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Beginner’s Guide To The Chase Freedom

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.

Editor's Note: This content is not provided by Citi. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Citi or any of the other companies whose products are featured in this content.

About the author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a freelance journalist specializing in personal finance and travel and is recognized as an expert in credit cards. He is a regular contributor to many of the top personal finance sites such as Wise Bread and Money Talks News. His work has been frequently carried on mainstream news outlets such as MSN Money, Yahoo, Finance, and Business insider.

Jason lives in Denver Colorado with his wife and two daughters.

– has written 343 posts.

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