While the recent pause in travel has been a good time to stockpile travel rewards points for future vacations, there's no doubt that the benefits of travel-focused credit cards have been harder to use over the past few months. We've already seen Chase add new benefits to its cards like increased earnings on grocery purchases and DoorDash food delivery, but the latest updates to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve are the most wide-ranging yet.
New limited-time perks:
- Pay Yourself Back: You can now use your Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1.5 cents each to offset purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments from May 31 through Sept. 30. This matches the points' valuation when using the Chase travel portal.
- If you haven't yet spent your $300 annual travel credit, your remaining balance will be automatically applied to purchases at grocery stores and gas stations from June 1 through the end of the year.
- The renewal fee for the card has been lowered to $450 through the end of the year, a reduction of $100. Those with renewal dates between April 1 and July 1 will see a $100 statement credit when they pay the $550 annual fee, while those with renewal dates from July 2-December 31 will simply pay a $450 annual fee instead.
New limited time perk:
- Pay Yourself Back: You can now use your Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1.25 cents each to offset purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores and dining establishments from May 31 through Sept. 30. This matches the points' valuation when using the Chase travel portal.
Should You Take Advantage?
The Pay Yourself Back perk poses an interesting dilemma. The best use of Ultimate Rewards Points is to transfer them to travel partners, where they can often be redeemed at higher valuations than 1.5 or 1.25 cents. That said, many loyalty programs will undoubtedly be reshaped in the wake of the global pandemic, and it's possible that some of the most lucrative transfer options will be altered or altogether eliminated by the time you'd be comfortable using them again.
With all that uncertainty, it's great to have this option to apply your points towards daily, unavoidable expenses like groceries. And with the recent boost to 5x points on U.S. grocery store purchases with the Sapphire Reserve (on up to $1,500 each calendar month), this can effectively serve as a 7.5% rebate on all of your grocery spending (5 points per dollar x 1.5 cents per point), at least for the time being. Even the Sapphire Preferred's limited time 3x earnings would translate to a respectable 3.75% back (3 points per dollar x 1.25 cents per point), if you applied the points to eligible purchases.
It might not be as exciting as spending your points on a trip to Santorini, but it's a great option for anyone that needs it.