Several people have asked me to write about the rumors on several blogs that Chase will kill the ability to freely transfer Ultimate Rewards points between cards and between household members.
I rarely post about rumors, I fail to see the point in most cases. While some blogs made post after breathless post before the Marriott merger about them possibly killing all award charts, killing suite upgrades, breakfast, and 4pm checkout for Platinums, adding a spend requirement for elite status, or killing all airline transfers without notice, I’d rather take a wait and see approach and then analyze it when the details come out. Why spend the time analyzing alternate solutions for something that may or may not happen?
I do have some background info here though, so I suppose I’ll share it.
From 2011-2014 I was invited to an annual Chase cocktail reception or luncheon for bloggers at their headquarters and got to pick the brains of the executives of each card and the Ultimate Rewards program. For some years I would ask DDF members for suggestions on what to bring up to the various executives.
I peppered them with questions and shared responses on DDF like:
- Why not have transfer bonuses or transfer ratios besides 1:1 like AMEX does? They preferred a consistently solid program with valuable partners over limited time bonuses and confusing transfer ratios. They also preferred having a smaller number of more valuable partners than other programs.
- Why kill Chase Exclusives that awarded bonus points for cardholders that also had a Chase checking account? They had a hard time communicating those offers to the public and they were grandfathered for many years before being eliminated earlier this year.
- Why not have a higher tier Sapphire card? I was told that it was back-burnered in 2012, but of course it became a smash hit in 2016.
- Why were signup spend thresholds trending from making one purchase to spending thousands of dollars? They wanted people to spend on the cards and not just signup for them and stop.
- They did listen to some of my suggestions. One DDF member suggested adding groceries to Freedom’s quarterly categories. I brought that up with the head of the Freedom and sure enough, it was added later that year.
- We spoke about Ultimate Rewards transfers between cards. They said that it’s always been an internal debate about whether they should allow points earned from a Freedom card to be transferred to their transferable cards at the time, which were the Ink Bold and Sapphire Preferred. On the one hand that made the cost of the points even greater as mileage transfers cost Chase more than 1 cent per point. On the other hand, they like it when a customer’s wallet is full of Chase cards and not cards from the competition.
Clearly that internal debate still rages on as their rumor has continued to pop up over the years.
If Chase does kill the ability to transfer points between cards it will suck much of the life out of cards like Freedom Unlimited. The ability to transfer points earned from the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Cash cards into more valuable miles or Sapphire Reserve points is why Chase has commanded so much spending and wallet share from mileage obsessives.
Without that ability everyone will have to reassess which cards they have and what they use for spending.
It’s definitely not the worst idea to consolidate all of your points to a card like Sapphire Reserve that can belong to you, you spouse, your authorized user, etc. You can do that over the phone or online here by clicking on combine points. You can combine between cards and between household members. However, I highly doubt Chase will kill the ability to transfer points without warning. Would they start limiting only new cards from transferring, but grandfather in older cards? Would they give new cards a full year’s notice? It’s hard to say for sure at this point.
But for the time being, let’s hang in there, hope for the best especially in a post Starwood AMEX world, and reassess spending strategies like the Chase Quadfecta if an actual change is announced, not based on the rumors resurfacing yet again.