Update: Tomorrow is the final day to finish Q1 bonus spending at grocery stores, movie theaters, and Starbucks. You can also buy gift cards at any of these places to lock in 5 points per dollar.
You can now register for Q2 bonus spending as well. You’ll earn 5 points per dollar between 04/01-06/30 at restaurants, Bed, Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Overstock.com.
Originally posted on 01/05/15:
The Chase Freedom Visa is an excellent no annual fee card. They market the signup bonus as $100 for spending $500 in 3 months, but really it comes in the form of 10,000 bonus points which are worth much more than $100 when transferred into miles. Plus if you add an additional user and make a purchase within 3 months you’ll get another 2,500 bonus points, for a total of 12,500 points.
The real beauty of the card is in the quarterly 5% categories. Again, while they call it 5% cash back you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).
I say at least because if you have a Chase checking account active by December you’ll get a 10% bonus on all points earned this year. So if you spend the $1,500 per quarter and have Chase checking you will earn 33,000 points per year, or 5.5 points per dollar. You’ll also earn 1.1 points per dollar on all other purchases that you make.
If you and your spouse only has a Freedom card you won’t be able to transfer points to airlines and hotels. However if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card (or will get one in the future) you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).
The 5 point categories for 2015 are as follows:
Q1: Grocery stores, Movie theaters, Starbucks
Q2: Restaurants, Bed, Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Overstock.com
Q3: Gas stations and more to be announced.
Q4: Amazon.com and more to be announced.
So shop at your favorite grocery store from now until March 31st and you’ll earn a whopping 5 or 5.5 points per dollar spent.
Many grocery stores sell gift cards that can be cashed out as well.
Target and WalMart are excluded from bonuses.
Starbucks purchases and reloads online, in-store, and in-app all qualify.
There are 4 ways to tell if a grocery store will qualify.
1. Chase has a listed of qualifying merchants. However it just shows national chains that will qualify like Pathmark and ShopRite.
As long as the store is categorized as grocery you’ll get the 5 points per dollar even if it’s not on that list.
It’s a useful site and you can search for grocery stores only, but it’s far from perfect and it’s not an exhaustive list.
3. If you purchased from the store in the past you can click on any card to see your account activity, click on the “I’d like to” menu, and click on dispute a charge:
Then click on all transactions and scroll down to the last time you shopped at the store.
For example Tibor’s butcher shop in Cleveland would qualify:
But Boris’ butcher shop would not:
(For Clevelanders: GFS, Giant Eagle, Heinen’s, and Ungers would all qualify as well according to this method).
4. Make a small test purchase to see if you get 5x points for the transaction. Once your purchase switches from pending status to posted status you can click on the purchase to see how many points you earned. This same method works for other Chase cards with bonus categories.
Note that different terminals in the same store can have different classifications. If you purchase something in a specific department or at customer service in can have a different category than at the regular cashiers.
DDF user “clear thinker” points out that his purchase from the coffee counter at Breadberry only shows 1 point per dollar, while the regular grocery purchase shows as 5 points per dollar:
Coffee counter purchase:
Regular grocery purchase:
The coffee counter register is categorized as dining and therefore didn’t get the 5 points per dollar even though both charges posted from the same exact store.
Chase now also shows you how much you have earned for the current quarter.
Just click on Ultimate Rewards under your Freedom card and you’ll be redirected to a page showing how much you’ve earned this quarter:
The maximum earnings is 7,500 points per quarter for $1,500 of spending. In “Freedom-speak” that’s $75 cash back even though the rewards come in the form of points. Just multiply your rewards by 20 to see how much you have already spent this quarter. If you have $30 in rewards showing that mean you’ve spent $600 so far and can earn 5 points per dollar on another $900 in spending this quarter.
Don’t use the points for cash back as they’re worth significantly more when transferred into airline miles, hotel points, or Amtrak points!