Chase is one of the nation’s largest issuers of reward credit cards, and Chase’s Freedom card appears to be a runaway success. Cardholders love receiving one cent in value from each dollar spent, and five cents from categories of spending that change every quarter. And best of all, there is no annual fee for this card.
But what many cardholders fail to appreciate is that it takes a little work to get the most rewards out of Freedom.
How quarterly bonuses work
Chase offers five cents per dollar spent at specific stores as well as designated categories of merchants that change each quarter. For 2013, bonuses are received for the following purchases.
2rd Quarter: Restaurants, movie theaters, and Lowe’s® home improvement stores.
3rd Quarter: Gas stations, theme parks, and Kohl’s® stores.
4th Quarter: Amazon.com and select department stores.
But the most important thing that Freedom cardholders need to know is that they must activate their spending categories. Second quarter categories can be activate before June 14th, 2013, third quarter can be activated after June 15, 2013, and fourth quarter activations can start on September 15th, 2013. So, in general, cardholders can activate their card as soon as 15 days before the quarter begins, and as late as 15 days after it ends. And thankfully, prior purchases will qualify for bonuses when cardholders activate quarter bonus categories before the deadline.
Another characteristic of the program is that cardholders earn the 5% bonus only on their first $1,500 of eligible spending each quarter. One way of maximizing this benefit is to purchase gift cards from eligible merchants for use at other retailers. For example, Lowe’s offers a wide selection of gift cards.
Transferring points to more valuable programs
Freedom offers “cash back” rewards because that is about all that Ultimate Rewards points can be used for, if you only have a Freedom card. Sure, points can be redeemed for merchandise or travel rewards, but they are only worth one cent each. Actually, cardholders would be better off purchasing the travel or merchandise, and earning more points, and just receiving statement credits.
But when a cardholder also has a Sapphire Preferred, Palladium, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus card, points can be transferred to those programs and used in other ways. In those programs, points are worth 1.25 cents towards travel reservations, or potentially much more when transferred to points or miles with airlines, hotels, and Amtrak Guest Rewards.
Freedom is a great card, and learning the best ways to use it can make it even better.
You can learn more about this offer and apply online below.
- For a limited time, earn a $200 bonus after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99%-22.99%.
- 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent between January 1 and March 31, 2014 at gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks® stores
- You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
- Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
- No annual fee
0% for 15 months*
0% for 15 months*