When you open a new credit card, you probably aren't worried about what could happen if it’s discontinued. But card issuers continually come out with new products for consumers, and old favorites can either be discontinued, rolled into a new card or closed off from accepting new applications.
The latest example is The Chase Freedom® credit card. Effective September 15, the Freedom card is closed for new applicants. If you have the Freedom card, your card won't be canceled, but you do have a few options about what you want to do.
Current Freedom cardholders can continue to use their cards without any changes, but you can also request a product change to another Chase card. Below, CNBC Select reviews these two options so you can decide what's best for your needs.
Existing Chase Freedom card holders won’t receive any notification from Chase about this change. Though you have two options on how to proceed:
If you choose the first option and don’t take any action, your Freedom card will continue to be serviced with all benefits and there won’t be any difference. There is no forced migration to the new Chase Freedom Flex℠.
On the other hand, if you opt for the second option, you can choose to switch your Chase Freedom card to either the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ or the Chase Freedom Unlimited® at any time. If you ask for a product change, your old Freedom card will be deactivated after you activate your new Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited card.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding if you should keep your Freedom card or request a product change:
Which card fits your spending habits?
The Chase Freedom card is known for 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%) and 1% on all other eligible purchases. You may still like this rewards program, but you should consider what the Flex and Unlimited cards offer.
The Freedom Flex card offers the same base rewards as the Freedom, plus 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal and 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores. The added rewards allow you to earn more cash back with the Flex.
The Freedom Unlimited scraps the bonus categories and instead offers a more straightforward 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and at drugstores and 1.5% on all other eligible purchases. These are great rates if you’re looking for a passive rewards program that doesn’t require any activation.
Do you want to earn a welcome bonus or take advantage of special financing?
The only way to get a sign-up bonus is to apply and be approved for a new card. If you do a product change, it's not considered a new application, and you’ll miss out the welcome bonus and intro 0% APR offers currently running on the Freedom Flex and Unlimited cards.
Both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited are currently offering $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening and 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. This is an industry-leading offer, so you may not want to miss out by doing a product change.
Plus both cards offer no interest on purchases for the first 15 months your account is open (then a 14.99% to 23.74% APR). You’ll also miss out on financing new purchases if you do a card switch.
If you want to take advantage of new card member offers, your best option is to keep the Freedom card and apply for the Flex or Unlimited card.
What are the fees?
You should verify the annual fee and APR of the new card you plan on switching to. Thankfully all of the Freedom cards have the same no-annual-fee structure and interest rates, so no changes there.
Will your credit report be pulled?
Sometimes card issuers review your credit report prior to switching you to a new card to see if you qualify. This may cause your credit score to temporarily drop a few points. Ask the customer service representative if a credit report will be pulled before requesting a product change. If it will be pulled and you’re in the middle of applying for a mortgage, you may want to hold off on changing cards until after you close.
Despite the Chase Freedom card being closed to new applicants, existing cardholders can still take advantage of the full card benefits. But if you're interested in switching to a different Freedom card and don't mind missing out on a bonus, either the Chase Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited are an excellent choice.
With Flex, you'll benefit from many of the same signature features of Freedom, like up to 5% cash back on rotating categories and no annual fee, plus new bonus rewards on travel, dining and at drug stores. And Unlimited provides nearly all of the same features, except the 5% rotating bonus category rewards, though you can benefit from 1.5% cash back on purchases outside of elevated rewards on travel, dining and drug stores.