Happy New Year! Today is also the first day of a new quarter and a new set of 5 percent categories for the Chase Freedom card (one of my favorite credit cards). Although the Chase Freedom is technically a cash back card, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred or Ink Plus card you can transfer points from your Freedom account into one of those accounts and then can transfer those points to various Chase travel partners.
This quarter (January 1, 2019 – March 31, 2019), the Chase Freedom 5% categories are gas stations, tolls and drugstores.
Chase provides some clarification on what is included or excluded in each category.
• Gas Stations: Merchants in the Gas Stations category sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station, and may or may not sell other goods or services at their location. Please note that some merchants that do not specialize in selling automotive gasoline are not included in this category, for example, truck stops, boat marinas, oil and propane distributors, and home heating companies.
• Tolls: Merchants in the Tolls category collect fees associated with toll roads, highways, and bridges. Note that purchases made during the quarter to replenish your electronic toll collection account will qualify.
• Drugstores: Merchants in the Drugstores category specialize in selling prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, supplements and various health-related items. These merchants may also sell cosmetics, toiletries, greeting cards, and various household items such as cleaning supplies and packaged foods and drinks. Please note that some merchants that sell a wide variety of goods including these items, and which may contain an onsite pharmacy, for example, warehouse clubs, discount stores, or grocery stores, are not included in this category..
The 5% only applies to the first $1,500 spent on combined purchases each quarter. This means if you spend $1,500 on a combination of gas stations, tolls and drugstores this quarter you will receive a total of 7,500 points (1,500 plus a bonus of 6,000 points).
Don’t Forget to Activate
Please note, that in order to earn the 5% you must activate the offer each quarter (by text, email or other methods). If you have a Chase Freedom and have signed up for email reminders you should have already received an email asking you to activate this quarter’s categories. If you have not yet activated the 5% for this quarter, you can register now or any time during the registration period and earn the full 5% for the entire quarter retroactively. Registration for this 1st quarter of 2019 has already started and ends on March 14, 2019.
How to Maximize the 5% Bonus
This is a pretty easy quarter to maximize the bonus. If you were not planning on spending a total of $1,500 on your Chase Freedom on gas stations, tolls and drugstores this quarter, you can maximize the bonus by buying gift cards at gas stations and drugstores.
Overview of the Chase Freedom Credit Card
For anyone not familiar with this card, the Chase Freedom credit card is a great no annual fee card that earns you points that can be indirectly transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. Chase Freedom is technically a cash back card only and points earned using the Chase Freedom cannot be directly transferred to airlines and hotel programs. However, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred or Ink Plus card you can transfer or combine your points from your Chase Freedom account to one of those cards and then from there to the various Ultimate Rewards travel partners. See related post How To Combine or Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Between Accounts.
While the Chase Freedom® normally offers 1% cash back on all purchases, every quarter there are certain bonus categories for which you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in bonus categories each quarter. This means if you spend the full $1,500 each quarter in those 5 percent categories you can earn a total of 30,000 points a year (6,000 points + extra 24,000 bonus points).
The 5 cash back categories vary each year. You have to register each quarter for the bonus and then you can earn the 5% on up to $1,500 on purchases for that quarter.