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People eager to snag the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s 100,000-point sign-up bonus before time runs out are going to extremes.
The whopper of a sign-up bonus continues until March 12, if you apply at a Chase bank branch. The bonus was cut in half for online applicants on Jan. 12, and that will happen again for anyone applying for the card after Saturday.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, introduced in August 2016, was so popular out of the gate that Chase ran out of the metal cards and had to issue plastic substitutes for several weeks. Since the Reserve’s introduction, American Express and other card issuers have ramped up their sign-up bonuses and perks.
Now, to get that 100,000-point Reserve sign-up bonus before it disappears, some people are hopping planes, dashing out during their lunch break and driving for hours to apply in person for a Sapphire Reserve.
Here are three of those stories:
‘The closest Chase branches are in Chicago’
For Keith Fix, snagging those 100,000 points means catching an earlier flight to Dallas this weekend “to hit up a Chase branch before the offer expires.” Fix, who’s in his mid-20s and just sold his tech company Blabfeed, was already heading to Dallas for other business, and then on to Austin for its famed South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.
But without the Texas business trip, Fix likely wouldn’t have made it to a Chase office to apply for the card. “I live in Omaha, Nebraska, where the closest Chase branches are in Chicago,” he said Wednesday.
“I’ve been an AmEx cardholder since I was old enough to apply for credit cards and I pay my balances every month,” Fix says, “but the lure of points with travel benefits that I actually use along with what I’ve heard from my friends about the Reserve is incredibly compelling.”
Fix, who’s now president of Perfecta Media, says the Reserve’s $450 annual fee initially kept him from signing up online. What changed? “I’m in a different tax bracket now,” he said with a laugh.
And how does he plan to use those 100,000 points? “I just got engaged and bought a house, so I will most likely get the card for my fiancee and household expenses.”
‘The Reserve became a no-brainer’
Heath Silverman, CEO and co-founder of Stessa.com in San Francisco, didn’t have to catch an early flight to get his Reserve sign-up bonus, but he did wait until nearly the last minute.
“I just went down to the branch just last week to sign up,” he said Wednesday. “I had the Sapphire Preferred forever, and I didn’t think the Reserve made sense. But after reading all the benefits, the Reserve became a no-brainer.”
Doing the math convinced Silverman. The $300 travel credit will erase most of the $450 annual fee, and the branch rep said he could roll his Preferred points to the Reserve.
Meeting the Reserve’s $4,000 minimum spend to earn those points was no problem for Heath. “I already blew through my $4,000 purchasing on a whole set of new appliances for a kitchen remodel at one of my rental properties,” he said, “so hopefully the points come through sooner rather than later.”
How does Heath plan to use that haul of 100,000 points? “I have a family reunion in July in Prague,” he says. “A number of distant European relatives, many of whom I haven’t seen in forever and some I have never met, are all getting together for a long weekend. I am hoping to use the points for that.”
‘I hopped out at lunch break to get it’
Meg Murphy, a public relations professional in New York City, says a co-worker who’s a credit card wizard sold her on signing up for the Sapphire Reserve at a Chase branch while she could still get the 100,000-point bonus.
“So I hopped out at lunch break one day to get it,” she said Wednesday.
Murphy, 25, then told one of her friends, who is 24, about the Reserve. Since there are no Chase branches in Boston, her friend drove two hours to and from New Haven, Connecticut, to get her own Sapphire Reserve.
Murphy is not sure how she’ll use her 100,000 points, but she says, “We’re looking forward to using the lounge access on a trip to Cancun.”
‘The perfect high for credit card junkies’
Ashley Dodd, a spokeswoman for Chase, says the Reserve continues to be a big draw, especially among millennials, an audience that once was thought to be credit-shy. She says whether Reserve comes with 50,000 points or 100,000, it’s still a great value because of all the credits, perks and benefits.
But the Reserve’s not everyone. I’m firmly stuck on the fence about the Sapphire Reserve. I understand why Bloomberg called it “the perfect high for credit card junkies,” but I’m less a world traveler and more of a cash-back, no-annual-fee credit card guy.
I still have a couple of reservations about the Reserve: That $450 fee and $4,000 minimum spend to get the sign-up bonus points seem out of my reach.
In life, there are different strokes for different folks. With credit cards, there are different perks for different folks.
Quick update: The Points Guy reported that Chase ran into some technical difficulties processing Reserve applications in branches on the final day the whopper bonus was available, but that Chase is honoring the 100,000-point sign-up bonus for all applications on March 11.