Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee Worth Paying Over the Preferred?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve – Can’t ignore the talk of the town. Like I tell all my friends & coworkers, if any major bank is offering a signup bonus of 100,000 points, I’m 99% getting it. It’s a no brainer. Even at a high $450 annual fee (which is really just $150 after a $300 travel credit), the bonus is still worth it. I’ve paid more for points.

The next question you should ask is if the Reserve is worth keeping over the Preferred (which you should be a mainstay in your wallet). That’s why I quickly created a Google Doc that answers that for you.

Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Preferred Calculator

Instructions are simple:

  • Download as Excel or make a copy to your own Google Drive
  • Enter how much you spend per month for each of the cards’ bonus categories – travel & dining
  • Results update on lines 10 & 11 and are based on an entire year of spending

Obviously, this is based on points earning alone. There are other benefits associated with the card that may be of value to you that you should also consider.

Hopefully, this is a quick and dirty way to determine if you’re going to downgrade your Preferred to a regular Sapphire (or perhaps a Freedom Unlimited) or keep it and cancel the Reserve next year.

Trip Report: Korean Air 747-8i First Class ICN-JFK

ICN (Seoul Incheon) – JFK (New York)
KE 85
06/05/2016
Boeing 747-8i
First Class

Seats 1A, 1J

Well this flight was a full-on treat. We haven’t been in long haul First Class in a few years so it was great to be able to experience 2 of them during this trip. This Korean Air flight easily out shined the Japan Airlines flight we took to Japan. I can easily say that this was one of the best flights we’ve ever taken.

Boarding

We arrived a few minutes after scheduled boarding time of 7:00p. They were only pre-boarding those who needed assistance, but the queue in every line was already extensive. We showed our First boarding passes to the attendant and he escorted us to the front of the premium line.

After a few minutes, an announcement was made & all the gate attendants bowed in unison. Our boarding passes were scanned and we were off to the First & Business Class jet bridge. The chief purser (who would introduce himself later) had us escorted to our suites – 1A & 1J, right in the nose of this still-fresh 747.

Cabin

The First Class cabin was beautiful. Clean whites, mellow creams, and then of course the signature Korean Air Celadon Green seats. The overhead lighting was set to bright white & blue for boarding, something that would change during the stages of the flight.

The cabin was very spacious with only 6 First Class suites. Like other 747 First Class cabins, the rear of the cabin was used for staging drinks & snacks for passengers, of which there were only 3 on this flight. Up front where we were, the cabin narrowed to the contours of the nose of the plane; so much so that the space between 1A & 1J, only one person could fit.

Korean Air First Class

Settling In

As we got to our seats, the flight attendant was quick to offer to stow our bags in a closet at the very front of the cabin. She then asked if we’d like anything to drink which was quickly answered with “Champagne!”

She came back shortly with Bose noise cancelling headphones, an amenity kit (advertising the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang), and facial mist. After that, she offered Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2004 & macadamia nuts.
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2016-06-05 19.17.37

Korean Air First Class

Korean Air First Class

She came back again and asked what size “comfortable clothes” (pajamas) I’d like. I don’t wear them on planes because I get way too hot but I’ll certainly take them home as a souvenir. Slippers & menus were already at the seat so I put my shoes away & perused the menu for the flight while she returned with the Gianfranco Ferre pajamas.

Korean Air First Class

The Seat/Suite

First impression of the suite was that it was great. Reminiscent of Cathay Pacific First Class with 4 windows-worth of space and a wide seating area, it is designed slightly better with a wider footwell and a bigger screen above that. There’s even a little lamp about head-level behind you, which reminded me of Swiss First Class.

Korean Air First Class

Korean Air First Class

There’s plenty of small storage to your side; max capacity is probably the size of my Tom Bihn medium cafe bag.

The seat itself was very comfortable; maybe it’s because the plane is fairly new & the cushions aren’t worn in yet.

Because this is technically a suite, there were, of course, doors that made you feel quite secluded. Since I was traveling with my wife, we only used them when sleeping. They’re easily deployed via a release button on the top of the door.

Korean Air First Class

Speaking of sleeping, the completely flat bed is quite comfortable. The flight attendant only added a thin foam mattress pad, but that seemed to be enough because it felt more pleasant than the last Airbnb we stayed at in Tokyo. It was definitely more comfortable than Japan Airlines’ air weave foam mattress pad. The duvet is substantial yet soft, but it was too hot for me (any duvet on a plane will be).

Korean Air First Class

The best thing about the suite, BY FAR, was air vent on the side of the suite. I hate that premium cabins don’t have dedicated air vents because I get hot VERY easily. It might be stupid to some but the existence of this vent ensured I had a pleasant flight and, most importantly, an agreeable sleep.

Korean Air First Class

Overall

Korean Air must have one of best First Class offerings on the market right now with this new Kosmos Suite 2.0. The cabin is well designed and the suite is private enough if you want it to be. The seat is comfortable & the service was amazing, both personable & attentive. The only shortcoming was probably the food, which I’ll get to in another post. I really just wanted to write about the rest of the flight which we loved. It was certainly worth the 80,000 miles per person we redeemed (more on that in another post, too).

If I Could Only Have One Card – Chase Ink Bold/Plus

Lately, I’ve been asked by a lot of people which ONE card I would have if I could only have one. Obviously, my first answer is always “I wouldn’t have just one card!” but I understand that not everyone wants to have multiple credit cards.

In that case, my answer is always Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus. It’s simply the card I would want to have if I didn’t have any other credit cards for earning miles and points. The points earning potential of these cards and the Chase Ultimate Rewards program are just too strong to ignore.

While Chase does an amazing job marketing their Sapphire Preferred credit card, I believe these business cards are better for a serious points earner.

Just to point out, the Ink Bold is a charge card where you must pay off the entire balance each cycle and the Ink Plus is a credit card where you can opt to carry over a balance each cycle (which you should definitely NOT do).

Here are the marketing bullets for the Chase Ink Bold/Plus:

  • Chase celebrates small businesses with a special bonus offer!
  • For a limited time, earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs with no transfer fees.
  • Direct access to a live service advisor anytime.
  • Free Employee Cards.

Let’s start with the obvious Pros.

5x For Everything

5x per $1 spent on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services.

This is the power play of the Chase Ink Bold/Plus cards. Office supply stores like Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot have huge gift card racks where you can purchase gift cards for almost any retailer under the sun. More importantly, they also sell Visa/Mastercard/American Express gift cards from on those racks.

These gift cards do have a fee associated with them (up to $6.95 per card), but the office supply store bonus points you’ll be earning far outweigh this fee. I always try to buy the largest denomination gift card I can, often $500 or even $200. Sometimes you can even do it online and get cash back.

I then, in turn, use these gift cards as my “every day” card. Anything you purchase with these gift cards will essentially be earning 5x points!

Everything Else

Aside from multiple credit card sign up bonuses, the above benefit is the #1 contributing factor to my growing points portfolio. Everything else is just icing.

Included in the 5x points is cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. For me, that is over $200 a month; $2,400+ a year. That’s 12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points annually just on my cell phone and Verizon FiOS bill. That alone pays for the $95 annual fee (waived the first year) and then some.

The Ink Bold/Plus cards also earn 2x points on gas and hotels. That’s great but, for gas, I just buy my gas station gift cards from office supply stores or simply use the Visa/Mastercard/Amex gift cards. Why earn 2x when you can earn 5x?

Cons

I can really only think of a few worth mentioning.

Since the Ink Bold/Plus cards are business cards, they won’t be helping your credit score. Also, you’ll only be earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points by only having this card. I like to diversify my earning portfolio.

Other than that, I see no real downside to having either of these cards.

Conclusion

The Chase Ink Bold/Plus would be my card of choice if I couldn’t have any other credit cards.

Thankfully, that’s not the case for me so I team my Ink up with my Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred, American Express Starwood, & American Express EveryDay Preferred credit cards. Quite a quiver of cards when going forth in the battle of earning points.

And what do you do once you earn all these Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus points? Look for that in an upcoming post.

Chase to Switch to Chip-and-PIN Later This Year

According to Bankrate.com, JPMorgan Chase will convert all of its EMV Chip-and-Signature credit cards to the more secure and more widely used (globally) Chip-and-PIN version.

Currently, these are the EMV Chip-and-Sig credit cards from Chase that will become Chip-and-PIN:

  • British Airways Visa Signature Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • Hyatt Credit Card
  • J.P. Morgan Palladium Card
  • J.P. Morgan Select Visa Signature Card
  • Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

It was a big step when Chase first started rolling out Chip-and-Sig cards, but going to the better protected Chip-and-PIN is huge for consumers. After the huge Target hack over the holidays, everyone is calling for better security measures. This is, at least, a step in the right direction.

Hopefully, more banks follow suit and this will be adopted across the United States like it is in Europe and other parts of the world.

Hyatt Officially Enters the All Inclusive Resort Market

Hyatt has just jumped into the all inclusive territory with its two newest resorts. I’ve only been to an all inclusive resort (in Jamaica) once in my life and I don’t really prefer them, mostly because I like destinations that provide substance outside of the hotel or resort. Many of these all inclusive resorts are made so you never have to leave the grounds; not exactly my style.

However, Hyatt’s newly announced redemption rates have made me think a little. If I can burn points instead of cash for a relaxing, do-nothing kind of weekend, it’s something I’ll look into.

hyatt all inclusive

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