Chase launches new rewards card and program

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JP Morgan Chase and Co. has launched a new proprietary rewards program for its Chase Card Services division.

The “Ultimate Rewards” program, available to users of the Chase Freedom card and the new Chase Sapphire card, offers points rewards, which can be redeemed for cash, merchandise, travel and gift cards. Through the new UltimateRewards.com Web site, cardholders can track and redeem their points, book travel itineraries, including hotel rooms and rental cars, and search for, map and reserve restaurants. There's also an online mall populated by more than 300 retail partners.

“Ultimate Rewards has been in planning for a long time, and its roots really come from customer research, which indicated that many of our customers are dissatisfied with the rewards programs in which they participate,” said Rob Rosenblatt, GM of loyalty for Chase Card Services. “Today, more than ever, people are making decisions based on rewards, so rewards really matter. We don't have an umbrella rewards program that really stands for Chase, so this is an attempt to bring to market a single rewards platform so that over time, when people think of Chase branded cards, this is what they think of.”

Chase will maintain its co-branded rewards cards with partners like Southwest Airlines and Marriott, and the bank is encouraging its current Freedom cardholders to more to the new Ultimate Rewards platform.

Chase Freedom is currently Chase's most popular proprietary rewards card, and current customers are the first target for a direct mail campaign promoting Ultimate Rewards program. The campaign includes a series of “program guides” outlining all the benefits and uses of Ultimate Rewards. The new Sapphire and Sapphire Preferred cards, which are aimed at more affluent cardholders, are also being marketed to current Chase customers through direct mail and on the Web site. Later this summer, the campaign will expand to prospective customers and include above-the-line media.

Because of the Freedom card's popularity, Rosenblatt anticipates, “a significant number of Chase customers will be on the Ultimate Rewards platform very soon.”

He added that he will gauge the program's success based on customer satisfaction rankings and whether customers consolidate more of their spending with Chase.

The Web site went live at the end of May. New cards will be mailed at the end of June.

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