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If you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® recently, read this post. This is an important reminder so you don’t forget to maximize the benefits of the card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with $300 of travel statement credits per calendar year to offset your first $300 in “travel” purchases. This broad category includes airfare, flight award taxes and fees, airline fees, hotels, Airbnb, car rentals, cruises, tolls/E-Z Pass, parking, Uber/Lyft, taxis, and more.

Everyone reading this blog must rack up well over $300 in such charges per year, so that’s basically free money, and since the credit resets after your December statement, you can get two $300 credits before your second annual fee is due. That’s $600 in statement credits in the first 12 months you have the card.

If you haven’t already cashed in on all of 2016’s $300 travel statement credit for your Sapphire Reserve card, log into your Chase account now to check when your December statement closes. Your travel purchases MUST post before your December statement closes in order for them to count towards 2016’s travel statement credits and not 2017. It would be a shame if you missed out on $300 in free money, as the travel statement credits greatly help outweigh the premium card’s expensive $450 annual fee.

Statement credits should look like this in your online Chase account:

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What Chase Considers Travel Purchases

Above I listed some obvious examples of what will code as a travel purchases.

For more obscure examples of what counts, check out this Doctor of Credit post (which also lists data points of things you might logically think would code as travel purchases and don’t) and this Flyertalk thread.

Taken from an FAQ about Reward Categories on Chase.com, Chase defines merchants in the travel category as:

“…airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, merchants within hotels and airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of points or miles does not qualify in this category.”

Don’t think you’ll be able to spend $300 in travel purchases organically before your December statement closes?

Here’s how to turn that $300 into the closest thing to cash that you can: buy an airline or hotel gift card that you know you will use. Let’s take that a step further. Don’t even think you’d eventually use an airline or hotel gift card? Check out this Doctor of Credit post that lists resale rates for specific types of airline and hotel gift cards.

Haven’t signed up for the Sapphire Reserve yet but were thinking about it?

Wait.

If you get it now, your first statement closes in 2017, so you don’t get a 2016 credit. Get it starting next month when you’ll have 11 months for earning the first $300 in travel statement credits and one month in 2018 for earning the second $300 in travel statement credits before the second annual fee hits.

In the meantime (if you’re not close to meeting Chase’s 5/24 limit), get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card that comes with 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in three months, or Chase’s newest card, the Ink Business Preferred, that comes with a massive bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in three months. Neither card has calendar year specific benefits that influence when you should or shouldn’t sign up for them.

Bottom Line

If you haven’t already earned the maximum amount of statement credits you can from your Sapphire Reserve for this year ($300), be absolutely sure that your travel purchases post BEFORE your December statement closes. Otherwise, any travel purchases made after your December statement close (even if they’re in December) will count towards 2017’s $300 travel statement credit and you might not be able to get $600 in travel statement credits before your second $450 annual fee hits.

Hat tip Doctor of Credit

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!


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