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One of the best ways out there to rack up bonus points on specific spending categories is with the Chase Freedom’s quarterly rotating categories of merchants and retailers where cardholders earn 5 points per $1 up to a $1,500 quarterly cap.
If you maximize the $6,000 in yearly spend, you are looking at 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which may not seem like a ton, but it’s pretty awesome 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 Ultimate Rewards accounts and then transfer on to partners like United, Southwest and Hyatt.
Today, Chase announced the 5x bonus categories for Q1 of next year, January – March, 2014, and they will include:
- Gas Stations
- Movie Theaters
If you haven’t activated your card for the final 5x categories of 2013 which are Amazon.com and select department stores you should do so by December 14th and you will be retroactively credited for all your pertinent spend this quarter. You can activate your card the following ways:
- Online: Visit chase.com/freedom.
- Text Message: Sign up for Chase Freedom 5% Text Reminders at chase.com/freedom and you’ll get a text reminding you when it’s time to activate.
- Email: Provide your email address at chase.com/freedom and they will send you an email when it’s time to activate.
- Phone: Call the number on the back of your card and let an advisors activate your 5% cash back.
- Chase location: Visit any Chase bank and see a personal banker.
Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold/Plus Combo
If you just have the Freedom card, those points are just good toward cash back, but remember, if you also have a Sapphire Preferred or either the Ink Bold with Ultimate Reward or Ink Plus cards, the Ultimate Reward points you earn with your Freedom card can be transferred to United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club and Amtrak. I personally find United miles to be the most valuable transfer partner since their award thresholds are pretty low, they have generous routing rules and fees are dirt cheap. Earning 5 United miles for every dollar spent is a pretty amazing deal for a card that has no annual fee.
Don’t yet have a Freedom card? Apply for a card here and you can take advantage of the increased bonus of 20,000 points after $500 in spend within 3 months, which is double the normal bonus.