that not only shows you how to utilize those credits but also gives you the full picture when it comes to your “effective annual fees.”
Effective annual fees are essentially your total annual fees paid minus all of the credits that you use. Once you start opening up multiple cards with multiple credits it can get easy to lose track of how much you are actually paying in annual fees each year. But if you have a breakdown of all of your annual fees along with your credits then things get a lot easier and you can clearly see which annual fees are justified.
Right now, the $300 travel credit offsets the $450 annual fee to an effective annual fee of $150. Unless these new credits bring the effective annual fee below $150 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I’m not excited about the changes. But with $10 monthly credits, the effective annual fee should drop below $150 assuming a $100 increase in the annual fee.
I do think this is part of a larger trend of increased annual fees though, and hopefully apps like WalletFlo will help people continue to maximize these credits while making smart decisions about annual fees.
Hat tip: doctor of credit
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.