Ink metamorphosizes from MasterCard to Visa. Why I care.

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According to several blogs (here, here, and here), in late June Chase quietly began shipping out Chase Ink cards as Visa cards rather than MasterCard cards.  Most will regard this as a ho hum event.  After all, almost all merchants that accept MasterCards accept Visa cards as well.  It occurs to me, though, that there are some potential benefits…

MasterCard small business cards qualify for the MasterCard Easy Savings program.  Simply register each business MasterCard and you can earn cash back automatically at various merchants.  Visa has a similar program: Visa SavingsEdge.  Both programs offer cash back for various business services, hotels, and gas stations. 

I’m particularly interested in the gas station savings even though both programs offer only 1% cash back.  The reason I’m interested (besides it being a good deal) is that many gas stations sell gift cards.  You know where I’m going with this right?  If the purchase of a gift card at a gas station qualifies for cash back then one would earn 1% cash back plus 2X Ultimate Rewards points when buying gift cards (since gas stations are a 2X category with Chase Ink cards).  And, if one could find a qualifying gas station that sells Visa gift cards loadable up to $500 with a $4.95 fee, then the fee might be completely paid back by the savings program leaving you with 2X earnings fee free!

In July, I explored this theory with the MasterCard Easy Savings program, but I was hampered by two issues: 1) The 1% fuel savings were explicitly capped at $100 in purchases; and 2) I was unable to find a participating gas station in my area that sold gift cards.  I did discover, though, that in-store purchases (yep, peanut M&Ms, what else?) did qualify despite wording that said savings were given only when you pay at the pump.

So, how about the Visa SavingsEdge program?  This program offers 1% cash back at Texaco and Chevron stations.  Like the similar MasterCard benefit, this one is supposedly limited to “qualifying fuel purchases made at the pump,” but I think there is a very good chance that in-store purchases will also count.  The great thing here is that, unlike with MasterCard Easy Savings, there is no stated purchase limit for the 1% cash back benefit!

Unfortunately, there are no Texaco or Chevron stations anywhere near me so I’m hoping that some readers will help out with this experiment.  Register a Visa business card with Visa SavingsEdge and then visit a Texaco or Chevron that sells gift cards.  The Texaco / Chevron online location finder has an option to find stations that sell gift cards:  Go to www.texaco.com/find-station.aspx, enter your location, and be sure to check the “Offers Gift Cards” box.

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If you already have a Chase Ink MasterCard, but would prefer a Visa card, you have a few options.  Let me be clear that I don’t know for sure that any of these options will work, but my best guess is that they will.  The most obvious option is to simply ask Chase to replace your card with a Visa variety.  A second option is to apply for a new Ink card.  Hopefully, this will be considered a new product (since it is a Visa instead of a MasterCard) so that you could earn the sign up bonus again.  A third option is to wait.  My guess is that Chase will eventually replace all of our MasterCard Inks with Visa cards.  Again, I’m not sure that any of these options are real options, but I’m sure we’ll learn from readers’ experiences soon enough.

I’m interested in hearing from readers.  What do you think of this switch from MasterCard to Visa?  How does it affect you, if at all?

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