How Indestructible is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card?

Regular readers of this blog know that I consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to be pretty much the best all-around credit card for spending.

Of course, there’s nothing more rewarding than a credit card signup bonus (and Sapphire Preferred has one of the best).

But for most spending that isn’t helping you earn a signup bonus, Sapphire Preferred is outstanding — double points on travel and dining, Visa acceptance, no foreign currency transaction fees, flexible points. It’s one of the cards that I’m keeping even now that my annual fee is about to hit.

Milepoint member AndyAndy, though, decided not to keep his. He downgraded his Sapphire Preferred card to a regular Sapphire card with no fee. And since he needed to get rid of his existing card, he needed to get creative.

See, Sapphire Preferred is heavy. It’s not the standard credit card plastic you ca stick in a shredder or cut up with scissors. If you send it back into Chase they’ll dispose of it for you, how I have no idea.

AndyAndy tried to do it himself. Finally resorting to a blow torch.


    (Photo used with permission.)

It didn’t quite work. As he explained,

On the back, the numbers are still legible, so no pictures of that! I remembered some early debate about what the card was made of, but don’t know if the issue was ever conclusively resolved. Well, I can, with confidence, say that the core is metal and the skin is plastic.

Even though I’ve had the card for a year, I still get comments from many store clerks. A good number of folks in my office have gotten the card, you’d think nearby restaurants and other businesses would be used to it by now. But a common reaction is still to do a double take, note the weight, and look impressed.

That’s not a reason to get a credit card, but there’s little question the design of this one sets it apart. Although environmentalists may not like its lack of biodegradability…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I just used kitchen shears to cut one into small pieces. It wasn’t difficult, and didn’t require acetylene.

  2. I have the United MileagePlus Club card which is still fee free until next year. Card is made of same material and earns 1.5 miles on everything. Hard to justify paying $95 for Sapphire Preferred which is now due.

  3. “Although environmentalists may not like its lack of biodegradability…”

    Since when are other -plastic- CCs biodegradable? Seems like this is a non-issue relatively speaking.

  4. I have the UA Club Card and should be receiving my Sapphire in the next couple of days … anticipating a pretty weighty wallet! I plan on keeping both since although I travel regularly, it’s not enough to achieve status on United. The Club Card’s benefits give me “virtual Silver” status … albeit without access to free Economy plus, upgrades, etc … oh well, close enough I guess 😉

  5. Even once downgraded, the original Sapphire Preferred card still works, I’m still using mine even though it’s technically a Freedom.
    Once it expires however, I’ve found the bench grinder to be useful.

  6. lol only on your blog! I love it
    I recently replaced my card and was in need of destroying the card and could not cut it with scissors
    I too went with the blow torch method eventually melting the account number off and then tossed it into the trash
    It was a real victory and took me months to figure out how to dispose of it!Well made card but over the top in construction

  7. Assuming this card has less plastic, it’s probably more biodegradable than other cards. Once the plastic skin is breached, the metal will oxidize and decay.

  8. Tin snips from Harbor Freight or another hardware store work well. A hammer and a nail also take care of the pertinent numbers and strip, just don’t miss!

  9. Any word on upcoming changes to the sign-up bonus? I got this card when it was 50k bonus, and now it’s time for my gf to get her own…but I can’t get myself to pull the trigger now that it’s down to 40k.

    Any chance of a 50 or 60 bump at some point???

  10. @Gary, I love the blog in general, and this post was hilarious! Also, the construction revealed by the blowtorch sheds some light on something I’d noticed recently: the Sapphire Preferred card keeps my SmarTrip card from working if they are both in my wallet. That is the DC metro/bus transit card for any readers not familiar.

    Normally you don’t need to remove a SmarTrip card to use it; you can just tap your wallet and it will register, even through 6 or 7 other plastic cards. However, I noticed this stopped happening after I got the CSP, so I experimented and found that holding just the CSP between the SmarTrip card and the sensor will block it. Now I know why!

  11. There are also stories of people trying to shred this card but actually breaking their shredder which required them to buy a new shredder (so much for not paying the annual fee)

  12. Just throw it away. Even if someone did dig it out of the trash, what good is a cancelled card going to do them?

  13. My Chase Sappy card impresses peeps at fast food outlets and liquor stores. Gotta stay classy with this one!

  14. i use it to wipe my butt and went down the toilet! it sucked cos it gave only 2 points per dollar. i wish it gave 2 or more points for gas too.

  15. @ChadM: I found the exact same thing with the metrocard system in Miami – the Chase card prevents the metrocard from registering, no matter what order you have the cards in the wallet.

  16. @Drew, interesting! I’m from Miami and looking forward to taking the rail next time I’m down now that it connects to the airport. Now I’m thinking this might happen with any transit card.

  17. For what it’s worth, I was talking to a Chase Sapphire agent today due to a fradulent charge on my card. He told me to cut the card up (they were overnighting a replacement card). I explained that it can’t be cut, so he said I could take it to any Chase Bank and they could dispose of it for me.

  18. I think I’ve finally found out what the metal is.

    While traveling in dallas this weekend I got a text from Chase about a fishy looking charge. I called them (the fact that you don’t get put on hold and can talk to a person immediately is a underrated benefit of this card) and we had to deactivate that card and they are sending me a new CSP overnight. They were great to work with and I was actually kind of excited because the nerd in me has always wanted to tear it apart and find out what it’s made of (University of Oklahoma, working on Master’s in Mechanical Engineering)

    I used a razor blade to pick at the edge until I could grab it with pliers and pull the plastic off (took forever) then loosened the remaining adhesive with acetone and scraped it off with the razor. I weighed and measured the card and found the density to be about that of stainless steel. I’ll have to wait until I can use some lab equipment to verify this, but judging by the appearance of the metal, this was my first guess before measuring the density, so I’m fairly confident.

  19. I just had a fraudulent charge on my CSP card and took the oportunity to detstroy the card. I was able to use my fingernail to work the plastic off the back of the card a little, then over the next 5 minutes I pulled and pulled and managed to get the plastic off the back of the card. So not completely indestructable, but the plastic came off all in one piece and probably still could be used as a credit card if glued to something sturdy.

    So now that the card is made of metal, it does not need to be biodegradable, it is now recycleable! just throw it out with your aluminum and tin cans. it will get separated and remade into a car or something like that in as little as 60 days.

    You can also use it as a signalling mirror if you are stranded. (just takes a strong fingernail and a few minutes of work.) 🙂

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