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
Great post Ed, good luck getting this resolved. I collect UR for a specific redemption, hotels in St Martin (SXM). I travel their often and my points sure help make it possible. Until recently when I logged in to make a reservation, I got an error code. I have reported this to a number of supervisors and they all believe it’s a glitch and they will report it to their IT guy and it will be fixed.I can search any city and the hotel function will work except the one I want to travel. I have earned a lot of points and at the moment they are not being used for my travel goals.Just try it only takes a minute.
Jim, sorry to hear you’re having that issue. I suspect mine will resolve here shortly but I’m glad to have the reminder to check my goals.
this irritates me to no end. there should be a rule where if 3 separate CSR all give you the same misinformation, what they say becomes legally enforceable.
train your damn reps properly.
Dave, can’t disagree that it was frustrating to get different answers. That’s what I used to love about CitiGold. They had great phone reps for a long time.
I wonder how many of your readers have the problem of maxing out 5x spending on an Ink card.
David, no question I’m lucky to be able to max out that category. Took some work. 🙂
I have an Amex Card giving me 10% off my Cell and Cable bill, use to get 5X with the INK Card, buy 10% is a better return for me.
OD, is 5X for Gift Cards, but their is a max, you can have more than 1 INK CARD, I have for years…
Bill, the 10% off is great for cell and cable. Which AMEX is that?
I have an original Ink Bold that still has the spending bonuses based on total spend, not categories. I now have four different anniversary dates IN WRITING from Chase for this one card and they still keep changing it. Originally it was the anniversary date of when I was approved. After that, it was calendar year. After that It was another date I could never understand. After that, it changed to the date that they replaced the old Mastercard with a Visa card for the same account. In each case, I was assured that the date would never change and yet I have four different dates in writing from Chase and random changes that have cost me bonuses. I have never seen a card so screwed up on terms. It’s a shame because I spend over 100K every single year on the card and often much more.
Carl, I didn’t even know an Ink existed like that! Not surprising that I’m not the only one with anniversary date issues. What are the bonuses on your Ink?
The original Ink Bold was 7,500 points for $25K spend, another 15,000 points for the next $25K spend, and 25,000 points for the next $50K spend. For a total spend of $100K, I get a 47,500 point bonus each year. However, another good point is that the original Ink Bold gives 1.2 points per dollar spent as well because it received the same benefit that having a Chase checking account had. For $100K spend, I receive a total of 170,000 points including all bonuses (1.7 points per dollar spend). After the first $100K there are no more bonuses, but it still gets 1.2 points per dollar spend. There are no bonus categories, but I have two Ink Cash cards that I use for the bonus categories, plus for personal spending I have the Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom, and Chase Freedom Ultimate, so I can almost always get some bonus. The nice thing about the original Ink is that it is great for unbonused spending and my businesses have a lot of that as well. If you have an original Ink Bold, you are grandfathered into the program unless you request a change. I think that the original terms were only available for less than a year. It’s a good card, but the changing dates are incredibly frustrating and in each case I have written documents from Chase showing the different dates. I have actually had more than four dates it I include those that were given to me verbally by Chase, but I am only looking at the ones in writing.
I would have sent a secure message to have the date in writing.
Suzy, after hearing carlh’s story, I’m starting to think I should have!
It didn’t help with me. I did send secure messages. When I said that the date was wrong they sent a letter from “Cardmember Service”. That took two weeks to arrive, had another wrong date, and no way to contact that person (there was a phone number, but when I tried it, it was generic). Cardmember Services are where they elevate secure messages and phone calls when they cannot answer. From just 2014 and 2015, I have letters confirming that the start of my bonus period is Nov. 24th, Jan. 1st, Feb. 2nd, and finally April 2 (apparently the date that they switched from Mastercard to Visa which they guaranteed would not affect my bonus terms). Complaining really does not work on this one. I also have a letter dated 2/3/14 from “Business Card Services” that was not related to anything that I sent that apologized for mistakenly resetting my anniversary date (apparently it happened to a number of people). They reset my anniversary date after the start of the year to April 1, but by the next year it had jumped again to April (which corresponded to the changeover date to Visa). For this year, I have spent $52K since Jan. 1 on the card and none of it is counting toward my annual bonus yet, even though my anniversary date is the end of November and the calendar year started Jan. 1. Chase simply does not listen on this problem and while I am sorry to hear of your issues, at least I know it isn’t just because I have an original Ink Bold.
I wish that they was someone high enough in the Ink Bold department to whom I could write a letter and send copies of Chase’s responses so that they could finally fix things, but I can’t figure out who that would be, They have a real problem. I still like Chase for a lot of things, but this Ink Bold issue as well as the recent changes to purchasing travel using the Sapphire Reserve card are pushing me away from Chase.
(By the way, what I am referring to with the Sapphire Reserve is that since they spun off the travel department last year to another travel company, the prices are fake high prices, often the hotel rates have turned out to be coded as “priceline auction” so no elite benefits or points–I have a printout from a Marriott where I stayed that they gave to me to show this, and only showing a tiny fraction of available flights and being unable to book most flights. By the time you get done, the 1.5 cents per point has become almost unusable in many situations. I have numerous specific examples for this too.)
It’s a shame because Chase has been my go to company for spend for many years. I have been with Chase so long that the credit cards were simply the blue card (personal) and the green card (business), long before Ink Sapphire, Freedom, or any of the others even existed.
Carl, I’ve been very happy with UR up to this point as well. I’m hoping my issues aren’t as pervasive as yours. I also don’t let them redeem points for me, only transferring to partners.
Carl, really sorry to hear that. I was hoping I had finally gotten to a solution for this. Still hope I have. If not, the card will stay in the drawer. It has some recurring transactions, but I’ll move those starting April 1st if this isn’t fixed.
Wow what a timely life saver post. I ope end my ink card ang got approved on March 21,2016
I have maxed out 50k . And was told 3 times in past week limit would reset on March 21, 2017
So any spend after that would be 5x on the bonus category so I was all geared up to do staples promo next week having sit out this week
seems like this info is completely inaccurate
And my limit won’t reset till next cycle hits on April 18, 2017
If I downgrade to chase cash would the limit rest
Immediatlly ?? Anyone try this ??
or maybe I have to apply for Amex simply cash card.. This will be my first Amex business card , I was waiting for better offer. What’s re chances for instant approval on first business card with Amex
Credit history is excellent. Also would Amex expedite the card if approved today ??
Appreciate quick response
Ashok, I doubt the limit would reset if you change products. Hard to say. I’m sure AMEX will expedite a card for you. Most banks will when they know you want to spend on their card. The exception to this is Citi, where I’ve had trouble getting cards expedited in the past.
Looking for yet further clarification. In Ashok’s case, enrollment was 3/21/16 and limits reset when his statement cuts on 4/18/17. Would charges made 4/15/17 earn 5x if they actually post to the 5/18 statement? That’s assuming charges on the April statement count toward year 1 limits and not year 2. Hopefully, Ashok can confirm how Chase handles the Anniversary Date shortly.
Wyle, I’m not far along in my process to answer your question. I’ll know in about two weeks if charges on my April statement earned 5X.
Answering my own question.
1) Since I opened my account on 3/21/16, I figured my 4/18/17 statement date would be my anniversary. (Chase says the anniversary date is the end of the billing cycle after you’ve had the card for a year). Apparently not. My annual fee hit on May 1 and checking online (under redeem points) showed I was at 200k of 200k bonus points in the 5X category until my statement cut on 5/24/17. Looks like one extra month to me. Live and learn.
2) Charges made for an internet provider posted on 4/28 and were included in the 5/24 bill, but did not earn bonus points. Just confirming that charges on the “anniversary statement” count toward the old anniversary year, not the brand new one.
Wyle, I’ve heard so many definitions of “anniversary date” from Chase, I have no idea which end is up.