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If you’re carrying the Chase Freedom card in your wallet, getting from here to there is going to be more rewarding between now and the end of March. Gas stations and local commuter transportation comprise the card’s Q1 bonus category, and once you register here, you’ll earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in spending at the pump, in the backseat of a taxi, on a commuter ferry and a range of other places. As 2017 gets into full swing, follow these four simple tips to maximize your earnings with the card.
1. Update your Uber and Lyft payment options.
If you’re regularly traveling to and from the airport, you may be spending plenty of time in the back of someone else’s car, and those trips qualify for the bonus. Plenty of frequent travelers may have another top travel credit card programmed to cover those expenses. Take a look at your settings in the app today, and make sure your Chase Freedom is set as the default payment option to ensure you’re racking up extra points.
2. Stick with budget car services.
The opportunity to earn 5x points per dollar spent on car services might tempt some travelers to spring for a nicer ride, but it’s important to note that limousines are excluded from Chase’s list of approved merchants in the category. If you’re looking for a more luxurious car service, I recommend sticking with Uber Black or Lyft Premier.
3. Cover your commuting costs early.
For readers who regularly take a train or bus to work, Chase’s first 2017 category will make standing in that overly packed subway car slightly more enjoyable (or at least more rewarding). Many metro commuters operate on plans that reload their transit cards once the balance dips below a certain threshold, but instead of automating payments, it’s wise to consider loading extra funds on your card now to take advantage of the 5 percent bonus. I recommend reviewing your expenses from 2016 to see how much you spent on your commuting costs and calculate how much you should pay in advance.
4. Know your limits.
The only downside to the Chase bonus opportunity is that the benefits tops out at $1,500, and regular travelers or commuters will reach this amount fairly quickly. Once you’ve crossed that threshold, you’ll want to switch your spending to another card that pays more than the Freedom’s standard 1 cent per dollar spent. Check out “How To Track Your 5x Bonus Spending with Chase Freedom” for a simple tutorial on how to monitor your progress.
Looking to plan the rest of your year of earning extra points and cash back? From April through June, Freedom cardholders can take advantage of the bonus opportunity at grocery stores and drugstores. Chase hasn’t released merchants for its Q3 and Q4 categories, so stay tuned to The Points Guy to keep your calendar updated.
What are your favorite tips for maximizing Chase Freedom bonus categories?
It's a stellar Cash Back card on its own, but when paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom's 5x Category Bonuses let you rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, transferrable to partners or redeemable via the portal.
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.24-24.99%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- No annual fee