The Chase Sapphire Reserve was launched in 2016 as Chase’s luxury travel card. Designed with loads of premium benefits and originally assigned a huge sign-up bonus of 100,000 points, travelers immediately fell in love with this card. Nearly four years later, it’s still easily one of the best travel credit cards available.
As we approach the 48-month anniversary of the Sapphire Reserve’s introduction to the world (affectionately known as the CSR), we need to look at something known as the “Chase Sapphire 48-month rule” and explain how it could affect you. If you understand how this rule works, you can avoid missing out on a major credit card opportunity.
Let’s jump right into how the 48-month rule works, which Chase credit cards it affects, and other essential information you should be aware of. By the end of this guide, you should be able to confidently complete a new and successful application for a Chase Sapphire card if you’re eligible to do so.
Note: A successful application is one that gives you the opportunity to earn lots of credit card rewards!
How the Chase Sapphire 48-month rule works
The Chase Sapphire family is made up of three different credit cards:
In the past, you could have one of each of the different variations of the Chase Sapphire cards at the same time and use them freely. However, Chase subsequently introduced a rule that you can only have one Sapphire product at a time. So if you apply for and receive any of the three Chase Sapphire cards, you can’t then apply for and receive any other Sapphire product. If you cancel or downgrade your Chase Sapphire card, though, you could then apply for a different Sapphire product.
In addition to the “one Sapphire rule,” cardholders can only receive a new cardmember sign-up bonus on any Sapphire product every 48 months. This is the 48-month rule and it applies across the board to all Chase Sapphire cards. The official terms of this rule also explicitly state that the 48-month period applies to receiving a new cardmember bonus, not opening a new Chase Sapphire card. This is an important detail because it affects the timeline of when you’d have eligibility for another Chase Sapphire credit card sign-up bonus.
Another important detail is when your 48-month period begins. To receive a sign-up bonus, you typically have to meet a minimum spending requirement within a specific number of months. Let’s say you received the Chase Sapphire Preferred (also known as the CSP) in September 2016 and completed the minimum spend by November that same year. Those are good dates to know, but what you actually need to know is when your sign-up bonus points were posted to your account. They may not have posted until December, which would be when the 48-month waiting period begins.
So if your sign-up bonus was posted in December 2016, you’d be eligible for a new sign-up bonus on any Chase Sapphire card in December 2020, as that’s 48 months later. You still have to know the exact date, though, not just the month. If you know what month you received the bonus, but not the exact day, it may be safer to wait until the next month to apply for a new Sapphire card. Otherwise, you risk not hitting the 48-month mark by just a small margin and you wouldn’t be able to receive a new sign-up bonus.
Other Chase credit cards are subject to a limitation on their sign-up bonuses as well, but it’s a 24-month policy. This also applies to each individual Chase card, unlike the 48-month rule applying to the Sapphire cards as a whole. For example, you can receive a sign-up bonus on the Chase Freedom Unlimited every 24 months, and this in no way affects the sign-up bonus terms on the Chase Freedom as the two cards don’t share the same rules.
Other things to be aware of when you apply for a Sapphire
The Chase 5/24 rule
Keep in mind, there are also other Chase rules to be aware of before applying for a Sapphire card. With the unofficial but very real Chase 5/24 rule, you’ll likely be denied for any new Chase card application if you’ve opened five or more new credit card accounts with any credit card issuer in the preceding 24 months.
This includes all credit card accounts, not just Chase cards (though those are included as well). Being an authorized user on a new account will also be included in the count. And specific business credit cards, like those issued by Capital One, Discover, and TD Bank, will also count toward 5/24 status.
If you want to check your Chase 5/24 number, you can use a free tool like Credit Karma to see your credit report history and count the number of new credit accounts you’ve opened in the past 24 months.
Product-changing to a Sapphire doesn’t earn you a bonus
It’s essential to note that any type of product change to a Sapphire card will not get you a sign-up bonus. A product change is when you change one of your existing Chase cards into a different Chase card. This is often referred to as downgrading or upgrading a card. You can typically request a product change after you’ve had a card for at least six months.
Let’s say you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, but you want to enjoy all the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits. Instead of canceling your Sapphire Preferred and potentially damaging your credit score, you can upgrade to a Sapphire Reserve instead. You’ll then have a new Sapphire Reserve card and all its perks — but you won’t be eligible for its sign-up bonus. Only brand new applications are eligible for sign-up bonuses.
Downgrading could make you eligible for a bonus
You could do a product change to make yourself eligible for a new Sapphire bonus, though. If you downgrade your Sapphire card to one of the Chase Freedom cards, you no longer have a Sapphire card, according to Chase. You could then apply for a new Sapphire card and satisfy the one Sapphire card rule. As long as 48 months had passed since the last time you received a Sapphire sign-up bonus, you’d be eligible for a new Sapphire sign-up bonus.
Note: If you want to product-change up to a Chase Sapphire Reserve, your existing card needs to have a minimum $10,000 credit limit. If you don’t have the required credit limit, you can request more credit before you product-change or you can move credit from other Chase cards.
Your credit score still matters
Remember, before applying for a Sapphire card, you’ll still need to have the credit score that Chase requires. Approval for the Chase Sapphire Preferred typically requires good or excellent credit, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve likely requires excellent credit. Good credit scores start at 670, and excellent credit scores are 800 and above.
Checklist: before you apply for a Sapphire card
Before you apply for a Chase Sapphire card, go over the applicable rules and requirements we talked about above. Here’s a quick checklist you can reference before you submit your Chase Sapphire application:
- You can only receive a Sapphire sign-up bonus every 48 months
- You must be under 5/24
- You can’t have more than one Sapphire card
- Product changes aren’t eligible for sign-up bonuses
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred requires good or excellent credit
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve requires excellent credit
Alternatives to a Sapphire card
If you’re not eligible for a Sapphire card, don’t despair — you still have other options. Check out these credit card offers.
One of the Chase Ink business cards, like the Chase Ink Business Preferred, could make sense. The Ink Business Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points like the Sapphire cards and also offers the same 25% increased travel redemption rate like the Sapphire Preferred. In addition, the earning categories are ideal for common business expenses.
If you would rather earn Amex Membership Rewards points, consider an American Express credit card like the American Express Gold Card. This card has a generous welcome bonus and is good for earning rewards on dining, groceries, and flights. You also get up to $120 in Uber Cash each year, which you can use on Uber rides or Uber Eats orders, and up to $120 in annual dining credits to use with participating partners.
For another alternative, consider the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card has no specific earning categories, so you get an unlimited 2X rate on every purchase, every day. The miles you earn can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and more through the Venture Rewards program. In addition, you also get up to $100 in credit for application fees with TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Which Chase card should I get first?
Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points typically offer the most value because of how flexible the rewards are. This includes the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire cards, and Chase Ink business cards.
Start with the cards that align with your spending habits and financial goals and then move on from there. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is good for earning rewards on dining and drugstore purchases, whereas the Sapphire cards earn more on travel expenses.
How many Chase cards is too many?
Chase doesn’t have an official limit of how many Chase cards you can have, but there is an unofficial 5/24 rule. This rule means you likely won’t qualify for a new Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more credit card accounts from any card issuer, including Chase, in the past 24 months.
So if you want to improve your chances of qualifying for the World of Hyatt, Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority, or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit cards, make sure you’ve opened fewer than five credit cards total in the past 24 months.
How many Chase cards can you apply for in a month?
It’s typically recommended that you leave 90 days between credit card applications to improve your qualifying chances. But it’s possible to qualify for more than one Chase credit card in less than that amount of time. However, don’t expect to qualify for more than two Chase cards (or one Chase business card) in 30 or fewer days.
Make sure you pay close attention to this guide before applying for a Chase Sapphire card. This will help to ensure you navigate the different rules and guidelines Chase applies with its credit card applications and sign-up bonuses. Chase credit cards provide some of the best rewards and benefits around, so it’s important to know how to successfully apply for them.
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