Chase Rewards Begin to Feel the Holiday Spirit

Using RewardsStarting on November 14, 2010, Chase Ultimate Rewards program members will become eligible for a number of added rewards and benefits designed to stimulate holiday season spending, the company has announced.

Chase is pitching this program not as a traditional bonus campaign but rather as a strategic holiday tool with which consumers can tactically save money during the course of their usual seasonal spending. The first phase of this addendum to the traditional Ultimate Rewards program begins Nov. 14 and runs until December 20. During this time, consumers who redeem a certain number of points in a single transaction will get a gift card as a bonus. Redeeming 5,000 points for merchandise will garner a $10 Best Buy gift card while 10,000 will earn a $25 card. While not excessively valuable, the gift cards serve as a supplemental bonus to the traditional rewards customers earn and do not require any added effort on their part.

With the basic Ultimate Rewards package, Chase customers generally earn around a point per dollar they spend. These points then roughly equate to one cent upon redemption. For example, when you redeem 2,000 points, you get a $20 check or credit on your statement. Thus, during the holiday offer period, consumers can redeem 5,000 points for roughly $50 worth of goods and receive a $10 gift card in the process as well.

This “Give a Gift, Get a Free Gift” offer, as Chase refers to it, is not the full extent of the company’s holiday program. From November 26 to November 30, Ultimate Rewards card holders will accrue eight times the typical number of points per dollar for making purchases from certain vendors within the Ultimate Rewards Mall. While the deal does provide an easy opportunity to accumulate added points with purchases made at these select Web outlets, these deals might not be as good as they seem.

“Generally speaking, the offers found at shopping malls operated by credit card companies are not competitive with deals elsewhere on the Web,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of the credit card comparison Web site CardHub.com. “Therefore the net benefit of this aspect of the promotion that Chase is offering may actually be relatively low if at all existent.”

Chase also offers a “Shop N’ Save on Cyber Monday” deal that gives consumers 30% off purchases made through point redemption on Monday November 29, 2010. Cyber Monday—which is not a Chase creation—falls each year on the Monday following Thanksgiving and is the Internet-generation’s version of Black Friday. Chase’s deal is merely one more in the line of savings offers that originated with the traditional in-store, day-after-Thanksgiving assault on prices. Rather than dealing with early alarm clocks and pushy crowds, Cyber Monday patrons instead give their browsers a workout while scouring the Web for the best deals. For a practical sense of the savings Chase offers, imagine a consumer buying an item that normally costs $100. On Cyber Monday, this person will only have to use the points ordinarily required of a $70 purchase to buy the desired $100 product if he or she uses a participating Chase credit card. In this example, the consumer will have saved 3,000 points.

The credit cards included in both Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and its holiday expansion are:  the Chase Freedom credit card, the Chase Sapphire Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Ink with Ultimate Rewards and the Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards.

There are myriad deals available for all consumers during the holiday season, so getting a Chase card specifically for its holiday Ultimate Rewards is ill-advised, especially seeing as you need to accumulate a considerable number of points in order to see any real redemption benefit. Those consumers who have already been using a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card for a significant period of time should, however, mark down the dates of the special deals in order to raise the total benefit of their already planned holiday shopping.

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