The advent of credit cards that earned airline miles/hotel points was a seminal moment for the travel industry. It transformed something that was previously a cost center into a potential profit center. For the 20-ish years I’ve been collecting miles, I’ve pretty much always had a mileage earning credit card. Fast forward to today, and more miles are earning through activities other than flying, with credit cards being the leading source.
I’m a big fan of leveraging your spend on the right credit card to earn free travel. The introduction of flexible currency programs, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, further expanded the pool of people earning some type of travel currency to help pay for their next trip. The credit card companies build programs they hope cause customers to reach for their card first. They hope to build behavior that causes us not to think before we swipe. I recall a conference a few years ago where a senior executive from American Express talked about how they see a significant uptick in spending on their cards right after a customer redeems their points. That makes sense.
It’s important to consider why we use a specific credit card, and to reconsider if the circumstances change. I recently had such an occasion. I don’t look at this as sour grapes, more just spending with the partner I trust the most at this moment. A couple of Chase Ink Bold cards hold a place in my wallet for business spending. Those cards earn 5 points per dollar on all cell phone, landline, cable bills, internet service and office supply purchases. Each card is capped at 200,000 bonus points per year.
In late 2016, I maxed out my primary Ink Bold card. I called Chase to find out when the time period would reset so I could begin taking advantage of those 5X bonuses again. This time, I was told that it would reset at the beginning of 2017. I pressed the agent on this answer because I was pretty sure they were wrong. But, they were insistent. As it was already late in the year, I dropped the issue for the time being.
Mid-January rolled around and the category was still showing maxed out on the Ultimate Rewards website. Another phone call yielded another agent that firmly believed the date would be March 1st, as that was my anniversary month. When I pressed on the answer, she said it could be a date early in March, which was my actual anniversary date. Bottom line, she wasn’t 100% sure, especially after I framed up my earlier phone call.
This Time, They’re Really Sure
March 1st came and no change to my account. I called and explained that this was my 3rd attempt to get an accurate answer. The agent offered to let me speak to a supervisor. I usually save phone calls like this for when I’m driving. I had some more time before reaching my destination so I chose to hang out a bit to try and get a more concrete answer. Both agents I spoke with this time were very certain it would be on my anniversary date.
As you can imagine, that anniversary date has come and gone. My 4th call to Chase on the matter resulted in a long hold time. The supervisor dealing with the issue strongly believed that “something was broken”. I was pretty sure at this point it wouldn’t reset until my next statement closed. That answer is probably out there somewhere on the Google. The supervisor advised me someone would call me when they had fixed the issue.
The following day I received a call from a supervisor who confirmed the previous agent was wrong. I guess they all were in retrospect). I would be eligible for the 5X when my next statement closed. The supervisor assured me that he had verified my totals for the previous 12 months and that everything was calculated correctly.
I politely pointed out all of his colleagues had reinforced with me the confidence in their answers. He told me he was correct. I suspect he is, but we haven’t reached that date yet.
Re-Assessing Where To Put My Spend
Now we’re back to the title of this blog post. I’m parking my Chase Ink card for a while. This isn’t “punishment” for Chase. I’m not whining. I assume I got exactly what I was entitled to (200K bonus points), nothing more or less. But, because of that generous reward category, I put a lot of other spending on that card that earn 1 point per dollar.
I have other cards in my wallet that get neglected because I use my Chase cards so frequently. In some cases, for the every day purchases, it’s force of habit, not bonus points driving those purchasing decisions. Diversity is a key factor in the points and miles world, and this mild annoyance with Chase reminded me of that key fact.
The Final Two Pennies
It’s time to right-size my spending with the various cards in my wallet. I love the Ultimate Rewards program. It’s a valuable, flexible currency. Partners like United Airlines, British Airways, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt and Marriott give you plenty of ways to redeem points for travel pretty much anywhere you want to go.
But, if Chase makes drastic changes to that program, I’m a bit too heavily invested in their “currency”. The moral of the story here is that it’s always good to take a few minutes to consider what you’re earning and what your goals are. These are lessons I preach on a daily basis but discovered I was in the same pattern many folks fall into, spending without thinking about my goals.
I’m certain I’ll have the Chase cards back in my wallet soon, but I’ll be reminding myself to check my goals and make sure they match my spending more frequently in the future.
The post Why I’m Taking My Chase Ink Card Out Of My Wallet For A While was published first on Pizza in Motion