Reader Question – Should I Downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred to get the New Chase Sapphire Reserve?

A friend of mine asked me a question this week that I thought was worth posting on the interwebs for all to reference:

“So riddle me this Derek, I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) for about 6 months so far but am looking to apply for the new Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card… Will Chase allow me to cancel or downgrade my CSP to a no-fee option so I can avoid paying multiple annual fees?”

Great question, my friend!

The much anticipated Chase Sapphire Reserve is here and could very well be replacing your Chase Sapphire Preferred as your go-to travel rewards card! So, if you do happen to apply for (and be approved for) the Chase Sapphire Reserve, what should you do with that old hunk of CSP metal?

Should you dump the CSP for the highly regarded CSR!?

Well before you do anything with your Chase Sapphire Preferred, make sure that you are, in fact, approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card! It would be a real bummer if you scrap the CSP and get denied for the CSR, leaving you without a go-to Chase travel rewards card!

Now regarding Downgrade vs. Cancel…

While both of these options will allow you to avoid paying the CSP $95 annual fee, cancelling the card may impact your credit score, since you will no longer have that credit line available (thereby reducing credit available and increasing your credit utilization ratio). A better option (in my opinion) will be to downgrade the CSP to a no-fee card in order to keep the credit line open and your credit unscathed.

So, can you downgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Yes! Chase will allow you to downgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred to a “no-fee” option like the Chase Freedom or the Chase Freedom Unlimited.  

But the CSP is great, why would I want to downgrade?

You have recently been approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve – Congratulations! In addition to the 100K bonus points, travel credit and lounge access, you will also enjoy a variety of other perks, like:

  • The ability to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for a 50% bonus (compared to 25% bonus with the Sapphire Preferred)
  • 1:1 Point Transfer to Chase Transfer Partners
  • 3x Earning on Dining & Travel Expenditures (compared to 2x with the Sapphire Preferred)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Primary Rental Car Insurance
  • Free Roadside Assistance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Trip Delay Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Purchase Protection

Do any of these CSR benefits sound familiar? Well they should, since many of them overlap (and exceed) the benefits offered by the Chase Sapphire preferred. So if the CSP doesn’t provide any additional benefits or value, there is no reason to keep paying that $95 annual fee!

When can you downgrade?

Chase will allow you to downgrade your CSP approximately 11 months after your initial application. If you have had the card for less than the 11 months (like in the example question above), you will most likely need to wait a few more months prior to making the move. It is important to note that the 11 month mark is just before your 1st $95 annual fee would be charged so waiting to hit the 11 month mark will not cost you anything!

If you have had your card longer than 11 months you should be able to downgrade right away and perhaps even have your annual fee refunded! According to Doctor of Credit, Chase will refund the annual fee on Chase issued cards (including the CSP) within 60 days after the annual fee is charged (though there have been some reports of this period being extended even longer).

How do I actually request a downgrade?

To downgrade your CSP you can either:

  1. Call the 1-800 number on the back of your card, or
  2. Send Chase a downgrade request through the Chase Secure Message Center

Simple & painless!

2 No-Fee Downgrade Options & Which to Choose:

Chase Freedom - AYP

Chase Freedom – This card offers a 5x spending bonus on rotating quarterly categories (up to the first $1,500 in spending) and 1x on all other spending.

Chase Freedom Unlimited - AYP

Chase Freedom Unlimited –This card offers 1.5x spending bonus on all purchases – no need to keep up with the rotating categories!

Personally, I prefer the Chase Freedom and the ability to earn 5x Chase points with the rotating categories. For me, categories like gas stations, restaurants, and Amazon are very easy to maximize and I know that I can get close to the $1,500 in spending for a total of 7,500 points per quarter.

Chase Freedom Rotating Categories - AYP
Maximize your earnings by spending within the quarterly categories!

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a better option for people who don’t want to pay attention to the rotating categories, but to reach the same 7,500 bonus points would require $5,000 in spending.

Whichever you choose, you will keep your credit line, continue to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards and will not be stuck with a $95 annual fee!

Final Thought

The CSR is my new favorite travel rewards credit card. The sign-up bonus, the travel credit, the lounge access, the point redemption options, the spending bonuses, the insurance coverage and purchase protection – all combine to make this the most rewarding card on the market!

My new favorite – the CSR!

The CSP is my old favorite, and while it will be sad to see it go from my wallet, I will always remember the times that we had together…

Have any CSR, CSP, Freedom, or Freedom Unlimited related questions? Send them to me at and I will answer to the best of my ability!

Happy Travels!


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