New Chase Blueprint credit card program: would it benefit you?

Blueprint JP Morgan Chase has launched another salvo in the credit card wars, this time across the bow of American Express in the battle for high-value customers. When the smoke clears, its Blueprint program offers a couple of interesting features that the un-savvy cardholder might find useful, but probably not.

The new card program has four elements:

Full pay: Normally, when you buy a 12-pack of Coke at Sam's Club on the fifth of the month via your credit card and you don't pay off that purchase at the end of the month, the bank will charge interest on that Coke from the date of purchase. With Full Pay, the cardholder can choose one or more of 14 categories of purchases for which the bank will waive the interest on the interval between the date of purchase and the billing due date, even if you don't pay it off at the end of the month. Interest does resume on it at the start of the next billing cycle, though.

The categories are:
  • Health clubs
  • Laundry/dry cleaning
  • Office/schools supplies
  • Salon/beauty
  • Transit
  • Utilities
  • Wholesale/discount stores
  • Blink purchases
  • Dept stores/catalogs
  • Dining
  • Drugstores
  • Entertainment
  • Gas/Convenience stores
  • Grocery stores

How much would this translate to in potential savings? Nothing, for the wise credit card holder who pays off his balance monthly. Those who don't pay off their balance can get a sense of the potential by studying their credit card bill. How much interest do you pay in a month? How much is based on new purchases?

Split It: If the cardholder wants to put a larger purchase on his/her credit card (why, oh why, oh why?) he can set up a payment schedule much like an installment loan, based either on how long he wishes to take to pay it off or how much he wishes to pay per month.

Finish it: As a way of addressing criticism for encouraging debt through the Split It program, the bank offers to create a plan for the cardholder to pay off this debt as expeditiously as possible.

Track It: Allows the cardholder to track expenditures and payments; little new here.

Blueprint is targeted toward the more affluent customer who currently holds a Freedom, Sapphire, Slate or Ink card.
The most notable aspect of this new program is the ability to create an on-the-fly installment loan. Many people already use their credit cards for such a purpose (DON'T DO IT!), and for those, the Split It program will at least provide them a time line for digging out of that hole.

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