As I first posted about yesterday, Chase seems to have updated their policy when it comes to getting approved for their Sapphire line of cards. This was per a memo sent out to bankers, though in the meantime applications have been updated as well to reflect the new restrictions.
For example, here are relevant terms associated with the welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:
The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.
Again, the change here is that previously eligibility for the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve were unrelated, meaning that you could be approved for (and receive the welcome bonus) on both cards, assuming you otherwise meet the eligibility criteria.
The rule in many ways is similar to Citi’s 24 month rule. For many of their products, Citi won’t approve you if you’ve opened or closed a card in the same “family” in the past 24 months. For example, here are the terms of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®:
American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi® / AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.
So in one way Chase is stricter, in another way Citi is stricter:
- Chase won’t approve you for the Sapphire Reserve even if you’ve had the Sapphire Preferred open for more than 24 months
- Citi won’t approve you if you’ve closed one of the cards in the past 24 months, even if you haven’t received a welcome bonus in that time period
I see why Chase made this change
I certainly can’t blame Chase for making this change. There simply isn’t any good reason (at least that I can think of) to have both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve®. While the cards have different benefits, they overlap enough so that if you have the Reserve, it doesn’t also make sense to have the Preferred, and if you have the Preferred and want the Reserve, it makes sense to change the product you have, rather than keeping both.
I’m not sure if it’s an oversight or not, but the one thing I find a bit puzzling is that they’re including the “regular” Sapphire Card under this policy. The Sapphire Card isn’t accepting new applicants, so only existing cardmembers have the product. The card has no annual fee and doesn’t earn Ultimate Rewards points. So it’s a bit odd to me to prevent someone with the Sapphire card from getting the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, given that they’re completely different products. I guess the moral of the story, though, is that they want you to upgrade or downgrade your card, rather than applying as a new cardmember.
Who is and isn’t eligible for a bonus?
After yesterday’s post I got asked several questions about who would or wouldn’t be eligible for the welcome bonus on a card under the new rules. Just to give a few scenarios:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card open, you’re not eligible for the welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, though you can upgrade to it
- If you had the Sapphire Preferred in the past, got the welcome bonus more than 24 months ago, and closed it, you’re eligible for the same card again
- If you have the the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card you’re still eligible for the bonus on either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, since the Ink Preferred is a business card and not a personal card
- If you have the Chase Freedom® Card and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited® you’re still eligible for the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve
- If you’ve had the Sapphire Preferred for more than 24 months and downgrade it to the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited, you should be eligible for the Sapphire Reserve welcome bonus
Hopefully that at least provides a basic rundown or who is and isn’t eligible for various offers under the new rules.
Upgrading and downgrading Sapphire Cards
I love the Chase Freedom® Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. I have both cards, and in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, they can be even more valuable (that’s because they’re usually cash back cards, but you can convert the points earned on the cards into Ultimate Rewards points at the rate of one cent per Ultimate Rewards point).
In terms of the earning potential on these cards:
- Chase Freedom® Card — the card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® — the card offers 1.5x points per dollar spent
The cool thing is that you can downgrade the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve to either of these products (or you could downgrade both cards to both products). This is an option that many might find worthwhile, and assuming you haven’t earned the welcome bonus on the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve in the past 24 months, you’d be eligible to pick up a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve.
The “5/24 rule” still applies
Chase has the 5/24 rule on top of everything else, and all the above cards are subjected to that. This means you typically won’t be approved for the above cards if you’ve opened more than five new accounts in the past 24 months.
Credit card companies are (understandably) getting smarter about who they approve for cards and when they give out bonuses. As we recently learned, the Sapphire Reserve has cost Chase a lot of money since it was introduced a year ago, and they’re pushing for $200 million in cost cuts in the unit that oversees the card. So these policy changes are perfectly logical. Just be sure you understand the new rules, as well as the power of some of Chase’s awesome no annual fee cards.
Does this policy change impact whether or not you’re eligible for the bonus on a Chase Sapphire product?