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One of my favorite ways to earn bonus Ultimate Rewards points is by maximizing of the Chase Freedom Visa and Freedom Mastercard’s quarterly rotating categories of merchants and retailers where cardholders earn 5 points per $1 up to a $1,500 quarterly cap and if you have a Chase checking account, their Exclusives Program adds an additional 10% bonus for a total of 5.5 points per dollar.
If you maximize the $6,000 in yearly spend, you are looking at 30,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points (33,000 for Chase Exclusives members), which is even more amazing for a card that has no annual fee. Normally 30,000 Freedom Ultimate Rewards points equal $300 in cash-back, but I value them at about $600, since I can transfer them to my Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold Ultimate Rewards accounts and then transfer on to partners like United, Southwest and Hyatt.
The current categories for Quarter 2 of 2013 are restaurants, movie theaters and Lowe’s. If you haven’t activated your card for the bonuses yet, you have until June 14, 2013 to do so. Per the FAQ, Chase will retroactively credit you with the bonus points on your Q2 category spending, though you might as well just activate now.
Bonus Category Overlap
You might notice that restaurants are also a bonus spending category of one of my other workhorse travel credit cards, the Sapphire Preferred, which earns a total of 2.14 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at restaurants including the card’s 7% annual points dividend.
Since the Freedom’s 5x points is capped at $1,500 and the Sapphire Preferred bonus is unlimited, I’m going to try to spend all $1,500 at Lowe’s this quarter, especially since I can get an additional 5 points per dollar for clicking through to Lowes.com via the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
I’m not sure I have $1,500 in home goods purchases I need to make, so I may purchase something for in-store pickup and then actually exchange it for popular retailer gift cards, like Starbucks and iTunes, since those are usually only sold in-store.
What is your strategy for maximizing the Q2 Freedom bonuses?