Why earning 5x points from home is extremely easy this quarter

Oct 1, 2021

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It’s October. The start of the final quarter of the year. The last stretch in 2021. These next few months of the year may be a doozy in some ways, but one thing should be easier than normal — maxing out this quarter’s 5x bonus on the Chase Freedom (no longer available to new applicants) and the Chase Freedom Flex.

From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31,  once activated, Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders earn 5% cash back (up to $1,500 in purchases) in one of the easiest-to-maximize categories of all time: PayPal. (Well, and Walmart, too.)

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(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

While you may or may not have noticed before, when shopping online, it’s very common for PayPal to be a checkout option — even from major retailers that also accept credit cards directly.

Whether you are checking out at Target.com, HomeDepot.com, eBay.com or just want to reload your Starbucks app, PayPal is often a payment option.

For example, if you are placing an order from Target.com, select the edit payment option and then you can pay via PayPal with your Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Flex. As long as you activate the 5x bonus by Dec. 14, these 5x super easy points are yours — up to the $1,500 quarterly maximum for the 5x bonus categories.

Related: How to use PayPal with your credit cards

(Screenshot courtesy of Target.com)

But what about other PayPal options, like sending money to someone else?

Last year, these transactions also counted as 5x triggering events when the Freedom last had PayPal as a 5x bonus category. Though keep in mind that unlike when checking out via a retailer’s online site, when you just send money to a friend or similar, you’re typically the one paying the PayPal fee.

When the 5x bonus last occurred in 2020, I paid a friend back $120 via PayPal. There was a $3.78 fee to send $120 via PayPal. However, I earned 619 points on that charge on my Freedom. Since I also have a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, those 619 points were worth $12.38 based on TPG’s point valuations, which is more than the $3.78 in fees it cost me to earn the points.

Related: How to maximize Ultimate Rewards points 

If you don’t also have a premium Ultimate Rewards card, then the points earned on the Freedom are typically worth 1 cent each, which would be $6.19 in the example above. That’s still $2.41 more in rewards by my calculations than the fees themselves. But even if you don’t need to send money to a friend, you can often check-out online using PayPal and pay no added fees and still rack up 5x points.

Related: Why I product changed from a Freedom to a Freedom Flex Card 

The challenge of the rotating Freedom bonus categories, of course, is keeping up with them since they change every three months. However, just remember to link your eligible Freedom card to your PayPal account, and then check out via that method when shopping online through the end of the year. If you do that and have online shopping patterns that are anything like mine, you should be maxing out this quarter’s 5x bonus category in no time.

Featured photo by Bloemenmarkt/Getty Images.

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