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Chase tops the list of the most popular credit card companies, but the only way to maintain that spot is to keep improving. That's especially true in a year like 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic completely changed which credit card perks are and aren't useful.
Fortunately for new and existing cardholders, Chase credit cards went through several significant improvements in 2020. Whether you have a Chase card or you're thinking of getting one, you should know about these recent benefits.
1. Pay Yourself Back offers more ways to redeem Chase points
Traditionally, the best way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points has been on travel. But with so many people choosing not to take trips during the pandemic, Chase added its excellent Pay Yourself Back feature.
With Chase Sapphire cards, Pay Yourself Back lets you redeem points as a statement credit to cover everyday purchases. You can apply points toward the following types of purchases made within the last 90 days:
- Grocery stores
- Dining, including delivery and takeout orders
- Home improvement stores
- Contributions to a dozen eligible charities
Through April 30, 2021, you get the same value per point this way as you do on travel bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards. That's $0.0125 per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Or, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you get $0.015 per point.
2. The Chase Freedom line added more bonus categories
Chase Freedom cards took a huge step forward this year. Previously, this line consisted of two cash back cards:
- Chase Freedom® credit card earned 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and 1% back on all other purchases
- Chase Freedom Unlimited® earned 1.5% on all purchases
Those were rates you'd expect from top credit cards. What you wouldn't see were cards that offered rates like that with additional bonus categories.
In September, Chase changed that. It replaced the Chase Freedom® credit card with the Chase Freedom Flex℠. That card, along with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, both began offering the following bonus categories:
- 5% back at grocery stores for the first year using the card, on up to $12,000 of spending (purchases at Target and Walmart don't qualify)
- 5% back on travel that you book with Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022
- 3% back at restaurants, including takeout and orders with eligible delivery services
- 3% back at drugstores
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ still has rotating bonus categories and earns 1% back on everything else. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5% back on all non-bonus spending.
3. Sign-up bonuses got bigger
To bring in new cardholders, Chase has regularly increased its sign-up bonuses. The Chase Freedom cards are one example: They now have bonuses of $200 (up from $150) for spending $500 in the first three months.
These bigger bonuses are often limited-time deals, so some have come and gone. However, there are still quite a few Chase cards with elevated sign-up bonuses, including:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: 80,000 bonus points (50,000 points for spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months and 30,000 for spending $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 80,000 bonus points (50,000 points for spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months and 30,000 for spending $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: 80,000 bonus points (50,000 points for spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months and 30,000 for spending $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months)
- United℠ Explorer Card: 70,000 bonus miles (60,000 miles for spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and 10,000 for spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months)
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: 140,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first three months
4. Limited-time offers have increased rewards on everyday purchases
Chase has also added limited-time offers to bump up the rewards its cards earn. Through these offers, cardholders have been able to earn more in popular everyday spending categories, such as groceries.
Although several offers have ended, Chase has launched new bonuses regularly throughout the year. There are currently a couple active offers that could earn you extra points:
- Most of Chase's co-branded airline and hotel cards are offering up to 5 points per $1 on grocery store and Amazon purchases, up to a spending cap of $1,500 per month in combined purchases. This is a targeted offer that lasts through the end of 2020. You can check if your card is eligible and activate the offer through Chase My Bonus.
- The Chase Sapphire cards earn bonus points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month, including pickup and eligible delivery services. This offer applies automatically and lasts through April 30, 2021. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 points per $1 on these purchases. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 3 points per $1.
With all these changes, Chase has raised the bar with its credit card offers in 2020, and there are plenty of deals still around for you to take advantage of. And it's also a good idea to keep an eye out for new extras from Chase in 2021.