One of the ways that our family is able to travel so much is through the strategic use of frequent flyer miles. And one of the best ways to earn lots and lots of frequent flyer miles these days is through credit card sign up bonuses. It’s actually not uncommon for banks to offer 50,000 or more points just for signing up for their card. And putting a certain amount of spend on it within the first few months.
Chase was recently offering 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points — which transfer directly to United miles, World of Hyatt points, Southwest Rapid Rewards, and other program — for getting their Sapphire Reserve Visa credit card, and then spending $4,000 within the first three months. The thing I’ve often wondered, however, is what exactly they mean by three months.
Well, it turns out that by 3-months, they actually mean 115 days which is really generous. Here’s how I found that out, and got really lucky in the process.
Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve
Late last year, Chase was offering 100,000 points for getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and spending $4,000 within three months. That was obviously a really good offer — which is now over — so I wanted to get the card for all four of us.
I signed myself up first, then my wife, and finally in January, my parents, right before the 100,000 point bonus was scheduled to end.
I made some Plastiq mortgage payments on my wife’s card and my own, and knew those were good to go. And I paid one of my parent’s bills with my mom’s card, so that was taken care of. Then I sort of figured that my dad would spend about $4,000 organically over the next three months on his card.
When early April rolled around, I finally started auditing everyone’s accounts to verify that the bonus had posted. And they all had, except for my dad. Uh oh.
Looking into it a bit more, he had barely spent anything on the card. Apparently I had forgotten to actually tell him to, you know, put some spend on the card.
How does Chase define 3-months?
I went into panic mode. There were 100,000 points on the line.
I had always assumed that if you signed up for the card on January 8th, you’d have until three months later, or April 8th, to complete the spend. By that simple calendar definition, my dad had missed the window by precisely one day.
But that method doesn’t really seem fair given that some months have fewer days than others — since my dad’s first three months included February, he had two fewer days than anyone else! Maybe there was still hope?
It turns out that Chase has thought of this and instead of a simple calendar definition, they count total elapsed days. And in fact, it turns out that they unofficially give you 115 days from the date on which you are approved. That’s actually closer to four months than three.
There are many online calculators that will calculate the number of days between two dates. I used TimeAndDate.
Calculating days elapsed using TimeAndDate.Com
So even though three calendar months had passed, he was still well under 115 total days. Phew.
When does the clock start ticking?
Chase starts the clock from the date you are approved for the card. So if you are instantly approved, then the date would be the day you applied. But if they need to review your account, it could be a few days after that. Either way, it is not the date that you receive the card.
So in reality you won’t get the entire 115 days to meet the spend because a few of those will be lost to transit. But I assume that’s partially why Chase is so generous in the first place.
Most of the signup bonuses on Chase credit cards require you to spend a certain amount within the first three months. But since that can be a little ambiguous, and because it takes time for you to receive the card, Chase unofficially gives you 115 days. A few others have confirmed this as well.
As nice as this is in a pinch, I would still advise meeting your spend requirements as quickly as possible. Trust me, it’s less stressful that way. And from what I understand, the chances of getting an extension beyond the 115 days is pretty much zero — unlike the airlines, banks can’t give you a one-time extension due to government regulations and whatnot, so if you miss it, you’re probably out of luck.
Has Chase’s generous interpretation of three months ever saved you from losing a bonus?