Chase is Making a Statement - Running with Miles
Credit Cards

Chase is Making a Statement

Chase cards
Written by Dustin

Chase has been making changes to their credit cards and benefits. I think they are sending a very clear message to customers.

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Let’s first start off by saying April has not been a great start for us in the points community. It started with the IHG devaluation, followed up by a complete bust by Barclay, and Southwest has made a few negative changes as well. With that said, Chase is making a statement with their actions over the last couple of years.

Chase is Making a Statement

It is not any secret people love Chase credit cards. They offer so much value and Chase knows this. Banks want to emulate Chase, but are always lagging.

Take a look at the Sapphire Reserve, every bank is looking for that “WOW” factor. They want to have the success that Chase had, but haven’t really found a way to copy it.

Chase has the partners people want, that other banks don’t. Add that to a great combination of cards and it’s no reason Ultimate Rewards are probably the top flexible currency on the market.

Slowly Suffocating Churners:

A couple of years ago, Chase introduced that nasty “5/24 rule.”

Why did they do this?

They were tired of unprofitable customers only using them for the bonus. I know I took full advantage of them (I’m not alone). Other banks were trying to stop this as well, but with Chase it was different. You could still game the system and earn those valuable bonuses with other banks. Not with Chase.

Chase, 5 cards or more hard denial. They don’t care. As they shouldn’t, they aren’t stupid and they know what they want in a customer.

People have even changed their application strategy to be eligible for Chase cards. I could go on how crazy I think that is, but that isn’t important now.

I even fell victim to the “5/24” rule once it was released and received my first denial. It wasn’t until my most recent round of cards I attempted another credit card from Chase. I gave up on them, because I was no longer a welcomed customer.

Slowly Tightening Their Hold:

Over the next couple of months/years, Chase started implementing other rules. Further restricting access to their more valuable cards.

Not only did you have to wait 24 months to get the bonus again, but you now could no longer apply for the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve if you currently held one of them. If you had both already awesome, but if you’re new to the game you’re out of luck.

Chase realizes there is no reason to hold both. The only reason you’d open both is for that nice sign up bonus.

If you want a business credit card, be prepared to show some information to get it. A few years back, Chase was more lenient when it came to business cards (in my experience).

These restrictions were just another nail in the Churners coffin.

The IHG Devaluation:

This was one of the more recent changes and after seeing some of the messages floating around Twitter, I felt this really solidified Chase’s long term goals.

Chase was responding to individuals on Twitter saying this was a business decision. Which makes me believe Chase brought IHG to the table and said this needs to change. People weren’t using this card and only kept it around for that $49 “free room.”

Can you blame them? I have 2 of these cards and only keep it for that free night. Many people do that and many bloggers have written about how this card great for this benefit, but not worth daily spending.

Chase isn’t in the game to help you travel for “free.” They want to make money.

With this change, Chase fully understands people will cancel their cards because of this change. I’m on the fence about canceling my card as well.

But…

Chase is ok with this.

They are thinning the gaming herd.

Adding Restrictions to Southwest Cards:

Just the other day, Southwest implemented the same rule across their personal credit cards as the Sapphire products. Making it just a little bit harder to earn the coveted Companion Pass.

Not only that, but Southwest just devalued their points, making the Sapphire Reserve a better option for Southwest flights.

And truthfully, I don’t think they are done with this. The perk is too good and too easy to earn. Plus, how may of you actually put spend on a Southwest card after you hit the minimum requirement? I’m sure not many of you, because Ultimate Rewards are a better option.

I think we will see another blow to this card by the end of the year, which will correlate to the time Southwest begins flying to Hawaii.

This change would bring about more cancelled cards, but again Chase will be okay with this.

Why Though?

You would initially think Chase would want to see a lot of customers with their products. Chase doesn’t just want quantity, they want quality. They want people who will actually use their cards, not the bonus seeker.

They don’t care if they have 2.5 million IHG cardholders (I just made that number up,  I have no clue how many people have IHG credit cards), if 2.4 million sock drawer their card to use their free night at some fancy Intercontinental.

They’d rather have 100,000 real cardholders, instead of millions of fake ones.

Chase wants quality! They want to be the top card in your wallet, not the one you keep for the benefit **cough American Express Platinum cough**

Chase is making their statement loud and clear, if you aren’t a quality customer, we don’t want your business. A quality customer is a profitable customer.

They aren’t going to be hurt if I cancel my cards, because I’m not profitable for them.

Continuing to Thin the Herd:

Chase is making changes which will remove the gamers and keep the more loyal customers. They are slowing tightening their grip and churners are leaving, or aren’t eligible for their cards.

There are plenty of banks willing to play the game with us, so find them!

It is a fine line what Chase is doing. One one instance they are making a business decision, but are they pushing people out the door to not come back?

Some will hold a grudge and never go back to Chase if they have the opportunity. Other’s will wait and once Chase loosens up, they will take full advantage of the them. I’m definitely not the former in this case.

I don’t think Chase will change their stance until they see a true decline in meaningful metrics. That includes another bank stepping up to the plate and giving us a card that actually competes with the Sapphire Reserve.

Conclusion:

Chase has made quite a few changes over the last few years. With each change their message becomes clearer and clearer. Theses changes reduce the churners and keep the quality customer.

With the changes Chase has made, I’ll be curious to see what Chase does with the Marriott cards after the SPG merger.

What do you think of Chase’s changes?

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About the author

Dustin

After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.

22 Comments

  • I think the “credit card bubble” really started during/after and because of the financial crisis of 2008/09. I’m guessing that a good number of people defaulted on their credit during that period, and the banks were desperate for the rare customers that had cash and could continue to spend. From my reading, 2009/10 was the start of those giant bonuses. As the economy improved, more people were able to obtain credit, and gaming of the system started. Regulations lagged, and that period of time between 2010 and 2016 was truly the “golden age” of churning and gaming. Regulations like what you listed above were bound to catch up though, and we are seeing the closure of many loopholes. I think like the economy things go in cycles, and we should see some degree of loosening at the next economic crisis (which incidentally we are overdue for).

    • Hey GL,

      Great comment.

      I agree our little niche is inversely related to the economy. We flourish when the economy is bad, and suffer when it is good.

      I am sure when the economy dips (which we are overdue for) banks will loosen up and I will be waiting to take full advantage of their “generosity.”

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

  • You forgot to mention the sudden death of Chase’s Price Protection. I personally think that is a huge hit in benefits.

    • Hey Vic,

      That is a big blow, but I really wondering if Chase pulls the trigger and removes the travel protections as well. If that does, I think that is a bigger blow than the purchase protection, which is very big in itself.

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

  • Be very careful applying for new Chase cards. They use your application as a means to get your full credit report and if they don’t like what they see they sever the entire relationship. I learned the hard way.

  • Agree with what you said, but Chase is going the wrong direction with the IHG card. Amex Aspire is the good example: a really nice bait and I put lots of spending on it and I now stay at Hilton as much as possible.

    • Hey Me,

      Chase is making decisions that are definitely bad for us. The Aspire is good especially if you spend on it.

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

    • Not really sure that an extra free night after spending $60k on the card is a great benefit. Yes the point earning benefits on the card are good, but then again they have to be, since HH points are worth so little.

  • Obviously I’m not happy about Chase changing the game, but it’s a very smart business decision on their part. Let’s face it the number of people playing the points game has grown exponentially and they know it. No doubt they will add lifetime language to Sapphire cards. If I was in their shoes, I would provide more rewards based upon hitting spending tiers, $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 to reward actually using the card.

  • Hey Forest,

    I agree, so many more people playing the game now. Everyone wants the free travel :-).

    My article for next week touches on some of those items you mention. It’s like you knew! 🙂

    Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
    Dustin

  • A compelling value proposition will keep a credit card top of wallet. Point redemption values and annual fees erode net return so that exceeding a no annual fee 2% cash back card can be a challenge. Point devaluations further erode the value proposition. AMEX Blue Cash 5% or Preferred and Citibank Double Cash provide easily realized returns if they fit individual or family spending patterns. A total of $6000 on travel/dining annually with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card will yield a 2% return after the $450 annual fee assuming all of the $300 travel credit is used and assuming that the points are redeemed for $0.015 at the Chase Travel Portal. Large expenditures on a Freedom Unlimited card may reduce yield – especially if cash back options are used instead of the Chase Travel Portal. Transfer to Chase travel partners may yield higher point redemptions – especially if using international business or first class flights but many folks usually fly economy. The AMEX Starwood card has provided a means of exceeding a 2% cash back card but requires higher annual spend to realize a decent return with the $95 annual fee. Spreadsheet analyses should be used to guide travel credit card usage. A single equation can be written for the AMEX 5% Blue Cash card which describes the next return as a function of annual spend and % spending in bonus categories.

    • Hey Jim,

      I tend to agree. Cash back typically offers a better long term strategy, but their sign up bonuses of are often poor.

      I have been using a daily rotation of cash back cards and opening point cards for the bonuses. It has worked out well for me.

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

  • It’s even bad for big spenders. For years I have had an original Ink Bold that was supposed to be grandfathered indefinitely. I always spent at least $100K per year on that card (usually a lot more) because of spend bonuses at 25, 50, and 100K. By switching out my card, they took away every benefit that I use, reduced points per dollar from 1.2 to 1.0 points, and the category bonus they gave me is irrelevant because I already have the same bonus on two no annual fee cards. What did I do? I got a Capital One card and a SPG Business card, both with big limits, and switched all my business spending to them and a few other cards. My employees and me all carry these cards now. It is all business spend and so far this year Chase has lost almost $250K in business spend that I would have done with them in the past.

    • Hey Carl,

      That is just crazy! It seems like Chase lost out big time in making that change to you!

      I thought it was just us little guys getting the hammer!

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

  • I don’t blame Chase for making these changes. Got the Sapphire Reserve card shortly before the 100k-point bonus ended (was lucky to get in under the wire as I was at 4/24 at the time, IIRC). Wanted to get the Sapphire Preferred also for the bonuses (while keeping the CSR long-term), but Chase changed the rules to deep-six that idea. I hate it, but give Chase credit for seeing where the leaks in their [credit card profitability] dam are, and plugging them quickly. As you mentioned, the key is the high value of Ultimate Rewards points due to the large number of Chase UR transfer partners.

    • Hey Luke Vader,

      Chase has been very good over the last few years to plug those leaks. I agree with you, I hate it, but you have to give them credit.

      I’m curious to see what happens with the SPG/Marriott Merger and does Chase potentially pick up a few new partners?

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

  • So I’m 4/24 (approximately). Just got the CIC. Add that to the other 3 Chase cards I opened within the last 12 months and am now ready to close 2 of them. The first being SW. You said Chase wouldn’t care since I basically only used the card for the points *hand spank* So should I be concerned about a shutdown if I do this? Should I wait? I do plan to at least wait until I had it for a year. Any tips appreciated.

    • Hey Brett,

      If the fee is coming due, I don’t think you need to worry about closing the account. Or Chase shutting you down. You have 30 days after the annual fee post to close the account and receive a refund for the fee.

      It would be different if you just opened the card, hit the bonus, then closed it. Banks don’t like that. But having the card for about a year, you should be fine.

      I would call to see what retention offers are out there for you. If nothing seems worth it for you, I would have Chase move your credit limit to a different Chase card. Then have them close the account.

      Does that help?

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!
      Dustin

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