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Changes Coming to Chase Freedom Exclusives Program

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

In a move that will likely upset many long-term Chase Freedom cardholders, Chase is in the process of making changes to its Chase Exclusives program. The program–which is no longer available to new cardmembers–currently allows those with a Chase Freedom card and a Chase checking account to earn an additional bonus of 10% on all purchases (excluding 5% rotating category purchases) plus 10 bonus points per transaction. That’s in addition to the normal 1 point per $1 spent that you would earn on regular spending.

This bonus structure made the Chase Freedom the hands-down best credit card to use for small dollar transactions. For instance, a $1 purchase would earn 11 points–1 point for the dollar spent, plus another 10 bonus points for the transaction. Unfortunately, Chase will soon be replacing this rewards program in favor of a simpler structure, though far less lucrative on smaller transactions.

What’s changing
The new Chase Exclusives program will instead allow cardholders to earn a 10% annual points bonus on all points earned, including those earned in the 5% quarterly bonus categories. That’s an improvement over the previous bonus structure, where spend that fell into the quarterly bonus categories only earned the 10 points per transaction bonus.

Smaller transactions will earn far less rewards, however, because of the removal of the 10 points per transaction bonus. Whereas the $1 charge used to earn 11 points, it will now only earn 1.1 points. For larger dollar transactions, the difference will be less pronounced.

Another way to think about it is that your regular spending will continue to earn 1.1%, while bonus category spending will now earn 5.5%. So for those who spend heavily in the rotating bonus categories, this may be an improvement. The bonus, however, will no longer be paid as you earn it. Instead, you’ll receive the bonus in one lump sum once a year.

Chase is rolling out the changes in waves, so not all affected cardholders will have received notification of the changes yet and the effective dates of these changes will vary from cardholder to cardholder. Although the bonuses been watered down, it’s still a nice additional benefit for those who have been grandfathered into the program.

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