Chase Manhattan Corp. seems to be quietly sweeping a credit card rewards program it inherited under the carpet.

Chase Ultimate Rewards, formerly known as Chem Rewards, appears to be a casualty of the Chase-Chemical merger.

Since the merger closed in April, speculation has arisen on how the new Chase would clean house in the credit card area, deciding which programs would survive, and how they would be priced and marketed.

The bank has not been advertising the no-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card, but despite rumors to the contrary, it insists the program is not being discontinued.

"It is not being actively marketed at this time, but customers still have the option to join the program," said Ellen Stuart, spokeswoman for Chase.

Ultimate Rewards offers one point for each dollar spent. Cardholders can redeem accumulated points between 15,000 and 70,000 for selected items from a Chase-issued catalogue.

The program was not mentioned in a promotional brochure about holiday discounts that was sent to Chase customers. The bank did tout its $25- annual-fee Retail Rewards program in the brochure.

"Chase has not designed any new materials for the program," said a customer service representative. However, the bank did send out brochures to existing rewards customers, notifying them that the existing catalogue expires Dec. 31, and they will receive a new one in January.

The Ultimate Rewards program lasts three years and most participants' agreements will expire on Dec. 31, 1997.

The program currently serves about 1.5 million customers, Chase said.

"Chase isn't a villain for doing this," said Stephen Drees, principal of Boston-based Strategic Marketing Services.

"Many programs initiated over the last few years have attracted less revolvers than banks projected they would," he said. "Repricing is just a preview of things to come."

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