Note: The "activation" I am talking about here is not the same as the "activation" in this question.

I just got a Chase Freedom credit card, mostly for the 5% cash back rewards.

I had seen that every piece of promotional literature referred to "activating" my rewards, so I was expecting some difficult process. Instead I logged in to the website, clicked a single button, and my rewards were on.

Edit: As of Sept 19 2015, I now have to type in my last name, last 4 digits of my card, and my zip code...all of which are things that Chase already knows about me. Could be confirmation bias, but I have to wonder if the high ranking of this question on Google had anything to do with it.

Considering the ease of the process, why does Chase require cardholders to do it at all?

  • It does the same to me .. I got frustrated !!
    – goofyui
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 1:54
  • I'm not frustrated, I'm curious.
    – Steve V.
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 2:00
  • 1
    When you say "clicked a single button" did that button say "I agree" or anything like that? No special terms or anything? I assumed that these "rewards" are an excuse to get you to agree to something that they can't include by default in the credit card agreement.
    – Moby Disk
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 20:27
  • That must be some of the "hassle" that another credit card company advertises against.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 21:35
  • They are training people to auto-click without reading. Then one quarter, there will be an additional "sign over first born" button which a certain fraction of people will just click.
    – emory
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


They make you do it (click the mouse a few times to activate the rewards) because X percent won't do it. Those that don't click get nothing.

If it was automatic people who didn't make an effort would accidentally get a benefit. But If you are aware of which category gets the bonus you might make an effort to boost your reward. Of course that extra usage will cost them more, but it also may help their bottom line because of the additional fees and interest.

  • 11
    There are probably a number of reasons that they claim they do it for. However, this answer is spot on. They do it because they want to rob people not paying attention, out of benefits that they think they're getting. Look at (all the major) cell cariers. They provide "Unlimited Data" (that you can only use on your phone and at a certain bandwidth for a limited amount of data) Screwing the consumer with twisted words is sport these days. Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 12:13
  • 6
    I imagine that some of it is also advertising: if you sign up for reminders every 3 months to activate your bonus, they get to remind you every 3 months that the card still exists, and in the case of email, can include whatever other advertising they want in the email as well, now that you've signed up for it.
    – neminem
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 16:10
  • 3
    @AnthonyRussell rob people out of benefits? Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:56
  • 7
    @DilipSarwate: You're right. Swindle would be a much more appropriate term. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 0:44
  • 3
    @AnthonyRussell I disagree with swindle too. How is an offer from a credit card company to give a rebate and the customer not accepting the offer (for whatever reason) a swindle on part of the credit card company? Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 2:33

In addition to mhoran's answer, I think it's a behavioral thing. It makes it seem like it's a benefit if you actually have to click around and do something, whereas if it was just a universal thing that always existed you might take it for granted.

So every few months it's like you get something "new". Usually "new" benefits comes with unplanned spending, which is exactly what they want.


Here are a few possible reasons:

  • As already mentioned in mhoran_psprep's answer, the card provider can save money if people don't sign up, while continuing to advertise that they give a 5% rebate (or whatever benefit).

  • They may use this to get you to do things that help them. For example, they may ask you to switch to electronic billing if you still receive paper bills through the mail.

  • They may try to get you to use their other products and services, and sometimes those of their "partners" (companies they team with to provide some of these discounts, rebates, etc.).

  • I'd also add that it benefits TheCompany to require a "Customer" to keep them in their thoughts. If I have to think "Should I use TheCard?" or "I need to look up TheCompanys benefits for this quarter" then that means I have to think about TheCompany. Any publicity is good publicity right?
    – WernerCD
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 17:18
  • At least for Discover, you don't actually have to log in: you can click the link from the email and activate it instantly without even entering your password (with only the one click). As such, at least for that particular card brand, the reasons here are incorrect.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 18:31
  • @Joe: When I click a link in an email from Discover I still have to login. I suspect you allow your computer to retain your login credentials, which I do not do. Nonetheless, I've modified my answer to say "visit" instead of "login", to reduce the risk of confusing people.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:25
  • Nope; I explicitly do not retain login credentials, that would be awful! Discover advertises in the emails that you don't have to login; each email lists "Activate with one click!" in the button and the mouseover text for the link.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:29
  • For example, my latest one (July-Sept.) included the text, "No login required. Enroll today to start earning on 7/1." after a slight variant on the usual "Click once to activate 5%". That doesn't take you to the normal account maintenance screen - it is solely a page that is related to the 5%, and does not have any advertisements nor does it have any information about your e-billing preferences available to it.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:31

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