The Strange Mystery Of The Sapphire Cards & The Bonus Points For Dining

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cards both offer bonus points for spending in the dining category but, at the very beginning of this month and without any warning, both cards started to pay out additional bonus points on top of what is usually expected. This got a lot of people (including me) somewhat excited, but the joy was short-lived as the bonus points stopped posting pretty quickly. Apparently this had been a glitch.

I first noticed that my Chase Sapphire Reserve card was suddenly paying me 5 points per dollar for dining after a meal on 3 July…

…but, somehow, I completely missed the news that this had been a glitch (I’ve had a lot going on this month). Also, I had no real reason to think this was a glitch as Chase was very clearly labeling the extra points that were posting as “bonus on purchases at restaurants”. Based on past experience, glitches don’t usually come with explanatory wording that makes perfect sense.

Still, I missed the news that the bonus points on dining were posing in error so, when I dined out a few days later and all that posted were the usual 3 points/dollar,…

…I genuinely thought that the transaction had somehow coded wrongly and that I was short 350+ points that were due to me.

It occurred to me that because the first purchase I made had been for take-out and the second had been for dining at a physical restaurant, that perhaps Chase has some way of distinguishing between the two types of dining and was only interested in rewarding take-out spending. To my mind, that was a reasonable explanation considering the current situation.

Still, I wasn’t about to assume that this was what was going on so I sent Chase a secure message asking for an explanation. I did not ask for any points:

I got a reply less than 24 hours later:

This was a little surprising but still pleasing. Apparently, the points hadn’t posted correctly due to some kind of internal glitch and Chase had been kind enough to make the appropriate adjustment.

Up until this point, I had been working on the assumption that there was a nuance to the promotion of which I wasn’t aware so I had been hoping that Chase would tell me what the actual terms of this mystery promotion were so that I could publish them on here. Now the only mysteries that remained were why Chase hadn’t published details of this promotion and why the Chase message I received referred to “5% cash back value” when the card I used for the transaction (a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card) wasn’t a cash back card?

I have to admit that I wasn’t invested in this enough to seek further clarification from Chase (I had been given the bonus points I was apparently due) so I didn’t really give this another thought…until a few days later when the news that the original bonus points were a glitch came to my attention. Now, the whole episode seemed more than a little strange and there are still a few unanswered questions:

  • If the original bonus points were posted because of a glitch, why was the Chase website coded to include the correct wording to explain why the bonus points were posting?
  • If the bonus points should never have posted, why did a Chase representative boost my account balance?
  • Why did the Chase representative who replied to my message mention 5% cash back on dining?

I guess it’s possible that the incredibly low number of points that were at stake were too insignificant to warrant any scrutiny so the Chase representative simply assumed that I was due them (without doing any checking) and posted them to my account. However, while that may be why I’ve ended up with 376 points I apparently don’t deserve, I can’t help feeling there’s a little more to this than meets the eye. I don’t think the bonus points were a glitch – I think they posted due to a miscommunication.

I think there’s a very good chance that this was a promotion that had been discussed internally and that was set to start at the beginning of July but, for one reason or another, it was pulled at the last minute. Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication and although the promotion details were never published, the mechanics of the promotion (the posting of bonus points for dining) went ahead. That’s what we saw and it wasn’t until a few days into July (and possibly due to the publicity the promotion was given by bloggers like me) that Chase realized what was going on and pulled the plug (properly this time). Perhaps this is a promotion Chase is had decided to save for later in the year if the current crisis is still in full flow?

That’s the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with that fits all the little bits of evidence that we have (although I’m still not sure why 5% cash back was ever mentioned). Does anyone have any other ideas?