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Credit Cards, Reviews

How to Earn and Redeem Rewards with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

How to Earn and Redeem Rewards with Chase Ultimate Rewards

The information related to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Ink Business CashSM Credit Card, and Ink Business PreferredSM credit card has been collected by MagnifyMoney.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of these cards prior to publication.

Chase has an impressive list of credit card products that reward you for everyday spending. However, just five of the Chase rewards cards are currently part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program.

These credit cards include:

  • Chase Freedom®

    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®

    • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic
  • Chase Ink Business CashSM Credit Card
    • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent at office supply stores, and on cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
    • 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Ink Business PreferredSM credit card
    • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year.*
    • Earn unlimited 1 Point Per $1 spent on all other purchases. Points do not expire as long as your account is open.*
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

    • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

If you have one (or several) of these cards in your wallet, the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website is a one-stop-shop where you can manage, combine, and redeem points earned.

Since choosing a credit card rewards program without digging into the product can be difficult, we’re giving you a behind the scenes look at what Chase Ultimate Rewards® has to offer cardholders.

In this post we’ll touch on:

  • Accessing Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Navigating the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
  • How much Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth
  • How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

How to Access Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Where the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal shines is how easy it is to manage your points. There are two simple ways to review the points you’ve earned. First, you can log into your Chase credit card account. There you’ll find your point balance alongside your credit card statement summary.

Or you can go straight to the Ultimate Rewards website and log in. To make your life easy, the credentials you use to log into your credit card account are the same credentials you need to access the Chase Ultimate Rewards® dashboard.

Chase Ultimate 1

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® Homepage

The bar at the top of the homepage shows the card that you’re currently managing on the left and your point balance on the right.

Chase Ultimate 2

Further down the page, there’s a detailed record of the points available to you now and how many points you’ve earned so far toward your next billing statement.

For cards that earn cash back (like the Chase Freedom® shown here), the Chase Ultimate Rewards® dashboard includes your point balance and what it equals in cold-hard cash back. We’ll discuss the points to cash conversion later in this post.

Chase Ultimate 3

You’ll also see the progress of your spending within the categories of each card on the right-hand side of the homepage. In our example photo, the Chase Freedom® Ultimate Rewards® page shows combined purchases for the revolving category which is currently restaurants and wholesale clubs. This is also where you would go quarterly to activate the category.

How to Earn an Extra Bonus

Besides earning from everyday spending, Chase Ultimate Rewards® gives you an opportunity to earn a bonus when you shop online with participating retailers.

Chase Ultimate 4

We’re reviewing Chase Ultimate Rewards® using a Chase Freedom® credit card, so the store bonuses appear in cash back. Credit cards that earn points rather than cash back will show bonus points for each online store instead.

Some cash back highlights on the online shopping list are:

  • Apple: 2% cash back
  • Macy’s: 3% cash back
  • Groupon: 4% cash back
  • Sears: 3% cash back

How Much Points Are Worth

Here’s where things get interesting. The Chase Ultimate Rewards® program uses a point system to keep track of earnings even for cash back cards. The redemption value of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is:

  • 1 point equals 1 cent, or
  • 100 points equals 1 dollar

Now, taking a look at the point summary from above, you can see how 493 points earned equals $4.93 in cash back. You can expect this redemption value for cash back, gift cards, products, and travel unless you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card.

Both of these cards give you a little more value for your points when you redeem for travel. It comes in the form of an additional 20% off when you make bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This translates into a point value of 1.25 cents per 1 point or $1.25 per 100 points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders are able to transfer points to participating travel programs point for point as well. These travel programs include:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card are the only two that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points with a $95 annual fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does waive the annual fee for the first year ($0 Intro for the First Year, then $95). For either of these cards to be worthwhile, you need to make sure the value of your rewards will surpass the fee.

For a quick example, you would need to spend $4,750 in the 2X category with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to repay the $95 fee ($0 Intro for the First Year, then $95) with a statement credit. For the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card, you would need to spend $1,900 in the 5X category.

How to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points

As mentioned, Chase Ultimate Rewards® members can redeem points for cash back, gift cards, products, and travel.

Cash Back

You can request a deposit into a checking and savings account or redeem for statement credit.

Gift Cards

If you prefer gift cards, some cards you can obtain with a point balance as low as 500. There are over 70 different stores and restaurants you can choose gift cards from including Starbucks, P.F. Chang’s, Gap, Amazon, and more.

Ultimate 6

Amazon Products

Amazon shoppers can link a Chase card to the site and use points to buy products.

Chase Ultimate 7

Travel

For cards other than the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll get the basic 1 cent per 1 point redemption value for travel.

Chase Ultimate 8

The good news is you can combine Chase Ultimate Rewards® balances to increase the buying power of your points. Keep in mind; you can only transfer points to another Chase card that belongs to you or someone in your household.

Chase Ultimate 9

For big travelers, partnering your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with the Chase Freedom® can help you maximize the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program. With this hack you can earn as much as you can from multiple categories. Then move your points over to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to get a higher redemption value on travel. Or you can transfer your points to another travel loyalty program altogether.

Final Word

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® dashboard is easy to use and gives you many options for point redemption. Although activating a category or shopping within constraints can be a hassle, the Chase Ultimate Rewards® dashboard makes it easy to subscribe to bonus categories and keep track of your progress.

Even if you’re not ready to make the leap to a rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with an annual fee ($0 Intro for the First Year, then $95), you can still get more value from your points by shopping online with participating retailers.

 

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here

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Reviews

Review of Netspend Prepaid Card

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you cannot get a traditional bank account, you may have few options but to manage your money via a prepaid card. That’s where companies like Netspend come in. Netspend issues prepaid cards which allow you to receive your paycheck, government benefits and tax refunds via direct deposit. You can also use Netspend to pay bills, conduct financial transactions online, track your spending automatically via Netspend’s app and complete most other tasks you would be able to with a traditional checking account. In this review, we’ll explain what Netspend has to offer, fees and fine print and how it compares to other prepaid options out there.

Netspend Prepaid Card features

Your name is embossed on your card. If a cashier ever asks you for an ID to match to your card, but your card says “Valued Customer” or something of the like on it in lieu of your name, you could be denied the purchase. It would also prevent you from receiving funds via MoneyPak, and could cause other disruptions in your financial life. The fact that the Netspend Prepaid Card has your name printed on it alleviates a lot of friction.

Free direct deposit. If you want to receive your paycheck, government benefits or tax refund on your Netspend card, you can do so at no cost.

You will also be able to use the app to send money to anyone with Netspend FlashPay. While the app does offer mobile check deposit, there may be fees charged by the service provider Netspend partners with in order to enable this feature. That being said, Netspend does not charge any fees for this service directly.

Cashback rewards. Netspend issues these rewards when your spending lines up with sponsored offers, which are preselected for you based on your spending habits.

NetSpend also has a refer-a-friend feature which rewards you both with a $20 when your friend uses your referral link to open a new card and loads at least $40 onto it.

High-yield savings account. As long as you’re not currently subject to IRS backup withholding, another perk Netspend offers is access to a savings account with an APY of 5.00% for balances under $1,000. This can be a huge perk for those who are having trouble opening a bank account as it could potentially establish a more positive banking history. Beyond that, the APY is phenomenal.

Netspend Prepaid Card fees and fine print

Monthly fees range from $5 to $9.95 per month. Although the Netspend Prepaid Card comes with a lot of benefits, it comes with a lot of fees, too. Different plans will incur different monthly fees. For example, the FeeAdvantage Plan, which allows you to circumvent a $1 charge for every purchase requiring a signature and a $2 fee for every purchase requiring a PIN, will run you $9.95/month. If you have a regular direct deposit of at least $500/month set up, you qualify for the Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan, which does the same thing at a much lower price point of $5/month.

Reload fees can sting. While there are no activation fees or check deposit fees charged by Netspend, you will have to contend with reload fees everytime you want to put cash on your card.

Lots of miscellaneous fees. There are fees if your purchase is declined, fees if you want to stop a pre-authorized payment, ATM fees, foreign transaction fees and account inactivity fees should you let your account sit for 90+ days without any transactions, withdrawals or deposits.

Checking your balance via text, email or your online account center is free. However, checking via ATM or a customer service agent will incur a $0.50 fee. You will also be charged this fee if you make a balance inquiry via the automated telephone service, though the $0.50 fee is waived in this instance if you have a Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan.

Overdraft protection plan is limited. While you can opt into overdraft protection to protect yourself from declined purchase fees, you will have to go through the steps of enrollment in the program first. You will only be allowed three overdrafts per calendar month, and each one will cost you $15. Unless you’re getting your purchases declined 15 times or more per month, this service may not be worth it.

Try not to lose your card. If you lose your card, there is a $9.95 fee to replace it. If you need your replacement card within less than seven business days, you will have to pay $20 to $25 in shipping costs depending on how quickly you need it.

NetSpend Prepaid Card Fees
Activation feeNone
Monthly Plan FeePay-As-You-Go Plan: None; FeeAdvantage Plan: $9.95/month; Netspend Premier FeeAdvantage Plan: $5/month
Reload feeVaries depending on location and deposit type.
Check deposit feeNone
ATM fees$2.50 at domestic ATMs; $4.95 at foreign ATMS
ATM decline fee$1.00
Foreign transaction fee3.5% of withdrawal or purchase in USD, in addition to the $4.95 foreign ATM fee
Account-to-account transfer fee$4.95 when initiated by customer service representative
Bill payment feeVaries
Stop payment fee for ACH debit/preauthorized payment transactions$10
ACH debit/Preauthorized payment transaction decline fee$1
Card replacement fee$9.95
Balance inquiry fee$0.00 to $0.50 depending on plan and modality of deposit.
Account inactivity fee$5.95/month after your account has been inactive for 90 days

Using the Netspend Prepaid Card mobile app

Netspend’s mobile app allows you to deposit checks via mobile, send or receive money from anyone with Netspend’s FlashPay and find the lowest-cost reload locations near you.

If you’re looking for the more advanced budgeting features some financial institutions offer to their mobile users, you’re out of luck. But you will still be able to monitor your account balance and transaction history.

Opening a Netspend Prepaid Card Account

Ordering a card is easy and can be done online You simply provide your name, address and email and your card will be shipped to you in 7-10 days.

However, in order to activate your card, you’ll have to meet some eligibility requirements. First, you must be 18 years of age and not live in Vermont. You will also be required to verify your identification by supplying your name, address, date of birth and government-issued ID number. In some cases, Netspend will require you to provide your actual ID in order to verify your identity.

Your credit history and checking history will not be run as a part of the application process.

Overall review of Netspend Prepaid Card Account

There is no way around it: Netspend Prepaid Cards are loaded with fees that will eat into your paycheck or any other source of income. If you can get a traditional checking account, you should as it is extremely likely that it will be leagues cheaper to manage your money.

However, Netspend isn’t built for those who can easily get a bank account. It is built for those who have been shut out of the traditional financial system. If you need a way to get your money into digital form to conduct financial transactions, cards like Netspend’s can be one of the few ways to take care of business, despite the dramatic fees. A better option would be to find a prepaid card option with lower fees, like Walmart’s Bluebird by American Express Prepaid Debit Card or the Chase Liquid Prepaid Card.

Do note that if your employer offers to pay you via a prepaid card, you do not have to accept. Specific laws vary by state, but regardless of where you live, your employer must give you the option of either a paper check or direct deposit. If you have access to a bank account, it’s likely not to your advantage to accept your paycheck via prepaid card. If you don’t, you may still choose to use cash checking services if they end up being cheaper than the fees on a card like Netspend’s Prepaid Card.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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Reviews

Acorns Spend Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Acorns Spend is the third product offered by popular micro-investing tool Acorns. Spend is a checking account integrated with the firm’s two existing products, Acorns Core and Acorns Later. Combined, the three products are designed to get people saving and investing on an automatic basis.

Acorns Spend has all the features of a traditional checking account, including a debit card and ATM access. The Acorns twist is that purchases made using the account are rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the excess money being invested in six different exchange-traded funds, or ETFs.

When you pay the $3 monthly fee for Acorns Spend, you’re automatically enrolled in Acorns Core and Acorns Later, although you’re not required to fund or use these products.

If you’re curious about Acorns Spend, we’ll take a look at the features and benefits of the account, along with its associated fees and drawbacks to see if its a good fit for you.

Account features

No minimum balance or overdraft fees. You don’t have to fund an Acorns Spend account to open it, and you don’t have to worry about ever overdrawing the account.

Includes Acorns Core and Acorns Laterfor no additional fee. Although some online checking accounts don’t charge a monthly fee at all, the Acorns Spend account is part of a financial universe that rounds up your money and invests it for you; the $3 monthly fee also includes IRA services through the Acorns Later program.

Unlimited free or reimbursed ATM withdrawals nationwide. With out-of-network ATM fees often topping $2.50, unlimited fee reimbursements alone may make the $3 monthly charge for Acorns Spend a bargain.

A host of mobile banking services. The account includes free bank-to-bank transfers, digital direct deposit, mobile check deposit, and check sending.

Found Money rewards program. When you shop with specific merchants, they will credit your Acorns account with rewards cash within 90 to 120 days after your purchase.

Integrated with the Acorns ecosystem. Acorns Core already has over 3 million customers, meaning its being used by lots of people. Acorns Spend is an easy add-on service for those already familiar with how Acorns works.

Money invested according to Modern Portfolio Theory. Your spare change is invested in one of five ETF-based portfolios that Acorns has developed in line with Modern Portfolio Theory, which aims to generate the highest possible returns with the lowest possible risk.

Fees and fine print

Acorns is pretty transparent when it comes to its fees and pricing structure. With no overdraft, ATM or minimum balance fees, your monthly service charge is the only fee you’ll have to worry about. This account is the most expensive product available from Acorns, but the fee remains modest.

Pricing

The original Acorns product, now named Acorns Core, charges $1 per month. If you add on the IRA services of Acorns Later, that fee jumps to $2. Acorns Spend, which includes all three products, is $3 per month.

There are a few small twists in the pricing structure. Students do not have to pay the $1 fee for using Acorns Core, so they can access the complete Acorns Core + Acorns Later + Acorns Spend package for just $2. If you’re a millionaire, the fee structure jumps quite a bit, with Acorns charging $100 per million invested.

Other fees and fine print

Although fees for this account are low, they are flat; this means that customers with lower balances can see a significant percentage of their balances eaten away by the monthly fee. For example, if you have just $100 invested via Acorns Spend, the $3 monthly fee amounts to 3% of your balance every month.

ATM fees$0, with unlimited nationwide reimbursements of any non-preferred ATM fees
Withdrawal limits$500 per day
Overdraft fees$0
Card replacement fee$0

Pros and cons

The main pro of the Acorns Spend account is that it “forces” you to save and invest. Like the Acorns Core account, your purchases using the Spend debit card are rounded up and placed into an investment portfolio matching your investment objectives and risk tolerance. The idea behind Acorns Spend – and indeed, the entire Acorns investment philosophy – is that while you’re not likely to miss the additional $0.23 you’ll be charged on your $3.77 cup of coffee, over time, those $0.23 deposits add up.

Another prime benefit of Acorns Spend is its low cost. Yes, there’s a $3 monthly fee, but you are getting a lot for that cost. While some checking accounts charge fees just to provide basic services, the account automatically invests your money for you; not only that, but Acorns Spend invests your money for you in small increments. When was the last time you called your broker and asked him to buy $0.23 of an ETF? At most firms, that’s not even possible, and if it is, commissions will likely eat a large portion of your investment.

The unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursement is another significant feature of the Acorns Spend account. Although some firms, such as Charles Schwab, offer unlimited international ATM fee reimbursements, many banks charge their own additional fees for out-of-network ATM transactions, on top of the fees that are imposed by ATM operators themselves.

There aren’t a lot of obvious “cons” to this account; ironically, the same features that are “pros” for many customers can end up being “cons” for others.

For example, some customers may not enjoy the “forced savings” method that Acorns employs; these customers may prefer to choose their own investments and may not like the portfolios that Acorns creates for customers. After all, Acorns only has five investment options, and they are categorized generically as “Conservative,” “Moderately Conservative,” “Moderate,” “Moderately Aggressive,” and “Aggressive” — and all five portfolios use the same six ETFs, in varying measure.

Another “pro” that may end up being a “con” for some customers is the $3 monthly fee. For those integrated into the Acorns ecosystem, paying this fee makes sense. For those that aren’t interested in the Acorns investment philosophy, or for those who don’t make a lot of reimbursable ATM transactions, the $3 fee could outweigh the benefits, especially when considering that plenty of online banks, from Discover to Capital One, offer no-fee checking accounts.

Overall, this account is a bit different than some of its major competitors, such as the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® and the Venmo debit card.

The Acorns Spend account is primarily focused on saving and investing, with round-ups automatically finding their way to predetermined investment portfolios. The Venmo and PayPal cards, on the other hand, are primarily focused on money transfer/access to and from Venmo and PayPal accounts, respectively, although they also operate as debit cards for purchases.

The Acorns Spend account has another advantage over these cards in that it is a fully functioning checking account, rather than just a money transfer or investment portal.

However, things are changing a bit in the competitive landscape, and PayPal and Acorns have recently formed a financial partnership. Now, you can use your PayPal account to open an Acorns account and begin funding your investments, starting with as little as $5.

How to open an Acorns Spend account

Log in to your existing Acorns account. The fastest way to sign up for Acorns Spend is if you are already an Acorns customer. If you log in to your account, you can pre-order the Acorns Spend debit card in a few clicks. The first 100,000 Acorns Spend debit cards sold out in four days, but the company is still accepting pre-orders for additional cards as of February 8, 2019.
Open an Acorns account online. If you’re not already a customer, you’ll have to sign up for an Acorns account to access Acorns Spend. You can access the application at this link. Once there, click “Don’t Have an Account?” You’ll need to provide your email address and create a password to open an account.

To finish opening your account, you’ll need to connect your spending cards, such as your debit and credit cards, so that Acorns can set up the “round-up” portion of the process. Next, you’ll provide personal information, such as your address and Social Security number. The last step of the process is to choose your investment allocation.

Overall review of Acorns Spend

Acorns Spend was a smart idea for Acorns itself because it’s something of a no-brainer for its existing three million-plus strong customer base. For those that already have Acorns Core and Acorns Later, Acorns Spend is just an additional $1 per month, and it provides access to a feature-packed checking account. For existing customers, Acorns Spend is another easy way to keep rounding up purchases into an investment account.

For potentially new customers, whether or not to switch from an existing checking account to Acorns Spend is an open question. On the plus side, Acorns Spend combines the key benefits of the best online checking accounts, such as mobile check deposit and no minimum deposit requirements, to the low fee structure most customers want, with no ATM fees, overdraft fees or card replacement fees.

One of the few outright negatives of the Acorns Spend account is the $3 monthly fee; although it’s lower than what many traditional, national banks charge, it’s $36 more per year than the $0 charged by many online banks.

For many customers, the unlimited ATM fee rebates will more than compensate for the monthly fee. However, for customers that have limited a need for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, or for those that aren’t interested in the Acorns ecosystem, this may not be the right product for them.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

John Csiszar
John Csiszar |

John Csiszar is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email John here

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