Sapphire Reserve, such drama

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Well, it’s been a fucking dramatic couple of weeks, with the release of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s the iPhone 7 of credit cards. Crazy people like myself found themselves applying in branch the moment it was available, which meant finding one that was open on Sunday. I saw the other people sitting around waiting to apply and thought, “I know you. You’re a churner.”

I got there before the banker’s system would even accept applications, because you know, IT problems, and so since I was already in Chinatown (that’s where open banks are on Sundays), I bought some time by eating some chicken dumpling soup at Excellent Dumpling House and got a cheap, awesome massage at Maiyomi Tradition Technique and I’m mentioning these things by name because you should fucking go to these places.

Then I went back and applied and it went to pending and I went home, and I called the reconsideration line (more on that later) and was told I was denied for having too many credit cards in 24 months, and then I asked if they could really and truly make sure, and after review they approved me, glory be. Then two days later my card showed up in a ridiculously fancy jewel box presentation package and Caroline took one look and said, “I already hate this card.”

The best part is that demand was so far beyond what Chase expected that they ran out of the boxes, so they just started sending out cards in normal envelopes, and then they ran out of the metal-construction cards, and had to start sending out plain old plastic with an insert promising the fancy version later. LOLZ.

Here’s is what I’ve learned about the ways of Chase as a result of this process.

Chase is not gonna give you a card if you’ve opened more than five cards with anybody in the last 24 months. Those bitches. For normal humans, this isn’t going to be a problem. For churners, it will be, which is why Chase has the policy. (Churners are to credit card companies what card-counters are to casinos.) On the churner web sites, there were some serious rending of souls, as those most interested in this card were least eligible for it. Chase never has made the “5/24” rule a stated policy, except for one day last week when they did for a few brief hours before taking it off their web site again.

If you’re denied and call their reconsideration line (yes, there is such a thing), Chase might offer to approve the account, but in some cases won’t extend you new credit. Who cares, you’re supposed to be paying off your cards anyway, not maxing out your credit line. But you’ll need $10,000 in credit on other personal Chase cards that you can move to the Sapphire Reserve, because that’s the minimum amount. This is what happened to me. The reconsideration line is 888-245-0625, and you don’t have to wait until you’ve been denied to call it — if your card is in “we’ll let you know in a month” mode, it can speed things along. Be super nice to the person on the other end of the line, like you’re calling to be helpful and make their day better. That has worked for me so far, anyway.

There may be some wiggle room right at around the 5 card mark. Grey areas seem to be, among your 5 (or slightly over) number of cards: if any are near two years old; if any are Chase business, rather than personal, cards; if you are not the primary cardholder but are instead an authorized user of someone else’s card; if any are store cards (rather than general purpose credit cards).

I’ve had, ahem, my share of new cards lately — prior to applying for the Reserve, I had three Chase (two personal, one business), and one Citi, plus I was an authorized user on two of Caroline’s cards, and I had a 21-month old Banana Republic card, which must have really scored me a sweet deal on some pants at the time. When I applied for the Reserve, I went to pending; then when I called the reconsideration line, they told me I was denied for too many cards in two years. But I figured I was under five if the authorized user cards don’t count, and if either the business Chase card or the Banana Republic card doesn’t count. So I politely asked if authorized users count, and was told no; and I said that I thought I was under the limit without them, and would she mind re-verifying. After ten minutes, she came back, and said she could approve the card. Whoo hoo!

If you don’t know when you opened cards, there’s a pretty easy way to find out: Go to annualcreditreport.com, which entitles you to your credit report, for free, from each of the three bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, Experian) once a year. Thank your government. Be careful to print or save or PDF or whatever each report because you can’t go back and get them for another year. Alternatively, you can also enroll at Credit Karma, which is free, and that will show your Equifax and Transunion reports; and you can get your Experian report for free by going to freecreditscore.com (this site used to be sketch city, but now Experian actually owns it).

If you’re over five cards in two years no matter how you slice it and you’ve just got to have the Chase Sapphire Reserve because of course you do, there might be one other way: Go into a Chase branch, and say, “I’m thinking about opening a credit card. Am I pre-approved for any?” Don’t say “I wanna Sapphire Reserve.” If you’re pre-approved, then apply — it seems as though this is the way some people way over the limit were able to do it. You actually have to do it in person. More info on this tactic is at this Doctor of Credit post.

Now I’ve got my Reserve, and I have to say, it just doesn’t look as snazzy as the Sapphire Preferred; I’m not compulsively fondling it like I belong on some registry. But that’s not a very good reason to have a card, and as awesome as the Preferred was two weeks ago, it now just looks like the starter kit version. The extra $55 for the Reserve (after getting back your oh-so-easy $300 travel credit) pays for itself if you spend $300 per month on restaurants, taxis, Uber, airfare, hotel/AirBnB, bridges, parking, etc; and if you spend more than that, you come out ahead. And that’s not even counting the additional 50,000 bonus points you get when you sign up.

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