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Chase gives new cardholders 3 more months to earn welcome bonus amid coronavirus

Chase is lengthening the welcome bonus period by 3 months amid the economic impact of coronavirus. CNBC Select explains who qualifies and how to use this extension to your advantage.

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Chase is joining American Express in offering welcome bonus extensions to eligible new cardholders that can't meet the minimum spending requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you opened a new Chase credit card account from January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020, you can now receive an additional three months to earn the welcome bonus. For instance, if you opened your account on February 1, 2020, you'd typically have until May 1, 2020. But now you have three more months to meet the spending requirements, through August 1, 2020.

This announcement comes soon after Chase's decision to give select Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders a $100 annual fee credit to offset the card's $550 annual fee. (At this time, only Sapphire Reserve cardholders with account renewal dates between April 1 and July 1, 2020 are eligible for the $100 annual fee credit.)

A Chase spokesperson confirmed that there is no activation needed to receive the automatic extension. The spokesperson informed CNBC Select that eligible customers will be notified starting tomorrow, April 15.

This is good news amid predictions of a looming recession. New cardholders now have more time to meet the spending requirements and use the welcome bonus to offset the cost of essential household expenses.

The spending requirements for Chase welcome bonuses vary, but they could be anywhere from $500 to $4,000, depending on your card. For instance, the Chase Freedom® offers $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

Chase's bonus comes in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, and they can be redeemed in flexible ways like a statement credit for grocery purchases, gift cards or food delivery. You can also save the rewards to use for travel at a later date or transfer your points if you have more than one Chase credit card. For a cash-back card like the Chase Freedom, you'll likely see a value of 1 cent per point, with occasional opportunities to maximize this value during limited-time promotions.

It's also worth noting that Chase's travel cards, such as the Sapphire cards give you 25% or 50% more value when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal (depending on if you have the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card, respectively). This perk gives you added incentive to hold onto your bonus and maximize the value of your rewards when it's safer to travel.

If you're unable to meet the spending requirements right now, even with the extended time period — it's OK. Spending more than you can budget to pay off will usually negate the value you get from any credit card bonus since credit card APRs are so high. If you're in this situation, it's better to forgo your bonus than risk falling into debt.

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Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.