Vanguard 2017: Pam Codispoti, President of Chase Branded Cards

The Chase executive launched a game-changing credit card for a new generation of experience-hungry travelers.

Vanguard 2017: Pam Codispoti, President of Chase Branded Cards

Courtesy of Essex

The latest status symbol for affluent, millennial-minded globe-trotters is a credit card.

In case you missed the frenzy by the water cooler, Chase Sapphire Reserve—which launched in the summer of 2016—became cool overnight. It was created for travelers who define luxury as a wealth of experiences rather than the accumulation things. The card is geared toward a younger generation, but it’s also for people of any age hungry to explore the world with this new definition of luxury in mind.

“We wanted to design a card that would tap into that emotional side of being a lifelong explorer,” says Pam Codispoti, president of Chase Branded Cards at Chase, who was the driving force behind the card. “It’s less about ‘I’ve arrived’ and more about ‘I’m on a lifelong journey.’ It’s less about ‘I’m rich’ and more about ‘I’m interesting and I’m interested in the world.’ For them, travel is not about escaping life; it’s more about making sure that life doesn’t escape them.”

In August 2016, news of the card’s perks—which originally included a hard-to-believe sign-on bonus of 100,000 points—spread like wildfire on social media. Influencers such as the Points Guy swooned over the bonus and the other card benefits, and interest escalated so fast through word of mouth that Chase temporarily ran out of embedded metal cards shortly after launch.

Pam Codispoti

Pam Codispoti

Courtesy of Chase

For an annual $450 fee, perks include TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and access to partner lounges. Chase Sapphire Reserve also offers accelerated points for travel and dining—experiences their customers care about most (translation: earn points by traveling, and points will help you travel even more). And then there are the exclusive, bragging rights–worthy events that card holders have access to, ranging from a private dinner at Michelin-starred Le Bernardin in New York City to passes for the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Codispoti, who spent 18 years at American Express and has created numerous products over her career, knew that Chase Sapphire Reserve and all its offerings would speak to the next generation of affluent travelers. But neither she nor Chase expected this kind of success.

“These are savvy, in-the-know, affluent travelers. They’re the ones defining the future of travel,” says Codispoti. “It’s the right product at the right time, with the right set of influencers and early adopters creating buzz.”

>>Next: Travel Vanguard 2017—Noah Purcell, Washington State Solicitor General

Jennifer Flowers is an award-winning journalist and the senior deputy editor of Afar.
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