Recently Chase released news that it is changing several benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. In case you missed it, the 7% annual points dividend on the card will be eliminated in 2016, but with that comes a positive change. The card will have primary auto collision damage waiver coverage for rentals as well as improved trip cancellation insurance coverage. Weighing whether the changes are a net positive or negative change may depend on the way you use your card, but for strictly points earning it is a downgrade.

However, the bad news does not stop there for changes to Chase credit cards. Chase just announced some benefit changes of the Chase Freedom. The biggest change likely to impact most cardholders is the elimination of the 10% annual points bonus that is currently offered to Chase checking customers.

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For Chase Checking Customers

After the closing date on your December 2015 billing statement, you will no longer earn the extra 10% annual bonus that you get on the cash back you’ve already received for new purchases. If you have an open Chase checking account on that date, you will receive your final 10% annual bonus award in early 2016.”

As a no annual fee card, on top of the 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus spend categories this was one of the most valuable perks of the Chase Freedom. It was also a nice way to earn some extra points and potentially transfer them into transferrable Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a ‘premium’ Ultimate Rewards earning credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus or Bold Business Card.

Another significant change coming to the Chase Freedom includes the fixed-value airline ticket redemption option. In the past this little known feature allowed you to redeem 25,000 Chase Freedom points to book a round trip airline ticket worth up to $335. This was a great way to add value to Freedom points if you did not also have a ‘premium’ Ultimate Rewards earning credit card (and thus transferring points was not an option).

Other small changes coming to the Freedom card include:

Getting cash

You can continue to redeem your rewards points for cash through a statement credit or direct deposit into an eligible checking or savings account. Paper checks will no longer be available after 11/15/2014.

Earn on travel

You will continue to earn an extra point for each $1 of airfare and hotel accommodations booked through Chase.com/UltimateRewards until 12/31/2015. After that, you will no longer earn an extra point. We may periodically offer you ways to earn bonus points through

the program.

Phone booked round-trip ticket redemption

You can continue to use your points for travel with no blackout dates. However, after 10/25/2014, all options to redeem for airline tickets based on a fixed amount of points will be discontinued. All travel redemptions will be calculated based on the actual cost.

Other Changes

  • Merchandise may be offered directly through Chase or third-party merchants
  • The Ultimate Rewards Mall will be referred to as Shop through Chase℠

Discontinuing the following features:

  • Auctions
  • Purchasing Ultimate Rewards points”

The Bottom Line

It’s disappointing to see these negative changes to the Chase Freedom card, but they are not a deal breaker in my opinion. The elimination of the 10% annual bonus for checking customers may lower the annual points earning by a bit, but for most the main reason for having the card in the first place is to maximize the 5% rotating quarterly bonus categories. On top of that, keeping this card open for years without paying an annual fee is a great way to increase your average credit account age and build a relationship with Chase.

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