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Chase recently updated the Ultimate Rewards website with a whole new look and some new features. Aside from the aesthetic updates, there’s one significant negative change, as Chase is making it more difficult to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to friends and family.
When you login, you’ll see a points balance menu that lets you view point balances for all of your accounts in one place. You can also see upcoming trips you’ve booked using Ultimate Rewards points. Scrolling down, the site shows how many points are in the account you’ve selected, as well as how many points you can expect to earn in your next statement.
You’ll still earn 2 points/$1 when you use your card to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, whether it’s for flights, hotels, or car rentals. This is a great way to earn bonus points when planning your next trip. Generally, you’ll still receive hotel/airline elite benefits when booking through Chase, but it’s a good idea to check with each program to make sure.
Shop through Chase
Another feature that was enhanced is their shopping portal, which is now called Shop through Chase. As I discussed yesterday, shopping portals are an easy way to earn bonus points or miles on your everyday online purchases, so I’m glad to see Chase is investing in theirs, since Ultimate Rewards are among my most highly valued points.
Previously, Chase let you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to anyone by entering their name and account number when transferring. While you were only officially allowed to transfer to points yourself (i.e., another of your own accounts), or to a spouse or domestic partner, there was no way for Chase to discern whether that rule was being followed. However, it appears that they’re now attempting to close that loophole by making you indicate explicitly (in a drop-down menu) whether you’re transferring to yourself, or a spouse/domestic partner.
I called Chase to see if I’d have any better luck over the phone, and was informed of the same new rules. American Express used to allow you to transfer to anyone, but they’ve also since cracked down, and you can now only transfer Membership Rewards to yourself or other authorized users.
The biggest negative of the new site is that it limits your ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to others who aren’t your spouse or domestic partner. On occasion, I have transferred points to friends or other family members to help them top off their accounts for a specific award redemption, but with the new changes that seems to no longer be an option.
Chase probably did this to prevent people from selling Ultimate Rewards points to brokers, who then turn around and sell award tickets to flyers looking for cheap business class fares. It’s actually a huge business and a shadowy market; I’ve met a lot of people who have sold points successfully, but it’s a huge risk, because Chase will shut your account down if they catch you, and you’ll lose all your points. I certainly do not recommend it.
I understand the rationale, but it’s still disappointing. Hopefully Chase will continue to look for more customer-friendly solutions and find a middle ground, like allowing Ultimate Rewards members to create a limited friends and family list to whom transfers would be allowed.
What are your thoughts on these changes to the Ultimate Rewards site?
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