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 Sapphire Reserve card – the ‘it’ product when it was introduced just six years ago – has become passé. It was the most rewarding in the marketplace, and now merely a good card that I think has been surpassed in its rewards-earning.

But what if that card threw in a full United Club membership at no extra cost? And that it has a ‘hidden trade line’ which means it doesn’t report your use of the card to credit bureaus – high monthly balances don’t hurt your credit.

The J.P. Morgan Reserve Card is essentially a heavier metal version of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. And it includes United Club membership as an unpublished benefit, a perk which runs $550 – $650 per year depending on a customer’s United elite status. Information about the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card was neither provided nor reviewed by its issuer.

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 a minimum of $150,000 in assets on deposit. 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.

  • Six 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 representatives 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 Sapphire Reserve card, earns triple points on travel and dining and comes with a $300 travel credit and Priority Pass membership. Of course while heavier than the average card itt 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’ in 2017. When those cards expired they get replaced by a similar-looking J.P. Morgan Reserve card without 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. Newly-issued J.P. Morgan Reserve cards are no longer made of the heavy metal at all.

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 $550, 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, 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. So, that is simply a Sapphire Card with UA Club access for you and 1 guest? What if I do not fly UA and do not care about my credit rating?

  2. I have this card. United Club is nice, but not so valuable now that you have to be flying UA to get in. So maybe a better description would be the best card if you are a frequent flyer with United.

  3. Guess I’m out. Currently, only have $250.32 in my Chase Bank Account. Maybe next year…

  4. Competition in the rewards credit card market has gotten so intense that I believe the Sapphire Reserve card – the ‘it’ product when it was introduced just six years ago – has become passé.

    That leaves the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card as the best U.S. rewards credit card — as it has an annual fee of just $550, has a $300 annual travel credit, and not only includes all of Sapphire Reserve’s benefits but also comes with United Club.

    Such nonsense. The CSR is ‘passé’ as a rewards CC, but it would become the best U.S. rewards credit card if it just tacks on a UA Club membership as one of its perks.

    Now, suppose I have the Reserve card, which, as a well ‘connected’ Chase Private Client I can get, but I do not care about the UA Club membership (e.g., because I always travel in premium cabins and have to access airport lounges anyway), does not that essentially make the purportedly ” best U.S. rewards credit card” the same as the CSR, an all-around solid rewards card that you ridiculous poo-poohed as ‘passé’?

  5. Does BofA/Merrill have a card equal in status to the JPMorgan Reserve? If so, please provide details.

  6. Love my grandfathered JPM Reserve which is great for those of us based at UA hubs. Also provides Excellent travel insurance which includes evacuation benefits for one-way flight (even those booked with miles). Plus PP restaurant benefits and my entire family admitted free to UC.

    It is way more useful than my soon to be cancelled Amex Plat card as I don’t need to jump though hoops for buckle and dime credits and in 8 years I’ve never once had to wait to enter a lounge.

  7. Bad idea to put your money in a Chase Private Client/Banker just to get a credit card.

    I went thru the process of opening a Chase Private Client account. After providing all my statements of assets, the advisor came thru with a plan to put half of my assets in Chase annuity that paid roughly 2.3% per year. This annuity would earn the advisor a roughly $75K commission. I walked out of that meeting. The whole investment plan was insulting to me. For any one thinking of opening a Private Client account, try other financial institutions. The caliber of expertise of Private Client advisors is dramatically different than the Private Banker advisors. But don’t think you will getting the type of service that matches higher value clients in either program, because you won’t. Be further warned that these accounts are all for Chase to suck in easy revenue. The investment plans are cookie cutter, off the shelf, with no individualized advice. Most people can do better on their own than using Chase Private Client.

  8. For those of you that have the card. Do you have a chase private client account and have a lot of money invested in their self brokerage account? Or do you have to create a separate account from the Chase down the street to a JP Morgan Bank account and go from there?

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