UPDATE: Chase recently changed it’s annual fee refund policy for product changes. The premise of this post still works, just mind the timing if you choose to downgrade/product change.
One of the most generous benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve (referral link) credit card is its $300 annual travel credit. Right now, since the credit resets each December, you could receive the full travel credit twice–that’s $600–while paying only one annual fee of $450.
Earlier today, news broke of a change in the reset timing of the annual credit. Instead of the travel credit resetting each December, it will reset based on the anniversary of the date you opened your account. This change takes effect for new applications starting on May 21, 2017.
I’ve highlighted the relevant definitions in the Benefit Terms below:
A statement credit will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for purchases in the travel category, up to an annual maximum accumulation of $300. 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 applications submitted before May 21, 2017, 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.)
The End of the Double-Dip?
Does this mean that you can no longer get the annual $300 credit twice in the first year you have the card? Although the new terms are designed to make it look as though you can’t double-dip, you still can. You just have less time. Read on to learn how.
If you already have the card and applied prior to May 20, 2017, nothing has changed. The double-dipping strategy I explained in this post still applies. If you applied after that date, you’ll need some discipline, but you can make it work.
The key is this: Even after your second annual fee is billed, you still have time to cancel or downgrade your Sapphire Reserve and have that fee refunded. Chase gives you 30 days from when your annual fee posts to your account to cancel or
60 days ~40 days from the statement date that shows your annual fee (new policy) to downgrade to a different card. Meet either of those two deadlines and your annual fee will be refunded in full.
Consider the following hypothetical timeline as an example:
- June 2 – Apply and are instantly approved
- July 1 – First annual fee posts (it always posts on the first day of the month following your approval)
- Up to 9 months later (optional) – contact Chase to change your Statement Closing date back to 1 day after the date you were approved, in this example the 3rd of each month. This optional step will change when your travel credit resets. This will maximize the amount of time you have from when the credit resets and when your next annual fee is billed. This step still gives you extra time if your plan is to cancel your card. Given the recent change in Chase’s annual fee refund policy, this step has become moot if your plan is to downgrade the card.
Once you’ve had the card for a year…
- June Statement Date – Your travel credit resets at the end of the day. You have until this statement date for your first $300 in travel credits to post. Don’t cut it that close. The next day, you’ll have a fresh $300 available from Chase.
- July 1 – Second annual fee posts.
- July 30 – Last day to cancel Sapphire Reserve and have the annual fee refunded.
- 40 days after your July Statement Date – Last day to downgrade Sapphire Reserve and have the annual fee fully refunded.
The magic is in the dates in red above. You have from as early as June 3 through July 30 if you cancel your card, or into August if you downgrade, to receive your second $300 travel credit while only being on the hook for your first annual fee. That’s as much as nearly 2.5 months. If you need even more time, you can downgrade later, but your annual fee refund will be a pro-rated amount. There is no pro-rated refund if you cancel later.
Just budget ahead of time. Plan ahead to pay for your travel expenses during that time and you can easily monetize the Sapphire Reserve’s second annual travel credit.
A couple other things to consider:
- Avoid applying on the 1st day of the month. If you are approved on the first day of the month, you will be billed your annual fee that night before you even receive the card. Wait one more day to apply and you’ll have an entire month before seeing that fee hit your account (on the 1st day of the following month).
- Changing your closing date in the steps above is optional. You can do it if you want the full amount of time to use your second travel credit. There’s still plenty of time if you don’t take this extra step.
Double-dipping is still very much alive. The change in terms by Chase makes it a little more difficult, but plan accordingly, and you can get the $300 travel credit twice while only paying one $450 annual fee.