It takes some jockeying to earn the signup bonus if you’ve already got a Sapphire Preferred

This Brandon Asks question comes from Justin who asks:

“My friends were recently shaming me for paying for an expensive meal with ‘just’ the Sapphire Preferred for 2x instead of the Sapphire Reserve for 3x. I ran the numbers and I’ve got enough reimbursed work expenses to make the Sapphire Reserve worth getting, but when I applied Chase rejected me because:

You already have a SAPPHIRE-branded credit card account with us.

I’d like to get the 50,000 point signup bonus for the Sapphire Reserve, and I only want to carry one credit card.

How would you navigate this situation?”

Sorry you were rejected for the Sapphire Reserve but don’t worry – you can patch this up.

There are a number of ways to go from a Sapphire Preferred to a Sapphire Reserve and get the signup bonus. I’ll provide a few options here and you can decide how much work you’re willing to put into it.

Chase offer terms

Chase’s policy is that they won’t approve you for a new Sapphire Reserve card if you already have a Sapphire Preferred card (and vice versa). You have to click “Offer Details” to see this info, but it is in their T&Cs:

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.

If you just wanted a Sapphire Reserve card and didn’t care about the signup bonus you could product change from the Sapphire Preferred to the Sapphire Reserve. But if you want the signup bonus it’s a little trickier.

How to play it

If it has been less than 2 years since you’ve gotten the signup bonus for the Sapphire Preferred you’ll need to wait it out.

But if it’s been more than 2 years here’s how I’d play it…

First, you probably have some Ultimate Rewards in your account and it would be nice to preserve them through this migration to a Sapphire Reserve.

The strength in the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards is in the program as a whole, not necessarily because of any one great card.

That being the case, I think you should consider exploring more of the Chase card portfolio. I’d recommend you sign up for a Chase Freedom Unlimited. That card comes with a 15,000 point signup bonus after spending $500 in 3 months, but its value is enduring: The Freedom Unlimited bonuses spend at 1.5x everywhere and has no annual fee.

This would serve two purposes:

  1. It would boost your earnings on non-bonused spend by 50% over the Sapphire Preferred
  2. It would preserve your Ultimate Rewards when you cancel the Sapphire Preferred

Once you’re approved for the Freedom Unlimited, you can transfer the points from your Sapphire Preferred to the Freedom Unlimited and then cancel the Sapphire Preferred.

Other options

Some might suggest you product change the Sapphire Preferred into a Freedom card that earns 5x in rotating categories each quarter. But if you’re not interested in juggling 2 cards you’re probably not interested in juggling cards on a quarterly basis.

Another option would be to simply downgrade the Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited. You’d forego the 15,000 point signup bonus with this approach.

Either way, once you no longer have a Sapphire Preferred you’ll be in a position to sign up for the Sapphire Reserve. Chase should then approve you since you won’t have the Sapphire Preferred any more.

Summing it up

After this you’ll have 50,000 from the Sapphire Preferred and 15,000 from the Freedom Unlimited if you go that route. Plus you’ll be earning 3x on travel and dining, a $100 TSA PreCheck reimbursement, and all of the benefits that come with the Sapphire Reserve – like the ability to easily redeem all of your Ultimate Rewards for 1.5 cents per point for any travel booked through Chase.

If you decide later that you don’t like juggling 2 cards you can transfer the points from the Freedom Unlimited to the Sapphire Reserve and close the Freedom Unlimited. But I don’t think that’s too much work to handle, so see how it feels then decide?

Drop us an email or hit us up on Twitter @Milenomics if you’d got a puzzler we can tackle.

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer

6 thoughts on “Chase rejected me for a Sapphire Reserve because I already have the Sapphire Preferred – how should I navigate this situation?

  1. I’ve long wanted someone to actually test my theory out, but I (fortunately) haven’t had a reason too. My wife had the Sapphire Preferred and downgraded it to the no AF Sapphire. Thing is…the benefit book that she got for the no AF version is EXACTLY the same as the Preferred. So getting all the same travel protections for the no AF as you get with the Preferred would be a nice feature. I would love someone to actually test out whether they really honor all the same benefits, but I just haven’t had a reason to utilize those travel protections.

  2. Will this strategy work? I have CS Reserve. Spouse has CS Preferred, for over two years. Spouse transfers her CSP UR points to my CSR UR account. Spouse cancels CSP. Then, we wait for a better CSR signup bonus, and she signs up for the CSR. The $300 annual travel credit leaves a net annual fee cost of $150, $55 more than the CSP, but she will get 3x instead of 2x points in addition to the signup bonus.

    Is there any pitfall in that plan? (5/24 is not a problem for her).

  3. Robert, this is the same method you showed me a few months back and this worked out great for me. I downgraded my Preferred to another Freedom and then applied for the Reserve and received the sign up bonus. Thanks as usual for sharing these tips.

    • How long after you downgraded your CSP to another freedom did you apply for CSR? I am in the same situation but don’t know how much time I should wait after downgrading to apply and don’t want to get rejected for applying to soon. Also, what was your pitch for downgrading CSP to freedom when you already have another one?

      • Kyle: I can’t speak to the time to wait for a CSR application, but I’ve downgraded many CSP to Freedom. There’s no pitch needed. Just a Secure message saying “Please convert my CSP to a Chase freedom.”

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