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Around this time last month, a number of Reddit users discovered what appeared to be new Ultimate Rewards agreements for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. The contents of the agreements suggested that Chase would be announcing some significant changes to their two fee-bearing consumer Ultimate Rewards Cards but with the rumored implementation date for these changes just 10 days away, are these cards really going to get updated?
The Rumored Changes
Per the documents that appeared online, the following changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (review) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review) are supposed to come into effect from 15 August 2021:
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- A $50 ‘Annual Hotel Credit’ will be introduced which will be valid for all hotel bookings made through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 5 points/dollar on most* travel purchases booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 3 points/dollar on spending made in the following categories:
- Dining at restaurants;
- Select streaming services;
- Online grocery (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- The card will offer a 10% anniversary points bonus which will see cardholders earn 1 point/dollar on 10% of the total spending put on the card (i.e someone spending $10,000 on the card in their cardholder year would receive 1,000 bonus points).
*Any hotel accommodation booked using the card through the Ultimate Rewards program that qualifies for the $50 Annual Hotel Credit, won’t earn points.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- The card will offer 10 points/dollar on most* car rentals and hotel reservations booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 10 points/dollar on Chase Dining purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- The card will offer 5 points/dollar on most* airfares booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review) will continue to offer 3 points/dollar for most* travel spending not made through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 3 points/dollar on dining worldwide, and 1 point/dollar on all non-bonused spending.
*No points would be earned on the first $300 spent on travel in a cardholder year.
So, What Now?
I’m not going to delve into the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of the rumored changes as I covered those in a post when this information first came to light, so I’m just going to add my take on if and when these changes are actually going to take place.
A key thing to point out is that these aren’t new cards that we’re talking about so there are existing cardholders to consider and Chase has a responsibility to give existing cardholders fair notice if it plans to change what their cards offer.
In this case, fair notice means 30 days (as set out in the cardholder agreements) so it’s probably very safe to say that as no notice of any changes to the Chase Sapphire cards has been given so far, we won’t be seeing any changes coming into effect on 15 August as originally rumored.
That just leaves the question of if these (or other) changes will be coming at all.
The documents that the Reddit users found were on official Chase webpages (they’ve since been replaced by the current Ultimate Rewards agreements) so it’s unlikely that they were a hoax or a joke (banks don’t have a sense of humor) and that means that someone added all the new information to those documents for a reason (banks don’t do things for no reason whatsoever).
Admittedly, there could be any number of reasons why someone at Chase put together the documents that we saw so it’s hard to say for sure what the motivation for their contents was (I doubt that anyone outside of the bank knows what the real reason is) but I have a feeling that one of two things happened here:
- This was a fishing exercise designed to gauge how cardholders (new and potential) would react to the changes outlined in the new agreements. Chase deliberately leaked the documents (or put the documents somewhere it knew they’d be found) to see how people would react. The reactions were not what Chase was hoping for (expecting?) and the plans for the changes have been put on hold.
- This was an accidental leak and the fallout from that leak has led Chase to postpone or cancel the changes.
Whatever the reasons for the existence of these documents, I don’t think that there’s much doubt that Chase is considering making changes to the Sapphire Cards (these cards are overdue for a refresh) and my gut feeling is that Chase saw the reaction to the proposed changes (on Reddit and on the big blogs that covered the rumors) and decided that more work was needed.
The rumored changes that were supposedly on the way would have made the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card less inviting (for most people) than the considerably cheaper Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and while Chase is clearly keen to promote the Preferred Card (its huge 100,000 point welcome bonus is proof of that), making its premium rewards card look worse than its little sister doesn’t seem like a sensible path for Chase to tread.
At the beginning of July, paperwork appeared online which suggested that we were about to see Chase announce significant changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (review) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (review). Since then, nothing more has been heard about these changes and it looks like they’re not coming on the originally rumored date…but that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t on their way.
I don’t think that we’re going to see the Chase Sapphire cards change in the way that the documents that we saw in July suggested, but I’ll be very surprised if both Sapphire cards aren’t refreshed (in one way or another) before the end of the year.
What do you think?