Sunny weather and vaccination progress had us daydreaming of sandy beach getaways, but news of the final Chase Pay extinction date, more hopeful rewards card travelers, and a fintech card bonus left up to Magic 8 Ball luck snapped us back to reality this week.
This weekly credit card news roundup contains what you should know about the cards in your wallet, other available offers, and new product announcements or reports that may not dismantle a monarchy, but distracted us from all the British tea Meghan Markle spilled this week.
What’s the Lowdown?
Here’s what has caught our attention since March 5, 2021:
Chase Pay Isn’t Totally Extinct, But the Asteroid Is Coming
Apparently Chase Pay, a bank-branded mobile wallet that emerged in 2015 when competing with Apple Pay didn’t seem quite so foolhardy, is still kind of a thing—but not for much longer.
Chase will officially shut down its Chase Pay program on March 31 by removing the payment option from any lingering retail apps and websites, including PayPal. The actual Chase Pay app was dissolved in early 2020, so we’re guessing most Chase cardholders who used the wallet have already moved on. But if you’re a creature of habit and still using Chase Pay through PayPal or online with Shell, Starbucks, or Walmart (the only three partners left), you have a couple of weeks to switch things up.
Have Points, Will (Soon) Travel: Consumers Are Saving Up
We’re definitely not the only ones dreaming about post-pandemic award travel these days. A mighty 63% of consumers are saving their credit card points for a future vacation, according to an international consumer survey from American Express. While many people (65%) are holding out for the COVID-19 vaccine before they travel, the dreaming and scheming has already begun.
In fact, many people (56% of those surveyed) are so eager to get back on the road that they are willing to book a trip even if they still might have to cancel it later. American Express also found that having a trip planned is giving people something exciting and happy to look forward to. Cheers to that!
If you’re getting excited about booking a long-awaited trip and want to use all those rewards your online and takeout purchases earned you last year, make sure to squeeze as much value from those points as possible when you finally book. Our evaluation of what airline, hotel, and general travel points are worth can help you do just that.
SoFi Card Launches With a Bonus Determined by Magic 8 Ball
The SoFi Credit Card that debuted in October for limited applicants is now open to everyone. Before Tuesday, only existing SoFi customers could apply for the fintech-branded rewards credit card.
The card is also now advertising a new-cardholder bonus that’s giving us all sorts of nostalgic vibes. When you are approved for the SoFi Credit Card, you get to shake a “Magic Moneyball” (virtually, of course) to determine your bonus value.
SoFi is giving away 50 million points this way, and new cardholders can win anywhere from 2,000-100,000 points when they shake. Each point is worth a penny. A measly $20 bonus would make us wish there was an “Ask again later” option like with the retro Magic 8 Ball, but $10,000 would be amazing, “It is certain.” We don’t love that the value is left to chance, but this is a fun way to advertise an already unusual credit card. The promotion ends March 29, 2021.
As a refresher, the SoFi Credit Card is a no-annual-fee rewards card offering up to 2% back on all purchases (kind of like the beloved Citi Double Cash Card): Get 1% back on everything you buy, and then another 1% when you use the rewards to pay a SoFi loan or deposit into a SoFi Money or SoFi Invest account.
Old School United Cardholders Get Sneak Peek of New Card
Word on the street is there’s a new United-branded airline rewards card in the works. Reportedly, Chase, which issues United’s cards, sent a notice to people who still carry the United Platinum Class Visa (an old airline rewards card that hasn’t been available for years) letting them know the old card will be reborn as the United Quest Card on March 21.
Based on the message Platinum Class cardholders reportedly received, the new card will have a $250 annual fee; offer extra points on United, other travel, streaming, and restaurant purchases; and give travelers a few nice perks such as priority boarding, free checked bags, and an annual statement credit for United purchases.
A card like that would fill a gap in the current United rewards cards hangar. Right now there’s the no-annual-fee Gateway card, the $95 Explorer card, and then the luxe $525 Club Infinite card.)The reported rewards and benefits for this new offering would easily compete with other sorta-premium travel cards, but we don’t know the exact card terms yet.
We’re still waiting on Chase to confirm anything about this new card, so once we learn more, we’ll loop you in.
What Else Is Happening?
- Southwest Airlines Card Offers: After touting bonuses that included easy access to a companion pass, the three Southwest Airlines cards from Chase (Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier, and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority) are now offering more low-key, but still quite respectable offers. New cardholders who spend just $1,000 within three months will earn 40,000 bonus points (worth $580, based on our calculations), plus 3 points per $1 spent on dining purchases for a full year. These cards typically don’t offer any extra points on non-Southwest purchases, so that’s a great, albeit temporary, value-add.
- Payoneer Will Pioneer a Small Biz Mastercard: Another fintech card has entered the chat, and this one’s coming from Payoneer and Mastercard. Payoneer helps process international business transactions, so it makes sense that its card—the Payoneer Digital Purchasing Mastercard—will help small businesses in a similar way. Once it launches later this year, the card can fund advertising service purchases from platforms such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and can be added to mobile wallets for easy use online.
- Consumers Continue Paying Down Card Debt: The U.S. revolving debt balance (which is mostly from credit cards) fell yet again in January, according to the latest Federal Reserve report. The current balance ($965.1 billion) is about 12% lower than the all-time high recorded in February 2020. Wowza.
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Ditches Authorized User Fee: If you have this premium (read: sky-high-annual-fee) travel card, you won’t have to pay a $75 fee for each additional card anymore. U.S. Bank confirmed it had dropped this cost after we noticed it had been quietly removed from the Altitude Reserve card terms and conditions posted online. And remember—you can now earn the $325 annual statement credit on dining purchases (including takeout delivery), not just travel.
- Barclays Bolsters American Airlines Card Bonus: The AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard has had one of the best sign-up bonuses for a while, but it’s now even more valuable—$226 more, according to our calculations. New cardholders who make just one purchase (of any amount) and pay the card’s $99 annual fee within 90 days of opening their account will get 60,000 miles instead of 50,000. Thanks to the steep average value of American Airline miles, the latest bonus is worth $1,356, based on our valuation of those miles.