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Middle Age Miles

Chase Freedom 5x for 4Q19 – Details & Our Strategy

chase freedom 5x bonus categories 4th quarter 2019 4q19 details strategy department stores paypal chase pay
Chase Freedom Visa

It’s October 1, which means that the 4th quarter of 2019 starts today. That means it’s time to start using this quarter’s 5x bonus categories on your Chase Freedom card – Department Stores, PayPal and Chase Pay. Here are the details and our strategy for the quarter to maximize the bonus.

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 Preferred business 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 20,000 UR points (which Chase advertises as $200 cash back) after $500 in spend within 3 months, plus the rotating quarterly 5x bonus categories, here’s our referral link:

  • Chase FreedomApply 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 4Q19

The 5x bonus categories for the 4th quarter of 2019 (October 1 through December 31, 2019) are:

  • Department stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay

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 display will tell you whether your “5% cash back” has been activated – if not, click through and activate your offer

The deadline to activate your 4Q19 5x bonus offer is December 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 for 5x earning, Chase provides some helpful descriptions, including examples of stores that *do* and *do not* qualify as Department Stores:

Note that PayPal person-to-person payment transactions are expressly *included* as qualifying for 5x bonus points.

For more information on the Chase Freedom card’s rotating 5x bonus categories and the details for this quarter, see the following pages:

Analysis and Our Strategy for the Quarter

For Department Stores and PayPal transactions, 5x UR earning is best-in-class on virtually any purchase, as it gives you an effective points rebate of 7.5%. (Same for Chase Pay, if you can find a place to use it – but we haven’t had any success with this and haven’t used Chase Pay at all in many months.

As we mentioned earlier, we also know that we can use Chase Freedom to fund PayPal person-to-person (P2P) transactions and earn 5x. PayPal P2P transactions using a credit card incur a fee of 2.9%.

With these things in mind, our strategy to maximize the Chase Freedom 5x bonus categories for 4Q19 will be:

  • First, we’ll use Chase Freedom for all organic spend at Department Stores this quarter. We’ll also use PayPal, funded with our Chase Freedom card, for all organic online spend where paying with PayPal is an option.
  • In mid-to-late December, we’ll assess the amount of our spend during the quarter in the Department Store and PayPal categories, see how much of the $1,500 spending cap we’ve used, and calculate how much of the $1,500 cap remains unused.
  • Then, we’ll make one or more P2P transactions (probably just between Philly and me) to use up the rest of our $1,500 cap for the quarter.
    • We’ll pay a 2.9% fee on this transaction, but this is still quite profitable. On each dollar transferred, we’ll pay 2.9% but receive 5x UR points. This means that we’re effectively purchasing UR points for 0.58 cents per point. Given that we can use UR points for travel at 1.5 cents per point (with our Sapphire Reserve), we’ll come out way ahead. Alternatively, even if you simply cashed out your UR points at 1 cent each, this would be a profitable transaction.

Good luck on earning your valuable 5x UR points at Department Stores and with PayPal and Chase Pay during the 4th 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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8 thoughts on “Chase Freedom 5x for 4Q19 – Details & Our Strategy

  1. George

    I never use a CC at the department store unless I need the benefits (e.g. damage protection, return protection, extended warranty), as there always seems to be a better deal buying gift cards. Even when I can’t buy GCs at a discount, 3.75X UA via MPX + 3.3% on the BoA Cash Rewards is 8.55% (valuing UA miles at 1.4c). Without a UA CC and BoA checking account, that drops to 3X and 3%, respectively, which is still a respectable 7.2%. Valuing UR at 1.5cpp, that’s only a 0.3% difference – much less than the opportunity cost of P2P PayPal, which is 7.5-2.9=4.6%, or buying via PayPal, which with the BoA Cash Rewards in your pocket is 7.5-3=4.5%

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi George – Thanks for the very good strategic thoughts. I certainly understand where you’re coming from. MPX + BofA Cash Rewards (or Citi AT&T Access More, for those who have it) is a great way to save all the time at the Department Stores that are available on MPX, especially if you don’t need the card benefits.

      And yes, we’d prefer Freedom 5x or your method over PayPal P2P cash payments. But if you don’t have the organic spend, the PayPal P2P route is a good back-up that’s still profitable if you need to use the rest of your $1,500 cap.

      I appreciate you taking time to provide your suggestions! ~Craig

      1. Bee

        Thank you very much for your reply. I really like your blog by the way, and am enjoying the extra in-depth articles.

        1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

          I’m very glad to hear you’re enjoying Middle Age Miles. We try to do a little extra, to help readers really understand the details and strategy, so we can all make good points-and-miles and credit card decisions. I’m happy that you appreciate our extra effort and hope you continue to be a regular reader! ~Craig

  2. NK3

    Ever thought of using Paypal to make an estimated tax payment instead? With PayUSAtax.com, the fee would be 1.96%, a lot less than the 2.9% P2P fee.

    That is my plan for this quarter–honestly I find this quarter to be the best this year for the Freedom card, because I should be able to maximize it easily, and it is not a bonus category on other cards I have.

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      Hi NK3 – I like that strategy. Very easy to maximize. I actually didn’t realize that any of the tax payment services accept PayPal as a payment method. That’s very good to know for future reference. Many thanks for the good tip! ~Craig

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