The counter-intuitive approach to Chase Sapphire cards

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By now, you would be aware that the Chase 5/24 rule has been extended to each of the Chase personal credit cards, including it’s co-branded cards.
 
In August 2018, Chase changed the sign-up bonus eligibility criteria for its Sapphire series of cards. Traditionally, you would be eligible for a new sign-up bonus on a Sapphire card after 24-month from your last Sapphire bonus. The Conventional path was something like this –
 
Conventional Chase path
Now, the current language states that one can only get a sign-up bonus for the Sapphire line of cards after 48 months from receipt of the first sign-up bonus. For most people in the hobby, 4 years is a long time to hold Ultimate Rewards without using them, since any form of points and miles almost always depreciate. We are also assuming that within these 4 years, you have become seasoned at the points and miles game and understand that the Sapphire Reserve card is something you cannot not have!
 
So, with the new sign-up bonus rules in place, I adopted a lesser known, counter-intuitive approach –
 
New Chase path
While the obvious difference is the missed sign-up bonus on the second card, I see it differently here; Chase would have only allowed me to get one sign-up bonus in 4 years. How would I maximize the value at the least cost?
 
First, I started out with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which helped me accumulate 50,000 sign-up bonus points, same as the Sapphire Reserve, but without any annual fee in the first year. I decided to get my account seasoned, deep dive into the hobby, understand the benefits of the CSP vs. CSR, and then when the annual fee hit for the second year, I simply upgraded my credit card from the Preferred to the Reserve.
 
So, same sign-up bonus, avoided annual fees for the first year, and landed in a better position to redeem all the accumulated Ultimate Rewards, albeit at a higher redemption rate of 1.5x (CSP redemption is at 1.25x). You also save end up saving a very important slot in the 5/24 rule since you are not applying for a new card. This becomes even more important now that Chase has started considering most of its personal credit cards under 5/24.
So if you try to redeem your Sign-Up bonus via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal, here is how it looks with the two cards –
Redemption via Chase UR portal
 
By following my strategy, you will be able to save annual fees in the first year, and then hop on to a card which offers incredible premium benefits for an effective annual fee of $150 (after the $300 travel credit), or just $50 once every 4 years, if you choose to enroll for the Global Entry program and pay the fees using the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
 
Let me provide a more realistic view – If you are like me, casually trying to accumulate points and have only been in the hobby for a year or so, or are just starting out and intending to slowly build up your Ultimate Rewards points, here is how your points would look at the end of the year  –
Existing UR summary
The Sapphire Reserve (image, above) truly shines with a little over the 200,000 UR’s in my possession. After upgrading to the Reserve yesterday, here’s my redemption calculation –
Personal UR Redemption calculation
Yes, this simple upgrade increases the value of my points to more than the Annual Fees of this card, and it also offers me Priority Pass access (one trip a year is also worth it) and many more benefits!
Not Convinced Yet?
What are the factors holding you back from getting a Sapphire Reserve?
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Maximizing Credit Card Rewards: Meeting Minimum Spend, Category Bonus and Holiday gifts for friends and family, all for free!!!

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One rule all travel hackers in this hobby swear by is to spend the least amount of time and money possible to accumulate points. Over the last five months, members of our Facebook community (free and paid) have used a couple of websites to meet the minimum spend on their new cards, meet the 5% category bonus on cards like Discover IT, which has 5% cashback on all Amazon.com and Wholesale Clubs purchases from October – December 2018, accumulate tons of points, and save lot of money on household products they would’ve otherwise purchased. And with Christmas just around the corner, many members nabbed products that would make great and expensive gifts, all for free(or almost free). You can also donate them to a charity.

Ready to jump in?

The two resources we’ve been using are RebateKey (affiliate link) and Extreme Rebates (affiliate link). On these websites, you get product discounts ranging from 50%  ~ 100%. You must be wondering why? The simple answer is, a lot of sellers want to make sure that their product is highlighted on platforms like Amazon, eBay, Overstock, Groupon etc and the fastest way for a product to become popular is through higher sales and user feedback. By providing these discounted, and often free products which you purchase from, say, Amazon, their product gets more hits. The platforms above have different models, but in the end, you get all the benefits.

(1) RebateKey.com

This is perhaps the most polished version of a Rebate website, and most of us have received thousands of dollars in Rebate back. You simply look up the products listed on the website, purchase them at full price (no coupons to be applied), submit the order confirmation number within one hour, and after 35 days, you receive your money towards the order as a check from RebateKey. Yes, that’s it.

I received this check two weeks ago, worth $903.67, and I am all set with gifts for Thanksgiving, Return of the White Elephant, Christmas and also Diwali!

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It also provides a dashboard of all the checks you’ve received, and future payouts.

RebateKey only has three conditions, and none of them will break your bank –

  1. Buy product at full – price (Do not apply coupons, even if available on Amazon)
  2. Products cannot be resold
  3. Once you click the ‘Buy Product’ button, you have one hour to purchase the product and submit the order number.

How does the math work out?

With my Discover it card, I was able to earn a $75 cashback reward by spending $1,500 on Amazon (via RebateKey) this quarter. So basically, I earned $75 without spending a single cent after receiving my reimbursement check from Rebatekey!

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You can make a better profit (5% cashback – no upper limit!) if you hold the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card by Chase  or the Amazon.com Store Card .

And by using almost any other card, you will accumulate at least 1 point/ $1, so yes, free miles! You could also consider buying Amazon giftcards from grocery stores if your local store offer fuel points ad save more money .

(2) ExtremeRebate.com

The other website we’ve been exploring is ExtremeRebate, which has a greater product range and feature set. A few items require you to write a review in exchange for a rebate, and the more reviews you write, the more products you can request from the website. The sellers also have some control over who they want to give out the product to, and if you have a blank Amazon public profile with no published review, sellers might refuse to send the product to you. Still, worth a try as you don’t pay for requesting products.

Similar to RebateKey, you make a purchase once the seller approves you to buy their product, and enter the order number to begin the rebate process. On the plus side, you receive a rebate within 7 business days of ordering a product. It’s important to note that ExtremeRebate sends the money via PayPal Business, so we bear a cost of 4.4% of the total rebate + 30 cents. Yes, there is a cost involved, but I’ve been able to buy products costing $200 in Home Depot for $9 from ExtremeRebate and receive the money within a week.

How did I maximize these two resources?

  • $75 cashback from Discover it (Earn $50 bonus by using this link) for spending $1500 at Amazon (Bonus Category Changes each quarter)
  • Use Amex Business card like Business blue that earns 2X MR points on first $50k each year or the Amazon Prime card for 3% rewards.
  • Saved $1200 on Holiday gifts and household items I would’ve otherwise spent money on.
  • Meet minimum spend on my AMEX Blue Business Preferred (10k MR sign-up bonus using the link) . This card is awesome as has no annual fees plus 0% introductory APR for 15 months and Chase will not count it towards 5/24 as it is a business card

Let’s get the ball rolling and score Free points and products!

Here are the links (affiliate) for you to get started with these groups –

Rebatekey

Extremerebates

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