Right now, August 2016, is the time to hold off opening a new travel-oriented credit card

Some have speculated that the notional "Chase Sapphire Reserve" might feature United Club lounge access. My guess, looking at the rumors, is "probably not"... but it's all rumor at this point.

Anyone who had been thinking of applying for a high end premium credit card in pursuit of free and perk-laden travel (which we fully support) should consider waiting it out through August to see how the dust settles on these two competing stories that have been unfolding the last week or so.

The first was the news in late July that the Citi Prestige Card is taking a pretty significant knock off in benefits over the next year. Specifically, starting July 2017, existing card members will lose out on the following super-lucrative benefits:

  • No more access to the American Airlines Admirals Club;
  • Points will no longer be redeemable for 1.6 cents each on American Airlines and 1.33 cents on all other airlines; rather, points will be redeemable for 1.25 cents each on all airlines across the board;
  • No more three free rounds of golf each year (this one hurts since I just played a $71 round for free with this card).

Citi Prestige card members will hang on to their fourth night of each hotel stay free (cost averaged over total length of stay), 3x points on travel and 2x on dining, the Priority Pass Select airline lounge access perk, and the $250 annual reimbursable airline credit that essentially makes the total annual fee $200 rather than the stated $450.

The second story is the rumor (which looks increasingly more like fact, though let's not count our chickens quite yet) that Chase may be launching a new "Chase Sapphire Reserve" premium card on August 21.  This (allegedly) $450 annual fee card will (allegedly) offer something along the lines of:

  • 100,000 bonus points for spending a hitherto unknown amount of money in the first hitherto unknown number of months having the card;
  • 3x points on travel and dining (this would be huge); 1x points on everything else;
  • $300 annual credit back on travel expenses charged to the card (effectively making the annual fee $150, rather than $450);
  • Priority Pass Select membership (matching the Citi Prestige benefit);
  • 50% bonus when redeeming points for travel through Chase (also huge).

At this point everything we know on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is pure speculation, but if the rumors above come to pass we could find that the new Chase card quickly blows the Citi Prestige out of the water on overall value (depending on how often you spend at least four consecutive nights in a hotel).

Again, bottom line here is that unless you've a very compelling urgent reason to pick up a new travel credit card, I'd wait until we see what the actual parameters of the new Chase card will be, particularly given that one of its two notional competitors (the other being AMEX Platinum) looks to be taking a serious nose dive.