[Update] How long does it take Chase Bank to clear an old card out of their system? (A Few Days)

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Update 6/23/21: While you should be able to apply online a few days after product-changing, reports suggest that for in-branch applications you’ll have to wait until after statement close until the Chase system will recognize you as eligible.

Original Post:

Chase has a rule that you can only hold one Sapphire product at a time. What happens when you close out (or product change out) a Sapphire card – how long do you have to wait until you can apply for a new card?

For example, suppose you received a bonus on the Sapphire Preferred on June 1, 2015. You’ve now crossed the 48 month mark, and are eligible for a new Sapphire bonus. You close the card, or you product change it to become a Freedom. Can you immediately apply for the new Sapphire card?

This has probably been discussed, though I don’t recall off-hand any clear guidance on this. I set to test this out myself.

I recently decided to upgrade my plain Sapphire card to become a Sapphire Reserve card to take advantage of the new 1.5 cent cashout option with that card. While calling in, I checked my credit card spreadsheet and noticed that it’s actually been over 4 years since I got any Sapphire bonus. I quickly changed my plan, opting instead to product change the Sapphire card to become another Freedom card, and to subsequently apply for a fresh Sapphire Reserve card, thus netting the extra 50,000 points bonus. (Yep, I’m under 5/24.)

Initially, I planned to wait a few days after product changing before applying. While the card immediately showed up as ‘Freedom’ in my Ultimate Rewards account, it wasn’t yet showing that way in my Chase account, and I wanted to give the Chase system a chance to clear me out. But I decided to put on my blogger hat and test out an application the same day as the downgrade.

No luck. The system instantly denied me, without so much as a hard pull. The next day Chase sent me a letter explaining they could not approve me since, “You already have a Sapphire-branded card account with us”.

To keep up the experiment, I applied again the very next day again. Exact same result – same denial and same letter.

The third day, bolstered by the fact that the new Freedom card already displayed ‘Freedom’ in the Chase login too, I tried another application. Three strikes.

Interestingly, the third time they did hard pull me, and they sent me a new love letter, explained they denied me due to, “Too many requests for credit or opened accounts with us”. Given the hard pull and the altered denial reply, I decided to call in and see if reconsideration could do anything. No such luck: I spoke to the front-line rep and a supervisor, and both insisted there was simply no way for them to manually do anything more than the automated system would allow.

They did mention a 30-day timeframe, explaining that since a card can be reopened for 30 days, the system would not clear me out as a Sapphire cardholder for that length of time. They weren’t entirely sure that 30 days was a hard rule, suggesting it might be more or less than that as well. They suggested I try again at some future date. Ugh, I’d been hoping to get in on the final month of 5x groceries with Sapphire Reserve.

A data point from a reader suggests you don’t need to wait 30 days after a downgrade, and can apply much sooner (their data point was around 10 days after the downgrade). I also had success in less than 30 days, as noted in this follow-up post. Perhaps you can apply once the card shows up in your Chase account as having been product changed, which was – in my case – a day or two after the product change.

So there you have it: applying within the first couple of days certainly won’t work as it takes time to clear your Sapphire standing out of the system. My guess is three business days is safe, but it’s worth waiting a week or two if you can.

Presumably, closing a card would yield similar results to product changing, and you’ll have to wait a few days or more to apply again. Some have suggested that for account closures, you do, in fact, need to wait 30 days for it clear out of Chase’s system.

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