The new king of the Ultimate Rewards Mall

In order to maximize my point earnings this month for Million Mile Madness, I downgraded my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to the Chase Freedom card.  This way, I could take advantage of the Freedom card’s 5X drugstore earnings this quarter.  Well, last week my new card arrived along with a brochure listing the card’s benefits.  And, in the brochure I found something new:

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What I found interesting was the text that said “10% bonus each year.. only for Chase checking customers.  When you have both Chase Freedom and Chase Checking, you can earn an extra 10% on the cash back you’ve already earned each year as a bonus.”  This was interesting and surprising to me because I knew that Chase no longer offered their Chase Exclusives program which used to reward Freedom cardholders & checking account owners with an extra 10 points per transaction and a 10% bonus on base points earned. 

When activating my new card, I asked about this 10% bonus.  I do have a Chase checking account after all.  Is it only on base points earned?  I asked.  No, it is for all points earned on your Freedom card.  What about points earned through the Ultimate Rewards Mall?  Yes, any points earned on the Freedom card count.  I was so skeptical of this that I asked to speak to someone in the rewards department who then answered the same way.  Yes, she said, Ultimate Rewards Mall earnings will count.

Wow.  This is great.  This is very similar to the Sapphire Preferred card’s annual 7% dividend, but it is 3 percentage points better, as long as you have a Chase checking account.  This means that when you earn 10X bonus points through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, you will really earn 11X bonus points (in addition to 1.1X base points).  Similarly, when you earn 5X with the Freedom card’s rotating categories, you will now really earn a total of 5.5X when bonus points post at the end of the year.

The Points Guy also recently wrote about this new benefit here: Changes to the Chase Freedom 10% Bonus And What It Means For Your Points Strategy.  He didn’t mention the Ultimate Rewards Mall so I thought it was worth expanding coverage of this new benefit.

Selecting an account when shopping

If you have multiple Chase Ultimate Rewards cards tied to the same online account, you will be asked to pick one when you go to the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  In the past, there were often different bonus earnings for different cards so it was always best to pick the account with the highest earnings, but recently Chase seems to have kept the point earnings the same across cards.  As long as that holds true, the best account to choose when going to the Ultimate Rewards Mall is now your Freedom account (if you have Chase checking).  Next best is the Sapphire Preferred.

Sapphire Preferred vs. Freedom

If you already have and use a Sapphire Preferred card, its unlikely that the 3 percentage point difference in the annual bonus between the Freedom card and the Sapphire Preferred will make much difference.  For example, suppose you earn 20,000 points in one year.  If those points were earned on the Sapphire Preferred card you would get 1400 bonus points at the end of the year.  If those points were earned on the Freedom card, you would get 2000 bonus points.  The difference isn’t huge.  Of course, if you earn hundreds of thousands of Ultimate Rewards points in a year, then that difference will add up fast!

Also keep in mind that the Freedom card does not earn bonus points for travel and dining, nor does it allow you to transfer points to airline & hotel programs.  I think that the best strategy for most families is to keep one Sapphire Preferred account and one or more Freedom accounts.  Log into the Freedom account for online shopping.  Use the Sapphire Preferred for travel and dining.  Use the Freedom card for all 5X categories (up to $1500 per quarter) and for all non-category spend (in order to get 1.1 points per dollar).  And, of course, if you have a Chase Ink card, use it for all cable, telecom, internet, and office supply purchases (at 5X) and gas (at 2X).

Terms & Conditions

I found the Freedom card’s Ultimate Rewards Rules and Regulations here.  I’ve quoted some of the relevant text and bolded parts that I find interesting:

Earning Rewards:

You will earn 1 base point for each $1 of Net Purchases. You will earn an additional 1 point for each $1 of airfare and hotel accommodation Net Purchases when you book at chase.com/ultimaterewards. You will also earn a 10% Bonus on all new points earned with your Chase Freedom card during billing cycles within the previous Year when you, as the primary cardmember, were the sole or joint owner of an open Chase checking account. Your 10% Bonus is calculated after your billing cycle with a December closing date (“Year” means the twelve billing cycle period beginning the day after your billing cycle with a December closing date through your billing cycle with a December closing date of the next year.) Your Chase checking account must be open, and your Chase Freedom card account must be open and not in default, at the end of the Year. Your 10% Bonus points will appear on your January or February billing statement. You will not earn the 10% Bonus on new account bonus points, previous 10% Bonus points awarded, or points transferred into your account. (“Net Purchases” means purchases of goods and services made by you or any authorized user on your Account minus any returns or refunds.) Point accrual will begin upon the Enrollment Date in the Program. (“Enrollment Date” is the day on which we approve you as a Program member.) No retroactive points will be awarded. You do not earn points on balance transfers, cash advances, cash-like charges such as travelers checks, foreign currency, and money orders, any checks that are used to access your Account, overdraft advances, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, or fees of any kind, including fees for products that protect or insure the balances of your Account. Points will be deducted for any returns or credits made on your Account. Points will appear on your monthly statement.

Notice above that all new points earned on the Freedom card count except those earned from a sign-up bonus or transferred from other accounts.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Any sign up bonuses for chase checking? I know they have some cash sign up bonuses, but would prefer some miles instead.

    • Karen: I’ve never heard of Chase having points bonuses for their checking account. As you said, though, cash bonuses are common.
      Daniel G: Interesting. I’ve never thought about the customer support aspect
      namtuge: I didn’t have a Freedom card before. Downgrading was a quick way to get the Freedom card without a credit inquiry

  2. When I get switched over from the old exclusives program, I still plan on using my Sapphire Preferred card in the UR Mall. Way easier to get missing points posted. Freedom’s customer service line can take a while to get through sometimes. Twice i’ve had them tell me to call back in a month because it can take up to 12 weeks to post.

  3. Bill, I can sign up for online banking…but if you go through the link that says checking(also link from The Points Guy) it asks for your Zip Code and a popup says this product not in your area. I believe this is 2 different products( online banking and a checking account).

  4. @frequentmiler Why did you have to downgrade your Sapphire to take advantage of 5X in drugstores? Or I misunderstood something.

  5. You said about the Freedom card, “nor does it allow you to transfer points to airline & hotel programs.”

    This might be technically true, but you can first transfer your Freedom points into your Sapphire or Ink Bold account and then transfer them to airline or hotel programs.

    • AJM: Yes, of course. I should have mentioned that in my post, but I sometimes forget that things like that aren’t common knowledge!
      Justin: According to ThePointsGuy it will change for existing accounts as well. I don’t know when.
      Ben L: No, I don’t know when the Exclusives program will phase out for existing members

  6. “This was interesting and surprising to me because I knew that Chase no longer offered their Chase Exclusives program which used to reward Freedom cardholders & checking account owners with an extra 10 points per transaction and a 10% bonus on base points earned.”

    When did this change? Or is it just on new accounts? Because I am still getting 10 points per transaction, which is why $1 purchases are so great on this card.

  7. @FM
    Did you by any chance get a date from Chase as to when this new 10% yearly bonus program is going into effect? I currently am in the Exclusives program and much prefer that seeing as I get an extra 500 pts/month just with the 10pts/swipe part…6000 pts/year.

  8. I have the same questions as Justin; I still get 10 UR per transaction and 10% bonus on purchases. I want to know if I’m going to remain in the Exclusives program or if this will switch over to the new 10% bonus program. I’m not even sure which one is better. For my current spend, Exclusives is better, but if I want to aggressively play the game, maybe 10% bonus (of UR Mall) is better. The Sapphire Pref gets 7% bonus on spend, but not on UR bonuses. If FM was told correct info, the new Freedom will get 10% bonus on UR bonuses even if purchases were made with gift cards, so that’s potentially a lot of free points.

    • Dave: The Sapphire Preferred does give 7% on UR bonuses so the Freedom card is only marginally better in that respect.
      Jack: Yes, you should get the full bonus even if all points have been transferred out of the Freedom card account.

  9. I always transfer any points I receive each month on my Freedom card to my Sapphire Mastercard account. At the end of the year if I have zero points in my Freedom account would I still receive the 10% bonus on everything I earned on Freedom or lose it because those points were transferred to Sapphire?

  10. Also works with Freedom and Ink combination, UR points earned on Freedom can be transferred to Ink card for redeem for air line or hotel points.

    @Jack, I believe the 10% is on the points earned on the card, it doesn’t matter whether the points are spent or transferred by the end of the year.

  11. @Justin – new accounts fall under the new program; existing accounts will be migrated to the new program by late 2013 or early 2014.

  12. Hello FM! Do you need to relocate all UR points before downgrading SP to Freedom? I know all points would be lost if close the card, not sure in case of downgrading. Thanks!

  13. Love the blog, FM. As far as customer support on the Freedom, I’ve found that if you have both Sapphire and Freedom cards, you can just call the Sapphire line and they’ll be happy to help you out with any of your personal Chase cards — it doesn’t have to be an issue about the Sapphire specifically. I don’t know that they can handle business Ink inquiries, but I’ve called them about Freedom points issues in the past and they’ve been great!

  14. Hello FM….I have an old, no fee Sapphire card which I never use, but it has a long credit history, as well as a Sapphire Preferred card, which I use all the time. In addition, I have a Chase checking account. Do you think that if I applied for, and received the Chase Freedom card, I could call Chase shortly after receiving the card to have my no fee Sapphire card account number transferred to the Freedom card, thus keeping my credit history on one account, and at the same time, close the no fee Sapphire card? If so, I would end up with the Freedom card, plus the Sapphire Preferred, (the ultimate combination of Chase cards).
    Thanks in advance for your input!

    • Julian: Good point!
      greek2me: Thanks for the info!
      RayB: No, I don’t think you can do it that way. Your best bet is to simply call and ask if they can change your Sapphire to a Freedom card.
      Ricardo Seir: The Freedom card earns points which are equivalent to cash back if you use them that way. However, as others have pointed out, if you have a Sapphire Preferred card, or Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you can move Freedom points to one of those accounts and then transfer points to a hotel or airline program (or use to book travel for 1.25 cents per point).

  15. I am missing the point…Is the extra 10% in points or cash back?…I understand from the advertisement that is an extra 10% of the cash back you got on the year…so for every period that you get $75 back, you get an extra $7.5 (plus whatever cash back you got for the 1%)

  16. So has anyone been able to sign up for a chase checking account if you aren’t in one of the zip codes they serve?

  17. @Larry – I live a mile from a Chase branch and when I enter in my Zipcode it still says that I cannot get checking. I’ve tried all over the country and it says the same thing. I think it’s broken.

  18. Wow, if they end exclusives, then how am I going to continue to earn 700 points for paying my $70 cell phone bill?

  19. Any insight on if downgrading a Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom card this will still give you bonus points for those earned prior to the change? I’m assuming that you’d forfeit the bonus for the Sapphire Preferred, but get the bonus on the Freedom points.

  20. Just type in a different zip code where Chase has a branch. Works fine, and you can later set your mailing address correctly.

    • @Bill – That doesn’t always work as I’ve mentioned. I even entered in zipcodes of Chase branches and it still didn’t work.

  21. FM: how long did it take for you to downgrade from Chase Sapphire to Chase Freedom? Its already the middle of the month, I wonder if its worth switching…

  22. Hi, Greg. Can you please discuss (again) why it would be more benefecial to downgrade from Chase Sapphire PREFERRED to the no fee Freedom card vs. downgrading to (also no fee) Chase Sapphire? My annual fee has come up for my Chase SP, and I already have the Ink Bold card. Thank you!

    • Lahaina: The Freedom card has the 10% annual bonus as well as quarterly 5X promotions. The Sapphire (non-preferred) has 2X for dining. If you eat out a lot, the Sapphire might be a better bet. But if you use the Ultimate Rewards mall alot and/or max out the quarterly 5X promotions on the Freedom card, then you’ll do much better with that card.

      Mark: That’s interesting. They must custom tailor people’s downgrade options.

  23. Lahaina the 5X quarterly categories and 10% bonus make Freedom a darn good card, especially if you have Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold/Plus. My Sapphire Preferred Visa annual fee is coming up. I have Bold, and Freedom Visa, so I wonder what I should do. Get a Sapphire Preferred Mastercard? Will I get the bonus? Should I get a no-fee Sapphire (I do eat at restaurants often)? Should I get a Freedom Mastercard?

  24. @Chimney: you’re not earning 10x on your $70 phone bill, you earn 10% of your $70 bill.

    (7 bonus points + 10 bonus ‘swipe’ points + 70 base points = 87 points)

  25. I tried to do the same thing (downgrade Sapphire Preferred to Freedom) but the agent said:

    “At this time, I’m unable to change your account to the Freedom product. The only product change option available
    is to the Sapphire no annual fee card. I apologize for
    any inconvenience this may cause you.

    As an alternative, you may apply for a new Freedom
    product”.

  26. I don’t understand the positive spin that this uniquely negative change is generating! We’re losing a huge benefit — 10 points per transaction, which is incredible for all of those small daily purchases — and gaining a measly tenth of a percent (or point, if transferred to UR points) on each dollar spent.

  27. ^^^^ yep, that and the fact that the 10% Freedom card’s bonus was deposited monthly. Now, just like the CSP’s 7% dividend, we have to wait until year’s end to get the bonus. Yuck, I want all my rightfully earned points, now! 🙂

  28. points on the dollar: The positive spin for me comes from the fact that I wasn’t grandfathered into the old Exclusives program. Plus, the old program didn’t help with UR Mall earnings.

  29. FM…Let me know what you think of my plan.
    I also have a Chase checking account and just applied (and was approved) for the Freedom card. I also have the Chase Sapphire (no-fee) card, the Sapphire Preferred card, as well as the Southwest card (on my second year and paid the $69/fee, but received 6K miles instead of the usual 3K) and a UAL MilePlus Visa.

    Once I activate the Freedom card and spend the $500 to earn the 10K UR points I plan to move those points to my Sapphire card. Then, I’ll transfer all my UR points between United Airlines and Southwest (I primarily travel to Hawaii once/year and Colorado twice/year). Then, close out my Sapphire Preferred card (thereby avoiding the yearly fee) and possibly my SW Visa. Then, use my Chase Sapphire (no-fee) card for restaurant purchases (2x points), and the Freedom card for everything else (1.1 points). I’ll the UAL MilagePlus Visa, for free baggage to Hawaii and primary car rental insurance.

    Over the span of 18-24 months, I’ll earn the points on the Freedom and Sapphire card. Then, eventually, apply for a new Sapphire Preferred or Ink card, get approved, and transfer all my accumulated points to the new card.

  30. RayB: That sounds reasonable. Personally, I prefer to keep my points as Ultimate Rewards until I need them so that they can be used for whatever I need at that time: UA miles, SWA, BA, Hyatt, etc. Don’t forget that there is a MasterCard version of the Sapphire Preferred, so you may be able to get that and keep the ability to move points for another year.

  31. I know this is late, but I’ll post it anyway.

    On the issue of downgrading to a Freedom – my wife called to downgrade since we both have Sapphires and was able to downgrade to a no fee Sapphire only. But she was told that once she passed a full year of having the CS preferred she could then change it to a Freedom.

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