Travel Advisory: Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Scam

Fuck JP Morgan ChaseUnless you’ve spent your whole life living in a cave, you’ve probably come to understand that politicians and bankers are the worst scum ever produced by the human race. You’ve probably come to expect the worst of the worst from them but usually they’re pretty good at covering themselves legally. Last week I stumbled upon a case false advertising on Chase’s website so blatant that I could barely believe my eyes.

If you have a Chase credit card you may have their Ultimate Rewards Program which gives you one point for every dollar spent that you can redeem for free travel, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more. You can spend the points through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards website. Points have a dollar value (currently about 1.2 cents per point) and can be redeemed towards whatever you want to buy. If you don’t have enough points you can cover the shortfall by paying cash. Even if you don’t any points, occasionally their portal has good deals on hotels. I’ve been using it for years.

Now to explain the scam. Before booking a hotel you see large bold print that proclaims “No surprises at checkout — the rates you see are the rates you pay. Other travel sites add taxes checkout. Our rates already include those taxes, so you know what you’ll be paying before you select your room.” That’s nice. Sounds too honest for a bank but if they say it must be true right? Well read on to find out.

Chase Ultimate Rewards: No Surprises, Taxes Included

Chase’s “No Surprises” banner as of December 9, 2015

Many of the deals they offer are non-refundable, but that’s OK with me if the price is right and it “includes taxes”.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Non-refundable Room Offers

Chase Ultimate Rewards non-refundable room offers

So let’s suppose you book this room. It’s non-refundable so there’s no going back but at least you know the total price has been clearly stated, right? Wrong! As soon as you complete the purchase process here is the fine print you will receive in your email:

Rules and Policies

  • Changes or cancellations, if permitted, must be made by calling us at 1-866-951-6592. Change or cancellation fees may apply. Changes or cancellations made directly with the hotel will forfeit any refund.
  • Cancellations or changes made after 6:00 PM (GMT+01:00) Belgrade, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Prague on Dec 4, 2015 are subject to a 30% Cost of Stay penalty. The property makes no refunds for no shows or early checkouts.
  • If you fail to check in on time, all payments will be forfeited. If you think you may be late, please contact the hotel directly to arrange for late arrival, if available.
  • Any additional hotel charges, such as local taxes, resort fees and hotel energy surcharges, and any charges for incidentals that you incur are not included in your reservation rate and must be paid directly to the hotel. Call us or the hotel directly for more information.
  • Government-issued photo identification is required at check-in and must match the name on the reservation. Some hotels have a minimum age requirement for check-in. You will be asked for your credit card at check-in.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Terms E-mail

Screen shot of Chase’s scam terms e-mail

What the fuck!?! Does “additional charges, such as local taxes, resort fees and hotel energy surcharges” sound anything like “the rates you see are the rates you pay”?!? And how about “local taxes”? They specifically state all over their website in large, bold, green print that taxes are included. The phrase “Includes Taxes” appears in large bold print in literally hundreds of places on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website.

Ultimate Rewards Includes Taxes

“Includes Taxes” appears everywhere

Ultimate Rewards Includes Taxes

There it is again

Now, I will admit after using this system multiple times in the past no hotels actually tried to hit me up for these scam fees… until last week. A hotel tried to screw me on local taxes and other miscellaneous fees that would have made my stay 23% more expensive. Luckily I was able to tell them to eat shit because having paid in full in advance, they did not have my credit card on file and had no say in the matter. Nevertheless, someone at Chase ought to be thrown in jail and gang raped for a decade or so. How can they plaster their site with “no surprises”, “what you see is what you pay” and “taxes included” when they know full well after you complete a non-refundable transaction they plan on emailing you microprint you will probably never read saying that in fact taxes are not included and they reserve the right to fuck you additionally on things you’ve never even heard of such as “hotel energy surcharges.”

Have you ever heard the “Unga Bunga” joke? I wish death by Unga Bunga on all chase executives!




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