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JPMorgan Chase & Co. is hoping over time the potential for better rewards associated with its Ultimate Rewards program will encourage fee-free cardholders to opt in to paying an annual fee, reports CardLine sister publication American Banker. JPMorgan Chase in June introduced Ultimate Rewards with both fee-based and free tiers. "The goal is to upgrade every single one of those customers over time into the fee-paying version," Rob Rosenblatt, JPMorgan Chase general manager of customer loyalty and innovation, said Wednesday at the Cards & Payments Loyalty Conference in New York. "Do I think that 100% of our customers will start paying fees? No, absolutely not," Rosenblatt said. "We'll always have a healthy balance of free and fee customers, but I think what we do believe is that the free program will serve as a natural feeder to the fee program for those who see the benefits of a richer offering on Sapphire Preferred or our premium products," he said. Some industry members, however, had a negative assessment ofthought little of Chase JPMorgan's chances of tempting most customers to switch to a fee-based rewards card. "No way in hell," said Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group LLC, a Boston-based consulting firm. "There are too many cardholders who won't pay for rewards. … The real success for Ultimate Rewards is going to come from no-fee Sapphire cardholders and Blueprint," the online spend-management tool that JPMorgan Chase unveiled in September. CardLine's parent company, SourceMedia Inc., sponsored the conference.

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