Chase rolled out a new feature called Pay Yourself Back during the worst of the pandemic, allowing travelers to use their Chase points to cover everyday expenses. Rotating categories to use those points have kept things exciting – especially a longstanding option to cover Airbnb rentals.
Those options are taking a serious blow to start off 2023. Starting today, Chase cardholders with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® will no longer get a bonus when using points through Pay Yourself Back for most categories. Since its launch in 2020, these Pay Yourself redemptions matched the same value you'd get booking flights or hotels through the Chase travel portal – but no more.
Worse yet, Chase is also axing Airbnb from the Pay Yourself Back portfolio. It had been a solid option for more than a year, one of the best (and only) ways to redeem points for Airbnb. Losing that option through Chase is a tough beat.
Altogether, it's a one-two punch for one of the best credit card benefits to come out of the pandemic. After introducing it in May 2020 to keep travelers happy and engaged while stuck at home, Chase had indicated Pay Yourself Back wasn't going anywhere. While that's still true, it's sad to see the value of your points (and one of the best ways to use them) hit the chopping block.
Here's a full look at what's changing with Chase Pay Yourself Back and what's on tap as 2023 gets underway.
Pay Yourself Back Loses Value
The beauty of Pay Yourself Back is that it opened up more avenues to use Chase points for the same value you'd get booking flights or hotels via the Chase travel portal. Chase is taking the axe to that.
Starting today, travelers with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will no longer get a 25% bonus using Pay Yourself Back on most categories. Instead, you'll get just 1 cent per point. That means a $500 charge would take 50,000 points to cover.
Chase's top-tier card is seeing a downgrade, too. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points will no longer be worth 50% more through Pay Yourself Back. Instead, you'll now get 1.25 cents per point on most of these redemptions – down from the previous 1.5 cents apiece.
New Pay Yourself Back Redemption Categories
Starting today and running through at least March 31, 2023, Chase Sapphire, Ink, and Freedom cardholders will have the ability to use the Pay Yourself Back benefit in some new categories.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Pay Yourself Back Redemption Categories
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can use the Pay Yourself Back benefit in the following categories:
- Points can be redeemed at 1:1 value for purchases at gas stations and grocery stores through March 31, 2023
- Points can be redeemed at 25% more for qualifying charities through Dec. 31, 2023
Previously, Sapphire Preferred cardholders could redeem via Pay Yourself Back for 25% more on every category. Points are now worth less when using this redemption method.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Pay Yourself Back Redemption Categories
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use the Pay Yourself Back benefit in the following categories:
- Points can be redeemed at 25% more value for purchases at gas stations, and grocery stores, as well as towards the card’s $550 annual fee through March 31, 2023. That means you can cover a $500 grocery bill with 40,000 points – or wipe out the entire annual fee with 44,000 points.
- Points can be redeemed at 50% more for qualifying charities through Dec. 31, 2023
Previously, Sapphire Reserve cardholders could redeem via Pay Yourself Back for 50% more. Just as with the Preferred Card, points are now worth less when using this redemption method.
Chase Ink Business Preferred and Ink Plus Pay Yourself Back Redemption Categories
If you hold the Chase Ink Business Preferred or Ink Plus, you'll have access to the following redemption categories and redemption value:
- Points can be redeemed at 25% more on business expenses related to internet, cable, phone services, and shipping through March 31, 2023
There has been no change to this category other than the new expiration date of March 31, 2023 (previously Dec. 31, 2022).
Chase Ink Business Cash and Unlimited Pay Yourself Back Redemption Categories
Chase isn't changing much when it comes to use points from some of its business cards. If you hold the Chase Ink Business Cash or Unlimited, you'll have access to the following redemption categories and redemption value:
- Points can be redeemed at a 10% bonus on internet, cable, phone services, and shipping through March 31, 2023
The only change here is that Chase has extended this option through March. It was previously set to expire at the end of 2022.
Chase Freedom Pay Yourself Back Redemption Categories
If you hold the Chase Freedom, Freedom Flex, or Freedom Unlimited, you can use your points through Pay Yourself back for the following:
- Points can be redeemed with a 25% bonus for qualifying charities through Dec. 31, 2023
Chase merely extended this option for some of its top no-annual-fee credit cards by another year.
How Does Chase Pay Yourself Back Work?
Instead of using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Travel Portal or sending them to one of the dozen-plus Chase transfer partners, you're able to use them to cover purchases on a set of purchase categories that rotate quarterly.
When it first came out nearly a year ago, Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cardholders could use points for redemptions at hardware stores, restaurants, and grocery stores – places where cardholders were spending money when travel was largely off the table. Over the last two-plus years, Chase has rotated these categories.
But what made Pay Yourself Back so valuable is that your points were worth the same amount that they were through the Chase travel portal: You'd get 1.25 cents each with the Sapphire Preferred card and 1.5 cents each with the Sapphire Reserve.
So how do you redeem your points? First, you need to do is make a purchase in one of the eligible categories.
Once that purchase posts to your card account, you can simply log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account on desktop or through the Chase mobile app and select “Pay Yourself Back” from the drop-down menu.
From there, you will be able to select from recent eligible transactions up to 90 days prior to the purchase and choose to redeem points for all – or just a portion – of the purchase.
Since I hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, my points were worth 1.5 cents each. If I held the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, my redemption value would have been 1.25 cents for each point. But starting today, Reserve redemptions are now 1.25 cents each while Preferred redemptions are 1:1, meaning each point is worth one cent.
After selecting a transaction, you'll be given the option to use points to cover all or part of the transaction. Once you make that decision, just hit “Confirm & Submit.”
And just like that, your points will be deducted from your balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you should see a statement credit on your card account within a few days to cover the charge.
What This Means for Chase Pay Yourself Back
This is a major blow to the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards, as these redemptions will now be less valuable.
Pay Yourself Back was originally added in May 2020 to provide cardholders a way to use points for solid value on non-travel purchases at a time when travel was largely off the table. It was an immediate hit and without a doubt prevented many cardholders from dropping their cards when travel wasn't top of mind.
As time went on, Chase assured us that the Pay Yourself Back benefit wasn't going anywhere. As travel ramped back up in 2021, the redemption categories shifted in an effort to meet cardholders where they were, especially when adding Airbnb as an option. For more than a year, it was the best way to book an Airbnb stay with points.
With travel more or less back to 2019 levels, it appears Chase has little reason to provide additional incentives for Sapphire cardholders to use Ultimate Rewards points outside of the traditional travel channels.
With these changes, it's safe to call Pay Yourself Back … a poor value. Unless you're donating to charity, there are far better ways to use your Chase points.
Chase has kicked off 2023 with some big, bad changes to the Pay Yourself Back benefit for both Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders.
Once a creative solution during the worst of the pandemic, your points will no longer go as far using Pay Yourself Back. And worst of all, Chase has finally removed Airbnb as an option.