Tomorrow, June 14, 2018, is the last day to register your Chase Freedom to earn 5x Ultimate Rewards for the past quarter at grocery stores, through Paypal, and through Chase Pay that you can transfer (circuitously) to Aer Lingus, British Airways, Flying Blue, Iberia, Korean, Southwest, United, Singapore and Virgin Atlantic.
Note that the Freedom is different than the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which Scott reviewed here.
If you register by tomorrow, your Freedom purchases will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent (up to the bonus cap of $1,500 per per quarter) on purchases at grocery stores as well as through Paypal and Chase Pay retroactively from April 1 through June 30, 2018.
A Look at the Third Quarter’s Category Bonus
On June 15, you will have the chance to register for 5x points on purchases with Lyft, Walgreens, and gas stations.
With the Chase Freedom card, you can earn 5% cash back on your first $1,500 in purchases in bonus categories that rotate quarterly.
These are the categories Chase has announced so far for 2018:
To give you an idea of what may be to come, the bonus category for the fourth quarter of 2016 was wholesale club, department store, and drug store purchases, and the bonus category for the fourth quarter of 2017 was Walmart and Department stores.
Although the chart says 5% cash back, you actually earn 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar that can be redeemed for cash back at a rate of 1 cent each– that’s why all the marketing of the card features cash back language. BUT if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred card, there is a second way of redeeming the Ultimate Rewards: transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred account and from there to airline miles or hotel points. We call this the Freedom Two Step.
Where You’ll Earn 5x Ultimate Rewards Retroactively From July Through Now
You can find a list of example merchants that qualify/don’t qualify as a grocery store here.
Pruchases from traditional grocery stores count. Wholesale clubs like Sam’s and BJ’s do not count, and Walmart and Target do not count.
As for Paypal, standard payments made with your Chase Freedom card count, as does sending money to someone via your credit card. As for Chase Pay, using your Freedom card with your Chase Pay mobile wallet during check out counts.
Using Gift Cards to Maximize the Freedom’s Category Bonuses
To maximize the quarterly bonuses, you’ll need to spend $1,500 within each three month period. That would get you a total of 30,000 Ultimate Rewards over the course of a year:
($1,500 in purchases x 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar) x 4 quarters in a year = 30,000 Ultimate Rewards
If you haven’t maximized the second quarter’s potential bonus points yet, there is a work around that enables you to spread out whatever amount of spending you have left do over the course of a more reasonable amount of time– gift cards.
Many grocery stores offer gift cards that either don’t expire or at least give you a longer period of time to spend the money.
The same practice of widening the time window you have to maximize category bonuses via gift cards could be applied to upcoming category bonuses as well.
How to Activate the Category Bonuses
Your Freedom card will not automatically start earning 5x Ultimate Rewards each time the quarter changes. You have to you register your card at chase.com to activate the category bonuses.
The deadline to activate the 2rd Quarter Bonus is tomorrow, June 14, 2018.
Other Reasons to Get the Chase Freedom
- You’ll get $150 cash back or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months of opening the card
- You’ll get $25 cash back or 2,500 Ultimate Rewards when you add an authorized user and make your first purchase within the first three months of opening the card
- 1% Cash back or 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other spending with no limit
- No Annual Fee
With no annual fee, It’s easy to see why this card is worth signing up for and keeping, to use whenever you’re not meeting minimum spending requirements for new cards. Everyday 1x spending aside, you can earn 47,500 Ultimate rewards just from the sign-up bonus, adding an authorized user, and maximizing the category bonuses each quarter for a year:
15,000 + 2,500 + 30,000 = 47,500
That’s either $475 cash back, or 47,500 Ultimate Rewards transferrable to seven types of airline miles or four different kinds hotel points if you also have a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred you can complete the Freedom Two Step with.
What You Can Do with Your Ultimate Rewards if You Also have a Sapphire Preferred, Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred
- You can use 57,500 United miles for a one way trip in a flat bed on United from the United States to Europe
- Southwest Rapid Rewards are worth about 1.4 cents toward any Southwest flight with no blackouts. You can do better with other transfer partners, but that’s still 40% better than redeeming the Ultimate Rewards for cash back at 1 cent each.
- You can book amazing Korean First Class for as cheap as 45,000 miles.
- Free nights at Hyatts worldwide start at 5,000 points.
- Award flights with British Airways Avios start at 4,500 miles one way, and Boston to Ireland or the west coast to Hawaii is only 12,500 miles one way.
- You can fly Singapore Suites Class for 76,000 miles to Europe
As you can see, transfers offer the opportunity to do way better than 1 cent per Ultimate Reward.
If you are planning on opening the Chase Freedom card and don’t already have a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve card, you should consider opening one to expand your Ultimate Rewards redemption possibilities. Not to mention the current sign-up bonus offers of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards for the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve and 80,000 Ultimate Rewards for the Ink Business Preferred can take you far.
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For purchases on the Chase Freedom card in grocery stores, through Paypal, and through Chase Pay made between April 1 and June 30, 2018, you will earn 5% cash back or 5x Ultimate Rewards if you have a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred. Make sure you register your card here by tomorrow if you want to earn 5x points retroactively for this past quarter.
Hat tip to The Points Guy for the third quarter’s bonus categories.