Introducing Blueprint from JP Morgan Chase

Would you consider a credit card that allows cardholders to select special financing terms for individual purchases? Yes, you read that correctly.

Chase Blueprint from JP Morgan Chase lets customers design their own plan to handle all aspects of credit card transactions. Phil Christian, Senior Vice President of Chase Credit Card Services, was asked to elaborate on this new, innovative card program.

What is Chase Blue Print and why was it initiated?

Blueprint is an industry-first set of features that dramatically improves the way Chase customers can manage their spending and borrowing. With Chase Blueprint, customers can design their own simple plan to help them control spend, pay down balances, and pay off major purchases.

As an industry first, the Blueprint concept was not developed overnight. In fact, each Blueprint feature is the product of extensive consumer research and testing conducted over the past two years. Beginning in 2007, Chase conducted a series of in-depth interviews with consumers across the country to better understand their views on credit card lending and debt. As a result, we developed features that could truly help address their needs.

What should our readers know about this program? What are the benefits to a potential client?

Blueprint's array of innovative tools helps consumers take charge of their finances. These new features are especially important because they can help consumers better manage both short- and longer-term financial needs while providing more control over card payments. Unlike other card companies that may offer tools to analyze spending, Blueprint is fully integrated into customers' accounts, enabling them to create customized payment plans and track their progress on every statement, either online or on the phone working with a Chase adviser.

Is there anything you would like to add at this time?

Once a card member establishes a Blueprint account there are no associated fees or penalties. For example, if you miss a Blueprint purchase payment, your account stays in good standing as long as you still pay your minimum payment due and keep your other promises.

Curtis Arnold, Founder of CardRatings.com, recently test drove Blueprint and is impressed. "It's great to see a card issuer think outside the box and be innovative. We hear all about the negative things card companies are doing and it's just really refreshing to hear about a positive development like this."

Part 2: Understanding Full Pay and Split

Let's delve into the details of Blueprint's Full Pay and Split Pay features.

Full Pay: Avoid Paying Interest on Everyday Purchases

The Full Pay feature of Chase Blueprint allows you to avoid paying interest on various pre-determined purchases. To get started, simply select one or more of the categories available on Full Pay (groceries, gas, dining, entertainment, etc.). Each month, your purchases in those categories will be tabulated and separated out on your Full Pay statement. And for each month you pay off a category balance in full, you pay absolutely no interest on those purchases.

In addition to dividing your Full Pay purchases from your other purchases, your statement shows exactly how many payments you've made in full, as well as how many you've missed since enrolling in the program. You can change your Full Pay options whenever you choose, either via the Web or by contacting a telephone customer service representative.

Split Pay: Customize Your Payoff of Large Purchases

The goal of the Split Pay feature is to target a certain purchase or source of debt. Start by entering the purchase amount of that item or debt, and then input either your desired monthly payment or a specific pay off term, e.g. six months. Once you've organized your payment plan, you avoid paying interest on your purchase or debt almost instantly by paying off your monthly balance in full.

As with Full Pay, Split Pay has no associated or hidden fees. Also like Full Pay, your Split payment amount is part of your total Blueprint payment. When you make a Blueprint payment, it is automatically applied to your Split payment and is reflected on a separated statement.

Chase believes these elements of the new Blueprint program will motivate consumers and lead to more positive spending practices.

Part 3: Finish It and Track It

How does "Finish It" vary from "Track It"?

With Finish It, Chase customers now have the flexibility to create a custom plan to pay down their balance faster.

Everyone wakes up Jan. 1 and has the goal to pay down their debt. Blueprint offers a solution for fulfilling a resolution. Finish It gives customers the flexibility to decide how much they want to pay each month or how fast they want to pay it off. Chase does the math, sets up the plan, and charts customers' progress in achieving their goals on each monthly statement with a progress bar that highlights a customer's progress. Like many resolutions, you may fall off track. If a customer misses a Blueprint payment--no problem. We'll post a reminder on their next statement and let them know that we've adjusted their payment plan. We think this is very important to help customers understand their progress.

So Finish It allows you an opportunity to pay down the balance on your credit card. You set the date of your goal and the amount you want to pay and Blueprint takes care of the rest. Your payment progress conveniently appears very clearly in a separated portion of your statement.

And how does "Track It" work?

Track It provides a comprehensive financial snapshot of Chase credit card purchases.

Customers are able to set up a budget and track their spending in 25 categories, including an at-a-glance summary that lets customers easily see their purchases--and progress toward achieving their financial goals. Offering so much more than the year-end statements many cards offer, Track It lets customers see and manage their activity daily so they can adapt and change as they go.

The Chase's Blueprint page also suggests that through Track It you can monitor your spending and set up spending goals in each of the three other Blueprint options...namely Full Pay, Split, and Finish It. Track It is essentially in real time. As soon as a transaction occurs, it appears reflected in your account.

All in all, I must say that I've really been impressed with Blueprint and hope to be able to give it a test drive soon. It's good to see a credit card company offering new, innovate services. The bottom line is that I think Blueprint has the potential to be a real "game changer" and boy does this industry need some positive changes.