More Bad Chase News? Is Chase Discontinuing the Freedom?

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Chase Freedom Discontinuation

Chase Freedom Discontinuation

One of the best values in the credit card space is the Chase Freedom card. It earns 1% cash back on normal purchases which isn’t good at all, but it also has rotating 5% categories which represent a great value. Combine that with no annual fee and the ability to transfer points to travel partners if you also have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus and it is one of my favorite cards.

I love this card so much in fact that I now have three of them. Over the years I have signed up once for the card to receive the bonus and converted two Sapphire Preferred cards. Unfortunately it seems that the Freedom as we know it may be a thing of the past.

The Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Discontinuation

Angelina Travels is reporting on a rumor that the Freedom card will be replaced by the Freedom Unlimited sometime in March. According to her sources and a screenshot that she posted, the Freedom Unlimited will come with a $150 sign-up bonus after $500 in spend plus $25 for adding an authorized user. While that is nice, the real issue comes with the card’s structure.

The Freedom Unlimited will earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases. That’s it. No rotating categories, just 1.5% cashback. This means it will essentially become a worthless card since the Citi Double Cash also has no annual fee and earns 2%. Also, there is no mention of whether the cashback earned will be transferable to Ultimate Rewards like is the case now.

Update: As Ben points out, if this card does earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, then it may actually be beneficial to some. Only time will tell.

Grandfathered In

According to Angelina, current Freedom cardholders will be grandfathered in to the old system when the new card is released. This sounds good on the surface, but I doubt that Chase will continue the 5% categories forever. The Citi Dividend card was discontinued years ago and there are rumors that Citi is now converting Dividend cardholders to the Double Cash. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chase does something similar down the line or even at the end of this year once the published calendar is finished.

Apply Before the Changes?

As many of you know, Chase has tightened significantly on approvals for the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred and other cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points. If you are looking at getting the Freedom, the bonus is currently $150 after $500 in spend. It is available on the Chase website and I even have a personal referral link. If you were looking to convert your Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom some time soon, you may want to call and get that done just in case this happens soon.

Conclusion

Yes this is still a rumor and I haven’t been able to confirm these changes with the bank, but Angelina feels confident in her source and she also has a screenshot showing the details of the new product. These changes don’t surprise me given all of the recent developments with Chase. They are clearly fine tuning their credit card products and the result is upsetting for those of us who cherish outsized value.


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12 COMMENTS

  1. On one hand, this could be good for non-bonus spend. On the other, I might have to finally pick up a Discover card to take advantage of their 5X categories. For the category bonus replacement, assuming it will end at some point for those of us grandfathered, I guess depends on what other cards we have. In my case, Dining – CSP, Gas – CTP Premier, Grocery – Amex ED or PRG

    • Surprised you haven’t already picked up the Discover IT considering everything you earn is doubled. Hence 5x is really 10x. Everyone IMO should have both the IT and the Freedom.

  2. Grandfathered for now doesn’t mean forever. Most discontinued cards are eventually force converted, even if it takes years. So I wouldn’t expect them to continue the 5x thing indefinitely, but probably for a year or two.

    If it’s just 1.5% cash, there’s so many options out there that I don’t see this being worth an app especially with the 5/24 rule (i.e. it’s not worth waiting to be approved for this). 1.5 UR per dollar would be more enticing to some, but something tells me that won’t be the case anymore, considering how hard Chase has been cracking down. So I would lean towards thinking this will just be literal cash, not UR, especially with the new “Redeem any amount, anytime” verbiage that didn’t exist before ($20 minimum on current freedom).

  3. I’m about 2-3 weeks away from downgrading my CSP. If it’s anything similar to when I downgraded the wife’s CSP, they will be reluctant to do so until the AF posts. I’m going to cross my fingers and push for that downgrade sooner.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s true. While tightening the ability to earn UR points would normally lead me to believe they’d not water down it’s value, a part of me wonders if the only reason they aren’t making any changes is if they have contractual obligations with the many transfer partners. I know I asked you this months ago, but do you still believe they’re unlikely to make changes to UR partners and overall value?

    The ripple effect this could cause across the board could be pretty devastating as well. Would Discover feel the need to continue it’s 5% rotating categories? Will Citi continue to offer the double cash card at 2%? Before this year if anyone told me the Freedom being nixed would happen I’d swiftly dismiss the notion. Now though? Just feels like anything is possible.

    It’s not trending in the direction I’d like but a silver lining is perhaps the fact that if history tells us anything, its that banks are most likely to lure customers with incentive when the economy goes into a lull, which is where we may be headed as 2016-2017 goes on. Let’s just hope this is nothing more than a rumor.

  4. I could believe it but think it has nothing to do with credit card churners or qtrly category MSers. As inferior a lineup we may think Cap One has, the average consumer doesn’t think so. They relate to Jennifer Gardner and Samuel L Jackson and care less about sign up bonus, downgrade-ability and 3 HPs. Cap One really is in nearly every households wallet by promising to be easy (I’m a mortgage underwriter and see them on nearly every credit report). I love watching March Madness but cringe how every other commercial is Jennifer Gardner trying to do an award search and Samuel L Jackson trying to remember what qtr it is. Even the Citi Double is too difficult of a concept (1% at purchase / 1% at payment) for the average consumer at this point to be a serious competitor to Cap One’s 1.5x Quicksilver. Chase would be going to 1.5x unlimited to directly compete with Cap One. The one hope I have is that this is an additional product and not a product change. And it would make sense. Why not have this product to shut up Samuel L Jackson but then also offer the 5% option to complete with Discover?

    • I agree about this not being about churners and you are probably right with them wanting to compete with Quicksilver. I just think with all of the changes that they probably are looking over everything and trying to strengthen their overall business.

    • Unlimited better mean unlimited relationship bonuses on top of the 1.5% and bring that back from the dead.

      1.5% CB is not some random number. Its deliberate. Cap One may be one reason, but also BofA Travel is UNLIMITED 1.5 points with relationship bonuses potentially giving you up to 2.6%. That huge.

      If Chase did that, I wouldnt give a crap about 5% Freedom with a $1500 max spend per quarter.

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