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For many miles and points enthusiasts, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the gold standard when it comes to “premium” credit cards with benefits and perks for frequent travelers. I’d had my eye on the card for a couple of years, but couldn’t get it until last year because of the Chase 5/24 rule.
It’s a heavy hitter. The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s worth $750 in travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal, and potentially much more if you move your points to Chase transfer partners like Hyatt and United Airlines. We estimate the average Chase points value to be 2 cents each.
Plus, the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits are exceptional, including up to $300 in travel credits each account anniversary year, Priority Pass airport lounge access, a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit, primary rental car insurance and lots more. Make the most of these perks and you’ll more than offset the annual fee.
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous when I applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve because I already have a lot of Chase credit cards. There was no reason to be anxious – I received an instant approval. If you’re considering applying for the card but are feeling a little uneasy about your odds, here are my Chase Sapphire Reserve approval tips to help you decide if it’s time to put in your application.
Chase Sapphire Reserve approval tips
If you’re tempted by the big welcome bonus and perks on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re not alone. Beyond the hefty welcome bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 in travel booked through the Chase portal) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is packed with benefits and perks, including:
- 3 points per dollar spent on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) & dining worldwide
- 10 points per dollar with Lyft (through March 2022)
- Up to $300 annual credit every cardmember anniversary for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels
- Up to $100 statement credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years
- Free Priority Pass Select membership for access to airport lounges
- Complimentary Lyft Pink membership
- Complimentary DoorDash and DashPass membership (through 2021)
- Top-notch travel and purchase protection, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay insurance, emergency evacuation and transportation insurance, purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is especially more appealing now for frequent travelers, because Citi recently announced massive changes to its credit card benefits including eliminating top travel perks like trip cancellation/interruption, baggage delay and trip delay insurance.
Before you apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s important to know your chances of getting approved, and what you can do to improve your likelihood of success. Here are the tips we recommend.
Know the rules before you apply
There’s no point sending off an application if you don’t fall within Chase’s strict application policies. There are three main rules to know with the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- Chase 5/24 rule: You won’t be approved for Chase credit cards if you’ve opened five or more cards (from any bank, excluding most business cards) in the past 24 months.
- Only one Sapphire card at a time: Chase no longer allows you to have more than one Sapphire-branded card at a time. So if you’ve already got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card open, you’ll have to get rid of it (I recommend downgrading, not cancelling your Chase credit cards) to be eligible for the Sapphire Reserve.
- 48-month rule: You’re not eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you’ve earned a welcome bonus from any Sapphire card in the past 48 months.
In my situation, the Chase Sapphire Preferred was my oldest open travel credit card, and it had been more than 48 months since I earned its bonus. While it is possible to upgrade the Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will not earn the Sapphire Reserve welcome bonus if you go this route.
Instead of cancelling my Sapphire Preferred, I downgraded it to a no-annual-fee Chase Freedom card, which allowed me to keep the length of credit history and credit line. Then, a couple of months later, I applied for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Reports online say can take at least a month for Chase’s computer systems to recognize you no longer have a specific card, so waiting a month or two will help your chances of approval if you’re in the same boat.
Have an excellent credit score
We don’t recommend anyone start applying for the best credit cards for travel until their credit score is 700 or more.
While Chase doesn’t list the minimum credit score or income required for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, anecdotal evidence suggests, at the very least, you’ll need a credit score of 700. Most people who get approved have scores in excess of 750, which is considered “excellent.”
You’ll also want to have an income that can support a decent credit line. That’s because the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a Visa Infinite card, which requires a minimum credit line of $5,000. Again, it’s ultimately the bank’s decision to approve or deny an application, and your credit score and income are only some of the factors they consider.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t think you’ll qualify for a $5,000 credit line. If you have other Chase cards and are denied for the Sapphire Reserve on this basis, it’s often possible to move credit from other cards to the Sapphire Reserve. It’s always worth asking.
Take it easy on other cards leading up to your application
Banks are becoming more and more sensitive to customers who open many credit cards in a short period of time, and Chase is no exception. Again, there are no published rules, but it appears Chase is less likely to approve if you’ve recently applied for a lot of credit.
Your best bet for a Chase Sapphire Reserve approval is to back down on opening other cards in the months preceding your application. In my case, I only opened three cards in the year leading up to my Chase Sapphire Reserve application, and of those, two were from Chase (the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which didn’t add to my 5/24 count, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card).
In the four months prior to my application, I didn’t open a single card.
Of course, there’s an opportunity cost here – you could miss out on hefty limited-time offers or other welcome bonuses for travel while you’re waiting for your credit report to cool off. It’s up to you to decide if the Chase Sapphire Reserve is worth this timeout.
If you’re not approved, call!
So you didn’t get an instant approval? Don’t give up just yet. If your application goes to pending just hang tight for a bit. This happened to me when I applied for the Ink Business Preferred (I was approved after over a week).
If you’re denied, it is always, always worth a call to the Chase reconsideration line (888-270-2127) — often they just need more information about your income or situation. When you contact Chase, be prepared and ready to lead the call. You’ll want to:
- Explain why you want the card (for example, you’re a frequent flyer and appreciate the 3 points per dollar earning on travel and dining and Priority Pass lounge access)
- Show how the card fits into your everyday spending. Banks want good customers who will use and keep their cards
- Share your knowledge of your own credit. Highlight an excellent score, outstanding payment history and long relationship with Chase
- Disclose all of your income. For example, you can include salaries, investments, Social Security benefits, retirement, income from others you can use to regularly pay your bills (if you’re 21 or older) and child support or alimony
Of course, being polite, friendly and professional doesn’t hurt either.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is incredibly popular for good reason (read our Chase Sapphire Reserve review). With a welcome bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $750 in travel booked through the Chase portal) after meeting minimum spending requirements, plus a slew of benefits that can save you money and give you peace of mind when you travel, it’s a no-brainer for the frequent traveler.
I waited a long time before diving into a Chase Sapphire Reserve application, and got instantly approved. Being patient means I now have one of the best travel credit cards in my wallet, and it’s there for the long term.
To learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, check out these guides:
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