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Verdict: The Chase Leisure Rewards debit card lets you earn cash back and other rewards — at the rate of 4 points for every dollar you spend. You don’t need a good credit rating and the Leisure Rewards card is not a credit card.
If you’re already banking with Chase, or are considering opening an account with the bank, I recommend upgrading your debit card to the Chase Leisure Rewards Debit Visa. It’s well worth the $25 annual fee.
With that said, if you are serious about earning rewards points I would still go for a cash back credit card such as Discover More or Blue Cash from American Express over any debit rewards credit card, including the Chase card. Although 4 points for every dollar with the Chase debit card sounds like a lot, it really comes out to earning less than 1% back because the points simply aren’t worth as much as with many credit card rewards programs.
A few months ago I was in my local Chase branch processing a change-of-address with a personal banker. She mentioned the Chase Leisure Rewards card and how much cash back I could earn, because I pay most of my bills through my Chase checking account using my debit card.
I shy away from cards with annual fees, but — with my checking account statement on the screen — the banker did the math for me and I realized it was more than worthwhile. Since that time, I’ve started using my debit card more frequently than cash, so the points are adding up quickly. The banker noted that one customer uses her debit card to pay her mortgage each month, and the cash back each year pays for her vacation.
At a rate of 4 points for every dollar spent, Chase estimates most people earn an average of 3,700 points each month — that’s about right for me. After only two months in the program, I redeemed my first 7,500 points for $15 cash deposited into my Chase checking account. Rewards start at 2,000 points (that’s only $500 in purchases) so you can start redeeming your points quickly.
This card is unique because it’s not a credit card. You’re rewarded for the money you spend from your Chase checking account when you use your Chase debit card.
How This Card Works
Your Chase Leisure Rewards Debit Visa works exactly like any other debit card, except, when you use it as a “credit card” during transactions, you earn rewards points. You then redeem the points for merchandise, gift cards, or cash — just like a rewards credit card with no interest fees.
Remember, you don’t earn rewards for transactions when you enter your pin number. You must select the “credit” option and sign for the purchase. You can also earn points for payments by phone or over the Internet, again, when you use your Chase Leisure Reward Debit like a credit card.
Chase Leisure Rewards
The rewards program is as good — if not better — than many credit card rewards programs. You earn 4 points for every dollar you spend. Rewards are easy to redeem online through the Chase website, and you can select from a variety of purchases, including gift cards for popular stores and online retailers, and merchandise in a variety of categories like home and garden items, pet items, and recreational equipment. You can also request (my favorite!) cash deposited directly into your checking account.
As of June 20, the rewards structure is changing. The Chase Leisure Rewards program will become the Ultimate Rewards, and customers will see their points balance divided by 5. However, the buying power remains the same. In other words: 10,000 Leisure Rewards Points = 2,000 Ultimate Rewards Points = $20 Cash Back Value
It sounds like customers will lose out slightly on the rewards earned. Rather than a 4:1 ratio of points to dollars, customers will earn 4 points for every $5 spent. However, you can still redeem your points for cash, merchandise, gift cards and — new to the Ultimate Rewards program — travel options, too.
Multiple debit cards linked to the same account (such as married people with joint checking) will receive separate rewards as of June, which could present an inconvenience unless you’re redeeming the points for cash. It will take longer to accrue points for merchandise if you have more than one cardholder.
Nevertheless, this remains one of the more generous rewards programs offered, and you don’t need good credit to take advantage.
Chase Leisure Benefits:
No expiration date on points
4 points for every dollar spent
Easy to redeem points for cash, gift cards and merchandise
Adding travel rewards to the program in late June
Not a credit card / available to anyone with a Chase checking account
Chase Leisure Drawbacks:
$25 annual fee
Rewards structure changing in late June, but still a good program
Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.