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No gym, no problem: How to use Chase Freedom's 5x bonus

March 30, 2020
8 min read
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The newest 5x bonus category on the Chase Freedom card (No longer open to new applicants) is for gym memberships and fitness clubs -- something that may be out of step in an time of social distancing. But you can still take advantage of the perk without setting foot in a gym. For a limited time, some virtual exercise programs livestreamed into your living room also will earn the points.

You'll need to use the Chase Freedom and its quarterly rotating bonus categories where you can earn 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points). From April 1 through June 30, 2020, Chase Freedom cardholders get 5% cash back on the following categories:

  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness clubs and gym memberships

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The 5x bonus requires a simple activation and is good for the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter within these categories.

Although grocery stores are a common category on Chase Freedom's cash-back calendar, fitness clubs and gym memberships are not. In fact, since the first quarter of 2012, Chase has never offered a 5x bonus on anything workout-related. When Chase planned these category bonuses, it could not have anticipated that millions of Americans would be staying at home -- with gyms and fitness clubs closed from coast-to-coast because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Find COVID-19 updates on TPG’s coronavirus hub page.

As someone who loves a good workout class and also carries the Chase Freedom in his wallet, I did some digging to see how you could make the most out of this new category bonus -- right from your couch.

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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What does Chase consider a fitness club or gym membership? 

There are thousands of fitness clubs, gyms and boutique studios offering workouts across the U.S. Unfortunately, not all of them qualify for the 5x bonus this quarter. Typically, Chase recognizes a merchant that falls under a specific category by how the merchant or its processor codes their transactions.

What Chase says is included in the fitness club and gym membership category:

"Health clubs, exercise, or athletic facilities requiring membership and offering access to services related to physical fitness, such as fitness clubs, fitness centers, fitness studios, gyms, aerobics, cardio fitness and other services such as yoga and cross fit training"

The key component here is the specific transaction must be "offering access to services related to physical fitness."

What's not included:

"Merchants that specialize in offering personalized or therapeutic services such as massage therapy, dietary and weight management counseling and personal training are not included in this category. In addition, some merchants that sell a wide variety of general goods, which may include fitness or athletic apparel, sporting goods, dietary food, health food or similar supplements are not included in this category. Also, certain lodging, hotel, motel, resort and central reservation services offering access to third party facilities that include fitness clubs or gyms are not included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in this category."

Chase also provides a sample list of merchants that fall into these categories including national brands such as 24 Hour Fitness, ClassPass, Crunch, SoulCycle, Orange Theory and many more.

Some of the companies listed sell apparel, gift cards or other gear, so it's not clear if those items will code under the 5x category of fitness club or gym membership. As mentioned above, it's probably best to use your Chase Freedom on anything "offering access to services related to physical fitness." If the rest of your purchases happen to code under the 5x category, that's just gravy.

Related reading: How to get access to a great gym everywhere you travel

At-Home Workout Classes

Stay-at-home measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have completely shifted how we're all exercising. Physical gyms and studios worldwide have been adapting, with some businesses now offering online and virtual training. Although nothing quite compares to in-person fitness, the ability for companies to quickly pivot their workout model to an all-digital experience has been pretty incredible.

That means that for many people, you can use the Chase Freedom to pay for at-home workouts with a fitness subscription that you already have. For instance, ClassPass, a monthly workout membership that can be used at thousands of physical studios and gyms, is now working with some businesses to livestream classes.

Crunch Fitness, a chain with over 300 gyms across the country, also offers Crunch Live for workouts at home -- even if you're not a Crunch member -- for $9.99 per month.

Even small boutique studios are getting in on the action. In New York, Conbody is a workout that brands itself as a "prison-style fitness boot camp that hires formerly incarcerated individuals to teach classes." With nonessential businesses shuttered, the company has moved its classes entirely online and can now be livestreamed through Zoom for $20 per session.

The pivot to digital classes is important not just to cater to the new normal of clients being at home, but also for the very survival of these small businesses. Because these are still memberships and sessions for which you pay the business, they should still get you 5x points when you pay with your Chase Freedom from April 1 through June 30, 2020.

Purchase Fitness Credit For Future Use

Some of us may be eager to work out from home now, but many others would prefer to be on the couch and wait until their favorite gyms reopen. Thankfully, for many businesses, you can still purchase workout classes or credits online for future use. Even if a studio doesn't open its doors again until after June 30, 2020, you can still prepay for workouts with a Chase Freedom to trigger the 5x bonus.

For instance, ClassPass not only has livestreamed classes that you can rock out to now but for those who only want to work out in person the company also offers credits that can be purchased and will roll over in full once your membership is reactivated.

Use your Chase Freedom 5x bonus on fitness memberships to purchase ClassPass credits. (Photo courtesy of ClassPass/The Points Guy)

Some national gyms such as 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness allow you to prepay online for discounted memberships, which will be activated once their physical spaces reopen.

Smaller companies like New York-based FlyWheel and Mile High Run Club also offer the ability to purchase credit for future in-studio use. In FlyWheel's case, they'll even give you up to 30% off a package.

Bottom line 

You can use your Chase Freedom 5x bonus this upcoming quarter on gym memberships and fitness clubs -- even without stepping foot in the gym. We can all adapt to social distancing by doing our favorite workouts from home, or save the working out for later when gyms reopen. Either way, take advantage of the Freedom's 5x bonus and see those points or dollars roll on in.

Featured image by You don't need a Peloton Treadmill to do a Peloton workout at your hotel's gym. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.