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Is Chase Devaluing the Ultimate Rewards Program?

By now you’ve probably heard the rumor that Chase is considering devaluing the Ultimate Rewards program. Don’t head to the panic room just yet – there’s no concrete proof it’s happening. Is it possible and maybe even overdue? Yes. You can’t dish out 100,000 point sign-up bonuses and not expect an evaluation of some sort. It happened after people churned the 100,000 mile sign-up bonus no the Citi Executive card like crazy and it may be happening now with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. A reddit user posted the following about a possible point:

Chase Ultimate Rewards Devaluation

Just did a Chase Customer Panel survey and saw some interesting stuff. They wanted to know how I would feel if they changed the current ability to transfer URs from any of my Chase accounts to the CSR to take advantage of the CSR’s 1.5 cpp redemption value for travel booked directly through the UR Portal. They offered a few different options for the change, including:

1. ”When you combine the Ultimate Rewards points on eligible Chase Cards they would retain their original redemption value. That is, when transferred the points would retain the redemption value of the product they were initially earned on. For example you would not earn a travel redemption bonus if your transfer from a no fee card to a Fee card.”

2. You can only combine Ultimate Reward points between no-annual fee cards or between annual fee cards. You cannot combine Ultimate Rewards points between a no-annual fee card and an annual fee card.

3. ”You can combine Ultimate Rewards points on eligible Chase cards at a 3:2 conversion ratio. For example if you would like to transfer 15,000 points from your Freedom Unlimited card to your Sapphire Reserve account, your Sapphire Reserve would be credited with 10,000 points (a 3:2 ratio). The transferred points would be granted the redemption value and options of the account to which they are transferred into.”

Obviously all of these options are HUGE drawbacks because most people use the CF or CFU and then combine the points with their CSR balance for the 1.5 cpp travel redemption option.

None of these changes are confirmed, and it was just a survey, but they seem to be giving it some thought.

It’s important to note that Chase has not made any announcements about an Ultimate Rewards devaluation. Nor have there been rumors from connected sources. This rumor is simply based on a survey that Chase customers have been getting via email. Is this evidence that Chase is considering a devaluation? Maybe. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised, considering how much Chase spent acquiring new customers via the 100k Sapphire Reserve card offer. 

When big bonuses like this are offered publicly, a devaluation eventually follows. It happened _ years ago when Delta made earning Skymiles absurdly easy. At one point, they were offering a 25,000 mile bonus for every $500 purchase made through the Skymiles Shopping Portal. Between the 100k Sapphire Reserve bonus and the 80k points currently offered by the Ink Business Plus card, Chase has been dishing out rewards pretty generously. I would not be surprised at all if the program devalued, though hopefully they’ll give us some advanced notice. That being said, there have been surveys like this in the past and they have not been followed by devaluations of any kind. Of course, this could also mean we’re overdue for one. 

Of these three options, I think #1 and 3 are most likely to be implemented. Chase has been way too generous in allowing cardholders to transfer rewards from their Freedom Unlimited to their Sapphire Reserve accounts for the 50% Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal bonus. #1 will likely incite less backlash, since it means Chase Freedom cardholders won’t have their quarterly 5x bonus categories devalued. It also sounds fair, though I’d obviously prefer it if neither scenario came to pass.

If you get one of these surveys, you’ll obviously want to express a strongly negative reaction to any devaluation of the Ultimate Rewards program. If they receive enough negative feedback, maybe it will delay the inevitable. Or lessen its severity.

If there was ever any doubt about “earn and burn” as a strategy, now is the time to put that to rest. I would go so far as to recommend that if you have any rewards you plan on transferring to your Sapphire Reserve account, do it now. Theoretically, they could bring the hammer down without warning, at any time. If you transfer your points ahead of time at least you won’t be severely affected.  

HT: Doctor of Credit

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Ariana Arghandewal

10 Comments

  1. Ariana, Why would I want to move points INTO the UR program? Shouldn’t I be moving those points out to somewhere else?

    • One of the possible changes is that the points you earn from a non-fee Chase card such as Freedom or Freedom Unlimited is that those points won’t be worth as much as those from a fee card, and/or you won’t be able to use those points at a 1.5x earning rate in the travel portal. The recommendation is to move those points to the Sapphire account now in case those changes are made.

      It’s not a great idea to move points to somewhere else because of rumored devaluations across the board. I’ve heard rumors about a Hyatt devaluation, a British Airways devaluation. Southwest has had 2-3 devaluations in the past few years.

    • You’re just moving points from one UR account to another (or, Freedom cash back to UR). If you have travel plans, go ahead and transfer them to another rewards account, but maintaining them in your UR account gives you flexibility.

  2. I’m not sure what to make of that survey or possible Chase UR changes. Chase has been handing out UR points like candy lately, but I would also think it would be strange to try to lure in lots of new customers and then shortly after devalue the program. What’s the point of pissing off all your new and old customers? Citi made lots of negative changes to their Prestige card and lots of people, including myself, canceled.

    When Citi offered the AAdvantage Executive card at 100,000 it seemed geared more to lure Amex Platinum members who had just lost Admiral’s Lounge access over to Citi rather than an impending AA devaluation.

    I’m hoping this ends up being nothing major, but we’ll see. Just recently people were speculating that the SW 40K offer was permanently replacing the 50K. Instead SW increased to an all time high of 60K. Does this mean SW will undergo a devaluation? SW has had several devaluations in the past few years but they never increased their bonus.

    • It wouldn’t be without precedent. And besides, I think a lot of their new customers aren’t even aware of the fact that you can transfer Freedom ULT points to the CSR to get more value out of them. I think this is a way to devalue points and inciting backlash from the least number of people.

      • You could be right. I have a bunch of coworkers that have a Freedom card but no Sapphire. I have the feeling a majority of the population are like that. If they devalued the Freedom Unlimited then I see no reason to keep it. I barely use it anyway, so I wouldn’t miss it. It would sting a bit if they devalued the Freedom in that manner as I do like their 5x categories.

        I was planning on downgrading my Ink Plus to a no-fee Ink Cash but now I’m going to hold off. The Ink Plus would become so much more valuable if Chase changes the no fee card point values. The majority of my annual UR points come from the Ink Plus.

        • Please never downgrade that card! I made the mistake once of cancelling a Chase Ink Bold because I had just gotten the Plus and wasn’t ms’ing much. Biggest regret of my point-earning life.

  3. That doesn’t actually seem like a program devaluation at all, but rather a devaluation of earning from the non-premium cards. Points and stransfer partners would still all be the same value.

  4. Given how much it cost Chase to issue the original CSR sign-up bonuses, why on earth would they want to tick us off NOW so that we don’t renew??? I use the FU, the CSP, and the CSR to feed my pot of UR points for airline transfers, with the authorized user they encouraged me to add, and I love it. I’ve already traveled around the world business class on Chase miles. But a major change would make me dump my UR miles into United, and drop all my new Chase cards. Alaska is reported to be considering a high-end VISA card, and I’ll be happy to switch if Dimon slams the door in my face.

    • The thing is “we” won’t renew the card, but those who aren’t into this hobby (who are also the majority of new cardmembers) will. Hopefully it won’t happen, but we should be prepared regardless.

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