The Chase Pay Yourself Back program was introduced in the early days of the coronavirus as people stopped traveling. Instead of having points be used for things like travel, Chase made it possible to redeem points – at the same value as using them directly for travel – for things like grocery store shopping, home improvement stores, charitable giving, dining, annual fees, and even Airbnb.
Chase is Changing the Pay Yourself Back Program – A Bit
Earlier this year, they dumped the grocery store part of it (disappointing as I got a lot of use out of that!) and they kept extending it like 3 months at a time for other redemption options. Logging into my Chase account this past weekend, I noticed a couple of things that seem to show Chase is about to change things up.
For the Chase Sapphire Reserve, cardholders can use the Pay Yourself Back program to redeem points against previous statement charges for Airbnb, Dining, Charities, and Annual Fees at a rate of 1.5 cents per point (just like when you redeem directly for travel). For the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Business Preferred cards, the redemption rates were 1.25 cents per point.
Well, I noticed that Chase brought the grocery store category back! In fact, they didn’t just bring it back, they brought up all my grocery store purchases over the past 90 days up as redemption options. That was good news – for me!
The bad news is that Chase has devalued that redemption rate for grocery stores and annual fees (the annual fee option is only for the Chase Sapphire Reserve) to 1.25 cents per point for the Chase Sapphire Reserve and 1 cent per point for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
I should note that the Airbnb and Dining categories are still at the former rates but still show the expiration date of 12/31/22 while the annual fee option shows an expiration date of 3/31/23. Currently, there is no mention of the grocery store option though they all appear available and work for redemption.
This Changes the Math
Before, I could easily justify the redemption of my valuable Chase Ultimate Reward points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card for things like supermarkets and the annual fee. The reason is that it was the same rate I would have gotten had a used the points directly for travel but, in this case, I was getting the points for doing the spending and then could use points later to wipe those charges out.
Sure, I could transfer the points to travel partners for even higher rates of return for redeeming for business class or hotel suites but our travel has been in limbo the last few months due to a variety of things. So, redeeming at 1.5 cents per point was just fine for us.
But, getting that cut back definitely changes the math for me. At 1.5 cents per point, I was willing to do it but at 1.25 cents per point, it becomes a bit more of a stretch for me to redeem my points for things like this when I can get closer to 2 cents per point when redeeming for things like Hyatt hotels. This is especially true since I have my eye on some nice Hyatt redemptions next year.
So, what do you think? If you have previously used the Chase Pay Yourself Back program, does this devaluation change the math for you, too?