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Chase Ultimate Rewards are what we call “closed-system” accounts. In an open-system account, like say, Delta Skymiles, when you close your American Express Delta Skymiles card, you still get to keep your Skymiles (I mean Skypesos!)
Not so with a closed-system account. If you track up a millon Chase Ultimate Rewards (or American Express Membership Rewards, or most all of the “bank” style accounts), and then close all your accounts, you’ll end up with NOTHING.
Closing my Amex Gold card
I ran into this a few weeks ago. One of my first churns ever was signing up for an American Express Gold card through a targeted offer for 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points mailed to my wife. And while we screwed up that signup bonus (only to have Amex magically give us 50,000 points out of nowhere), I certainly wasn’t interested in paying the $175 annual fee (it’s waived for the first year).
But since Membership Rewards are “closed-system”, I knew that if I canceled the Gold card, my points would disappear with it. So before closing the gold card, I signed up for the new Amex EveryDay card. That way the points would still stay active.
Let’s try that with a Chase Sapphire
Similarly, I had a Chase Sapphire card that I had decided not to pay the fee on. I tried to get them to waive the fee but was unsuccessful, so I canceled the card. Of course that left me with a few other problems, like how to destroy a metal Chase Sapphire card (pictured; I ended up with the tin snips).
Just like with my wife’s Amex, I signed up for the free version for this bank – in this case, it’s the Chase Freedom card, and then when I canceled the Sapphire, I transferred the credit line on my Sapphire to my Freedom.
While on the phone with the agent, I asked about my Ultimate Rewards that were associated with my Sapphire card. Unlike American Express (I think?), your Ultimate Rewards are actually associated with a specific card, rather than a unique “user” account. She told me that they would also be transferred to my Freedom account (at least that’s what I THOUGHT she said)
Where’d my Ultimate Rewards go?
For a few days, my Sapphire card still showed up on my listing of Chase accounts, but then I logged in one day to find
I sent a secure message off to Chase and they told me that they were associated with the Sapphire card and were gone. They offered to reopen my Sapphire card so I could transfer the points, which I took them up on
The bottom line
As of this post, my points are still MIA. I am hopeful that I can get them back, but if not, let my story be a lesson to you – before closing any Chase cards, make sure you’ve transferred out any Ultimate Rewards associated with that particular card!!