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With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can earn 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points just for signing up for the card, but you pay a hefty $450 annual fee. However, the $300 travel credit effectively brings that number down to $150. You can easily redeem that bonus for $750 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Some people might think it’s crazy to pay that much for an annual fee, but since I signed up when this card was first introduced in November 2016, it was well worth the fee for me. Back then, the sign-up bonus was 100,000 points. Today, I’m going to tell you how I used my sign-up bonus, how much value I got out of the sign-up bonus, and why I kept the card at the one year mark.
Evaluating Value Ground Rules
When evaluating value, I only include the sign-up bonus, the amount of points earned from the minimum spending requirement, and any additional benefits or bonus points earned through perks exclusive to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Everyone’s spending habits are different so I don’t want to confuse the issue with all Chase Ultimate Rewards points I’ve ever earned.
This means that after hitting the $4,000 minimum spending requirement, I had at least 104,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points. (I probably had even more thanks to the dining and travel bonus categories, but I don’t keep track of points earned through bonus spending categories.)
How I Used My Bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
I used my bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points entirely for bookings through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, my points were worth 1.5 cents through the portal. You can get even more value out of your points if you utilize one if Chase’s travel transfer partners, but sometimes the portal is just easier.
I frequently use the portal when I want to make a reservation at a hotel that does not offer a loyalty program. In that case, you wouldn’t be able to pay with points unless you use the portal. I booked hotels in Lake Tahoe, Beverly Hills, and Orlando using my bonus points. Even though it’s not the best use of points, it’s more than worth it to vacation where we want and how we want.
How Much Value I Got From My Bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
When redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, my points had a value of 1.5 cents. This gave my bonus points a value of $1560.
I’ve paid the annual fee twice for a total of $900. However, when I signed up for the card, the $300 travel credit was per calendar year. Since I signed up in November, I got the credit for 2016 and 2017 and then again when I paid my most recent annual fee. That’s $900 in travel credit which entirely negates my annual fee. This is no longer an option as the travel credit is now based on your card member anniversary not the calendar year.
I also utilized the $85 TSA Precheck reimbursement my first year. Additionally, I filed a trip delay claim when a flight to Texas was a day late. I booked my hotel room with Priceline which was non-refundable and could not be changed. Chase reimbursed me $166 for the first night we missed.
When you add all that up, I got over $1800 value out of Chase Sapphire Reserve despite the high annual fee!
Why I Kept Chase Sapphire Reserve After the First Year
I kept the Chase Sapphire Reserve this year to take advantage of that increased 1.5 cent value for all of my Ultimate Rewards Points. In our household, we have Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom Unlimited, and Freedom. All the points we earn on those cards are transferred to my Chase Sapphire Reserve which automatically increases the value of those points. I explained how that process works in Combine Chase Ultimate Rewards and Double Up with your Spouse. I doubt I will keep this card next year because the annual fee is hard to justify without that influx of bonus points. But until then, we’ll enjoy redeeming our Chase Ultimate Rewards for at least 1.5 cents per point.
As you can see, a sign-up bonus can net incredible value in the points & miles game if you use your points wisely. My bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points really came through for me. How will you use yours?