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My Ten Year Run of Ripping Off Chase is Over… Time to Rip Off Chase… Wait, What?

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For more than 10 years I've been skimming money off of Chase with their credit card rewards. I've had this blue card that offered 5% cash back on gas, groceries, and drugstores. Getting 5% off what you'd buy anyway, is a no-brainer if you are disciplined enough to pay your credit cards on time. Chase makes paying on time easy though, they have an auto-pay that just grabs the money from my bank account as necessary (I check each month to make sure they aren't grabbing any extra).

This worked well until about two years ago. Chase switched over my wife's version of the rewards card to Chase Freedom, one with fewer rewards. (You can read more on that: Chase is Chasing My Business Away). I was fairly sure my letter of the switch was coming as well. Well, it must have got stuck at their processing plant. I just received it last week.

It was a nice letter touting all the additional items I could save money on, but I would only get 3% on them and they'd change all the time. I had to call every three month and opt into the special categories of the quarter. The new program offered me no real benefits. So I called them up, thanked them kindly for the new program and attempted to "opt-out." They politely told me that it wouldn't be possible. It's funny how cordial such conversations go. (Note: sentence pertaining to an orifice is deleted to keep this family friendly).

I understand where Chase is coming from. I really do. They've been giving me all this free money for all these years. Frankly, they should have phased out the program long before now. It still doesn't make me have to like it... or the way they are pitching it as being helpful to me. I would have just canceled the card, but those credit score people like to see a long history of credit and canceling my oldest and most used credit card is not a good idea.

So what I am going to do about it? I'm going to take Chase for even more money than before. How am I going to do it? Well, I'll use my post from a few months ago: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Gives You 17% Cash Back?. In fact, since I'm planning a couple of flights next year, this will be similar to getting 22% cash back on all my purchases.

It works like this. Sign up for the credit card and when you spend $3000 in 3 months (something that tends to happen with our family expenses), you get 50,000 bonus points. Those points can be converted to $500 in cash back or $625 in the form of airline tickets. Spend $3000, get $500 or more - not bad. Even if I'm a little close at the end, I can stock up on non-perishables like canned food or replace some outdated socks.

I realize this is a limited time promotion and since the card has an annual fee, I'll be canceling it as soon as I cash in. Still, it's a lot more than I would have gotten from Chase if they just left me alone. In three months, I can look for something more permanent or maybe switch to another offer.

Posted on July 7, 2011.

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4 Responses to “My Ten Year Run of Ripping Off Chase is Over… Time to Rip Off Chase… Wait, What?”

  1. No Debt MBA says:

    I had a similar polite, but futile, conversation with Bank of America when they kicked me out of my free student checking and into one with fees. I ended up with ebanking instead, but it was still frustrating to be forced to “upgrade”.

  2. Jon says:

    I haven’t really found activating the quarterly bonus categories with Chase Freedom to be all that onerous a duty. I go online to check my account, anyway, and you can activate it with a couple of clicks each quarter. Gives me a little extra cash back each quarter on whatever categories they’ve chosen. Not as good as 5% all the time, but…things are getting tighter on the credit card money making these days.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I don’t typically look at my credit cards online, so that would be an extra step or two. I’m sure that many people don’t opt-in to the rewards, which is what Chase is hoping for. It’s a little bit like rebates and breakage. Personally, I like the guaranteed no-work savings.

      It’s also tough remembering what categories are the ones for this quarter. Perhaps I could write in on the card with a sticky label or something.

  3. Eh, I wouldn’t feel so bad about Chase giving you “free money” for so many years. As part of an aggregate, you (in the plural, “common masses” sense of the word) have been giving them a great ROI.

    Besides, they also earn a little bit off the merchant each time you swipe your card.

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