Welp, it's officially time to pay for my Sapphire Reserve card for another year, and since I got it on the very first day it was offered, I expect a rash of hand-wringing across the blogosphere over the next few weeks as people decided whether to cough up another $450 for their cards. I haven't yet run the numbers on my card, since there were some extenuating circumstances this year that affected the value that I got out of the 3x bonus categories. Most notably, there was the sign-up bonus on the Amex Blue for Business card that paid 10x on restaurants for the first six months, meaning I didn't use my Sapphire Reserve on restaurants for half of the year. There were also some travel purchases that I would have put on it that instead went onto my Arrival+ (so they could be reimbursed with the sign-up bonus). Anyway, I still have a gut feeling that the card is worth net $55 more than the Sapphire Preferred (see here to understand how I'm justifying that number), so I decided to keep it for another year. Irrespective of the points earning, the ability to get 1.5 cents per point when redeemed on travel has been really useful to me, and I don't really want to give it up just yet. On the other hand, despite my warm fuzzy feelings for the card itself, the authorized user card I got for Justine has been a waste of $75. I thought she'd make use of the Priority Pass membership, but she really hasn't, and there aren't any other benefits besides that. Aside from the benefits, though, I also wanted her to have the card for everyday spending, since I figured we'd put a significant amount of spending on this account. However, that flexibility isn't worth $75 per year to me, so I called up Chase to cancel the authorized user account while keeping my account open.
In the "it never hurts to ask" department, I talked to the Chase rep about how Amex offers a free Gold card to authorized users on the main cardholder's Platinum account for cases exactly like mine -- where you wanted to give someone the ability to spend on the account without getting all the fancy benefits. He said that Chase doesn't offer anything like that "officially," but that canceling the authorized user account won't invalidate the card itself. Wink wink. I probed a little further, and he told me that since the card has the same number and expiration date as my card, it's basically the same card as far as Chase is concerned. (He also said, "But I didn't tell you that" - an odd thing to say when calls are monitored or recorded.) The only difference is that the authorized user can't user their name when making online transactions.
I guess this should have been obvious to me, since Chase (unlike Amex) doesn't issue separate card numbers for authorized users. Therefore, the authorized user card is basically a duplicate of my card with the name changed. I still assumed that Chase's superior technology could tell the difference and would either cancel the card when the account went away, or at least be able to recognize and reject the card at point of sale, though.
This isn't really that different that getting a duplicate of a card by saying that your card broke in half (since the bank won't issue a new card number in that case) - the main difference is that the card does have the right name on it (which is helpful in the exceedingly rare case that the cashier actually asks for Justine's ID). In the end, I think this post falls under the "This might already be common knowledge, but I didn't know about it, so I'm writing this post for the one or two people who maybe also didn't know about it" category.
Bottom line: if you want another card on your Sapphire Reserve account but don't want to pay extra for the Priority Pass benefit, just add an authorized user, wait for the card to arrive, and then cancel the account. You won't have to pay the fee since you canceled right away, and the card will continue to work until it expires (or the main account number changes).