Ultimate Rewards Bonuses and Devaluation
An interesting offer surfaced yesterday on Reddit for the Chase Ink Plus card. This offer, gives 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $5K spend. That 100,000 point number may sound familiar since it is also the bonus amount for the brand new Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.
While 100,000 point offers are not anything new in the points realm (the Amex Plat has them all of the time), they are for Chase. Outside of a Ritz Carlton 140K offer that we haven’t seen for awhile, Chase hasn’t really touched the six digit territory with their bonuses until now and perhaps rightfully so. After all, Ultimate Rewards are valuable.
A Devaluation Coming?
So now we have a 100K bonus on the Sapphire Reserve and a targeted 100K offer on the Ink Plus. I am sure many of you are probably wondering if we are due for an Ultimate Rewards devaluation given that the market is being flooded with points. The answer, is I don’t believe so and the reason is right before our eyes.
Do you remember back in the good old days when Chase would give you card after card? Dealing with Chase’s personal reconsideration line was a pleasant task. They were nice and often didn’t ask any questions. Oh you want your 10th Chase card? Sure, I can do that for you. Sometimes you had to shift a little credit, but the bonuses flowed. Well, they aren’t anymore.
5/24 Means Bigger Bonuses
I think 5/24 has allowed Chase, a bank that has always been generous with bonuses, to reallocate their resources to attract their target customers. We are seeing their big play in the premium card market come with a huge bonus to attract attention and we are seeing huge targeted offers. Will we see a public 100K Ink Plus bonus? Probably not, but you can get 70K by applying in-branch right now.
Chase is also upping their game in the co-branded market on cards that 5/24 applies to. We have seen this most recently with the best ever 70K United offers. Some like me thought we could fight 5/24, but we lost. Those who Chase wanted were rewarded nicely and probably have warm fuzzies because of it. I think that is the result Chase is going for.
This Is Not the Devalaution You Are Looking For
Which brings me back to the topic of an Ultimate Rewards devaluation. We have been burned so many times in this hobby by devaluations that whenever the market begins to get flooded with miles/points of a certain kind we start to worry. Thankfully flexible points work a bit differently and give us less to worry about.
Chase’s program works differently than that of a hotel or airline. They aren’t managing a finite inventory. Their points have a wide variety of redemptions and the bank no doubt has been able to map out the varied costs of each to them. In other words, they have long term contracts in place that guarantee them a cost. They calculate that when factoring in how many points to give out as bonuses.
I also don’t buy into the assertion that Chase is flooding the market with Ultimate Rewards points either. Back in the day people were getting bonuses more often. Chase had some cards with Visa and Mastercard versions and they also were a lot less restrictive with who they gave bonuses too. Perhaps now the bonuses are bigger, but they are given out to fewer people. Warm fuzzies and all.
Value is a Benefit
One of the interesting things about Chase’s premium Ultimate Rewards cards is that the value of the points is a published benefit in many ways. For example, 1:1 transfers to partners is listed in the official benefits guide of these cards including their newest one, the Sapphire Reserve. I can’t see them devaluing that just minutes after launching a card. The travel redemption value of 1.25/1.5 cents per point and the 1 cent per point cash value are published benefits as well.
In other words, this isn’t something that Chase can just change at will without significantly altering the way they market their products from top to bottom. We will see small changes like the upcoming lowering of value of Ultimate Rewards when shopping on Amazon, but that isn’t a big deal. They are just aligning with all of the other card companies for that particular redemption. I can live with that.
If Chase keeps the 1 cent per point cash value, the published 1.25/1.5 cent per point travel redemption value and the 1:1 points transfers, then the program will stay valuable given their long terms contracts in place with partners. Yes, we could see devaluations on the earning side, but aside from the Freedom Unlimited which isn’t life changing and the new Sapphire Reserve, most of Chase’s products are fairly mature.
Now is a great time to earn Ultimate Rewards points and if you are eligible, a great time to rack up some nice bonuses. Yes, the program isn’t perfect and some of their partners (cough United) continue to erode value, but overall it is still the best that we have and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Have you received any crazy targeted offers from Chase? What are your thoughts about these big bonuses? Let us know in the comments!