I am flying free today and writing this post at 30,000 feet in an aging Delta Boeing 717 thanks to my loyalty to American Express.
The idea of un-sustainability came up on Reddit regarding the permanence of benefits from the CSR. I have had my AmEx Platinum for three years now and my Blue Cash for a whopping 10 years. As you know from previous posts, that I was denied the CSR, so consider this a admittedly another sour grapes rant of how Chase Sapphire Reserve is not a good card for those who have SCRA benefits with AmEx already.
Everything from the lounge access, to the flight, to the WiFi are free all thanks to the extended SCRA benefits that AmEx extends to Active Duty Military members. For those lucky to get the CSR, good for you, but will you still be paying the hefty annual fee in two years? I bet its going to be down graded to a freedom before the second year hits. Also good luck finding a Priority Pass lounge in the Domestic Side of any American airport. The only one of note is the Air Canada lounge at LGA. There are tons of lounges in Asia, but in America you have Delta, AA, United, and Centurion lounges. These lounges are inaccessible to CSR jerks with your non digital Priority Pass Select. Again, my motivation for lounge access is not one of prestige, but rather being too cheap to pay $4 for coffee.
After you spend your 100k UR points in a year, will the points be so devalued that they feel like Hilton HHonors points? Chase like Citi has the policy of only waiving fees of cards you had before joining. Where AmEx and Barclays understand that members of the military actually are good customers, always pay their bills, constantly employed and paid, and will blab about their products to everyone. So why not waive their fees? They make there money on the retailer processing side anyways (at a hefty 10%). Effectively AmEx Platinum is standard issue for every Officer and NCO I have encountered, the fee waiver results in cheap advertising to a population that is very insular.
Back to Chase Sapphire Reserve in 2 years, I don’t have the crystal ball, but imagine where this market is just saturated with 100k points left and right. I foresee points not being worth the same due to constant and predictable devaluations across the board. So there is really nothing that would keep me wanting to pay that non waived annual fee. The one time drop of 100k points, good for $1,000 in cash back and nominally $1,500 in travel pales in comparison to what my suite of AmEx products brings me.
Lets have a look at this combo:
The flight was booked using the 50k points from this card (click here to apply). I keep the card around so I can get a free bag to check on a delta flight without showing orders. The bag fee is usually $25 which is insane, and because of the fee for non status flyers, you see every cheap asshole dragging their bag on to the plane, clogging up the whole boarding process. You don’t have to be one of these people. The card has a $95 annual fee, waived for military, you would have to be an asshole not to check your huge bag with this free card. Depending how often you fly on Delta keeping this card around will save you some serious dough when you got to check a bag. Lets just assume you travel 10 round trips on delta in one year that going to be $500 savings right there.
For the free WiFi and $200 a year credit towards Delta I have this card:
The AmEx Platinum Business (sign up here) is so much better than the individual Platinum. On top of the access to Centurion lounges, you can get access to OPEN lounges at convention centers. In terms of the Delta flight, this card gives you 10 WiFi passes on Go-Go inflight wifi. This is a nice complement to the Boingo you already get with the normal platinum. These passes have been successfully used on JAL, AA and Delta, but United is on their own program which is a bummer.
If you don’t have the passes the WiFi is stupid expensive:
The wifi even at monthly fees is more than my home internet. I fly so infrequently now that I haven’t even used up all 10 passes for the year which expire at midnight Dec 31. This benefit is worth $170 for a year, so we are at $670 in savings. I signed up for the card here and used my SSN as the tax ID number as a sole proprietorship. The card also gets you into the Delta lounge which is an amazing American style picnic meshed with a sports bar:
The free booze is always a nice touch, best part about the ORD lounge is self service hard liquor, beer and wine. You must be flying on Delta to get into the lounge, otherwise you always got the USO. If you check the lounge buddy site they charge $695 a year for membership. Lets go back to the assumption of 20 yearly visits at the pass rate of $29 a visit for Delta Sky Miles Gold Credit Card members, you would spend $580. So the total is $1250 so far, exceeding the CSR’s $1,000 in the form of UR points.
If you don’t want to go all out for the Business Platinum you can always get this:
The Normal Platinum (apply here) still has the Delta Lounge and centurion lounge access and the $200 Delta Credit per year. Essentially like the Business one, AmEx pays you $200 to have the card since the $450 annual fee is waived. It does not have OPEN lounge access or free in flight WiFi. If you are going to get one Platinum might as well make it the Business since it has the same annual fee of $0.00 for active duty.
When it comes to the hotels both platinum cards get you SPG gold and Effectively Marriott Gold giving you free breakfast at Marriott and Renaissance hotels. You also get HHonons diamond using this one weird trick (my first click bait title).
So there you have it, Chase is a seductress, trying to lure you away from AmEx with impossible hopes and dreams. In a year you will be discarded, drained of points without anything to show for it. Sure you get the 3x points, but they will certainly be devalued. Keep your loyalty to AmEx because these benefits listed above go on after the points are gone. So far the fee waivers have been good so you should stick with AmEx, because they have been so good to us.