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Last year a rumor circulated that Chase may be looking to limit transfers between different Ultimate Rewards-earning cards. This was prompted by the circulation of a survey offering a few different option that limited the value of these transfers.
Well…it sounds like Chase may be looking to limit this ability in the near future.Via Frequent Miler, Chase may be making a move to limit transfers from a “lesser” Ultimate Rewards card to a better one, and also limiting/eliminating transfers between household members.
If this is the case, it will be a very sad day for Ultimate Rewards. While Amex Membership Rewards has risen considerably in my estimation over the past couple years, the UR currency is still my favorite. And points pooling is one of my favorite features.
If Chase moves forward with limiting transfers, it could easily cripple the rewards strategy of many people, including our own. If points pooling became impossible, it would effectively eliminate the use of our Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
Will the hammer fall on Ultimate Rewards pooling?
There are two different types of UR transfers that Chase could decide to limit. First, I can transfer points between my own Ultimate Rewards-earning cards. For example, I try to maximize the quarterly 5x categories on my Freedom card so I can transfer these points to my Chase Sapphire Reserve for a minimum return of 7.5%. Granted, I can only do this on up to $1,500 of expenses per quarter, but it is still a very nice return.
The other transfer is between Ultimate Rewards-earning cards within a household. As example of one of these transfers is when I transfer points from my wife’s Chase Freedom Unlimited to my Chase Sapphire Reserve. This is the primary card she uses, and our minimum return is 2.25% on travel, as the points are worth 1.5 cents each through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Maybe it’s just me, but my gut tells me Chase won’t go all the way on this one. At least not yet. They would see a lot of cards sock-drawered if they did. My wife and I would likely completely leave off use of her CFU if the points could no longer be transferred to my Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card would basically be earning 1.5% cash back at that point. As we both have cards that earn 2%, this would be a poor choice to keep in her wallet. It would go from a primary choice to literally useless.
I’d probably still keep our Chase Sapphire Reserve for the annual credit, any travel spending, and other perks. But this would definitely make us switch a lot of our spending to other products (SEE: Should I upgrade my Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Reserve?).
Chase could also pursue some other creative solution that limits the value of transferring all your Ultimate Rewards to your most premium product. No matter what, it sounds like they’ve identified these transfers as an area where they are losing money.
All we can do at this point is wait and see how this plays out. Chase is obviously only concerned with their own bottom line and not with consumers ability to maximize their rewards. If transfers of Ultimate Rewards between cards is costing them significant amounts of money, then we will likely see this feature limited. The fact that rumors surfaced in 2017 and now again in 2018 makes me think that Chase will make a decision soon.
Whether changes roll out soon or not remains to be seen. It will take some work to implement this. But if you’re worried, consider proactively moving all your points to your most valuable Ultimate Rewards account.