Who Is Still Eligible For A Chase Sapphire Welcome Bonus?

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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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® CardChase 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:

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.

Bottom line

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?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Lucky, I believe having the regular Sapphire also excludes one from getting either CSP or CSR, as well. Correct?

  2. Both Chase and Citi have been good to me. Chase emailed me a targeted offer for both United Mileage for 75K points and Ink Business Preferred for 80K points in March, but I only applied and was approved for a United card. I don’t need that many cards even though the bonus points were quite tempting. Citi Bank offered their business card the second time, two years after I closed the first card. I always keep the cards for at least three to four years before I apply for a different card with better benefits. I spend most of my personal and business expenses on both Ink and CSR cards. Now, Chase often emails me a ” customer survey” on their products, such as questions relating to their credit card that partners with a travel online like Priceline or hotel site like Airbnb.

  3. Next thing they’ll start doing is only giving you one card period. Then if you close that one and only card they gave you, they’ll make you wait 24 months before reapplying for another card.

  4. The implication is chase thinks you are a whore even if you assiduously saved your virginity or tried to be a born again virgin. You are measured with the same yard stick as the whores. So what are to waiting for ? The night is young. If you are not going to get any respect, you might as well enjoy yourself.

  5. Just because you’re a whore and Chase says you are one, Debit, don’t imply that others are dirty like you.

  6. If I am an additional cardmember on an existing sapphire preferred account, am I eligible to open an account and be the primary cardholder on the reserve?

  7. I tried downgrading my preferred card to a Freedom when I got Reserve but was told I could only go to Sapphire regular

  8. Lucky, I believe you are incorrect about the Sapphire card not earning UR points. It does earn points however you can’t transfer them to partners unless you have one of the other UR earning cards that permits this.

  9. @Lucky i opened up and received bonus for Preferred on July 2014 and still have it. According to terms, i believe i can close my Preferred or downgrade then open Reserve and still get current 50000 bonus right?(assuming i pass 5/24 rule)

  10. @Steve is correct — The no-fee Sapphire is a UR earning card that earns 2 points per dollar spent on dining, and 1 point for everything else. It can redeem UR in the same fashion as Freedom and Freedom Unlimited — no transfers, and travel portal redemption (and cash back) at 1 point = 1 cent. (I just checked all this, as I am temporarily holding a Sapphire.)

    It makes sense to include the no-fee card in the Sapphire “family” in the sense that the Preferred is a pure superset, just as the Reserve is a (nearly) pure superset of the Preferred — that is, there’s no evident reason to hold more than one, since the lower products have no special properties (unlike Citi and Amex, whose mid-tier products earn better than their top-tier products). And, as you note, Chase would prefer you convert, rather than pick up another bonus.

    Also, I thought I’d point out a legitimate use case for holding more than one Sapphire family card — accounting purposes. My partner and I each have a Reserve for our individual use, and we use a Preferred as a shared expenses card. Since our chargeable shared expenses are almost exclusively dining and travel (including internationally), it makes sense for us to have a Preferred for this. (Of course, we’re grandfathered in; and, even in the new world, we could still apply for a Freedom Unlimited and then convert it after a year. But that wouldn’t have been obvious when we were noobs at this.)

  11. Chase created this Mess of huge losses of getting people to jump abroad their new reserve card last year. They wanted to stick it to Amex lol well apparently they are laughing now and chase is making rules to make up for the losses

  12. Regarding the comparison between Citi and Chase, my understanding of Citi’s rules is that they won’t allow you to earn the sign up bonus if you’ve opened or closed a card of that product family in the past 24 months but they may still approve you for a new account. Chase won’t even let you open an account, period. I think your comparison is a little misleading as written.

  13. So, let’s recap, shall we? First, I had to wait to apply for the CSR, despite my good credit, because of the 5/24 rule¹. Next, I “lost” 50,000 UR points because — while I was waiting — Chase cut the sign-up from 100k to 50k. (Well, you can’t really lose something you never had, but still…) Now, I can’t even HAVE a CSR because I have a CSP and even if I upgrade by swapping the CSP for the CSR, I’ll have “lost” the *remaining* 50k point signup bonus!

    Thank you, Chase . . . NOT!

    At least I’m no longer wondering whether or not I’m going to keep my Citi Prestige. (Good job, Chase.)

    ¹ I was over the limit prior to the introduction of the CSR, and haven’t applied for anything since, as I wanted to get out from under the 5/24 rule and get a CSR card!

  14. I applied for CSR Sep/2016 and received the sign on bonus same month. I was planning to downgrade to Freedom and apply for the CSP so as to get a nice bonus, fee-free card (this year), and keep UR. Am I correct that this new rule prevents me from this strategy?

  15. If I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card which I opened in the last 8 months, and I now open a Chase Sapphire Preferred will I get another signup bonus or not?

  16. If I have the CSR, can I still be approved for the CSP and qualify for the 50k welcome bonus? I just hit my 80k with Ink which stacked nicely onto my my CSR 100k in the hay day of it’s opening. Would love to take advantage of all the great Chase welcome offers since CUR’s are so valuable and easy to use!

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