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My Chase Freedom Q2 2013 Bonus Category Strategy

by on April 2, 2013 · 33 comments

in Chase, Credit Cards

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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.

Activate your Freedom card to start earning Q2 bonuses today.

Activate your Freedom card to start earning Q2 bonuses today.

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. 
Lowes URI’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?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Mike

    Is there an Ink or Sapphire card without an annual fee? Curious if Chase has a card product where I can transfer the UR points to Southwest with no annual fee?

  • BILL

    Why can’t you simply purchase gift cards in-store? Why is there a need to make a $1500 purchase and then exchange it for gift cards?_ Is it necessary to somehow hide the gift card transaction from CHASE?

  • freddy

    It enables him to get online shopping points in addition to 5x.

  • Jacob

    TPG, if I have a Chase Freedom, and my wife has CSP, can we still do this double dip?

  • Travel Splash

    TPG wants to earn 5 extra points per dollar spent by making the purchases online through the UR shopping portal. With the Chase Exclusives program even points earned through the Freedom UR mall earn the 10% bonus.

  • Jivepicnic

    There are Ink and Sapphire products with no annual fee, but to my knowledge, those don’t allow transfers to airline/hotel programs. Only the annual fee versions allow these transfers.

  • Travel Splash

    All the no annual fee Ink and Sapphire cards earn you UR points but only the cards with an annual fee allow you to transfer to airline and hotel partners.

  • Steven

    Through the purchase and return strategy which you mention, seems one can always get bonus points on the gift cards that Lowe’s sells by going through the UR store. Obviously this quarter is more lucrative but this seems like a way to always have a big bonus on e.g. Starbucks gift cards, especially for those like myself who feel uncomfortable taking advantage of the Ink without having a legitimate business.

  • ls

    I think buying Starbucks or Itunes gift cards in that manner is not the best value proposition for most. Starbucks can be had for 14 percent off at Cardpool. Add to it 2 percent from Topcashback and 1 percent you get from credit card and you can save 17 dollars per each 100 dollar gift card. Assuming the double dip

    you referred to goes right, you would end up with 1000 ultimate rewards and

    all the headache of going to the store and exchanging the stuff. If I have a choice of 1000 Ultimate points AND having to do all that work or 17 dollars, I

    personally would take the money. One gift card, that would be tempting is Amazon, very hard to find significant discount, let alone 10 percent. I think

    this whole 5 percent is overrated, always check Plastic jungle and Cardpool.

  • MichaelP

    Wouldn’t exchanging in-store pickup items for gift cards reverse the online purchase items, hence reversing out the UR mall points?

  • thepointsguy

    Generally exchanges don’t trigger a point reversal- only returns. At least that is my experience

  • thepointsguy

    Yes- you can transfer your Freedom points to her and from there they can be transferred to UR partners like United instead of simply cashback

  • thepointsguy

    All cards that transfer to partners have an annual fee

  • Gus

    I thought Starbucks is considered a restaurant? Wouldn’t it fall under the restaurant category for Q2?

  • rui

    how does that buy online and exchange instore work? Assume you buy pick-up stuff for $30 online, how can you exchange gift card for that, a $25 starbucks and $5 else ( what this else would be)?

  • Chris S.

    Spending $1,500 on Starbucks and iTunes is dumb.

  • Dieuwer

    iTunes giftcards are hardly ever discounted.

  • ls

    Just recently Bestbuy (I think) or some other retailer had a 100

    dolar Itunes giftcard for 80 dollars. It was posted on Fatwallet.

    Apparently, it happens frequently, but I am not 100 percent sure, since I never buy these even at a discount. Regardless, the value is in the eye of the beholder. I was merely pointing out , that some gift cards at Lowes are better value, than others IMHO. It pays to check, before going through all the trouble of this Lowes scheme.

    To each his own,though.

  • Jon

    You may be fine at Lowes. But I found out that a DSLR purchase from Adorama that was exchanged for the exact same item was processed as a return and a re-purchase, thus reversing the 5% UPromise cash back I received. I would always recommend doing a test run first to see how the transaction is processed before you play games with $1,500 purchases that are exchanged for non-refundable gift cards.

  • http://twitter.com/Pick2PayApp Pick2Pay

    Love the way you brought the savings by buying gift cards. Check out pick2pay – we suggest best card for every purchase online or in-store- but will add gift card pretty soon as a purchase mechanism.

  • http://twitter.com/RobertDwyer Robert Dwyer

    Hmm, not sure I feel comfortable with the buy online/exchange in-store scheme, but I like your creativity! Related: I noticed MyLinkables has $5 back off $50 at Lowe’s right now.

  • Antonio C.

    Another idea: Invite a bunch of friends to a restaurant and take the bill… I’ve done it where they want to pay in cash. Last time at Hyatt Doha I paid ! $1500 and I got almost 8000 hyatt points. On top of that, my credit card has 2% cash back

  • Scott

    Anyone know if Lowes sells Visa/Amex GC and if so what the Mac denomination is?

  • Scott

    Max, stupid autocorrect :)

  • freddy

    What are the chances Lowes won’t accept a merchandise credit as payment for a gift card?

  • PJ

    it does not hurt to have more than 1 Freedom card in a family. My wife is super anti credit cards. However I still have both Master card and Visa to enjoy the $3000 ( 1500 X2) quarterly 5 % allowance, Last quarter 16 X500 Visa gift cards were bought using 2 chase freedom cards and Citi Dividend card ( the annual 6000 max on 5 % was exhausted )

  • Dave

    I just ran my own experiment and ordered a $10 item through the UR portal, paid with Freedom and chose store pickup. I then went to pick it up and tried exchanging it for a Shell GC, but they said they had to return the item to the card first and then I could purchase the GC. They couldn’t manually exchange the items through the register transaction.

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  • Ozzy

    Wondering if you could offer some advice. I could potentially be spending $30,000 to credit cards in the next couple of months. The card needs to be foreign exchange fee free. I’m looking to maximize points from these purchases. I currently have a chase freedom, united explorer (although annual fee is up, so debating whether to cancel), and sapphire preferred (annual fee due to hit in August so may cancel).

    I will be applying for the ink bold or plus (would love them both??). Could you suggest ways to maximize these purchases and which credit card? They won’t be purchases that qualify for bonus points categories.

    I thought about the anericard travel as it gives no foreign transaction fee and interest fee period, but ideally I want to be able to use the points with united or possibly virgin. Any suggestions? I have the cash to pay the bill right away btw.

    Thanks!

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  • Alex

    You notice how the categories keep getting narrower? From groceries to theme parks? Quite a leap. Starting to look around for a better card.

  • jukaks

    can you still exchange merchandise bought online via UR for gift cards in store and still keep the extra 5% from UR? does this strategy still work?

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