What to Do if You’re Not Eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus!

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What to Do if You’re Not Eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus!

Million Mile SecretsWhat to Do if You’re Not Eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

Are you disappointed in not getting approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve because you’ve opened ~5+ credit cards in the last 24 months?

Or maybe you’re uncertain if Chase will approve you and aren’t sure what to do?

The good news is, there are still ways to earn Big Travel with Small Money with Chase and other bank cards.

Cant Get Chase Sapphire Reserve
Can’t Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve? You Still Have Options!

I’ll share strategies to help you decide what to do.

Can’t Get Chase Sapphire Reserve?

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Folks who’ve been at this hobby for a while often apply for lots of credit cards (including me!).  That’s because earning miles and points from big sign-up bonuses and credit card spending is the fastest way to get Big Travel with Small Money.

So many of us don’t qualify for cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve because of Chase’s stricter application rules.  That means if you’ve opened ~5+ cards from any bank (except certain business cards) in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for most Chase cards.

Cant Get Chase Sapphire Reserve
Points Earned From the Chase Sapphire Reserve Are Valuable Because You Can Transfer Them to Travel Partners Like Hyatt for Luxury Award Stays

That said, there are Chase cards that are exceptions to the rule.  And if you’ve lost track of how many cards you’ve opened, see my post on how to easily find your Chase 5/24 status.

But if you have your heart set on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, consider these options!

1.   Wait It Out

If you haven’t opened many cards recently, but still fall under the Chase “5/24” rule, it may be worth holding off on card applications until your credit report shows fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months.

But folks who’ve recently opened a lot of cards might have to wait a year or more.  So there’s an opportunity cost, because you’ll potentially miss out on other lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses in the meantime.

Cant Get Chase Sapphire Reserve
Hurry up and Wait – Consider Pausing New Card Applications Until Your Credit Report Shows Fewer That 5 Cards in 24 Months

And keep in mind, the 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve may not last forever.  So there’s a risk the sign-up bonus could be reduced while you’re waiting.

A Possible Workaround

Should you choose to stop applying for new cards for the time being, it’s still possible to earn sign-up bonuses for Big Travel.  If you have a small business, remember most big banks do NOT report small business cards to your personal credit report as long as you pay on time.

So you could shift your focus to opening small business cards only until your personal credit report shows fewer than 5 cards opened in the past 24 months.

It’s up to you to decide if the Chase Sapphire Reserve is so compelling that you’re willing to forego other personal cards in the meantime.

2.   Take a Chance, but Have a “Plan B”

Folks who aren’t sure if they’re impacted by the “5/24” rule, perhaps because they’re authorized users on other accounts or opened small business cards from smaller banks, could still take a chance on applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

But have another Chase card NOT impacted by the tighter rules in mind should you get denied.

For example, the Chase Ritz-Carlton has a terrific sign-up bonus of 3 complimentary nights at tier 1 to 4 Ritz-Carlton hotels after meeting minimum spending.  And it has many similar benefits to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, like a $300 annual travel credit and travel insurance.

So, if you’re denied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can apply for your second choice card on the same day.  This way, you won’t waste a credit inquiry, because Chase will likely combine the credit pulls.  This lessens the impact on your credit score.

Cant Get Chase Sapphire Reserve
Million Mile Secrets Team Member Jasmin Applied for the Ritz-Carlton Card the Same Day as Being Denied for the Sapphire Reserve, and Chase Reported ONE Inquiry to the Credit Bureau

Remember, even though certain Chase cards aren’t impacted by the tighter application rules, there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved.  It depends on your credit score, the amount of credit Chase has already extended you, and other factors.

3.   Product Change

Perhaps you’re most interested in the ongoing benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, like earning 3X points on travel and dining, Priority Pass lounge access, 1.5 cents per point when you book paid travel on the Chase Travel Portal, travel accident insurance, emergency medical and dental coverage, and medical evacuation insurance.

Cant Get Chase Sapphire Reserve
Spend Lots on Travel and Dining? It Might Be Worth Upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve From an Existing Card to Earn 3X Points

You could consider a product change from one of your existing Chase Ultimate Rewards point-earning cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, or Chase Freedom Unlimited.

You will NOT earn the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 point sign-up bonus.  But you’ll get all the other benefits of the card.  And it won’t disqualify you from earning the bonus in the future if you meet the right conditions.

Note:   I spoke to a Chase representative who said it’s not guaranteed they’ll allow you to upgrade the card.  It depends on your personal banking profile with Chase.

4.   Sign-Up for Other Premium Cards

There are cards from other banks that offer good sign-up bonuses and similar perks, like travel credits and lounge access.  If that’s what you’re after, consider cards like:

Bottom Line

If you’re not eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve because of Chase’s tighter application rules, there are ways to get cards with similar perks!


Let me know if you have other ideas, and please share your experiences applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Please advise, what is $600 cell phone insurance mean? I had called Customer Service, but they do not know…- This is for the Chase Ink Business Prefer – 80,000 points.

Million Mile Secrets

If you pay your cell phone bill with the card, you get theft and damage insurance on your cell phone – up to $600

I have over 15 cards that I’ve gotten in the past 18 months, but I DO have both a Chase savings and a chase checking account *(both over 18 months now). When I went to the bank to apply, I was already pre-approved and got the card without any trouble. Just an FYI for you to share with your members.

Million Mile Secrets

Thanks for sharing! If your’e pre-approved in the branch you usually do get approved.

Hi Daraius, I’m one of those who are way over the 5/24….I think I’m at 9/24. So in August, naturally, I checked with Chase for any prequalified offers…NONE. In early Oct, I decided to lower the credit limits with most of my credit cards. I waited, and last week, I went to a branch and was informed that I am now prequalified for a Slate and a Freedom Unlimited, and a couple of months ago I had no offers. Not exactly the cards I was looking for….but it looks promising, Another Data point, my last round of credit card apps was in April/May – I got approved for the Chase Hyatt, Chase IHG, and Amex Plat. I think. I’ll wait again and try my luck in Dec or Jan. Do you know of others who are on the same boat and have done something similar?

Million Mile Secrets

Checking in-branch for pre-approved offers seems the best bet for approvals if you’re above 5/24.

It seems the quickest route might be to become a well known points and miles blogger. It appears Chase “bends” the rules for a select few.

Million Mile Secrets

I wish that were true. 🙂 I’ve been declined for Chase cards and have been grilled on the phone.

I would like to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I believe the $300 credit is based on the calendar year, and is only available for the first two years. So, unless I plan to use the credit in the next month and half, should I wait until January to apply? I already have a Chase United Mileage Plus card, and I keep it so that my United miles don’t expire. Does the Sapphire Reserve card offer that same protection?

The Mileage Plus card has a couple of advantages that may help justify the fee. You get access to more award seats (you need to login when searching for awards so that the system recognizes you), and if you need to check any bags, you need to pay with your UA card in order to get the bag fee waived. If you pay with the CSR or CSP or any other card, you will be assessed the bag fee.

Marilyn B – Very good point. A few flights would allow me to justify spending the $95 by saving on the baggage fees. Thank you!


CSR has an annual travel credit of $300, not just for the first 2 years but each year you keep the card. The benefit of applying now is (in case you want to cancel before renewing next year) you can avail of that twice – now until the end of 2016 and next year. Also, I checked with CSR representative and asked them if I could use that to buy hotel gift cards from hotels directly in case I fell short of spending that and they said it should work – I would try with a smaller denomination from the chain of my choice, havent done it yet.

Also, keeping the United Mileage Plus card (assuming its the explorer with $95 annual fee) doesn’t make sense when you can keep your miles from expiring by just linking any of your cards (cards that make 3x or 5x on restaurants even better) to the dining program and earn united miles and keep all your points from expiring! I do that since I cancelled my card earlier this year.

Bhavin – Thank you so much for your very helpful advice.

Million Mile Secrets

Thanks for helping out!