January 22, 2021

Model Desac

It’s Time to Fly

Why I Downgraded My Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

5 min read

When I opened the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earlier this year, I was eager to take advantage of the card’s 50,000-point welcome bonus (after meeting the $4,000 spending requirement within the first three months). But then Chase increased the Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee from $450 to $550, and I instantly wondered whether the card was still worthwhile.

I tossed around the idea of canceling the Sapphire Reserve card, but later opted to downgrade it since closing a credit account has the potential to lower your credit score. Downgrading a card doesn’t negatively impact your credit score since you keep the same credit line open.

Before I downgraded my card, I took a few actions to ensure that I used all of the card’s benefits. Here are the steps I took to downgrade my Sapphire Reserve:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Rewards

    10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3X points on travel worldwide (immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit), 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, 1X point per $1 on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    16.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

1. I confirmed why I wanted to switch cards

2. I chose a new card

Once I decided that I wasn’t willing to pay a high annual fee for another card, I tried to figure out which Chase card fit my spending habits so I could downgrade.

Since the Sapphire Reserve is a travel card, I thought about switching to Chase’s other travel option, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has a lower annual fee. But I ultimately didn’t choose the Sapphire Preferred since I already have the American Express® Gold Card, which offers better rewards rates on travel and dining.

The other options I had were the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. The cards are very similar but have slightly different rewards programs. Both offer 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and 3% on dining (including takeout) and drugstores.

However, the Flex card also offers rotating bonus categories that earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%). Unlimited doesn’t have rotating bonus categories and instead offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

I chose the Chase Freedom Unlimited since I already have a rotating 5% card.

3. I redeemed all of my points

4. I called customer service to downgrade my Sapphire Reserve

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining (including takeout) and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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