Earlier this weekend, my wife was saying that she’s not so much fun any more. I think she was alluding to the fact that she’s in her early 30s now and can’t party like she could a decade ago. I said, “It could be worse, you could be a curmudgeony, old man of 33 like myself.” I was half kidding. Well maybe 20% kidding as of late. If you’ve had one of those weeks, where every step forward puts you three steps backward, you probably know how I’ve felt.
So it was with great joy that my wife opened up her e-mail on Saturday and saw a new credit card – Chase Freedom. She had never applied for a Chase Freedom card, so how it arrived in her mail was a mystery to her, and to me. In looking closely, we noticed it was the same number as the Chase Rewards card she has used for years. This really confused my wife, because her card doesn’t expire for more than a year. I use the same credit card, and figured that whatever if happening to her, is going to happen to me. It was time to call up Chase and get the story, however, before I do, let me give you a little background on the Chase Rewards card we have.
The Chase Rewards is one of our best financial tools. It gives you 5% back on gas, groceries, and drugstores. Not only that, but Chase Autopay allows you automatically have money taken out of your bank account when a payment is due. Since I always keep enough in my bank, I would pay off the card completely, at the last possible day, saving money in interest and stamps. More importantly, I would never face a late payment, and I could be as Lazy as I want to be. Unfortunately they stopped offering a couple of years ago, so if you didn’t get in, you lost out. If you were part of the program like we were, you were grandfathered in… until now.
We called up Chase and got the story. Chase is migrating people from our reward program to another one, “with great additional benefits that we think you’ll enjoy.” I explained that I preferred the reward program that we signed up for and would like to decline the migration to the new reward program. (I told you I’m a curmudgeon.) Apparently they are really set in their belief that I’ll enjoy this new program. They declined my decline.
So now it looks like we are stuck with the Chase Freedom program. A good deal of both of our credit history is on this card, so I tried to convince my wife not to cancel the card (it’ll help us retain our credit scores). It seems like an uphill battle as she doesn’t seem to want to deal with them at all – or leave an orphaned account. The bigger question for me is which card do I turn to now to get the best rewards? (If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.)
I can see why Chase is migrating people from the rewards program we were in. It was started in a different economic environment as well as under different credit legislation. Back then, banks had to lure people with big rewards program. With the credit change and the new credit card laws going into effect, a product that once made them money, probably either loses them money or doesn’t make them enough. In either event, it’s apparently bad enough to risk the anger of a lot of their customers. I think those customers have an idea for Chase’s new slogan, “Chase Freedom – two words for nothing to left to lose.” I wonder if Kris Kristofferson would sue them for copyright infringement (though trademark infringement is what all the people are doing these days)?
So I understand why Chase is doing what they are doing. I’d like to be put in some other exclusive program that retained some of the benefits (maybe 2% on the things we were getting 5% before) that new customers don’t get. Throwing out a little bone would do wonders for making us feel like we’d want to still be Chase customers. However, it looks like that wasn’t something Chase was looking to do either. It was a good ride while it lasted, and I knew, like everything, it wouldn’t last forever.
I have a Freedom card, and autopay *is* available with it. It yields 1% cash back on all purchases and 3% on select categories. It’s not as good as what you had, but maybe not as bad as you think.
kosmo @ The Casual Observer says
Hmm. We have a Chase/Amoco card that is currently 5% back on gas. Hopefully that stays at 5%.
For everything else, we have an HSBC card that gives us 1% back on everything and 2% back on weekend purchases. So we tend to shift large purchases to the weekend. Be forewarned that that HSBC customer experience can be a bit surreal, though – http://www.observingcasually.com/why-i-hate-hsbc/
Lazy Man says
Thanks, it might very well still be my best option. I only meant to convey that it’s going to make me go and look at other options.
I had meant to mention that Chase’s autopay is available with all their cards (I believe). I use it on Chase business card that gives me 3% back on restaurants, home improvement stores, and office stores (at least for now).
Amber Weinberg says
You know, now i think about it, I think my USAA card has done the same thing (swapped rewards) I never use it anyways, so I didn’t care at the time. I would think, with the economy and the raising amount of savings and less consumer spending/credit spending they would try to offer you more to get you to spend more.
Matt SF says
Tough break. I always start each month with my rewards checking debit card to get my 10 transactions recorded. I’ll take the high yield on my cash instead over the standard rewards cards any day.
If I have extra purchases for the remainder of the month, I switch to my Charles Schwab Cashback Visa that is 2% on all purchases. You’re required to open a brokerage account, but still, it’s free money. I’ve also heard positive things about the new Fidelity Visa.
Lazy Man says
Matt, I had written about those before – http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/5-interest-from-a-checking-account-yes/. I’ve even thought about getting the ten transactions done at the beginning of the month buying 10 canned goods through the help self-checkout line at the grocery store late some night (where I won’t annoy anyone).
Which rewards checking debit card do you use?
I’ll have to look into Schwab and Fidelity, I have so many accounts now that I don’t know if I want any more.
kosmo @ The Casual Observer says
“I’ve even thought about getting the ten transactions done at the beginning of the month buying 10 canned goods through the help self-checkout line at the grocery store late some night”
And you’re thinking that won’t get flagged as suspicious activity and get your card temporarily deactivated?
I switched from a Chase Freedom to the Schwab Visa. 2% cash back on everything with no limit is much better than the Freedom card for me. I put everything I can on the Schwab card and pay it off at the end of the month. The rewards automatically go into a brokerage account every month and I can do whatever I want with the money once it’s in there.
Lazy Man says
Would it be suspicious if I do it every month? ;-)
I think with the transactions adding up to around $5 total it might slip by under their suspicious activity radar.
If you got swept up in the same change I did, the new card has an annual fee — although they’re supposed to waive that fee for the first year. (I actually got charged, and when I called them up, they said that was a mistake and I should be getting a credit for that amount soon.) I was using my Chase Rewards a lot, so my plan is to transition off of it, make sure all recurring-charge activity gets set up on different cards, and then cancel it.
Schwab Bank Invest First Visa Credit Card
2% cashback on all
no auto pay.
For gas i use Discover More card for 5% on the first $100 then back to the Schwab card. which is rare most months.
Kosmo @ The Casual Observer says
“Would it be suspicious if I do it every month? ;-)
I think with the transactions adding up to around $5 total it might slip by under their suspicious activity radar.”
Actually, it might be MORE likely, since thieves commonly run through a few small transactions as a test.
My Chase Amoco card gets flagged if I try to use it at the same gas station 3 times in a day. So it got flagged when I was filling up both cars at the neighborhood Amoco one time – because the first pump was screwy and I had to quit and continue filling at another pump.
I’d favor cancelling the card. I cancelled my oldest card — in use since 1990 — and my credit score dropped immediately afterwards about 20 points from 800 to 780 but it doesn’t take too long for the score to rise back up.
Matt SF says
“Which rewards checking debit card do you use?”
I actually have two or three (self confessed rate chaser), but right now, I’m keeping the bulk of my cash reserves with Royals Bank of Missouri. I used the Pleasant Hill Comm Bank for most of last year, but their interest rate has dived from 5% to 3% in the last couple months.
Like you, most of my debit card swipes are at the self checkout grocery line. I go every two days or so the swipes add up fairly quick. I actually considered giving $1 per day for 10 days every month, but haven’t had the cojones to try it.
Erica Douglass says
Like others, I switched from Chase Freedom to the Schwab Visa. I’m pretty happy with it, and 2% cash back on everything is a lot better than having to remember which “category” the bonus is in.
Schwab doesn’t charge a 3% fee for foreign currency transactions, either, which is a nice bonus.
I also tried to move from Chase to Schwab Visa (2% flat is great we you have a business than requires expensive equipment) but they declined my application because I am not a USA Citizen; although my credit score is good (this is the first time I am declined on an application) :(
Is there someone without citizenship with this Schwab Visa Card??
Rich Credit Debt Loan says
American Express blue cash
Little House says
I have my own beef with Chase Bank and have vowed to never do business with them again. They change their terms whenever they feel like it and don’t notify you until after it’s all said and done.
Check out http://www.consumeraffairs.com and you will see hundreds of complaints about Chase.
This isn’t about switching rewards programs, but instead closing customer accounts.