JPMorgan Chase & Co. revamped the rewards on its popular Sapphire cards as the fight to win affluent customers continues to escalate.
The credit-card giant is offering new rewards for dining, hotel stays, car rentals and air travel purchased through its rewards portal for Chase Sapphire Reserve holders, according to a statement Tuesday.
“Travel is still part of the DNA of our Sapphire customers,” Marleta Ross, general manager of Chase Sapphire, said in an interview. “They very much want that to be the core of what Sapphire is, so we’re honoring that by staying true to our roots in dining and travel while also giving them more flexibility.”
Banks have resumed their battle for rich customers as vaccinations proliferate across the U.S. and consumers get back to traveling and dining. For customers, that’s meant an ever-changing roster of rewards and growing sign-up bonuses for cards that cost hundreds of dollars a year.
The move comes about a month after JPMorgan’s rival American Express Co. added a bevy of new perks to its Platinum card, boosting the annual fee to $695 a year. With its changes, JPMorgan won’t be raising the fee on the $550-a-year Sapphire Reserve.
When JPMorgan introduced the Sapphire Reserve in 2016, there was a frenzy of applications and the lender briefly ran out of the metal used to make the card. It was a big bet for the firm -- at that time, the card had an annual fee of just $450 and came with a signing bonus of a whopping 100,000 points, a $300-a-year stipend for spending on travel and extra points for spending on dining and travel. Analysts estimated it would take more than five years for JPMorgan to break even.
Most customers who signed up for the Sapphire Reserve card within the first month of its launch in 2016 continue to use the card today, JPMorgan said on Tuesday.
The renewed fight for affluent customers has caused some issuers to rethink strategies. Citigroup Inc., the world’s largest credit-card issuer, is no longer taking applications for its Prestige card. Wells Fargo & Co., on the other hand, is creating a new line of cards.
“It might look like right now, it’s Chase and American Express -- and Chase is a very formidable competitor with very smart people, who are working really hard to beat us, and we’re working really hard to beat them -- but I’m not assuming it’s going to be just us and Chase for long,” AmEx Chief Executive Officer Steve Squeri said on a conference call with analysts last month. “You will see other people, I think, try and get in this game.”
JPMorgan also beefed up rewards for its $95-a-year Sapphire Preferred card, offering points for spending on online grocery purchases and streaming sites, as well as for each account anniversary.
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