Ending tomorrow: Earn 5x on groceries for Chase Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited

Jan 12, 2021

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom Flex

Grocery spending may have reached its peak early on in the pandemic, but it remains an important category for U.S. consumers in 2021. Many popular cards have offered limited-time bonuses on groceries as spending shifted from travel and other discretionary spending.

The latest limited-time offer from Chase furthers that trend, but it’s ending tomorrow on Jan. 13, 2021. For new Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex cardmembers, you’ll receive 5% cash back (5x) on grocery store purchases (excluding Walmart and Target) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

That’s in addition to a $200 sign-up bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months.

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Related: Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited 

Is this a good offer?

Through Jan. 13, 2021, new cardholders will also receive 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points) on grocery store purchases for the first year (on up to $12,000 for the year). Five Ultimate Rewards points are worth 10 cents (according to TPG valuations) so that makes it near the top of our list of best grocery cards — at least for the first year of card ownership.

That’s a tremendous value for a no-annual-fee card — but it gets even better.

Related: Are temporary categories here to stay as part of sign-up bonuses?

Get 5x back on Lyft through March 2022 (Photo courtesy of Lyft)
Get 5x back on Lyft through March 2022. (Photo courtesy of Lyft)

In 2020, the Freedom Unlimited was refreshed alongside the newly launched Freedom Flex. That added an array of new bonus categories and earnings. Here’s the full breakdown:

Freedom Flex:

Freedom Unlimited:

  • 1.5% back on everything (except for elevated categories below)
  • 5% on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards (new)
  • 3% back on dining (new)
  • 3% back at drugstores (new)

Earning Ultimate Rewards points

Pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom Flex with a premium Ultimate Rewards-earning card is where you can unlock outsized value. By converting cash back rewards into fully transferable points, you can take advantage of airline and hotel partners and increased redemption rates on Chase’s travel portal.

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

If you have one of these cards, it’s a no brainer to couple it with one of these no-annual-fee cards. Keep in mind all Chase cards are subject to the 5/24 rule, essentially limiting consumers from opening any new Chase card if you’ve opened five or more personal cards across all banks in the last 24 months.

Related: The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

What counts as groceries?

Chase notes that superstores such as Target and Walmart do not count toward the 5x grocery store bonus. This is nothing new, as the grocery category typically limits these stores from bonuses along with membership warehouses including Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s.

(Photo by Parinda Yatha / EyeEm / Getty Images.)
(Photo by Parinda Yatha / EyeEm / Getty Images.)

However, the exception to this is grocery delivery services such as Instacart. If you use these services and you’re billed through them, purchases should be categorized as groceries and trigger the bonus earning rate.

Related: How to ensure you earn bonus points for grocery purchases

Other cards to consider

If you’re interested in a credit card that earns cash back — and also has ability to earn more lucrative transferable points — the Citi® Double Cash Card is another compelling option.

The card actually offers a higher 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy and 1% as you pay). Plus, Citi allows cardholders to convert their cash back to full-fledged ThankYou Points via a linked ThankYou account.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending each calendar year, then 1%). It’s one of the best cash-back cards on the market, especially during the pandemic. The card’s bonus categories are perfect for sticking pretty close to home: supermarkets, streaming, and gas. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.

Bottom line

If you don’t yet have the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Chase Freedom Flex, now is the perfect time to apply. With no annual fee, an array of bonus categories and an elevated 5x grocery bonus for a full year (if you apply by Jan 13, 2021), it’s the ideal no-annual-fee Ultimate Rewards card.

Featured photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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