The Chase Freedom Visa is a no-fee card that earns 1x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on all purchases (1% cash back if you don’t have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred card).
This card is valuable, though, for one key feature – rotating 5x bonus categories each quarter. This allows us to earn 5x UR points on the designated categories each quarter, up to $1,500 in spend – that is, up to 7,500 UR points per quarter.
5x UR points earning will be best-in-class for virtually any category of spend. At our baseline valuation of 1.5 cents per UR point (assuming you hold one of the Chase cards listed above), that’s a points rebate of 7.5%, which is excellent.
Details of the 5x Bonus Category Offer
This quarter’s 5x bonus categories, valid from January 1 through March 31, 2019, are:
- Gas Stations
You must activate the bonus category offer to receive the 5x bonus. To activate your offer:
- Log in to your Chase online account
- Select your Chase Freedom card
- The far right of the display tells you whether your “5% cash back” has been activated – if not, click through and activate your offer
The deadline to activate your offer is March 14, 2019. If you activate your offer by that date, you should receive 5x UR points for all purchases in the bonus categories during the quarter.
To help you determine what qualifies as gas stations/tolls/drugstores, Chase provides an online list of non-exclusive examples:
Analysis of the 5x Bonus Category Offer
As we mentioned above, 5x UR points is generally best-in-class for these bonus categories. So, you’ll want to use your Chase Freedom card for purchases in the gas stations/tolls/drugstores categories to the extent possible (up to the $1,500 cap; note also that the Chase Freedom card has foreign transaction fees, so you’ll want to do all of your spend in the US).
This quarter’s categories should be easy to use and easy to maximize. If you wouldn’t typically spend $1,500 in a quarter at gas stations, on tolls, and at drugstores, you should be able to top off the $1,500 spend near the end of the quarter on gift cards at drugstores. (You might also be able to buy gift cards at gas stations; I have seen reports of gift cards bought at 7-11 stores triggering similar bonuses.)
For us, we’ll use the Freedom card on organic spend for the first 2+ months of the quarter, and then evaluate at that time.
- I’ve already changed the default card on Philly’s NTTA toll tag account and mine to the Chase Freedom card
- And I’ve set a calendar reminder for myself on April 1 to change it back (probably to the Sapphire Reserve)
- I’ll carry the Freedom card in my wallet during the quarter
- And finally, I’ll make Philly a “Gas & Drugstores” sticky to put on her card, and make sure she puts her card in her wallet for now
Good luck on earning your valuable 5x UR points during the first quarter of 2019!
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