Middle Age Miles

Time to Activate & Use Chase Freedom 5x Categories for 3Q19

chase freedom 5x 5% bonus categories 3rd quarter 2019 3Q19 3Q2019 gas stations select streaming services
Chase Freedom Visa

It’s July 1, and the 3rd quarter of 2019 starts today. That means it’s time to start using this quarter’s 5x bonus categories on your Chase Freedom card – gas stations and select streaming services (Netflix, Sling, Fubo TV, Sirius XM, Spotify, Hulu, Vudu, Apple Music and Pandora).

The Chase Freedom Visa & 5x UR Earning

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, that’s a points rebate of 7.5%, which is excellent.

Referral Link

If you’d like to take advantage of the no-fee Chase Freedom’s benefits, including a sign-up bonus of 15,000 UR points (which Chase advertises as $150 cash back) and the rotating quarterly 5x bonus categories, here’s our referral link:

  • Chase Freedom: Apply here (Middle Age Miles referral link)

Remember that the Chase Freedom card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so you won’t be approved if you have 5 new personal credit cards within the past 24 months.

Details of the 5x Bonus Categories for 2Q19

The 5x bonus categories for the 3rd quarter of 2019 (July 1 through September 30, 2019) are:

  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services (Netflix, Sling, Fubo TV, Sirius XM, Spotify, Hulu, Vudu, Apple Music and Pandora)

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

Here is where to activate your bonus categories:

Clicking “Activate” will take you to a page where you’ll see a place to activate the categories for the upcoming quarter:

Once you’ve activated the offer, the Chase webpage will confirm your activation with a check mark:

The deadline to activate your 3Q19 5x bonus offer is September 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 a gas station for purposes of the 5x bonus categories, Chase provides a list with examples:

In addition, Chase provides a helpful list of exclusions from the “gas stations” category:

Here is a link to the complete set of FAQs for the 5x feature of the Chase Freedom card:

Analysis of the 5x Bonus Category Offer

As we mentioned above, 5x UR points, which gives you an effective points rebate of 7.5%, is best-in-class for these bonus categories. Generally – subject to one notable exception that we’ll explain below – you’ll want to use your Chase Freedom card for purchases at gas stations and the qualifying streaming services to the extent possible during this quarter, up to the $1,500 cap (note that the Chase Freedom card has foreign transaction fees, so you’ll want to do all of your spend in the US).

The notable exception we mentioned is this: Today, we received an Amex Offer for 10% statement credit for pay-at-the-pump purchases at ExxonMobil. We added this Offer to our Blue Business Plus card, which earns 2 Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points on all purchases (including gas). At our baseline value of 1.5 cents per MR point, that’s an additional points rebate of 3%. Also, for our ExxonMobil purchases, we use the Speedpass app, which earns 3x points per gallon. Points are ultimately redeemable at 1 cent each, so this is a further rebate of roughly 1% (assuming roughly $3/gallon for gas). Thus, for fuel purchases at ExxonMobil, we can earn a return of about 10+3+1 = 14%. That’s an even better deal on gas than the Freedom 5x bonus, if ExxonMobil gas prices are roughly competitive with alternative stations. Note that the ExxonMobil Amex Offer runs through 12/31/2019, so one option would be to use Freedom now and “save” the Amex Offer until 10/1 and later – but we don’t use enough gas to max out the Amex Offer, even in 6 months.

Given that we can probably do better at ExxonMobil locally and that we don’t spend that much on the qualifying streaming services, this quarter’s categories are tough to maximize for us. The best option appears to be to find a gas station/convenience store that sells gift cards and qualifies for the 5x gas station category. If you have a known spot where this works, great; otherwise, having to find one by trial and error may be too much trouble for this quarter. The good news is that if you find a GC-selling “gas station” location, you may be able to use it with other cards that have gas stations as a permanent bonus category, such as the Amex Business Gold card or the Citi Premier.

Good luck on earning your valuable 5x UR points at gas stations and with the select streaming services during the 3rd quarter of 2019!

How do you plan to maximize the 5x bonus categories this quarter? Please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!

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