What credit score do you need to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card?

Sep 4, 2019

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We here at TPG devote a significant amount of time to talking about how credit scores work, how you can improve yours and how you can keep yours in shape. Although a score of above 720 will more than likely grant you access to almost any credit card on the market, having a lower score doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get those same cards. So, we’re kicking off a new series where we’ll analyze data points to try to uncover the unpublished (and perhaps unofficial) credit score requirements for some of the best travel credit cards.

Just remember that while your credit score is a good indicator of your approval odds, at the end of the day, it’s not an absolute science. So you may still be denied for a card if you meet the “requirement” and you may still be approved if you’re below it.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

First up is the 2018 TPG Award-winning Best Mid-Tier Card of the Year, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The card is a longtime favorite among advanced points and miles collectors. Primary car rental coverage and trip delay protections aside, it lacks fancy travel benefits such lounge access, but it does have a stellar sign-up bonus of 60,000 points (after you spend $4,000 in the first three months) and earns some of the most valuable points around.

In This Post

Credit score required for the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Although the CSP is considered a great beginner card and is easier to be approved for than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re not likely to get approved if you’re just starting out or only have one credit card to your name. I’d recommend applying for one of these cards first if you’re just starting to build your credit (or one of these if you’re a college student). But it’s important to understand that the key word here is “likely” — TPG contributor Ethan Steinberg had no trouble getting approved for the CSP as his first card. 

According to Credit Karma, the average required score for the CSP is 736; meanwhile the typical low is 646. So while the average score is considered “excellent,” you don’t need to have a perfect credit history to be approved. There are many other factors that go into qualification beyond your score, such as your income and the age of your credit accounts. Another big factor that’s often forgotten about is your relationship with the bank. If you’ve been a longtime Chase customer and have large balances in your banking accounts with them, but a below-average credit history, reports suggest that you may have better approval odds — especially if you apply in a branch.

Further Reading: Should the Chase Sapphire Preferred be your next card? 

How many card accounts can I have open?

As is the case with most Chase cards, the CSP is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. This means that if you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards (with any issuer) in the last 24 months, Chase will automatically reject your application for this card, even if you have a nearly perfect score. The 5/24 rule is hard coded into Chase’s systems and can’t be manually overridden, so if you’re over 5/24, there’s no benefit at all to chancing an application just to see what happens.

Further Reading: How to calculate your 5/24 standing

How to check your credit score

Under no circumstances should you be shelling out cash to check your credit score. Most credit cards you open will come along with a free FICO score calculator. This will make it easy to see where your score lies on the scale from good to bad and keep up to date on how you’re doing in terms of each of the categories listed above. You can also easily open accounts on sites like creditkarma.com. These sites are free and can help you keep even better track of your score and its factors. You can also use these services to dispute any information on your score that isn’t accurate or appears to be fraudulent. I personally use Credit Karma and appreciate the regular, automatic updates when my score changes, as well as alerts any time a new inquiry is added to my credit report.

Factors that affect your credit score

Before you start applying for any credit cards, it’s important to understand the factors that make up your credit score, as the mere act of applying for new lines of credit will change your score.

Your length of credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score.

While the exact formula for calculating your credit score is kept secret, FICO is very transparent about the different factors they asses and how much weight each is given:

Payment history. 35% of a FICO score is made up of your payment history. If you get behind in making loan payments, the longer and more recent the delinquency, the greater the negative impact on your credit score.

Amounts owed (utilization). 30% of your FICO score consists of the relative size of your current debt. In particular, your debt-to-credit ratio is the total of your debts divided by the total amount of credit that you’ve been extended across all accounts. Many people claim that it’s best to have a debt-to-credit ratio below 20%, but it’s not a magic number.

Length of credit history. 15% of your score is based on the average length of all accounts on your credit history. This becomes a significant factor for those who have very little credit history, such as young adults, recent immigrants and anyone who has largely avoided credit. It can also be a factor for people who open and close accounts within a very short period of time.

New credit. 10% of your credit score is determined by your most recent accounts. Having recently opened too many accounts will have a negative impact on your score, as the scoring models will interpret this as a sign of possible financial distress.

Credit mix. 10% of your score is related to how many different types of credit accounts you have, such as mortgages, car loans, credit loans and store charge cards. While having a larger mix of types of loans is better than having fewer, no one recommends taking out unnecessary loans just to boost your credit score.

In the context of the CSP, one important factor to consider is your average age of accounts. While a lengthier credit history will boost your score, many issuers focus on the one-year cutoff. That means that having an average age of accounts more than a year can go a long way toward increasing your odds of approval, while you might have trouble getting approved with 11 months of credit history even if your numerical credit score is great. In addition, if you have any delinquencies or bankruptcies showing on your credit report, Chase might be hesitant to approve you for a new line of credit even if your score is otherwise solid. It’s important to remember that your credit profile is more than just a number, it’s a collection of information given to the issuer to analyze your creditworthiness.

What to do if you get rejected

One of the worst mistakes people make is to simply give up when they’re rejected for a credit card. I’ve been rejected for 10-15 different credit cards over the years, and while it hurts, you need to learn to fight for yourself. If you receive a rejection letter, the first thing you should do is look at the reasons given for your rejection. By law, card issuers are required to send you a written or electronic communication explaining what factors prevented you from being approved.

While Chase won’t mention the 5/24 rule explicitly, that is why this customer’s application was rejected.

Once you’ve figured out why you’ve been rejected, call Chase’s reconsideration line at 888-270-2127. Tell the person on the phone that you recently applied for a Chase credit card “and you were surprised to see that your application was rejected and you would like to speak to someone about getting that decision reconsidered.” From there, it’s up to you to build a case and convince the Chase agent on the phone why you deserve the credit card.

If you were rejected for too short of a credit history you can point to your stellar record of on-time payments. If you were rejected for missed payments, you can explain that those were a long time ago and your record since then has been perfect. There’s no guarantee that this will work, but I’ve had about 1/3 of my rejections reversed on reconsideration. At the end of the day, it’s worth spending 15 minutes on the phone if it might help you get the card you want.

Bottom Line

Unless you already have the Sapphire Reserve, received a sign-up bonus from any Sapphire card in the last 48 months or applied for five or more cards from any issuer in the last 48 months, you should probably get the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Hopefully, you won’t have trouble getting approved.

Although the average approved credit score is relatively high, you shouldn’t let that scare you away, as there are many other factors that will be considered. Your best bet for keeping your score on a successful track is making on-time payments, keeping your closing balances low and being smart about the accounts you open and close. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary, so if you’ve recently applied for the Sapphire Preferred, share your application experiences in the comments below. For more related articles to the CSP, check out our Chase Sapphire Preferred card hub.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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