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Chase first introduced the "Pay Yourself Back" feature as a temporary option for cardholders to redeem points in a time when COVID-19 was restricting travel. Chase has since updated the eligible categories and extended the dates of this offer. See current "Pay Yourself Back" details here.
UPDATE Oct. 1, 2021: Further extensions and category changes of the "Pay Yourself Back" feature were announced.
UPDATE June 15, 2021: Chase announced that of July 2, 2021, Freedom cardholders will be adding an eligible category for "Pay Yourself Back."
UPDATE Apr. 7, 2021: Chase announced an expansion of its "Pay Yourself Back" feature. Below is our article from May 28, 2020, updated to reflect other cards that have been affected and new expiration dates of existing promotions.
Chase is giving holders of its Sapphire-, Freedom- and Ink-branded travel credit cards more flexibility in redeeming their points, reflecting the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought leisure travel to a near-halt.
About the Sapphire feature
For a limited time, cardholders can redeem points for statement credit on certain purchases at the same elevated values that they usually get only when redeeming for travel.
Holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can redeem points for statement credit against spending in the following categories at a value of 1.25 cents per point:
Away through March 31, 2022.
Airbnb and dining through June 30, 2022.
Eligible charities through Dec. 31, 2022.
Holders of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can redeem points for statement credit against such spending for all categories above at a value of 1.5 cents per point, plus your annual membership fee.
Previous eligible "Pay Yourself Back" categories included grocery stores, restaurants and home improvement stores.
About the Ink feature
A similar "Pay Yourself Back" benefit will apply to two of Chase's Ink business-card products. Starting Oct. 1, 2021, and running through June 30, 2022:
Select shipping purchases.
Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.
Internet, cable and phone services.
Contributions to qualifying charitable organizations.
Holders of the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card and the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card can redeem points worth 10% more on internet, cable and phone services, and worth 25% more when redeemed for eligible charitable contributions.
About the Freedom feature
Through Dec. 31, 2022 the "Pay Yourself Back" benefit will also be available on cards within Chase's portfolio of Freedom products, on an ongoing basis:
Holders of the Chase Freedom®, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can redeem points for statement credit against donations to qualifying charitable organizations at a value of 1.25 cents per point.
COVID-19 benefit adjustments
The limited-time extra value on statement-credit redemptions for grocery store, restaurant and home improvement store purchases coincides with the launch of a new “Pay Yourself Back” feature on Chase cards. That feature allows cardholders to redeem points to cover the value of specific purchases, not just for general credit on their statement.
The new benefits follow Chase’s announcement in May 2020 of heightened grocery bonus rewards on many cards for a limited time (now expired), including on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Preferred cardholders are getting 3 points per dollar at grocery stores during the promotion period, and Reserve cardholders are getting 5 points per dollar; that's up from the usual 1 point per dollar on both cards.
Additionally, for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase has taken steps to blunt the impact on existing cardholders of an increase in that card’s annual fee.
Keeping cards in people’s wallets
With millions of would-be travelers stuck at home and thousands of restaurants closed, many cardholders have been spending more on groceries than they usually would. Chase's extra benefits can help cardholders recoup their annual fee and make up for the travel perks they can’t use.
American Express has also added benefits to many of its travel credit cards as a result of the pandemic, including boosted rewards for grocery spend and statement credits for streaming and wireless services.
The added benefits could be enough to keep many cardholders on board, but if you're thinking about ditching your travel card, here's what to consider when making the decision.