Credit card companies need to find some way to keep their good customers or attract new ones -- those who actually pay their bills on time. They used to be called "deadbeats" inside credit card companies, because there wasn't as much profit to be made from someone who paid off their card each month.
But now, as consumers spend less and the new Credit Card bill won't let credit card companies make as much from someone who misses a payment or pays late (even if it's only one time), they need to find new ways to make cash.
Chase, which cut back its cash-back and bonus rewards program earlier in the year, is finding that decision did not work. Instead, it's tying a totally new tactic and introducing a scaled-back version. In today's Wall Street Journal, Chase said it will announce a new program similar to American Express's membership rewards and Citigroup's ThankYou Network program. It's calling it Ultimate Rewards, and customers can earn points for every dollar spent on certain Chase cards.
Points earned under its new Ultimate Rewards program will have no earnings cap or expiration dates and can be redeemed for travel, cash, statement credits or gift cards. You can redeem points for merchandise but the redemption rate is less than one percent. Right now Chase is offering the new program on two cards - Chase Freedom and a new Chase "Sapphire" credit card aimed at affluent customers.
Chase Freedom customers used to have a more generous bonus program, but will be moved into this less generous program soon. Clearly you can't trust any program introduced by the credit card companies, so don't risk your credit rating to rush out and open a new account. Remember each time you apply for a credit card your credit rating does take hit.
Chase will also be testing the water with cards that have annual fees. Chase Freedom cardholders that want to earn a fixed 3% bonus for spending in grocery, gas and fast-food categories will have to pay a $30 annual fee soon. New Chase Sapphire Preferred card users, who will be able to transfer points to other travel reward programs, will have to pay a $95 annual fee.
Do expect other credit card companies to follow Chase's lead, if these new programs show any sign of success. The credit card companies are anxiously looking for new ways to make money. Annual fees will definitely be on the table as options for most of them. We as consumers have to put our feet down and say no to the return of fees if we want to stop them.
Is your credit card company planning to add fees or changing its reward program? if so, let us know which card you have and how it's being changed.
Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including the Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your
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