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Today Chase released a preview of next year’s 5% cash back calendar for the Chase Freedom card. As previously announced, the 2015 categories (which allow cardholders to earn up to 5 points per $1 spent) will include grocery stores, movie theaters, Starbucks, restaurants, gas stations, and; additional categories or merchants will be announced before the start of each quarter.

Cardholders can earn the 5x bonus on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter, for a total of  7,500 points (or 30,000 total for the year). That’s in addition to other points earned at the regular 1x rate on spending outside the bonus categories (or beyond the $1,500 mark). Beginning on December 15, 2014, cardholders can activate their bonus for the first quarter of 2015 at the Chase Freedom site, by calling the phone number on the back of the card, via text message, or at one of Chase’s 5,600 branches.

The preview of the Chase Freedom 5% cash back categories for 2015 includes groceries, restaurants and gas stations.
A preview of Chase Freedom’s 5% categories for 2015.

Here’s the Chase Freedom 2015 quarterly calendar preview:

Q 1 (January 1 – March 31): Grocery stores, movie theaters and Starbucks
Q 2 (April 1 – June 30): Restaurants and more
Q 3 (July 1 – September 30): Gas stations and more
Q 4 (October 1 – December 31): and more

Note that the “grocery stores” category doesn’t include purchases from Walmart and Target, which will instead earn the normal 1x rate for cardholders. Also note that gift card purchases are eligible for the 5x bonus, so you can buy gift cards from gas stations, grocery stores, and to use later.

If you activate your card for these categories prior to each quarterly deadline, Chase will retroactively credit you with bonus points on your category spending from that whole quarter. On your statement, the bonus earned prior to your activation date will be listed separately and itemized by category. If you have multiple Chase Freedom accounts, be sure to activate them all.

If you don’t already have the card, the current sign-up bonus for the Chase Freedom is 20,000 points after you spend $500 in 3 months, which is double the usual bonus. You can redeem points for cash back (20,000 points = $200), or you can transfer them to Ultimate Rewards if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, and then transfer them to travel partners like Southwest, Hyatt, and United.

I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents apiece, so the 20,000 point sign-up bonus is worth $420 in travel rewards if you can also have one of the premium cards. If you maximize the 5% bonus categories for Chase Freedom and earn the full 30,000 bonus points, you could get another $630 in value – not a bad haul for a card that has no annual fee!

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