Today is 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 (July 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018), the Chase Freedom 5% categories are gas stations, Walgreens and Lyft.
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.
• Walgreens: Includes purchases made using your Freedom card at Walgreens including Walgreens.com and Walgreens owned drugstores operating under the brand Duane Reade. Delivery service merchants and Rite Aid drugstores will not be included in this category.
• Lyft: Includes purchases using your Chase Freedom card for rides with Lyft. Lyft gift cards purchased outside of Lyft are excluded and will not earn bonus rewards.
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, Walgreens and Lyft 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 current quarter ends on September 14, 2018.
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, Walgreens and Lyft this quarter, you can maximize the bonus by buying gift cards at gas stations and Walgreens.
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.
The Chase Freedom® card is currently offering a higher than usual signup bonus of 15,000 bonus points (which can be redeemed for $150 cash back) after you spend $500 in your first 3 months from account opening and 2,500 bonus points (which can be redeemed for $25 cash back) when you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same 3-month period.
If you already have the Chase Freedom you are currently able to earn $100 for referring the Chase Freedom to friends/family using Chase refer-a-friend.
If you do not have the Chase Freedom, this would be a great time to apply since the sign up bonus is higher than normal. The only downside is that the bonus has been higher in the past (I have seen the sign up bonus at 20,000 bonus points a couple of times in the last few years so you might want to wait for a higher sign up bonus if you do not plan to spend a lot in these categories in the next quarter). If you spend a lot on these categories it might be best not to wait for a higher bonus in order to maximize the 5%. (Warning: If you are thinking of applying for the Chase Freedom, please note Chase will deny applicants for the Chase Freedom if they are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule for credit card approvals but you might be able to bypass 5/24 if you have a selected for you offer on chase.com. See this post for more information about the 5/24 rule.)
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