Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Significant Reward Credit Card Changes

Not that we’re really surprised. In today’s credit/financial environment, change is the rule rather than the exception. We’ve received notice of (or read about) several coming changes in travel rewards credit cards that we have previously recommended.

Indications are that the popular Chase Freedom card – which offered 3% rewards in certain categories – is being eviscerated. The new scheme is apparently only 1%, with allegedly some monthly bonus categories to be announced.

The Freedom card had been one of our highly recommended cards, with its 3% rewards beating most airline mile cards. No longer, apparently. Guess we’ll now stick with the Hilton American Express (which offers good-value Hilton points) and the Schwab Visa (2% cash rewards on everything) for most of our purchases. We’ll also look more seriously into the Starwood Amex (even though it carries an annual fee).

Also, according to our latest American Express FreedomPass (Open savings) business card statement, the 3% discount for purchasing Delta tickets with the card is ending May 15, 2009. The 3-5% discounts for purchases from Marriott (many, but not all, hotel brands), Hertz (U.S. rentals), JetBlue, Hyatt (U.S. properties), and some other non-travel businesses continue in effect. (Plus, Amex is adding to the list of non-travel merchants in this discount program.)

Finally, Advanta, issuers of business credit cards (which had pretty lousy rewards anyway) is apparently ending its credit card business. This shouldn’t affect too many of our travel readers, as the card has never been a prime “travel” credit card.