Chase “Pay Yourself Back”. Awesome new Sapphire feature!

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Chase has introduced a fantastic new benefit for Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders: “Pay Yourself Back”.  The basic idea is that you can exchange your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against certain categories of purchases.  For example, currently you can redeem points, at full travel value, to offset restaurant, grocery, food delivery, and home improvement store purchases.  Here’s the link to use this feature yourself.

A permanent new feature?

The current promotion runs from May 31 through Sept. 30 2020.  It appears to be a great way to offer value to those of us who are not currently traveling due to COVID-19.  But the really exciting thing is the possibility that this may be a permanent new feature!  Doctor of Credit reports a tip he received that Chase was working on this feature before COVID-19.  This is further backed up by the fact that Chase’s website specifically says that the feature currently supports grocery, dining, and home improvement purchases.  The implication is that it may support other types of charges in the future.  Of course, there’s no promise that they’ll keep redemption rates as high as they are now, but in my opinion the redemption will be useless if the point values drop to 1 cent per point.

Why this is exciting

Previously, the best use for Ultimate Rewards points (besides transferring points to high value travel partners) was to book travel through the Chase travel portal.  Sapphire Reserve cardholders get 1.5 cents per point value this way.  Sapphire Preferred cardholders get 1.25 cents per point value.

The great thing about the Pay Yourself Back feature is that you can now get that same value for everyday purchases.  For example, if you’re a Sapphire Reserve cardholder, you can use your card at restaurants and later exchange your points to pay off those restaurant charges.  With the Pay Yourself Back feature Sapphire Reserve cardholders get 1.5 cents per point value and Sapphire Preferred cardholders get 1.25 cents per point value.

For those of us who spend enough within the eligible Pay Yourself Back categories, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards cards become more like super-charged cash back cards.  You’ll still have the ability to transfer points to travel partners, but you’ll now be able to easily cash out points for full value instead.

Keep in mind that points earned on other Chase cards can be moved to your Sapphire Reserve account in order to get more value.  So, if you consider that this feature makes it easy to cash out Sapphire Reserve points at 1.5 cents each, then we can calculate the cash back equivalent earnings of each Ultimate Rewards card by multiplying the earnings rate by 1.5.  For example, the Sapphire Reserve card earns 3X for travel & dining, so it now earns the equivalent of 3 x 1.5 = 4.5% cash back for travel & dining.  Similarly, the Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5X everywhere, so it now earns the equivalent of 1.5 x 1.5 = 2.25% cash back everywhere.  And the no-fee Freedom card earns 5X on rotating categories.  That 5X translates to the equivalent of 5 x 1.5 = 7.5% cash back.  Here’s a look at the cash back equivalent earnings for each current Ultimate Rewards card (assuming that someone in the household has a Sapphire Reserve card in order to be able to cash out at 1.5 cents per point):

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
Base
Travel
Phone
Biz
Other
Earning rate: 3X travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites (up to $150K spend per year) ⚬ 5X Lyft
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 2X Travel and Dining ⚬ 5X Lyft (through March 2022)
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 5x travel booked through Chase ⚬ 5X Lyft ⚬ 3x dining ⚬ 3x drugstores ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else
Chase Freedom Flex
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 5x travel booked through Chase ⚬ 5X Lyft ⚬ 3x dining ⚬ 3x drugstores ⚬ 5X in rotating categories on up to $1,500 spend per quarter.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited
Base
Other
Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases ⚬ 5X Lyft
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Phone
Office
Other
Earning rate: 5X office supplies ⚬ 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually) ⚬ 2X gas and restaurants ⚬ 5X Lyft
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 3X Travel and Dining ⚬ 10X Lyft (through March 2022)

Pay Yourself Back Example

When I logged into my Chase account and browsed to Chase’s Pay Yourself Back page, I found a number of qualifying purchases.  I had a couple of DoorDash purchases and a few grocery purchases:

I selected each of the above purchases and then had the opportunity to enter how much of each purchase should be paid back with points.  In each case, I selected “Apply Max Value”.  I was a little concerned that it might be better to pick a round number to get full point value, but that concern was unfounded.  Chase rounded up the value of the points in my favor.  Take, for example, the $283.60 grocery purchase at Plum Market.  28,360 cents divided by 1.5 = 18,906.67.  One would expect Chase to round that up to 18,907 to determine how many points were required.  Instead, they rounded down to 18,906.  Cool.

Pay Yourself Back Q&A

Which types of purchases are eligible?

Eligible purchases are those made with your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card at restaurant and grocery stores (including takeout & eligible delivery services), and home improvement stores.

What are the dates of eligibility?

This promotion runs May 31 through Sept. 30 2020.  It’s unclear what happens after September 30th.

Can we use this feature for purchases made before the eligible dates?

Yes, Chase’s Pay Yourself Back allows transactions from the past 90 days.  As shown in the example earlier in this post, I was able to redeem points for transactions that occurred well before this feature became available on May 31, 2020.

What happens after September 30th 2020?

Chase’s website suggests that payback categories may change over time.  This gives us hope that this feature will continue, but potentially with different payback categories.

Do we earn points for purchases that are paid back with this feature?

We are still waiting for confirmation about this, but it appears that you do still earn points, including bonus points (such as 3X for dining).  UPDATE 6/1/20: My statement credits have posted to my Sapphire Reserve account, but I have not lost the points earned on the associated purchases.  I read that as confirmation that we continue to earn points on purchases that are “erased” with this feature.

Where can I find Chase’s FAQ regarding this feature?

Chase’s Pay Yourself Back FAQ Can Be Found Here.  The FAQ covers the following topics:

  • What is Pay Yourself Back?
  • How does Pay Yourself Back work?
  • How do I get to Pay Yourself Back?
  • What purchases are considered eligible for Pay Yourself Back?
  • How will I know if a purchase is considered “eligible”?
  • What are some examples of eligible purchases I can pay myself back for?
  • Is there a maximum number of eligible purchases I can select to pay myself back?
  • How long is a purchase considered eligible for Pay Yourself Back?
  • Can I apply points to an eligible purchase multiple times?
  • Is there a minimum amount of points required for a Pay Yourself Back redemption?
  • Is there a maximum amount of points you can use for a Pay Yourself Back redemption?
  • How long will it take to get my statement credit?
  • Will I need to pay my minimum payment on my monthly statement if I redeem for a statement credit?
  • Which Chase cards are eligible for Pay Yourself Back?
  • What if I don’t see “Pay Yourself Back” as an option on the Ultimate Rewards site?
  • What if I don’t see any eligible purchases listed on Pay Yourself Back?
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