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Chase just announced the first group of quarterly bonus categories for the Chase Freedom card in 2018. For the first three months of the year, cardholders will earn 5% back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points, if you have an eligible card in your wallet) on the first $1,500 spent with mobile wallets; on purchases made at gas stations; and on spending with internet, cable and phone service merchants.
The most notable of these categories is mobile wallets — this is the first time Chase has included this type of payments as a bonus category for the Freedom. Eligible mobile wallets are limited to four major services: Android Pay, Apple Pay, Chase Pay and Samsung Pay. Though this is the first time the Freedom will include mobile wallets as a bonus category, note that in October the issuer offered holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire card 1 extra Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on mobile wallet purchases (with the same four services) for to up $1,500 in spending.
Last year, the Q1 bonus category included gas stations and local commuter transportation, so it’s a bit different this time around. If you frequently make payments through one of the four mobile wallets mentioned above, the first three months of 2018 will be a great time to use the Chase Freedom and earn a great return on this spending.
You should also strongly considering using the card for spending with internet, cable and phone service providers — the 5x you’ll earn with the Freedom is better than the 3x you’ll get (on the first $150,000 spent each year in combined purchases on these categories and others like travel, shipping and online advertising purchases) with the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. And for gas purchases, the 5x with the Freedom is superior to the 3x Citi Thank You Rewards points you’d get with the Citi ThankYou Premier. So you might want to max out the $1,500 on the Freedom, unless you’re using your mobile wallet a lot, before turning to those two other cards for gas and internet/cable/phone spending, respectively. Plus, note that eligible internet/cable services include Hulu, Netflix and Spotify in addition to more expected companies like AT&T and Verizon.
As a a reminder, the Chase Freedom is technically a cash-back card, earning 1% back on all purchases in addition to 5% on up to $1,500 spent within designated bonus categories each quarter. However, you can earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points instead of 5% back on bonus categories if you also hold a Chase Ultimate Rewards points-earning card like the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve. Based on our valuations, 5x Ultimate Rewards equals a return of 10.5% — pretty stellar, and there are plenty of great ways to put those points to use with partners like Hyatt and United.
If you don’t currently have the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn a $150 bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months. This card has no annual fee, though it does charge a 3% fee on foreign transactions. Finally, keep in mind that you still have through the end of December to earn 5%/5x points at Walmart and department stores.
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