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Chase Blueprint Payment Program Review

Posted By Jim On 10/22/2009 @ 7:25 am In Credit | 23 Comments

If you’ve been watching any TV, visiting any financially focused website, or have opened a financial magazine or newspaper, you’ve probably seen a Chase ad and information about their “Blueprint” program. They’ve done a huge media push over a program that, while a little innovative, only helps people who are carrying a balance. With the average credit card debt [3], it’s refreshing to see a credit card company offer up tools to help people pay down debt.

I think there are two reasons they’ve pushed these features out. First, it’s great PR to have a credit card company offer features that help people pay down debt. Second, it’s great business to have a credit card company offer features that help people pay down debt because it means they are less likely to default on it! I read the August 2009 Nilson Report, a credit card industry trade magazine, and it listed Chase has having the most outstanding debt at nearly $166 billion. A good customer is a paying customer, not a bankrupt one.

The Blueprint program has four components: Full Pay, Split It, Finish It, and Track It.

Full Pay

When you don’t carry a balance, you get a grace period until the statement payment due date before interest begins accruing. When you carry a balance, you lose the benefit of the grace period. Once you make a purchase, interest begins accruing immediately. The Full Pay system lets you choose from fourteen “every purchases” categories that will be interest free as long as you pay them off in full each month.

For example, let’s say you have a $1,000 credit card balance that you’ve been paying down each month. Normally, if you bring your clothes to the dry cleaners and charge it to your card, interest accrues on that purchase. With Full Pay, you can select “Laundry/dry cleaning” as one of your Full Pay categories and that purchase amount will be added to your “BLUEPRINT payment.” As long as you make that BLUEPRINT payment, you don’t accrue interest on that purchase.

If you don’t make that BLUEPRINT payment but are still current, making your minimum payments, you’re OK as long as you don’t miss the Full Pay payment three out of any six month period.

The Full Pay Categories are:

  1. Department Stores and Catalog
  2. Dining
  3. Drugstore
  4. Entertainment
  5. Gas and Convenience Stores
  6. Grocery Stores
  7. Health clubs and Membership
  8. Laundry and Dry Cleaning
  9. Office and School Supplies
  10. Salon and Beauty Supplies
  11. Transit
  12. Utilities
  13. Wholesale Clubs and Discount Stores
  14. All blink Purchases

Split It

Split It let’s you take one large purchase and “split it” across several months of payments. They have calculators that help set your monthly payment amount based on how many months you want to take to pay it off. You don’t get any interest benefit from using Split It, they just do the math for you, calculating how much interest accrues and ensuring you pay it off within the specified time period.

While a nice feature, I don’t think you should be making large purchases on your credit card if you can avoid it. If you’re talking furniture, electronics, home improvement, or some other large purchase, you can usually find favorable financing options or go the old fashioned route – save until you can afford it.

That being said, having this feature is better than the options other credit card companies give you – which is nothing.

Finish It

Finish It is a lot like Split It except instead of looking at one large purchase, it looks at your entire balance. You tell the tool how much you want to pay or how quickly you want to pay down your balance and it does the calculations for you. Again, no interest benefit for setting up this program.

Track It

Track It will automatically categorize your purchases and let’s you set a budget for each category. It’s a bit like a light version of personal finance tools like Mint and Quicken (which I suppose are now going to be the same thing), but only for your Chase card. A nice little feature but I feel like this is like the toothpick on a Swiss army knife. Yeah it’s nice that it’s there, but how often do you pull out the knife to use the toothpick?

Conclusion

Overall, I think it’s great that Chase is offering up these tools to help people better manage their debt. I think that one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re trying to achieve a goal, in this case paying down debt, is to establish a plan. Chase is offering just that.

What Cards Offer Blueprint?

Right now, the Chase Platinum, Chase Freedom(SM) [4], Chase Sapphire(SM) [5], and Slate(SM) from Chase [6] all offer the Blueprint system. Right now, my vote would probably be to the Slate(SM) from Chase card or the Chase Freedom(SM).


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[3] average credit card debt: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/what-is-the-average-household-credit-card-debt.html

[4] Chase Freedom(SM): http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/chase-freedom.php?tag=blueprintReview

[5] Chase Sapphire(SM): http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/chase-sapphire.php?tag=blueprintReview

[6] Slate(SM) from Chase: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/cards/chase-slate.php?tag=blueprintReview

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