Sapphire Reserve: How to get a 2nd $300 travel credit before cancelling

Separately I published “Keep or cancel Sapphire Reserve?”  My plan is to keep the card, but many others (including my wife) may not.  If you decide not to keep your card, I recommend downgrading to a no fee card rather than cancelling (see the previously mentioned post for details).  I also recommend making sure to get $300 in travel credits a second time.  Details for doing so follow.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers annual travel reimbursements up to $300.  The great thing about this is that the credits are automatic.  Simply charge any travel expenses to the card and Chase will automatically apply statement credits until you’ve earned $300.

Chase’s definition of “annual”, though, has changed since the card’s introduction.  When the Sapphire Reserve card first hit the market, “annual” was defined as all statements that closed within a calendar year.  For example, even though your January statement would include charges from late December, those charges counted towards the new calendar year.  Here’s how Chase describes the rule:

Annual means the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and the 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date each year.

For many, this rule made it very easy to get two $300 travel credits in the first 12 months of card membership: one in the first calendar year of membership (up to your December statement date), and the second in the next calendar year.

New rules

For those who signed up for the card on or after May 21 2017, Chase has a new definition of “annual”.  The travel credits are now tied to your membership year rather than the calendar year:

Annual means the year beginning with your account open date through the first statement date after your account open date anniversary, and the 12 monthly billing cycles after that each year.

For those who signed up under these new rules, it might still be possible to get the travel credit twice with just one annual fee. You could first get the $300 travel credit during the first 12 months. Then, in month #13, you could immediately use your next $300 travel credit and then cancel or product change your card. If you cancel or product change within 30 days of being charged the annual fee, you should be able to get that fee waived.

Who should do what?

As I wrote yesterday, I’m going to keep my card so this discussion isn’t relevant to my account.  For my wife, though, we do want to downgrade her to a no-fee card.  If you’re in that boat, the best play depends upon when you signed up for the card initially…

If you signed up before mid November 2016:

Hopefully you’ve already received your 2016 and 2017 travel credits.  If you haven’t received your 2017 travel credits yet, make sure to do so before you cancel or downgrade.

Also consider going for a 3rd travel credit: It may be possible to pay the second annual fee when it comes due in 2017, obtain the 2018 $300 travel credits very early in 2018, and get reimbursed a prorated amount of the annual fee if you then downgrade to a no-fee card (this won’t work if cancelling the card).  I can’t find hard data proving that you will get a prorated refund, but at least one reader has reported that Chase gave him a prorated refund when he switched to the no-fee Freedom card.  So, let’s say you pay the $450 annual fee, get the 2018 $300 in travel credits and then also get a 2/3rd prorated refund of the annual fee ($300).  That will give you $600 in value for $450, not to mention the card’s standard benefits.  I’m pretty sure that this is what we’ll do with my wife’s account unless we learn that the prorated refunds are limited to residents of Massachusetts (see this comment for an explanation).

If you signed up between mid November and late December 2016:

In this case, you probably didn’t get a 2016 travel credit, but hopefully you have received your 2017 travel credit by now. The key is to make sure to spend $300 in travel immediately after your December statement closes.  This way you’ll get your 2018 travel credit in time to cancel or downgrade your card to avoid the next annual fee.  Once Chase posts your annual fee, you have 30 days to cancel or product change for a full refund.

If you signed up between January 2017 and May 20th 2017:

For this group, obtaining the second $300 travel credit should be easy.  Make sure to spend at least $300 on travel this year, before the December statement closes, in order to get the 2017 travel credit.  Then spend $300 on travel after your December statement closes in order to get your 2018 travel credit.  You can wait until you receive the 2018 annual fee to product change or cancel (you have 30 days from that date to do so).

If you signed up May 21 2017 or later (new rules):

It should be possible to get the travel credit twice with just one annual fee. Make sure to get the $300 travel credit during your first 12 months of card membership. Then, in month #13, immediately use your next $300 travel credit and then cancel or product change your card. If you cancel or product change within 30 days of being charged the annual fee, you should be able to get the entire fee waived (or returned, if you already paid it).

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. If I downgrade my CSP within 30 days of the annual fee posted, would I get a full refund or only a partial (335/365)refund?

  2. Greg, the info is great. However, as a long time player in the game, I can’t help but feel that this type of blatant messing with Chase is exactly why benefits get nerfed. I know that collective action is almost impossible to achieve, but if hypothetically everyone could take advantage of the benefits, while not gaming the system to this extreme, in the long run it would work out better for all of us. Much like global warming, sure it sucks to lower productivity now, but in the long run it will be beneficial.

    Love your blog, just my $.02

  3. In the past I was always told by Chase I would receive a prorated refund if requested within 6 months of the fee posting. That’s how it worked when I did it too.

    I just wonder if it’s wort it for your wife (and myself) to wait till Jan 2018 to quickly rack up $300 travel charges and then close… I may not have any travel charges in January at all… I guess I could load my United travel bank.

    • Good to know about the month limit for a prorated refund (at least in NY). Good question about whether it’s worth the hassle. In our case I know we’ll be traveling around then so it should be very easy but still it would be nice not to have to worry about it at all. Hmmm….

    • Wouldn’t gift cards be an option here? Either bought through a hotel front desk, or from an airline? Or pre-booking flights for future travel? Just some thoughts…

  4. Hi Greg
    Need your input on this.

    I product changed my Sapphire to CSR last Nov 2016. Got the $300 travel credits for 2016 and 2017.

    AF got charged on 5/2017 so I PC to freedom and got AF refunded. However, I PC on 7/2017 again to CSR when I realized I wanted the card. Af got charged this month.

    1- Am I under the new rules now for the $300 travel credit?

    2- if I wait 3 months until Nov 2017 to get the travel credit, will I still get a prorated refund?

    Thanks!!!!

    • So to clarify some facts first, was your sapphire a preferred with AF charged in 5/2016? And when you PCed to CSR in 11/2016, Chase didn’t charge you an AF until 5/2017 (keeping with a May AF cycle)?
      But when you PCed from Freedom to CSR in 7/2017, you got hit with AF in 8/2017? And was the AF the full $450 or prorated?

      • My sapphire was the no annual fee card. Yes, I was not charged until 5/2017. Yes, when I PCed to CSR again, I got hit with the full $450 af on 8/2017.

      • Yes, I thought that was interesting also, thus my questions. And I agree that mimi should ask Chase. I’d suggest she ask specifically what period she has to use her $300 travel credit. Because there is an open question as to whether the PC resets the clock on another $300. If she still has the calendar year travel credit, does she get another $300 for 2017, even though she got one on her first CSR? If she now has the membership year travel credit (which I tend to think she does because her AF this month was not prorated), what are the start and end dates (I think it would start when she PCed last month, in which case she does not need to wait until November to get the $300, she could use it ASAP, and then downgrade again to get the AF refunded if she was inclined).
        I’ve been trying to figure out why she didn’t get charged any AF on her first PC. Yesterday, my theory was that Chase doesn’t bother with an upgrade fee in the middle of an AF cycle, when you go from one AF card to another AF card. But mimi’s sapphire was a no AF card as was her Freedom, so its not that. Perhaps Chase doesn’t bother with mid-cycle upgrade fees when you upgrade within the same family (Sapphire)? I’m curious as to whether May was mimi’s anniversary month on her original no fee sapphire.

        • I used the $300 travel credit for 2016 and 2017 before PC-ing back to a freedom.

          When I PC-ed back to a CSR, It states on my UR page that the $300 has been used up.

          What’s also weird is that even though I decreased my limit to $1500, it did not refund the af. It should as I am in CA.

          So it looks like, in their system, I am on my 2nd yr of membership for CSR.

      • I also product changed on Nov 29th 2016 from Sapphire Preferred to Reserve and was not charged the annual fee until 06/01/2017 (I was NOT mad, lol!)… I then had till 08/02/2017 to get a full refund by product changing (which I did to the Freedom Unlimited on July 28th without issue).

        Just as a heads up, the 30 days to product change starts on the STATEMENT close date, not the day the annual fee posts.

        For instance, annual fees post on the 1st of the month for all my cards (I think this is the same for everyone?) but my statements close on various days, so my latest experience was the Ink Preferred, fee posted on July 1st, statement closed July 14th, product changed to Ink Cash on Aug 13th without issue.

        Additionally I was told conflicting reports that we have 30 days and by other reps 60 days to product change for a full refund, others said partial refund, others said no refund, I pushed for clarity and was told it is 60 days full refund (this was on the CSR I was inquiring, not the Ink, so maybe personal/business varies) but a note was put on my account just to be sure on this instance (which could make it more YMMV, but I don’t think so) …. which was for a Chase Sapphire Reserve, fee posted June 1, statement closed June 2, product changed on July 28th without issue.

        Any other DP’s? Having 30 days if you change your statement close date to late in the month (e.g. December 25th) or 60 days from the statement close date seems way easier than 30 days from the annual fee posting.

        • My original approval for the Sapphire Preferred was late September 2014, so no, I do not believe it was in July nor see any logical reason they waited. I suppose they may have given me a 6 month grace period for some unknown reason, but it’s interesting to see others (at least one other) having the same thing happen

          Sorry for the very late reply.

  5. Sleazy. This is EXACTLY the kind of dick maneuver that causes banks like Chase to clamp down hard on benefits. Don’t like things such as 5/24, clawbacks, lifetime bans, RAT teams, etc.? Look in the mirror.

    Why do you encourage this kind of dirt-bag behavior? Oh, wait…

    • Sorry you’re not comfortable with this. Everyone has different ideas of what actions are ethical or not. I respect that to you this is not. To me this is simply articulating how to maximize value from the card’s published benefits.

      • Well said. They make the rules, so I don’t understand why I should feel bad that I maximize the benefits for me rather than to the bank.

  6. Thank you for the article. You spend much time providing details that help me to understand the options.

    What’s really “sleazy” is Brandon’s reply. When people use foul language, why allow the comment to post? How about decent behavior when discussing articles.

  7. If I downgrading CSR to a NO fee card, will all my purchases from CSR still retain CSR’s benefits such as Purchase Protection, Price Protection, Return Protection, Extended Warranty Protection OR it will receive coverage from the new NO fee card? Thank you!

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