Consumer Finance

Chase Sapphire Card Creates Turbulence For United Airlines

As JPMorgan has enjoyed success with its Sapphire Reserve card that launched three years ago, the banking giant is also dealing with a strained relationship with one of its airline partners.

In addition to the Sapphire Reserve, JPMorgan offers several United Airlines cards. However, the Sapphire Reserve delivers more points for travel and dining, allowing users to redeem them for a variety of rewards — including United flights, making the United card redundant for many customers.

“There wasn’t anything the United card was doing for me that the Chase Sapphire Reserve couldn’t,” said Al Sanzari, a card user who carried both cards before canceling the United one in March, according to The Wall Street Journal.

As a result, sources revealed that United executives expressed their belief to JPMorgan that the Sapphire Reserve card is competing directly with the airline’s cards, and impacting customer spending. Though the deal between the companies is set for another six years, United President Scott Kirby said executives have had conversations about the JPMorgan partnership, and want to get more money from it by asking the bank to pay more for miles, among other things, according to anonymous sources.

JPMorgan, however, said the cards aren’t direct competitors, adding that the airline should be doing more on its part to boost traveler loyalty.

“This is a solid, long-standing relationship, and we’re working together to find new ways to grow our partnership for years to come,” the companies said in a joint statement.

JPMorgan and United have been partners since 1987, with the bank currently issuing five cards for the airline. Yet, when JPMorgan launched Sapphire Reserve in 2016, applications for the United cards slowed, and United executives were unhappy. Sapphire Reserve points are worth 50 percent more when used to book travel, which is especially beneficial to customers not loyal to one airline.

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