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Chase Freedom Ends 10% Annual Bonus & Other Changes

by on August 26, 2014 · 17 comments

in Chase, Ultimate Rewards

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On the heels of the recent Chase Sapphire benefit changes (like the addition of primary auto rental insurance and the elimination of the annual 7% points dividend), Chase is making some major changes to the Chase Freedom program as well. However, unlike the changes to Sapphire Preferred (which were a mixed bag), these appear to all be negative.

Chase just announced major changes to their Chase Freedom card.

Chase just announced major changes to their Chase Freedom card.

Per the Chase Freedom site, the new changes are as follows:

For Chase Checking Customers: After the closing date on your December 2015 billing statement, you will no longer earn the 10% annual bonus that you get on the cash back you’ve already received for new purchases. If you have an open Chase checking account on that date, you will receive your final 10% annual bonus award in early 2016.

This is bad – if you max out the $6,000 a year in 5x categories, you earn 30,000 total Ultimate Rewards points. The 10% bonus in that case would be 3,000 UR points, which I value at 2.1 cents apiece, so that’s a yearly loss of $63 in value (and that’s only if you max out the 5x categories).

Getting cash: You can continue to redeem your rewards points for cash through a statement credit or direct deposit into an eligible checking or savings account. Paper checks will no longer be available after November 15, 2014. (Same change as Sapphire Preferred- no big deal).

Earn on travel: You will continue to earn an extra point for each $1 of airfare and hotel accommodations booked through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center until December 31, 2015. After that, you will no longer earn an extra point. Chase says they may periodically offer you ways to earn bonus points through the program. (Same change as Sapphire Preferred - disappointing, but there are other portals to buy and earn extra points from).

Phone booked round-trip ticket redemption: You can continue to use your points for travel with no blackout dates. However, after October 25, 2014, all options to redeem for airline tickets based on a fixed amount of points will be discontinued. All travel redemptions will be calculated based on the actual cost. This too is bad – you used to be able to get up to 1.34 cents per point via this method; after the change is implemented, that will drop to 1 cent.

My Analysis

The major negative here is that Chase is removing the extra 10% annual bonus that you get on cash back. It was only last year that Chase modified the Chase Freedom 10% Bonus by removing the 10% bonus on all purchases and the 10 point per transaction bonus. They replaced it with the 10% annual bonus at the end of the year on all purchases; however that bonus is now going to be removed as well.

Amex Everyday Card

Amex Everyday Card

These changes are all varying degrees of bad, and I hope Chase decides to add some perks back to the card before they all go into effect. In the meantime, I’d consider the American Express Everyday card, which (like Freedom) has no annual fee, and earns full Membership Rewards points rather than a cash back equivalent.

The Amex Everyday also earns 2 points per dollar at supermarkets and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. In addition, if you make 20 or more purchases in a billing cycle, this card earns a 20% points bonus on all purchases that month (the bonus is retroactive, so you’ll earn it on the first 20 purchases as well as any future purchases that month). Taking out the rotating 5x categories and without the 10% bonus, the Freedom card will only earn 1 point per dollar spent, with no fixed category bonuses and no transfer partners (unless you also have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold/ Plus, in which case you can combine points from your Freedom card with Ultimate Rewards points, and then transfer to one of the 11 Ultimate Rewards partners).  I imagine the marketing team for the Amex Everyday card is cheering these changes, but as a longtime Chase Freedom cardholder, I’m not happy about the loss of benefits.

What are your thoughts? Does Freedom still have a home in your wallet, or will you look into other no-fee options?

Hat Tip: TPG Reader Daniel

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Redpanda

    Its unfortunate, but doesn’t change my opinion on the freedom card. Its a no annual fee card and still great for collecting UR points on the 5x categories. It’s a card I can keep around pretty much forever and keep banking extra UR points every year. Not to mention there are still 2 more 7%(sapphire) and 10%(Freedom) bonuses I can get before 2016

  • Tom

    Not a huge setback, but obviously not a positive. Still a valuable card to have for gas/Amazon cashback, and transferring the points via CSP is still a great multiplier for the monetary value of each point.

  • Vea

    Sucks but no harm no foul on a non-AF card. I’m more upset about the elimination of the 7% annual points dividend on the CSP. It may be considered a minor perk but it is a big deal for large spenders. The CSP is our major card and at present, we’ve run up over 200k points (combination of reimbursable travel expenses and doing basically all of our purchasing on UR mall). This doesn’t include the 50k point bonus, so that additional 14k points would cover our AF (if we were to use 9.5k points as cash equivalent – which we wouldn’t do) with points to spare. It seems like with the changes CSP is getting harder to justify and we’ll have to re-evaluate upon renewal.

  • Geoff

    Not a deal killer by any stretch, but nothing positive from the Freedom card to make up? As one poster mentioned, the 7% divy removal from all CSP spend is a much bigger deal as a “go-to” card than these Freedom changes. It’s still a free card that ages credit scores as well as amplifying at 5X seasonal spend.

  • Jeff

    I don’t see an annual 10% bonus. I do see that each of my transactions on my Chase Freedom card has 10% bonus. So looking at my statements I see the 10 points per swipe + 10% for the transaction.

  • Jordan C.

    The 10% annual bonuses has actually been dead for new cardholders for a while. I applied and received this card back in November, and was not eligible with my Chase checking account. The agent told me this promotion was no longer running.

  • Daniel White

    Mine’s been gone since the end of last year, I think it was.

  • Daniel White

    I think this post is written in the milieu of they’re-taking-this-now-what’s-next and I totally agree. Like he said, they just took away the swipe and instant bonus last year. At this rate, I’m getting gun-shy of increasing my stable of Chase cards. This is somewhere between bait-and-switch and “ooops we were too generous.” I don’t want to be cynical but I think it’s closer to the former.

  • Bro

    TPG–it would be interesting to hear your analysis on whether it’s still worth holding the Chase Checking account (I opened it solely to gather extra UR points with the Freedom as part of the Chase Exclusives program–now gutted). Seems they’ve slowly chipped away at any incentive to have a Chase Checking account along with the Freedom/CSP combo……I guess I can pull the $3k I’ve been stashing there for a few years. Thoughts?

  • John K

    Mine is same as yours. I believe if your chase freedom card is VERY old, grandfathered, it still retains the 10 point per swipe and 10% per transaction. My card is about 8 years old or so…

  • Grumpy Eric

    I’m in the same boat. I just set up a reminder for January 2016 to close the Chase checking account.

  • ualdayan

    They’d never let me sign up for a checking account because there are no Chase branches in my state, so the Freedom changes don’t affect me as much as the Sapphire Preferred ones did. Still, you have to wonder why Chase is making all their cards less appealing while AMEX is ramping up the desirability of their cards – at a minimum you’d think the extra competition would make Chase keep the status quo.

  • JK

    They could have grandfathered it in like AT&T unlimited data plan. Loyalty appears to be a lost cause

  • JK

    My card is 8 years old and chase has sent me an email rescinding the 10 points per swipe and 10% per transaction.

  • JK

    Yes I agree. Chase freedom has been my main card for daily purchases for the last 2-3 years since they started the bonus points per transaction. Now i have to rethink. For the next year, United has devalued their chart, CSP has removed their bonuses. Now CF has done the same.

    It pays to keep the CF card in your closet for the mere fact of keeping your credit history. Fortunately there are better cards out there for daily transactions. It would be best to move to a cash back card such as the capital one venture or AMEX fidelity card.

    Its a era of depreciating benefits if you have points.

  • Skeptic

    I’d like to know more about the Changes to the Agreement, i.e. what does “added details about…what points are worth, when your use of Ultimate Rewards may be suspended, how you can lose your points, responsibilities related to the rewards you obtain, and the law applicable to the agreement.”
    Guess I’ll have to try to read the agreement. And what details about the law are changing? After watch “Terms and Conditions May Apply” (Documentary) I’m suspicious.

  • Guest2014

    Just means I’ll use my Chase Card less. Seeing some nice perks from some other lenders, including 1.5% vs 1%

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