I have been using my Chase Sapphire credit card for a while now, and up until a few days ago have found the customer service, cardholder experience, and rewards all to be absolutely amazing — in fact, I gave a strong recommendation for Sapphire on my site and suggested Outlaw‘s readers sign up through the link published there, so that they could experience first-hand what having a best of class high-end Visa Signature card is like.
Sapphire’s rewards are undoubtedly awesome — you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with each purchase you make, and I call Ultimate Rewards a “hybrid rewards program” since points can be redeemed for simple cash back or statement credit… OR can be used to book a flight or hotel reservation through the Ultimate Rewards web site (I’ve done this before, and it is a great experience — if you “fall short” of the necessary points, you can pay the difference using your card — that’s very convenient, as some of the other popular rewards programs don’t allow you to do that).
So what do I dislike about Sapphire, then? A few days ago, I logged in and noticed that my credit line had been drastically reduced — without warning — down to an abysmal $3,700.
I wasn’t warned beforehand in any way — had I not logged into Chase’s site that day, it’s possible I could have gone over my credit limit…
I called customer service right away to get some answers. They said a letter was mailed notifying me of the credit limit slash-down (I received that letter just today, actually) and that the reason why I’d been reduced had to do with having high balances on my other credit card accounts.
Fair enough. Over the past couple months, I have run up large balances — significantly increasing my personal debt load and utilization ratio. Outlaw has been growing rapidly, and so I’ve been aggressively advertising the site so that it grows at an even faster clip — when something works, you double down on it. And debt has been necessary as a tool lately since some of the site’s advertisers have not been paying on schedule.
Despite my dip back into the land of debt, my income remains fairly high, and I have been making large payments (all greater than $1,000) to my Chase Sapphire card regularly, which I would think shows that I am not a substantial credit risk here — I brought these points up with customer service, but to no avail.
So, in summary: Chase Sapphire remains one of the best hybrid rewards credit cards out there, in my opinion, especially if you grab it while it has no annual fee attached. And it’s an aesthetically pleasing card — you will get comments from bartenders and store clerks when you use it, due in part to Chase’s highly visible advertising campaign for the card.
But check your available credit line often. They apparently can, and will, slash you down if your credit habits change a lot in a short period of time, as mine did. This certainly is not cool, and it tarnishes what is otherwise one of the finest Visa Signature products out there.
Disclosures: I used to review credit cards for a living. Also, my web site has a financial relationship with Chase — we participate in their affiliate program. No financial relationship or position on Visa Inc or any other company mentioned in this story at time of publication.