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It was only yesterday that I was giving Chase a well-deserved hard time for altering credit card benefits without any advance warning and sometimes even without informing cardholders at all (cardholders are left to find out by chance or from the various blogs that write about this stuff…and that’s if they ever find out at all!) and now it seems that the card issuer has repeated the trick with another one of its credit cards…albeit a credit card that’s no longer open to new applicants.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card from Chase was closed to new applicants when Marriott merged with Starwood and Chase lost the right to issue Marriott’s premium credit cards (Amex now offers Marriott’s top-level credit card) but it lives in a considerable number of people’s wallets thanks to a few very nice benefits that the card offers:
For a $450 annual fee, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card offers…
- An annual free night certificate (for properties costing up to 50,000 points/night)
- $300 in airline incidental fee credits annually
- $100 Ritz-Carlton/Marriott credit which can be used during paid stays of 2-nights or longer
- $100 Global Entry credit
- 3 club-level upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties (on paid stays)
- Priority Pass Select Membership
- 15 elite night credits per year
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
- Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status after a cardholder spends $75,000 on the card in a year.
…as well as a number of solid travel insurance/protections that are only really matched by the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards credit card also
offers offered one of the best benefits out of any credit card around and that was the $100 Visa Infinite Airfare discount that cardholders could use every time they purchased two round-trip domestic flights on the same booking.
This benefit was open to all classes of bookings and wasn’t capped so, even though it couldn’t be used on low-cost carriers, cardholders traveling as a couple (or in a pair) could make substantial savings every year with this benefit alone…but not any more.
This was a benefit that was only offered (in the US) on very select Visa Infinite cards and we saw the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card remove this benefit towards the end of last year…and now Chase has followed suit. [HT: Frequent Miler]
To make use of this benefit, cardholders had to make their bookings through a dedicated website portal but visitors to that portal now just see the following message when the page resolves:
That’s it. There’s nothing else on the page.
The problem here isn’t that Chase has removed a very valuable benefit from a card that costs $450/year (most people realized some time ago that this benefit was too good to last). The problem is that, once again, Chase has modified a benefit (in this case it removed it completely) without any warning and, as far as we can tell, without notifying cardholders in any way at all.
I don’t know of a single Ritz-Carlton Rewards cardholder who has received a letter/email from Chase to let them know that their $450/year credit card just lost a big benefit.
Is it really too much to ask to expect a credit card issuer (especially one the size of Chase) to let customers know when something they’re paying for gets changed/downgraded? CNB managed it when they cut the Visa Infinite airfare benefit (they gave cardholders 2 month’s notice) so why not Chase?
Credit card companies are fantastic at bombarding customers with emails, flyers, and letters reminding them of how fantastic their credit card benefits are, so why is it that when a benefit gets cut or downgraded it seems like the card issuers (notably Chase) act like they’ve forgotten how to contact anyone?
I’m not sure how it isn’t against the law for a credit card issuer to change the benefits on of one of its cards without giving some advance notice (or at least informing cardholders after the fact) but apparently it isn’t so Chase is making the most of this.
I’ve been a big fan of Chase and its credit card line-up for a very long time and I’ve been a big advocate for cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card and the Ink Business Cash card….but when Chase acts like this it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.
There is no reason or excuse for Chase not to give cardholders advance warning when benefits are being downgraded or cut and the more times Chase acts this way the less faith cardholders will have in its products….and will anyone really blame them?