How Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 Travel Credit Work?

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Last week I wrote about a brand new credit card with an awesome sign up bonus called the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. While I have detailed out many of the benefits of the card in that prior post, I really wanted to highlight probably the most lucrative perk of the card, the $300 travel credit.

What Exactly is the $300 Travel Credit?

As a regular benefit of this card, every calendar year you’ll receive a statement credit up to $300 towards travel purchases. Travel purchases is ANYTHING coded as “travel” on your Chase statement. This includes airfare, hotels, taxis, trains, subways, parking, tolls, airbnb, etc. As long as you pay for your purchase with your Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you will automatically be credited. You do not even need to call Chase to receive the credit!

Chase specifically says the following are included in the travel credit: “Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, 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, websites or owners that rent vacation properties, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, tourist attractions, merchants within 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.

Maximizing the $300 Credit

My assumption is most people will easily hit $300 in the “travel” category per year without even trying. However, if you have zero use for it, here are some options to still take advantage:

  • Purchase a travel gift card to use at a future time. I am still waiting on reports to see which airline and hotels work, so will update this post as reports come through. Please comment below if purchasing a specific gift card has worked for you!
  • Make a prepaid travel purchase. For example, if you know you are going to stay at a hotel next year, go ahead and book the hotel now at a prepaid rate. Just keep in mind that sometimes those rates have extremely inflexible cancelation policies.
  • If you have a friend or family member who is about to make a flight or prepaid hotel, pay for their flight/stay and have them pay you back.

Making Money Off the Annual Fee

Remember, this is $300 per year. While it is advertised as calendar year it is really through your December close date. So if your close date is on the 3rd, for example, of every month, you’ll only have until December 3rd to receive the $300 statement credit for that calendar year. Any purchases after this date will count towards the following calendar year. Since you receive $300 per year, this means you can really get up to $600 in statement credits in just the first year of having the card. While the card comes with a $450 annual fee, you can get $600 worth of statement credits within that year. That means you are ahead $150 in addition. That is on top of the 100,000 point sign up bonus.

Comments

  1. I bought AA gift cards and the charges haven’t even posted yet, however through the UR portal it shows that $300 of the $300 travel benefit has been used.

  2. I can confirm the credit works for Airbnb. I booked a $490 Airbnb stay with the card and the $300 credit was applied seamlessly.

  3. Does gas expenses qualify for travel credit? What about renting thru Tripadvisor but the payment was done theough Paypal? Coz in the card statements it says Paypal

  4. I just got off the phone with Chase. They can not upgrade my CSP to CSR because you need a least $10k CL, I only have $5k.

    Basically, an HP is needed to request a CLI or apply and get the 100,000 offer. I know I will get denied, going to have to pass 🙁

      • that’s great! It doesn’t make sense in my case. I do want the 100k miles. Not justifiable to upgrade and pay $450 AF with no miles. I will wait.

  5. I just got approved of CSR. Now I would like to downgrade CSP but I am out of options as I have all the other Chase card already. Maybe I can convince them to cancel the most recent Chase Freedom Unlimited card I got and then downgrade my CSP to the same?

  6. Do charges have to be made by Dec 31 for yearly $300 to count, or prior to the last
    statement date in December. That is, if last statement date is Dec 21,
    Will charges made on Dec 26 count towards the 2016 or 2017 credit..

    • Just FYI, I got approved yesterday and asked them the same question. They said as long as I make the travel purchases before my first statement which is on 12/23 I can use $300(2016) travel credit even though the pay is in late January. You should call them to make sure as well! Let me know what they say!

  7. I’m going on a scuba liveaboard in Indonesia that going to be paid thru PayPal, just wondering if this will get me the $300 credit

  8. I called and clarified and it does not work that way. The travel credit is issued every year in Jan and the card has to be open, so… you would get the 1st $300 credited but the 2nd credit for expenses in 2017 would be credited in Jan 2018 so you would be paying another $450 annual fee for the 2nd year.

    • @Kev – You receive the credit for the calendar year INCLUDING the year which you applied for the card. So if you already have the card, you are eligible to receive the calendar this year, PLUS next year. Thus allowing you to earn the $300 credit two times before next years annual fee hits.

    • I made a test purchase at a parking meter and I was issued the $4 credit as soon as the charge posted. That would seem to indicate that travel credits are issued immediately rather than accrued throughout the year and then issued in a lump in January.

      I’ve made a Southwest egift card purchase and I’m waiting for that to post. When it does, I will confirm that I received the remainder of my travel credit. Then early next year, I’ll make another test purchase to verify that the credit is still issued immediately.

  9. How long after you charge the $4k does it take to get the points?
    Also looking for clarification, I got my card in 11/16 and if I charge $300 in travel before 12/31/16 will I get the $300 credit in 2016 as well as in 2017 prior to me being assessed another $450 annual fee ?
    Thanks. Trish

    • Trish, points typically posts 2-3 days after the statement in which you satisfied the $4000 spend requirement closes. I just found out today that in order to qualify for the $300 credit this year, you’ll need to charge that $300 before your December closing date. You’ll get another $300 in 2017. I’m in the same boat as you…just got approved today and is hoping I will have a closing date in December. Crossing my fingers.

      • Did you call them to make sure when your December statement closes? I just applied yesterday and they said mine is on12/23. So I’ll be able to use 2016 $300 travel credit as long as I make purchase on a flight or something before that date! And get another 2017 in January. I’m planning to downgrade after 11months (before my second annual fee happens ) so….awesome!! If you have called them, let me know what they said as well. It will be great to double check!

  10. I don’t know if this post is correct. I received the CSR, but also have already been charged the $450 annual fee. Thus, the $300 credit I receive this year also comes with a $450 fee, which will be the same in 2017.

    10/2016: approved for CSR
    10/2016: charged $450 annual fee
    11/2016: received $300 in travel credit.

    2017: receive $300 in travel credit
    10/2017: charged $450 annual fee

    So there is no $600 for $450 as far as I can tell. What am I missing?

    • @Joe D – Using your dates, you can do:
      10/2016 – approved for CSR
      10/2016 – charged $450 annual fee
      11/2016 – received $300 in travel credit
      1/2017 through 9/2017 – receive $300 in travel credit

      As long as you receive the travel credit by September 2017, you’ll have spent $450 for the annual fee and received the $300 statement credit back twice. Thus giving you $600 for $450.

      If you keep the card past the first annual year, you’ll then be charged another $450.

      This make sense?

    • I just tried that with a minimum test buy. No dice. Alaska gift certificates do not post as travel — not only not for the travel credit but not even for the extra points.

  11. I just tested a $10 Hotels.com GC bought directly through their website. Transaction has posted, but I am not showing a statement credit. Doesn’t appear to work. I was hoping on using the credit for 2016 on a GC that would give me a wide range of options for next year.

  12. What about hotels.com gift cards? Do they code as travel? Also I was told by Chase the 300 credit for 2017 starts the day after your Dec billing statement closes.

  13. When I book a hotel does the transaction happen before the actual stay?? I need to use 2016 $300 travel credit and thinking about using it for my stay at a hotel on 12/26th but my December statement closes on 12/24th. I know I will book it a couple weeks before but want to make sure it will be on December statement….

    • @Y – It depends on how the stay is booked. If it is a pre-paid rate where the room is charged immediately upon booking then it will be fine. If you don’t actually pay for the stay until you check out (which is the case for most hotel stays) then it won’t hit your statement until after 12/24.

  14. hi, just applied and approved today. hoping to find out from the rest of you what gc’s will work for the $300 credit? traveling to ireland/scotland/england next year and planning to use miles/gc’s then, so just want to be i can get the credit? some of you mentioned air bnb; didn’t know you could be gc’s from them – that’s a possibility. any other suggestions for the $300 i have to use before the end of the year?
    thanks!

    • I tried buying an AirBnB gift card. It gets the travel credit. But AirBnB will not let me give myself the gift card. So I canceled the transaction.

  15. Does anyone know is a Hilton Gift Card works? Looks like you buy it thru a co-branded American Express & Hilton Honors website.

  16. From what I’ve read so far, it seems like Airbnb qualifies, but not Homeaway… can anyone confirm for sure that Homeaway doesn’t work?

    • @Sreenivasa – While I haven’t personally tried it, my assumption is Expedia works and Groupon absolutely does not work.

  17. I am “pleased” to report that not only do City of Berkeley parking meters post as travel — yep, $.25 = .75 URs — but also City of Berkeley parking citations post as travel AND count towards the $300 travel credit.

  18. Has anyone had luck with purchasing a hotel gift card and having the travel credit applied? I’d like to buy a Marriott or similar gift card to use for undecided dates in 2017.

  19. Looks like I might be too late for the 2016 $300 credit. Approved today and Chase App is showing a payment due date of Jan. 26th. Assuming my statement date is Jan.5-6th. Would it be worth it to ask to have the date pushed up a week, to say Dec.30th? Any experiences?

  20. I just noticed that my annual travel credit has been reset to $0 within the last couple days. I did previously max out my $300. Why did it reset now and not on January 1? Is this typical or an error?

  21. I just got approved today, Dec. 10. Card will come in about a week, but first payment due 2-3-2017.

    Would I be able to take advantage of double travel fee?

    Thanks!

    Josh

      • I also received my card few days ago and just got off the phone with the Chase rep about the $300 travel credit. Basically in order to make changes on the statement cycle would require 1 month advance notice (so in this case, it wouldn’t work for us new comers) AND because our first billing cycle is in 2017, we could only benefit the $300 in 2017. The up side of this is that we’re not paying for the $450 annual fee for 2016.

      • I called chase as well. So they said you need at least a months billing cycle to have the $300 count towards 2016. PRetty much anyone activating the card around end of November will NOT count towards 2016, but 2017 instead. They said they couldn’t shorten my billing cycle to December because it needs to be at least 22 days and around two weeks to include payment due date. SOL.

  22. I applied 12/12, activated 12/14 and they won’t do anything for me for 2016 travel credit.

    Know someone who received the card Friday 12/9 and seemingly received it…

  23. I purchased an e-giftcard from Southwest yesterday morning. It’s still in pending. When will the travel credit will apply to this purchase? After it’s posted? Thank you!

  24. It is not applicable to any charge during the “calendar year.” I purchased travel yesterday, December 27 and was told that I was out of the 2016 billing cycle and that the credit would apply towards 2017…..even though I was told twice on the phone that it was applicable for purchases in the calendar year.

    Then i was basically called a liar when i questioned this and I am pretty sure they are not going to do anything about it

  25. I just want the world to know that slackers lose money.(like me) I lost my $300 for 2016 because my statement closed early in december and I lost out on the $200 MXP for Amex because the gift card loophole was closed.

  26. If I apply for the card now, I can redeem the travel credit of 300$ anytime during this year right or I have to wait will December 2017. I did call Chase and they said I have to wait till December to get the travel credit.. it did not sound logical though.. any comments ?

    • @Avik – If you apply for the card now, you have until your December 2017 statement close date to use the $300 travel credit. You can absolutely use it immediately, so Chase is very incorrect in what they told you.

  27. I am going to apply today for the Chase Sapphire Reserved today. Wondering if I am out of luck in getting the $300 credit limit TWICE a year like others because I am applying in early January? My first statement might end up being in Feb 2017, I’m not sure how this works. But since it resets every December would I not be able to get the credit twice a year and pay $450 annual fee once like many others? So $450 fee per year would equal to 2 $300 credits a year. Or am I confused? Thanks in advanced.

    • @amii123 – you are not out of luck! If you apple today, let’s assume a February 15(ish) statement close date. That means you have until December 15th(ish), 2017 to spend $300 on travel to receive the $300 reimbursement. You will then have between December 16th(ish), 2017 and February 15th(ish), 2018 to spend another $300 on travel that will be reimbursed. Your 2nd years $450 annual fee will not be due till that mid-February date. That means you can still receive the $300 TWICE before your next years annual fee is due.

      Does this make sense?

  28. hi,
    just got a card for myself in december, excited to use it for our 5 week trip to europe in july. was going to do an add-on card for hubby, but they charge $75. thinking of getting a separate card for him so he can get the 100k; it’s not per household, right? that way he’ll get free global entry too on his acct. but we couldn’t combine our points into one rewards acct, right? is there any other disadvantage i’m not seeing here?
    thanks!

    • @gayle – They do charge another $75 which I think is ridiculous and not worth it. The 100,000 points is per person, so yes you can absolutely apply for the card and receive the bonus points if you are approved and meet the minimum spend. You can both receive the global entry reimbursement as well. You actually can combine points (just transfer points from one account to another) if you want. Chase allows you to do this for family members residing in the same household. Both my husband and I applied for the card separately to fully maximize on the sign up bonus. Hope this helps!

  29. Wish I would have seen this sooner! I applied 12/24/16, received my card 12/27/16. Am I out of luck for 2 $300 travel credits in Year 1 for the low low fee of $450? 🙂 Appreciate any help you can give!

    • Okay, is this right? (Extrapolated from your response to Joe D, above.)

      @Joe D – Using your dates, you can do:
      10/2016 – approved for CSR
      10/2016 – charged $450 annual fee
      11/2016 – received $300 in travel credit
      1/2017 through 9/2017 – receive $300 in travel credit
      As long as you receive the travel credit by September 2017, you’ll have spent $450 for the annual fee and received the $300 statement credit back twice. Thus giving you $600 for $450.
      If you keep the card past the first annual year, you’ll then be charged another $450.

      My scenario:
      12/2016 – approved for CSR
      01/2017 – charged $450 annual fee
      01/2017 – received $300 in travel credit
      After December close, 2017 – December 31, 2017 – receive $300 in travel credit

      • @Mandy – Just seeing this update after my response to your initial question. Do you know your exact statement close date every month? So you have until December 2017 of your statement close date to receive the $300 statement credit. You then have from the date after your December statement close date in 2017 until your $450 annual fee is due (at some point in January 2018) to receive your 2nd $300 statement credit. So both Year 1 and Year 2 statement credits will hit before paying the 2nd $450 annual fee.

        • @Mandy – Using Joe’s dates. He had between October 2016 and his December statement close date 2016 to spend $300 and receive the Year 1 statement credit. He then has between the date after his statement close date in 2016 and his December statement close date in 2017 to spend $300 and receive the Year 2 statement credit. However, he’ll want to do it by October-ish 2017 before his next $450 annual fee is due.

    • @Mandy – Not at all! When exactly is your statement close date? My assumption approx Feb 5th? Using that date as an example, you have between when you received the card and December 5, 2017 to receive the $300 statement credit for year 1. You then have between December 6 and when the 2nd year annual fee is due (at some point Feb 2018) to get the 2nd $300 statement credit for year 2.

      Hope this help!

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