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Chase Sapphire Banking Account Review – 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points For A Teeny Bit of Effort

Chase Sapphire Banking Account Review - 60,000 Chase Bonus Points For A Teeny Bit of Effort

I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Banking Account six months ago.  Why?  One reason and one reason only: to lock in 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points simply by opening an account, funding it with at least $75,000, and maintaining that balance for 90 days. 

I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points because you can transfer them to United, Southwest Airlines, IHG Hotels, and more.  Because I travel to Europe often, I can transfer those 60,000 rewards points to United (or another airline) to buy a ticket that would normally cost about $1,650 to fly to -- for example -- Dubrovnik, Croatia.  (Pro-tip: in general you should use your frequent flyer miles for transatlantic flights rather than domestic flights to get maximum value.  Also, be careful which Chase Credit card accounts you sign up for.  Only some of them allow you to transfer your rewards points out to airline partners.)

So how did this all work out?  Let's find out.

Chase Sapphire Banking Account - The Mighty Investor Review

At first, I applied for the account online and my application was refused.  Whaaaat?  Whaaaaaat?  SMH.

However, I got a letter a few days later from Chase saying that they had attempted to run a credit check before approving the account but that my account was frozen with the credit bureaus

So that's my first pointer to you as you consider signing up for the Chase Sapphire Banking Account.  Be sure you remove any freezes you might have put on your credit reports before applying.  Who knew they would run a credit check for a savings or checking account?

Also, keep in mind that some credit checks can harm your overall credit score.  If you are about to apply for a mortgage or some other form of credit, you might wait until you have locked in your rate for the loan before applying for something like the Sapphire Banking Account to avoid potentially dinging your credit score right before applying for a significant loan. 

After the refusal, I drove to the local Chase bank branch and reapplied in person.  Once I removed the freezes on my credit reports, everything went fine.  The banker with whom I spoke was efficient, polite, and even followed up with me several times after the account was opened. 

The Nitty-Gritty - And Pitfalls To Avoid

Read the fine print before you transfer any assets to Chase to make sure you follow the rules.  For example, when tallying up the $75,000 in fresh assets that you need to bring to Chase, you can't transfer in IRA, Health Savings Accounts, and a few other types of accounts to claim the bonus.  Instead, you need to bring in fresh cash or transfer in stocks (or other assets) from a taxable brokerage account and put these assets in a You Invest account.  Again, just read the fine print or ask the local banker.

Also, if you let the total balance of the account drop below $75,000 at any point during that 90-day holding period, you will lose the 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus.  Because of this, I would not simply transfer over $75,000 worth of equities.  Either invest in the money market fund as described below, or move over quite a bit more than $75,000 in stocks

Important: I suggest you not simply park the fresh $75,000 in the checking or savings accounts that Chase Sapphire offers by default.  The rates are absurdly low compared to other banks.  Instead, put the $75,000 into a Chase You Invest account and purchase a money market fund (I chose a no-commission Vanguard money market fund) or transfer over stocks or other assets.  Just remember that money market funds are not FDIC insured, unlike banking and checking accounts--in case that matters to you.

Chase Sapphire Banking - A Lot of Extra Bells And Whistles

I signed up for this account for the 60,000 bonus points, but check out these additional benefits that I hadn't even counted on.

  • A relationship with a specific banker who can fix problems that might arise over time.

  • Free access to a safety deposit box.

  • Commission-free trading with the Chase You Invest platform.  (However, I don't recommend you use You Invest for trading.  I called Chase's trading desk and asked a few questions about how Chase routes orders and whether they give "best execution" pricing to trades coming through their system.  The people with whom I spoke at the trading desk made roughly the right answers, but they did not sound like they were deeply knowledgeable about how to ensure best-execution pricing.  So I recommend you stick with Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, or another brokerage if you are actively buying and selling financial instruments.)

  • No ATM Fees Worldwide.

  • No wire transfer fees in or out of the account.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I'm quite happy I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Banking Account.  In fact, I plan to keep this account open for the foreseeable future.  I love Chase's website.  They have clearly put a lot of money into improving their technology and the user experience.  More broadly, I like the money math involved in signing up for this account.  For a couple of hours' worth of work signing up for the account, I locked in the equivalent of a $1,650 transatlantic ticket (Denver to Dubrovnik at 60,000 points).  What's more, I'd have had to earn approximately $2,000 in pretax income to net the $1,650 to buy an airline ticket.  So this worked out to about $1000 per hour in terms of return on time.  Of course, each person's situation is different.  So you should do your own due diligence before opening any accounts and moving substantial assets to a financial institution.

P.S. Next year I plan to open a Chase Private Client account.  The sign-on bonus for bringing significant new assets ($250,000) to that brand of account currently stands at $2000.  Wow.

P.P.S. Chase is always tweaking their sign-on bonus terms.  So you always need to check to see what deal is available when you read this.  Instead of Ultimate Rewards Points, they also sometimes offer $1000 as a sign-on bonus to open a new Sapphire Banking account.  Good luck!