“You can’t always get what you want” – The Rolling Stones
The lyrics of Mick Jagger were of little comfort to me for the past nine months. I’ll be the first one to admit I can get a little nerdy when talking miles and points (edit by Sharon: a LITTLE nerdy?!?!) and with that being said, even *I* think I was a little TOO excited about finally getting this card. I mean it’s just a credit card but getting it was out of my grasp until now. Let me explain why I wanted it so badly and what was keeping me from getting it.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card was launched in August 2016 and immediately shook up the travel rewards credit card world. To start, Chase was offering an unheard of 100,000 point sign up bonus. In addition, the card earns a market leading 3X Ultimate Rewards points for all spending on travel and dining. When you have this card you can book travel through the Chase travel portal and redeem your Ultimate Rewards for 1.5 cents each (50% over the usual value) so the sign up bonus was worth a minimum of $1,500.
When it was announced, this card became the new top of the line offering from Chase and came with an $450 annual fee to match. This price is in line with other premium cards like the Citi Prestige and the AMEX Platinum Card. To offset the fee, the CSR offers a $300 travel credit which can be used to pay for any travel expenses. This is better than the Prestige’s air travel credit that can be used for any airline charges (including tickets) or the AMEX Platinum credit that can be used to offset airline fees and extra charges (but not tickets) but only with the airline you select in the beginning of the year. The CSR also includes a $100 credit every 4 years for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fees and a Priority Pass lounge membership (both of which are now standard offerings for premium travel cards).
The general consensus was that getting this card was a no brainer for anyone who collects miles and points. In fact, the card was so popular when it came out that Chase RAN OUT of the materials they use to make the card (it’s made with a metallic inner sheet giving the card a more substantial feel.) In December 2016, the CEO of J.P Morgan Chase told investors that the success of the card would cost the company $200 to $300 MILLION DOLLARS in that quarter.
So then I applied for card right away, right? Well, not quite, as there was one major problem; the dreaded “Chase 5/24 rule”. This Chase policy, put into effect in mid-2015, says you will not be approved for (most) of their credit cards if you have applied for more than 5 cards, from any bank, in the last 24 months. Now, I’m not a big player in the credit card game but both Sharon and I had applied for more than 5 cards in the last 2 years (I promise that in the rewards credit card world, that really is not being a “big player”). At the time, I was not applying for as many cards because I knew we would be replacing our cars soon and I didn’t want to hurt our credit score by getting a bunch of new credit cards right before when we went to get a loan. However, for the meantime, the Sapphire Reserve was like the brass ring hanging there but just out of reach.
I needed a plan to get under 5/24 so I could get the CSR. My plan wasn’t very complex; I simply needed to not apply for any more cards until the oldest of the applications passed the 24 month mark, which would happen in April 2017. Then the news came that Chase was going to decrease the sign up bonus, for online applications, to 50,000 points on Jan 12, 2017. No way they would approve my application 3 months early, as reports online were that the Chase reps were being very strict about the requirements for new applications.
There was a glimmer of hope when it was reported that Chase would still accept applications in their branches for the 100,000 offer until March 11th. Still a little too soon for me and at that point I decided to give up on getting the 100K points. There will always be another “best” offer and “once in a lifetime” deal. You get the ones you can and don’t cry over the ones you can’t take advantage of. I’d learn to live without the large bonus.
In the meantime, I was able to take advantage of some bonus offers on existing cards while I waited until April. By waiting, I was in a position to take advantage of the increased offer on the Starwood cards in March. When I completed the spending that was needed to get the sign up for that card. I looked for what cards I should apply for next. The large offer for the AMEX Hilton cards was still available but I decided that offer wasn’t a good fit for me.
I only had one other card I wanted, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I opened up the application link and filled out the information, truthfully of course. I went over all the entries to make sure I didn’t have any errors.
I’ve never actually been anxious about applying for a credit card before but I did feel a bit of apprehension as I hit the send button. Would I be approved? Would I need to call in to speak to someone? That would not have been a big deal but it still added another thing to worry about while I waited for a response. The screen seemed to take forever as the website was processing and then it happened:
I felt a sense of accomplishment as I had achieved my goal. I was going to get a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Why did this excite me so much? Mainly because on top of the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards I would get when completing the spending requirement, I would be earning 3X points on our travel and dining expenses.
What can you do with 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points? Well, you can use the money to book any reservation through the Chase travel portal and the points would be worth $750 but I have a greater use in mind for these points. I’ve recently used our points when I transferred Ultimate Rewards to United Airlines Mileage Plus program to book flights to England (via Dublin) on Aer Lingus as well as when I transferred points to Hyatt for our stay at the Andaz West Hollywood. That’s just the start of opportunities that having Ultimate Reward points opens up.
So that’s the end of this journey, or should I say it’s the beginning, as who knows where these points will end up taking us.
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