Chasing the Sapphire

I have been known for being a wild man when it comes to frequent flier miles. Back when we lived in California, I kept track of every trick, gimmick and deal for all of the most popular airlines. Ron and I have a history spanning 18 years of taking a month long vacation the second half of December and the first part of January every year. Every other year, we would fly to our destination using frequent flier awards, back then barely paying taxes. One year, we flew from CA to Tokyo, to Beijing, to Bangkok, to Singapore, and then back to CA all on one reward ticket. Those were the days, my friend. I didn’t realize they would end.  
Moving to Europe is what ended the good old frequent flier days, because here, all of those wonderful frequent flier perks are as popular as hen’s teeth. However, I came across this promotion and thought I hit the lottery. In one of my frequent flier travel newsletters, they announced this credit card option.
Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card Benefits:
•    40,000 bonus points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
•    20% off travel when you redeem through Ultimate Rewards
•    No foreign transaction fees
•    Two points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants
•    7% annual dividend on all new points earned
•    No Annual Fee for your first year – A $95 value
I don’t need another credit card. I have more than plenty.
  • A Chase United Visa Explorer card that earns 1 mile on United Airlines for every $1 spent
  • American Express Personal Gold card which I never use, but it does accrue miles at the same rate and is distributable to about ten different airlines
  • American Express Platinum Delta Airlines card directly earning miles on Delta Airlines
  • American Express Platinum Optima with the same diversity as the Gold card
  • Diners Club/Mastercard which accrues 1 mile for for every $1 spent, but the advantage with this was that you could transfer your miles to any American airline’s program. The best benefit now is the access to Diner’s Club lounges at airports.
  • Capital One Mastercard accrues mile points, but they are not transferable. You buy your ticket through their program to redeem your points. However, I will never get enough to use them

The advantage of the Chase Sapphire Card is, well, just look at that sign on bonus: 40,000 miles. We have spent more than $3,000 in one month furnishing the new apartment. With quarterly taxes and a plane ticket for Ron to go to the US this summer, that would be covered in no time. 

So I figured since I had a Chase card, I could just call and switch over. When I called, the woman rep said “You want to leave us at United?” Well, duh, yes I do. There are sapphires out there waiting to be collected. Well, no can do! she tells me. She cannot move me from one card to another unless it is one United card to a different one.  She did suggest I try online. 

The online form asks you to sign in if you already have an account. I do and did. What it does is pre-fill out the application form for a new account, but this didn’t work. It would only accept US addresses, so it tried truncating my Hungarian address. I tried filling it out using my best friend’s address in New Mexico, but I know that is not going to work. 

After a  night’s sleep, I had the idea to try to find a generic Chase number, one not associated with United Airlines. After some hunting, I did find it and called. It seems that their divisions do not work well with others. This new rep told me she could not do a switch between accounts either. I would have to do it online or in a Chase branch. When I explained my predicament, she could only offer sympathy, but no oral application assistance. There are not to be any sapphires in my future, I fear.

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