Travelers who use J.P. Morgan Chase credit cards are about to get a free upgrade.
Credit-card customers who redeem rewards through the bank’s web portals will have access to more than double the travel inventory starting Sunday, according to a person with knowledge of the change. The New York-based bank is partnering with the Expedia Group, which owns sites including Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotwire.com, to power its travel search engine, the person said.
The bank also revamped its website and mobile app to make it easier to choose between flight and seat options, according to the person. Users will get a more detailed breakdown of fees and can redeem travel with any combination of points and cash. They’ll also get access to Expedia’s travel deals and can choose among 272,000 hotels and 250 airlines.
Banks, once technologically-stodgy firms that preferred to build most of their applications in-house, are increasingly joining up with leading companies to keep up with consumers’ climbing expectations. J.P. Morgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has partnered with tech firms including Truecar and Roostify to improve its retail offerings. Goldman Sachs, an investment bank seeking to make inroads with ordinary consumers, recently acquired a personal finance app called Clarity Money.
Here’s how it works: Users earn points by spending on the bank’s credit cards and redeem those awards through its travel portal. While customers can use points for gift cards or cash, the bank encourages people to book travel by boosting the value of points redeemed for trips.
Often, spenders focus on the transaction categories that earn the most points, such as dining or travel. In fact, J.P. Morgan customers have been redeeming rewards faster than the bank anticipated, forcing it to take a $330 million charge in the second quarter.
Users of the bank’s Freedom cards will get the new portal starting Sunday, while the bank’s other credit-card customers will be phased in over the next few months. Previously, J.P. Morgan used a company called Connexions Loyalty, part of privately-held Affinion Group.