The Exchange Credit Program (ECP) announced major changes to the Exchange Star Card programs, particularly the co-branded Chase MasterCard program, in a letter to sent to customers last week. Amy Bushatz has done a great job of breaking down the changes in her article at the main Military.com website, but what do these changes actually mean for you?
Good News: ClarityAs Amy explains, the co-branded Chase MasterCard program is being un-coupled. This will result in two physically different credit cards. Under the current rules, one physical credit card represents two different credit accounts: the Star card account and the Chase MasterCard account. This can be very confusing, because who would imagine that one card was actually two accounts? Two accounts means two different payments due each month, with two different sets of log-ins and account details. It also means two credit lines on your credit reports, and the need to properly select which account you want to use when making transactions at the military Exchange stores. Un-coupling the cards will make the situation much clearer to the troops who are using the card(s.)
Good News: RewardsCurrently, Exchange customers who use the regular, non-Chase MasterCard, Star card do not earn rewards on their purchases. With the program changes, all Star card customers will earn rewards on their purchases. This is a great benefit for customers who use their Star card for significant or regular purchases, such as electronics, appliances, or gasoline.
My family would have earned over about $240 in loyalty rewards during the last three years when we were charging all our gasoline to our Star card. Of course this change occurs right after we leave a posting where we purchased all our gas on base!
The Bad News: Fewer Rewards ChoicesThe current Star card loyalty program allows users to choose when to redeem their points and redeem points for a wide variety of products and services. The new Star card loyalty program will automatically generate Exchange gifts cards when the user's point balance exceeds 2,000 points. No more using your rewards points for airline tickets or other uses!
The Bad News: Chase Terms May ChangeFor customers who will receive a new Chase MasterCard, Chase is no longer obligated to abide by the terms set forth when you opened your account. I anticipate that Chase will make changes to the card's currently favorable terms. Keep an eye on your mailbox or email box and be sure to open any correspondence from Chase. As with all credit card accounts, you have a certain amount of time to close your account if you don't like any changes to the terms.
These changes to the Exchange Credit Program will be a benefit to any customers who use the credit offered through the program. The program terms will be more transparent and less confusing, which is important for a customer base that is typically younger than the average credit card user. In addition, loyalty rewards will be available to all Star card users, generating savings for all Star card users.