Guide to Chase Sapphire rules and restrictions

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Two of the best Chase credit cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® cards. The Sapphire Preferred is the best for beginners, with the Sapphire Reserve being the best for travelers, especially those looking for premium perks.

Before you decide between which card is best for you, you need to be aware of Chase’s credit card rules — particularly those surrounding the Sapphire-branded cards. But with a little planning, there’s no reason to worry about running out of those ever-popular Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most popular flexible rewards points available. (Photo by ARTYOORAN/Shutterstock)

Chase Sapphire rules

Many of y’all in the miles and points hobby are aware of the Chase 5/24 rule, wherein Chase will not approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (not counting certain business credit cards) in the past 24 months. But there are additional Chase rules to be aware of.

You have to wait 48 months after earning the sign-up bonus on one Chase Sapphire card before you can earn it again on another. The waiting period starts when you receive the bonus — not when you’re approved, activate the card or hit a cardmember anniversary. So if you open a Sapphire card in say, May, but receive your bonus points in August – then that day in August is when the 48-month waiting period will begin. So you could potentially have to wait 50+ months between card approvals.

Plus, you can not have more than one Sapphire-branded credit card at a time.

What does this mean for you?

Basically, it means you should pick one of the two Sapphire cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

With the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. With the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

Here’s an in-depth comparison of the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve.

Remember, you can always upgrade or downgrade either card after keeping it for a year. You won’t earn another bonus when you do this, but if you decide you want a lower annual fee, or more perks like the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 annual travel credit, it’s an option.

Plan your Chase applications accordingly

Because of Chase’s 5/24 rule you won’t be approved for any Chase Ultimate Rewards point-earning cards if you’ve opened ~5+ cards from any bank (except certain business cards) in the past 24 months.

With that in mind, there are many non-Sapphire cards to choose from, including three small-business cards and two personal cards.

Chase small-business cards

We highly recommend a Chase Ink Business card because all three have fantastic sign-up bonuses after meeting minimum spending requirements:

  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card:  Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
  • Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card:  Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card:  Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

The Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Unlimited have no annual fees.  The Ink Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee, but comes with more card perks and a much bigger sign-up bonus.

These offers are by far the best way to keep adding to your Ultimate Rewards balance. While you do need a for-profit small business to qualify, you don’t need to make millions a year in revenue. In fact, you may already qualify and not even know it.

You’ll want to add these cards to your wallet if you can, because their bonus offers are worth thousands of dollars in travel. Here’s how to fill out a Chase small-business card application.

Other personal cards

The Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards have the same sign-up bonus. You’ll earn $200 (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Both have no annual fee.

Which is best for you comes down to whether you want 5% cash back (5X points) on quarterly rotating categories with the Chase Freedom (up to $1,500 each quarter you activate) or 1.5% cash back (1.5X points) on purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Because these sign-up offers are much smaller than the small business card bonuses above, I’d consider them a backup rather than a main plan.  That said, if these work better for you long term, go for it. Nearly everyone on the Million Mile Secrets team has one (or both!) of these cards.

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

How to access Chase’s travel partners and better travel rates

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so valuable because you can transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to transfer partners like Hyatt, Southwest and United Airlines — but you need to have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Ink Business Preferred card to access them.  Then, you can combine all your Chase points — including those you earn from no annual fee cards — and send them to transfer partners.

The points you earn are worth different rates toward travel booked through the Chase travel portal depending on which card you have.

This is all handy to know before deciding which Chase Ultimate Rewards card is best for your travel goals.

Bottom line

You have to wait 48 months to earn another sign-up bonus on an additional Sapphire card, and a customer can not have more than one Sapphire-branded credit card. For example, if you have a Sapphire Preferred card, you won’t be eligible for a Sapphire Reserve card.

I recommend picking the Sapphire card you want, then adding in a Chase Ink small business card to earn loads of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In particular, you can earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Ink Business Preferred after meeting minimum spending requirements.

After that, you can consider the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited to complete your collection. Remember, all of these cards are impacted by Chase’s 5/24 rule.

You can still product change (upgrade or downgrade) your Sapphire card after a year. You won’t earn a bonus when you do this, but it means you’re not locked into your Sapphire card forever if you want more perks or a lower annual fee.

That said, the Sapphire Preferred is the top card we recommend for beginners.

Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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