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An Annual Fee, Though No Debit Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards charged a $25 annual fee.Should I really have to pay a $25 annual fee to participate in a debit card rewards program that Chase says it plans to terminate in July?

That’s exactly what happened last month when the bank swiped money from my checking account for the Ultimate Rewards annual fee.

Now, I’ve been following Chase’s temper tantrum over the Durbin Amendment, which would slash the fees banks collect from businesses every time you swipe your debit card. Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has been fairly explicit in letting customers know Chase intends to stick it to us.

And I know I share some blame here because I keep my money with Chase, a bank that continually tries to do what it can to alienate its personal banking customers. (It’s convenient to bank there — what can I say?)

But I was still surprised to see that charge.

So I contacted Chase customer service online. Here’s what I was told: We’re still going to charge you, but customers will get a prorated amount returned to them.

Prorated? When? How much?

Next, I called customer service at 800-935-9935.

I asked whether the bank really intended to cancel its Ultimate Rewards program for debit cards this summer. If the program continues, this might explain why Chase charged me.

No, the program is ending, she said. You’ll get a full refund.

But when? And why did you charge me in the first place? And which — if either — customer service representative is right? (I haven’t seen any money returned yet, by the way.)

There are at least three possible explanations here as I see it:

  • Chase doesn’t intend to cancel or doesn’t yet know for certain when it will cancel the program. Several reports have indicated Chase will reinstate Ultimate Rewards if implementation of the Durbin Amendment — scheduled for July — is postponed, as some in Congress have suggested.
  • The bank made an innocent mistake in taking that money from me for a program it intends to cancel.
  • Chase took the easy cash hoping I and other debit card holders wouldn’t notice or bother to ask.

I’m not sure what the right explanation is here. I guess I’ll get my answer when (or if) I see money returned to my account.

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Comments (2)
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2 Existing Comments
  1. Darci Smith said:
    on May 19th at 11:19 am

    What will happen to the points you’ve accumulated? Is it best to cash them out asap?

  2. Mike Cetera said:
    on May 19th at 11:44 am

    I’ve done just that. Although, there too, I’ve received conflicting information.