How To Use The Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual $300 Travel Credit
While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a steep $550 annual fee, it includes a variety of benefits that more than justify the cost for frequent travelers. Among the many benefits, the most popular is the annual $300 travel credit.
The credit reimburses cardholders for up to $300 in travel-related expenses every year. This essentially makes the net annual fee of the card $250 ($550-$300). The good news is taking advantage of the $300 travel credit is easy because anything that codes as travel is included. Additionally, gas and grocery purchases are included through December 31, 2021.
You do not have to sign up for anything to start using the annual travel credit. You simply make a purchase that codes as travel with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and you will receive a statement credit within a few days. Through the end of 2021, gas and grocery purchases also receive statement credits until the $300 maximum is hit.
The screenshot below is from my Chase Sapphire Reserve account. Since travel is still difficult, all of the transactions are for groceries and gas. I received each statement credit on the same day the purchases were made.
Here is a look at the travel credits being applied with the eligible transaction. While it could take a few days to post, the travel credit will usually be applied on the same day as the purchase.
In addition to being eligible for the travel credit, gas (1x) and grocery (1x) purchases also receive Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The first $300 in travel purchases each year are only eligible for the travel credit and receive no Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
What Purchases Count Towards The $300 Chase Travel Credit?
As previously mentioned, any purchase coding as travel counts towards the $300 annual credit. These are purchases that usually earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Unfortunately, you will not earn rewards points on travel purchases until you spend at least $300 in travel with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Even if you use up your travel credit on gas and groceries, you still have to spend $300 in travel before you earn any points.
Here are purchases you can expect to code as travel.
- Hotels & Motels
- Airlines (tickets, seat upgrades, bags)
- Car Rental Agencies
- Travel Agencies & Discount Travel Sites
- Parking Lots & Parking Garages
- Toll Bridges, Highways, & Tunnels
- Car Services (including Buses, Taxis, Lyft and Uber)
While Chase has a broad definition of travel, the merchant has to correctly code it. Certain companies, including Vrbo, usually do not code as travel despite being vacation rental services. If that happens, you will not receive the travel credit or be eligible for any bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Instead, you will earn 1x points.
What Purchases Do Not Count Towards The Chase Travel Credit?
Some travel-related purchases are not eligible for the $300 travel credit or 3x points. Chase says merchants that provide travel-related services are not included. Additionally, items falling within the entertainment space (theme park tickets, tourist attractions) do not count as travel when buying directly.
Here are some purchases you should not expect to code as travel.
- Theme Park Tickets Purchased Directly (Disney World Parks or Six Flags)
- Vrbo & Other Home Rentals (Airbnb does code as travel)
- Travel-related Gift Cards
- Points & Miles
- Real Estate Agents
- In-flight Food & Beverage Purchases
- Other in-flight Purchases Such as Wi-Fi
- Food & Beverage Purchases on Cruises
- Purchases Made at Stores in Airports
- Boat Rentals
Chase is not the one deciding what a purchase is coded as. The merchant in question decides its code, which can cause issues when a transaction should logically code as travel.
The Vacationer Tip
If your travel-related transaction does not code as travel, you should give Chase a call. At the minimum, Chase should bonus you the additional points. Unfortunately, Chase is unlikely to count the transaction towards your annual travel credit if it does not initially code as travel.
Your Travel Credit is Tied To Your Cardmember Year or a Calendar Year
All Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders receive an annual $300 travel credit every 12 months. Cardholders who signed up before May 21, 2017, have an annual credit period running from after their December statement date through the following year’s December statement. Cardholders who signed up after May 21, 2017, have a 12-month travel credit period based on the month they signed up as well as their first statement.
For example, I signed up for my Chase Sapphire Reserve card in July of 2020. My travel credit period for next year will begin after my statement closing date in August of 2021.
How Do I See How Much Of The $300 Travel Credit I Have Left?
Keeping track of your $300 travel credit is easy. Simply log into your Chase account and select your Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Click Card Benefits and navigate to the Rewards Activity section. Scroll to the Travel Benefits Section, and you will see how much of your annual travel credit you have used.
Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 Annual Travel Credit Make the $550 Annual Fee worth it?
Chase increased the Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee from $450 to $550 in January of 2020. Despite the $100 increase, it is still a valuable card for many travelers. In addition to the $300 annual travel credit, here are a few other notable benefits the card offers.
- 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on Travel and Dining
- $100 Statement Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee
- $60 DoorDash Statement Credit in 2021
- Free DashPass Subscription (through January of 2022)
- Free Lyft Pink Membership (1 Year)
- 10x Points on Lyft Rides (through March of 2022)
- Primary Auto Collision Insurance for Rental Cars
- Points Worth 50% More Booking Travel Through Chase
- Trip Insurance
- Free Priority Pass Membership for Airport Lounge Access
- 50,000 Bonus Points After Spending $4,000 in the First Three Months
With Covid-19 still a threat, you are probably not traveling as much as before. Regardless, there is still a lot to like about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Unused travel credit does not roll over to the next year. If you do not use your full $300 travel credit in your individual 12-month period, you will lose it.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will not earn Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases until spending more than $300 on travel in a given year.
Yes. Grocery and gas purchases earn 1x points. This is true even if those purchases counted towards the annual travel credit.
It depends on when you signed up. Those who signed up before May 21, 2017, have a period from after their December statement through their next December statement. Those who signed up after May 21, 2017, have 12 months starting on the date of their first statement.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel-focused credit card, and it has a hefty $550 annual fee. The $300 annual travel credit essentially brings down the annual fee to $250. If you take advantage of the $60 DoorDash statement credit, the annual fee nets out to $190.
While $190 is still steep, you can more than makeup for the fee by taking advantage of the card’s many benefits, including the $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement, 3x points on travel and dining, and primary auto collision insurance for rental cars.
Featured Image by Pexels from Pixabay
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