The Best Rewards Card on the Planet is One You Cannot Get (Well, There Is One Way)

Competition in the rewards credit card market has gotten so intense that I believe the two year old Chase Sapphire Reserve card has become passé — it’s gone from the ‘it’ card, most rewarding in the marketplace, to merely a good card that in my view has been surpassed in its rewards-earning.

But what if the card threw in a full United Club membership at no extra cost?

The J.P. Morgan Reserve Card is essentially a heavier, shiny metal version of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. And it includes United Club membership as an unpublished benefit, a perk which runs $450 – $550 per year depending on a customer’s United elite status. (Although United Club membership will become less valuable 11 months from now.)

The card is intended for customers of J.P. Morgan Private Bank. J.P. Morgan Private Bank used to be open to individuals with investable assets of $5 million or more, but they now focus on client relationships of $10 million or more (which already represented 90% of their customers).

There are three ways I’m aware of for someone without $10 million in assets with Chase to have gotten this card,

  • Anyone who had a Palladium card was transitioned to JP Morgan Reserve. That card used to be available to customers of Chase’s Private Client program which aims to attract customers with $250,000 in assets. However customers who were believed to be capable to moving that much into a Chase account were frequently invited into the program. And there was at one point an application being processed without having a corresponding Private Client account.

  • Two years ago there was an open application for JP Morgan Reserve. It was available around the time Sapphire Reserve launched, and had its own separate offer to earn 100,000 points. That avenue was shut down after a brief window of time.

  • Open a Private Banking account with less than $10 million in assets. I’ve been told by Chase Private Bank repreentatives that despite reports to the contrary they can move Private Client customers with seven figure asset balances over to the Private Bank program, especially if they believe those customers have the potential to bring in additional assets.

Here’s someone on YouTube who was a Chase Private Client customer and opened a Private Banking account without $10 million in assets, and unboxes the J.P. Morgan Reserve. (HT: choff5507)

I believe that many current cardholders are Chase Private Client csutomers who had the J.P. Morgan Palladium card. We know that President Obama, during his time in office, was a Chase client and likely had the Palladium card.

For a $595 annual fee, Palladium offered:

  • United Club membership and Priority Pass Select with complimentary guest
  • One year of GHA Hotels Black status
  • What was once a highly regarded concierge service
  • 35,000 bonus points after $100,000 spend each year.
  • Double points on travel
  • A hidden trade line meaning it doesn’t report each month to the cardmember’s credit (use of credit line doesn’t increase utilization ratio and reduce credit score)

The Palladium card was discontinued for new customers. Chase Private Client customers are now directed to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card which has a lower ($450) annual fee, earns triple points on travel and dining and comes with a $300 travel credit. Of course while heavier than the average card isn’t nearly as heavy as Palladium.

The Palladium card came with the cardmember name and card numbers engraved into the metal on the front, and the cardmember’s signature engraved on the back. (Customers submitted a signature card to Chase prior to card production.)

Palladium cardmembers kept their current card and it switched benefits to ‘Sapphire Reserve + United Club’ last July, with the lower $450 annual fee. When those cards expired they get replaced by a similar-looking J.P. Morgan Reserve card. The difference is the new card doesn’t have the engraved signature on the back. The J.P. Morgan Reserve also doesn’t offer GHA Hotels elite status or 35,000 bonus points after $100,000 spend.

Arguably the Amex Black Card may have richer benefits, but in my view is in no way worth the price. That leaves the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card as the best U.S. rewards credit card — as it has an annual fee of just $450, has a $300 annual travel credit, and not only includes all of Sapphire Reserve’s benefits but also comes with United Club.

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 InsideFlyer.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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Comments

  1. One way to save wasting investments of ten million dollars or more bungled bu Chase if you even have it is to just buy a United Club membership.
    No one will ever know I don’t have a prestigious Chase card.(yawn)
    That is if I was willing to actually fly United
    Unfortunately I’m not a fan of being dragged down an aisle bloody on a good day /
    Besides which United breaks guitars 🙂
    I’ll survive quite nicely without Chase and their 5/24 rule as I can get any card I want everywhere else and spend my hundred of thousands where they are appreciated and generously rewarded

  2. Chase has to move, after Amex introduced the 5 times air fare points (which was a response to the launching of the Sapphire Reserve).
    Now, the Amex Plat cards are better than the Reserve.
    So the only logical consequence for Chase that would work is NOT to introduce the restrictions they have brought recently, but to do the following:

    In the new year bring out an enhanced Reserve, and/or a Reserve Business Card that offers:
    100K Welcome bonus
    5 times the points of air fare costs
    United Club membership
    $500 air fare credit
    Priority Pass
    Inflight Internet
    … and then ask a hefty annual fee of $1000

    Prediction 1: Chase will do this eventually
    Prediction 2: Everybody will jump on this card
    Prediction 3: Major success
    Prediction 4: This card would outdo the Amex Plat cards

    Re the J.P. Morgan Palladium Card
    I had correspondence with a JP Morgan private banker, and they confirmed eligibility for the Palladium Card if you bring in 1 million and think it’ll become more over time.

    (final remark: I don’t have even a fraction of a million bucks 🙂

  3. The Merrill Lynch Octave Amex card is essentially 5% cashback on all purchases available to their top tier private clients.

  4. I’ve had this card for years and have no idea why you find it so attractive. It’s basically the Reserve card with free United Club. That’s nice but most places have a Priority Pass option which is almost always preferable anyway give how sad United Clubs tend to be.

    Not something to be jealous of especially with the recent reduction in benefits and the changes in Club use policy.

  5. I have this card as well, and the UA club benefit serves NO purpose if you have UA Club via another method (I have the UA PP Card Grandfathered that came with club access). So basically I could have club access if I cancel the card that has other great grandfathered benefits but otherwise I basically just have slightly better insurance.

  6. Total side track: “The Palladium card came with the cardmember name and card numbers engraved into the metal”. I wish I could get all my metal cards in plastic. Plastic is lighter in my wallet. Yesterday, I got a replacement metal Chase Card. On the old metal card, I took a magnet to the magnetic strip, poked a hole in the EMV chip, and black marker’ed the signature area, before mailing it back. To be honest, I would prefer to shred. Then I did not put the new card in my wallet due to the weight of metal.

  7. @Other Just Saying I too dislike metal cards, but instead of the methods you took, just returned the card to a Chase branch to destroy. Just sayin’

  8. FWIW –

    You CAN get a plastic JPM Reserve card – it is ugly brown plastic.

    Just the type of card that will not cause anyone to want to copy your numbers down or do anything nefarious to your account.

    Just the type I like!

  9. @Rico. Going to the branch would work too. Do you ever watch Forged In Fire on the History Channel? I was thinking it would be kind of cool to make a knife out of old metal credit cards. Well, am not a smith, but I am sure I could find one that could.

  10. At that asset level (assuming coupled spend level) the real value is in the unreported credit lines – everything else is ho hum.

  11. @HADLEY V. BAXENDALE

    dude you just gave me 1L flashbacks… i don’t need that in my life, as i study for 2L finals….

  12. I was eligible as CPC but never bothered to get it.

    It costs a lot more than $450 when you figure in the requirement of using chase and their banking and investing products.

    They cost a lot more than the alternatives. This card can easily cost you thousands or tens of thousands.

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