Chase Freedom is offering 5% cash back at amazon.com, zappos.com, and dozens of department stores from October 1 – December 31, 2014. You must activate those category bonuses, and you can do so now.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.19.01 PM(It’s too late to activate the 5x at gas stations and Kohl’s that runs through September 30. If you haven’t hit $1,500 in spending yet, hurry.)

The Freedom markets itself as a cash back card, but it actually earns Ultimate Rewards that do NOT transfer to airline or hotel partners like United and Hyatt.

You can, however, transfer the Freedom’s Ultimate Rewards to your Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold account or your spouse’s. From there, you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards to a dozen incredible airline and hotel partners like United and Hyatt.

That means that if you play this right, you can earn 5x United miles per dollar at amazon.com, zappos.com, and select department stores for the fourth quarter of the year.

  • How can you register for the Freedom 5x categories?
  • How can you indirectly transfer the Freedom’s Ultimate Rewards to airline miles and hotel points?
  • Why is transferring the points more valuable than cash back?
  • Who are the Ultimate Rewards partners?
  • What department stores will earn 5x? Which are excluded?

Freedom

Each quarter, you can earn 5x Ultimate Rewards per dollar on your first $1,500 in the bonus categories as long you register your Freedom card. Max out the $1,500 each quarter, and you’ll earn 30,000 non-transferable Ultimate Rewards in a year.

That’s on top of the current sign up bonus of 10,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in three months on the card.

That’s an excellent possible haul for a card that has no annual fee. The full value of the Freedom is only maximized, though, if you also have a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold.

Activating the 5x Back

Chase sent out emails that allow Freedom cardholders to activate with one click. If you can’t find yours, you can activate your fourth quarter bonus here.

Chase Freedom is offering 5% cash back at amazon.com, zappos.com, and dozens of department stores from October 1 – December 31, 2014.

“Department stores” is a broad category. A full list of stores that qualify can be found here. The following are specifically EXCLUDED from the 5% cash back.

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Redeeming Ultimate Rewards

Freedom earns non-transferable (to airlines or hotels) Ultimate Rewards that can be redeemed for 1% cash back, so 5x Ultimate Rewards is 5% cash back. If you planned to redeem your Ultimate Rewards that way, I am so glad you are reading this post.

Do not redeem your Ultimate Rewards for cash back!

Instead transfer your Freedom’s Ultimate Rewards to your Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus account inside your chase.com account.

1. Sign into chase.com and click on the Ultimate Rewards balance on the right side of your screen.

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I’m at zero because I already transferred!

2. Click Manage Ultimate Rewards and Combine Points.

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3. Enter your other card’s credit card number, and how many points you want to transfer.

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From your Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus account, you can transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, and many more airlines and hotels.

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Transferring points should allow you to get far more than 1 cent per point of value.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the Freedom’s 5x rotating categories are some of the best category bonuses on the market, and I always try to max out my $1,500 in spending per quarter.

Sure I’d rather put non-bonused spending on an Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® or Starwood Preferred Guest Credit card, but you cannot beat 30,000 Ultimate Rewards per year from 5x category bonuses and a current 20,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus after spending $500 in the first three three months.

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