Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Time to pay up to Chase

Yesterday I got charged the annual fee for my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, a quite hefty sum of $450 dollars. My Asian mother would never approve of paying a yearly fee for a card, much less one in the hundreds. Indeed, on the surface I do not fit the salary profile of a person who carries credit cards with high annual fee, but the beauty of Chase Sapphire Reserve is that it literally (?) pays for itself.

It’s just one of those things that catches you off guard when it shows up on your bank statements, like the annual membership for Amazon Prime. Just yesterday I wrote about being austere through the rest of 2019, and this charge was certainly a sudden shock. Thankfully, unlike Amazon Prime which has hiked its rates many times (I can remember when Prime membership was only $70 dollars), at least the Sapphire Reserve card has stayed consistently at $450 per year since inception. I’m very glad Chase did not follow the footsteps of American Express, who raised the fee of their premium Platinum card to $550.

It’ll be my fourth year with the Sapphire Reserve card, and as long as I remain traveling on a consistent basis, I completely make the annual fee back through points accrued. The $300 travel credit is still there, and that not only can reimburse for obvious stuff like airfare and hotel, but Uber rides and public transportation also count. Via rudimentary math, that cuts the net annual fee down to a manageable $150, which will get canceled out once I spend a cumulative $4,000 on travel and restaurants next year (a very easy target for me to hit.)

I reckon there will come a time when I will divorce from the Sapphire Reserve card and switch over to a pure cash-back variety (hello, Capital One!) I don’t suppose I’ll keep on traveling as I have done for the past few years, and at that juncture there won’t be enough appropriate spending to offset the annual fee. In the meantime I think Chase would be smart to split up the annual charge into monthly payments, because us millennials love that sort of accounting: my phone only costs me $40 dollars a month!

The new Salesforce Tower appears quite literally everywhere you go in the city.

I got declined for the Apple Card!?

I obviously don’t need yet another credit card. I happily bank with Chase - except for their savings products which pay absolutely peanuts in interest rate, and currently have their line of credit cards with excellent rewards. I mean, 5% back on Amazon with the Amazon Prime Card! How on earth is Chase making money from me - someone who always pay the full amount on time - on that particular card is beyond me.

But I am a huge fanboy of Apple products, (typing this on my brand new 15-inch Macbook Pro, and getting distracted in the process by twitter on the iPhone X next to it) so when Apple announced a credit card product of their very own - replete with the usual Apple design flare - I was completely onboard. In a landscape full of metal-backed cards, Apple went and produced the Apple Card out of titanium, which sounds awesome. Of course, the entire thing is colored in white.

As far as perks and rewards go, the Apple Card is wholly inadequate. Zero sign-up bonus to speak of, and you only get the industry-typical 3% back when you shop with Apple. Using the actual physical card only nets 1% cash back, which is very pedestrian.

A credit card made out of titanium, though!

So like a good Apple shill, I applied for the Apple Card as soon as the sign-up was available to the general public (I was not amongst the lucky few to get an early invite). To my utter surprise: I got declined! I guess even a near 800 credit score means nothing these days. To Apple’s - and Goldman Sach’s - credit, they do send you an email explaining the rejection, and for me it was because my debt to income ratio was too high(?)

At first I thought this can’t be possible: the only solid chunk of debt I have is the car note on the GT3, and that only amounts to around $750 a month; I comfortably make more than that. Then I realized it was because the loan for the GT3 is uncollateralized; Goldman is treating it as simply a huge lump of debt, something of an albatross that needs to be paid off as soon as possible. Obviously, in reality that’s not structurally true at all.

This probably means it’s not only the Apple Card: I likely won’t be able to apply for any other credit card until the GT3 is entirely paid off. Which is just as well, because like I said, I don’t need any more credit cards.

Highway rest stops in the U.S. are solidly disappointing compared to those in Asia. Where’s the restaurants? Where’s the amenities?