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Chase Travel Credit Cards

Bigger Bonuses? New Benefits? What’s Next for Chase Travel Credit Cards

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This week marked the end of the highest-ever sign up bonus offer of 80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

That huge offer rightfully received a lot of attention – it was one of the best credit card offers we’ve ever seen on the market, period. Now it’s back to normal, as you can now get the standard offer of 60,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. That’s nothing to sneeze at – it’s still a solid offer.

But banks continue updating credit card benefits and welcome offer bonuses throughout the pandemic, trying to lure in new customers and keep existing cardholders happy. So it has us wondering: What’s next for Chase travel credit cards?

Keep reading for our thoughts.

 

Will We See An Increased Offer on the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

When Chase first introduced this new offer on the Sapphire Preferred, there was a near-constant follow-up question: “Do you think Chase will increase the bonus offer on the Chase Sapphire Reserve?”

Before we answer that, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Chase first introduced the Chase Sapphire Reserve back in 2016. The bank was attacking the Premium travel credit card market and intended to compete directly with the Platinum Card from American Express. And compete it did.

The card launched with a bang back in 2016 with a sign-up bonus offer of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. Add that on top of all the premium benefits the card provides and it was a heck of a deal.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

The card was so popular, in fact, that Chase literally ran out of the metal they were using to print the cards. By 2018, Chase indicated that Sapphire Reserve cardholders were costing the bank big money.

So in late 2018, they halved the sign-up bonus to 50,000 points, and it’s stayed there ever since. Those hoping for the return of a 100,000-point bonus were out of luck. JPMorgan Chase’s chief marketing officer Kirstin Lemkau said on a podcast it was unlikely. “That was a launch thing,” said Lemkau.

But that was well before the coronavirus pandemic changed travel and the economics of travel rewards credit cards. Could Chase bring back the 100,000-point bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve to get a bunch of new customers in the door?

We don’t think so. A bigger bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one thing, but Sapphire Reserve cardholders cost Chase more money. Luring more of them in with another big bonus seems like a longshot at best. If we see bigger offers through Chase, our money is on other Chase cards.
 

Sapphire Reserve
 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Will the 80,000 Point Offer on the Sapphire Preferred Ever Return?

This one is tough.

As the coronavirus pandemic started to rage, consumer sentiment shifted and credit cards (and traveling for that matter) were not top of mind for most consumers. With record unemployment numbers, banks got extra cautious about who they would approve for new credit cards. And that led new sign-up offers to freeze up for months – banks simply didn’t want to bring in new customers amid all the uncertainty.

But that changed over the summer as banks, hotel chains, and airlines suddenly opened the floodgates with new credit card offers with huge bonuses. Chase joined the rush on Sept. 15 with a record offer on the Sapphire Preferred.

Did they get the kind of return on this new offer they were hoping for? Could they revisit it? Only time will tell.

At the end of the day, another enhanced offer on the Sapphire Preferred card seems like the most likely candidate if Chase decides to stir the pot again.

It is their bread and butter travel rewards credit card. With an annual fee of only $95, it is a much easier sell for the bank than the Sapphire Reserve. Most importantly, it attracts a more profitable customer for the bank.
 

Chase Sapphire Preferred
 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 

 

Benefit Updates to Chase Travel Credit Cards are More Likely

While increased sign-up bonuses on the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve are certainly possible, one certainty is that Chase will continue adding new benefits to their travel cards. In fact, they already have.

Just recently, Chase revamped the benefits on the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex cards.

And because of this, the cards offer a pretty large value proposition to spend money on them in certain categories. So good in fact that they either match or exceed the category bonuses on the Sapphire cards.

In my opinion, this is a problem for Chase as these cards have no annual fee. Both Sapphire cards are in need of a long term category spending refresh to stay competitive and to make them more enticing than the Freedom cards are currently. Here are the Chase Freedom card’s current benefits:

  • Earn 5% cashback on rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 of spending each quarter (Freedom Flex only)
  • Earn 5% cashback at grocery stores for the first year on up to $12,000 spent (excluding Target and Walmart)
  • Earn 5% cashback on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Earn 5% cashback on Lyft rides through March 2022.
  • Earn 3% cashback on dining, including takeout and delivery services
  • Earn 3% cashback at drugstores
  • Earn 1.5% cashback on all other purchases (Freedom Unlimited only)

See our guide on the Freedom Flex vs. the Freedom Unlimited. 

As long as you hold one of the Freedom cards with one of the Sapphire cards, you can transfer the cashback into your Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance. This is what makes the Freedom cards worth holding.

As you can see, the dining benefit on the Freedom cards is currently better than what is offered on the Sapphire Preferred. And the current grocery bonus is hard to beat.

Chase has been exploring new, temporary benefits on both the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred for the last handful of months. Through April 2021 you can earn 2x points per dollar spent on groceries with the Sapphire Preferred and 3x with the Sapphire Reserve.

And just recently, they announced a new partnership with Peloton allowing you to get up to $150 of membership credits by paying with your Chase Sapphire card.

Back in March, Chase rolled out a new way to use points for Sapphire cardholders called Pay Yourself Back. It allows you to use points at the same rate you can redeem them through the Chase travel portal for groceries, home improvement store purchases, and even restaurants.

But in my opinion, what is clearly missing here are better category spending bonuses on the Sapphire cards. The Freedom cards currently beat what is available on the Sapphire card up and down the board and it seems a little out of balance when you consider the annual fees on all these cards.

Will we see Chase update these? We’ll have to wait and see.

 

Bottom Line

Chase has arguably done more than any other bank to improve its travel credit card benefit offering during the coronavirus pandemic. They have added a number of both temporary and pertinent benefit enhancements to keep their cardholders happy and prevent them from closing accounts while most travel is on hold.

One thing is for sure: This isn’t over. Until travel returns to something close to 2019, banks and credit card companies will have to continue being creative to keep travelers happy. And we’re a long way away from normal.

Does that mean more increased sign-up bonus offers? New card benefits? Or a combination of both on Chase travel credit cards?
 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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