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With Chase’s announcement of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the hearts of frequent travelers became excited and dismayed simultaneously. Why?  Because of Chase’s “5/24” Rule that has surprisingly declined the applications of many Chase Sapphire Reserve applicants with excellent credit scores.

What is the 5/24 Rule?

Chase has a policy called the “5/24 Rule” that they use as part of their criteria when determining whether to approve or deny applicants for any of the Chase family of credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  It is called the 5/24 Rule because any applicant that has been approved for 5 credit cards within the previous 24 months is automatically declined.

Applicants can even be penalized if they are added as an authorized user for other credit cards.  For example, you might be the primary cardholder for 4 credit cards and an authorized user on the 5th credit card.  If that 5th credit card application occurs within 24 months from the first credit card approval, you are ineligible to try for the Sapphire Reserve.  Although can contest this fact with a Chase Representative and they may not count an authorized user account against you.

Although Chase has not officially published anything (with one exception) regarding the 5/24 rule, it is well-known in the travel rewards arena that the 5/24 rule is alive and well regarding the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  For a brief period of time, Chase had even published the following statement on the Sapphire Reserve application page: “You will not be approved for this card if you have opened 5 or more cards within the past 24 months.”  For unspecified reasons, that written language is no longer on the Chase website (but the rule is still in effect).

You are in the clear if you have an excellent credit score, and haven’t applied for more than 5 credit cards in the last 24 months.

Is it possible to bypass the 5/24 rule?

There are some ways that you still might able to be approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Authorized User

To a certain extent, the jury is still deliberating this talking point.  Several people have been declined Sapphire Reserve membership because of too many recent inquiries.  Those inquiries include credit card applications as a primary cardholder and also as a secondary user.

No question about it, it is very hard to wiggle past the 5/24 rule if you are the primary cardholder for 5 or more new credit cards.  But, if being added as an authorized user tipped you over the edge, it is still possible to get approved.  To have the decision reversed, you will have to talk with a Chase representative and explain the inquiries.  When they process the initial application, Chase solely looks at the total number of credit card inquiries within the previous 24 months and doesn’t “drill down” to determine if they are for a primary or authorized user credit card.

Visit a local Chase Branch

The in-person application process for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is different than the online application process.  Physical Chase branches have a little bit more flexibility and you can also find out if you might be on their list of targeted or pre-approved clients.  Visiting a branch doesn’t mean you will walk out with a Sapphire Reserve in your wallet, but, it might be worth the trip if there is a branch nearby.

Appeal To A Reauthorization Agent

One final option is to appeal to a Chase reauthorization agent. It’s better than nothing, but as so many people with excellent credit scores and salaries have been declined because of the 5/24 rule, it’s most likely a waste of time. Your best bet in getting the decision reversed is by either visiting a local branch or contesting the times you were only an authorized user.

What Happens If I Still Do Not Get Approved?

If you are still declined even after the appeal process is denied, there is only one other course of action to take.  Sit and wait.

Once your first new credit card drops off the radar after the 24-month period you can try again and should get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The additional card benefits such as a $300 travel credit, complimentary lounge access, and Global Entry application fee credit will easily offset the $550 annual fee for diehard travelers. If you don’t want to mess with the $550 annual fee, there’s the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, with its $95 annual fee.

If you must sign-up for another credit card, you can look at some of Chase’s co-branded offerings or go with a different company.  Just remember that any applications you make will count as a hard inquiry and means you will need to wait even longer before you eligible to try and get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Why does Chase have the 5/24 Rule?

The motives behind the 5/24 are mostly speculation as Chase has always been rather secretive regarding the rule, but it applies the rule to its native Chase credit cards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink, and Slate. The 5/24 rules also applies to some of the Chase co-branded offerings from Southwest, United Airlines, and Marriott (& possibly Ritz-Carlton).  There are still rumors that Chase will apply the 5/24 rule to all of its co-branded credit cards, but this hasn’t occurred yet.

The primary reason Chase has the 5/24 rule is to maintain the “purity” of its credit card programs.  Chase offers some of the best credit card rewards and benefits for travelers and cash back consumers alike.  The 5/24 rule is their version of American Express’s “Once in a lifetime” welcome offer policy.  At least with Chase, you might have to wait 24 months before reapplying for a specific credit card, but you can still earn the sign-up bonus if you previously held a card.

One can hope Chase will relax the 5/24 rule in the near future, but, sometimes the greatest price for receiving the best travel rewards card on the market is patience.


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