Chase 5x Cards: Where The Points Really Add Up

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Related post: The Best Credit Card For Spending In Every Spending Category.
Chase has several cards that earn up to 5 points per dollar. Spending in 5x categories can really add up quickly so trying to focus spending there is obviously a smart move.

On the consumer side there is the Chase Freedom which normally has a 10,000 point signup bonus but for a limited time has a 20,000 point signup bonus for spending $500 in 3 months.  But even bigger than the signup bonus are the bonus points you can earn annually.

The Freedom card has no annual fee.

For the remainder of the year you can earn 5 points per dollar for up to $1,500 of spending on and at department stores.  Department stores like Sears sell gift cards for other stores as well that will earn 5 points per dollar.

Plus if you have a Chase checking account you’ll get a 10% bonus in February on top of all points earned during the previous year which means that you’ll really earn 5.5 points per dollar.

Every quarter the Freedom 5x categories change, but if you max them out with $6,000 of spending in a year you’ll earn 30,000 points per year without a checking account or 33,000 points per year with a checking account.

I have multiple Freedom cards thanks to converting Sapphire Preferred cards into Freedom cards and each get 5.5x on $1,500 of spending per quarter.

For Q1 of 2014 you’ll earn 5x at gas stations, movie theaters, and Starbucks.  Last quarter also had gas stations and I bought 9 One Vanilla gift cards for $500 each and cashed them out by loading them onto my Bluebird card. That’s the easiest 25K points you can get without applying for a new card!

The only problems with Freedom?
-It has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
-The Ultimate Rewards points it earns can be used for cash back but they can’t be transferred into far more valuable airline miles or hotel points.

Why are airline miles far more valuable than cash back?
-A first class ticket to Hawaii can cost $4,000 but you can use 60,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 6.7 cents per mile. If you were using say, Capital One points, you would need 400,000 points per ticket.
-A last minute ticket or a ticket where you don’t stay for 3 nights from New York to Cleveland can cost $1,200 in coach but just 9,000 miles. That’s a value of 13.3 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 120,000 points per ticket.
-A first class ticket to Asia costs $27,000 but you can use 135,000 miles for that same ticket, a value of 20 cents per mile. If you were using Capital One points you would need 2,700,000 points per ticket.
-A night at a Park Hyatt in Paris, Sydney, or the Maldives can run $1,000-$1,500 with tax but you can use 22,000 points for that room, a value of up to 7 cents per point. If you were using Capital One points you would need 150,000 points per night.
And that’s all besides for the fact that getting a Capital One card costs a minimum of 3 credit pulls whereas you can get 3 or 4 Chase or American Express cards with just 1 credit pull.

However if you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card (or get one in the future) you can transfer your Freedom points there and transfer them into airline miles or hotel points.


On the business side there are the Chase Ink Plus , Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Cash cards.

The Bold and Plus cards have very generous 50K signup bonuses and all of them offer highly lucrative bonus categories:

-The Ink Plus card is a credit card that can be paid over time.  It has a 50K signup bonus for spending $5,000.  The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. It can transfer Ultimate Rewards points into miles. It has no foreign transaction fees.

-The Ink Bold card is a charge card that must always be paid in full. It has a 50K signup bonus for spending $5,000. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. It can transfer Ultimate Rewards points into miles. It has no foreign transaction fees.

-The Ink Cash card is a credit card that can be paid over time. It has a 20K signup bonus for spending $3,000. There is no annual fee.  It can’t transfer Ultimate Rewards points into miles without a Sapphire Preferred, Plus, or Bold card. It has a 3% foreign transaction fee.

All Ink cards give 2 free lounge visits per user, even on free additional user cards. Here is a link to find valid lounges worldwide.

-All of the Ink cards offer 5 points per dollar on internet/cable service and telecom purchases, so that’s a nice rebate when you purchase a new cell phone and off your cable bill.

They also earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores. There are hundreds of gift cards sold by office supply stores.

-Upgrading at your local carrier’s store to an iPhone or Galaxy S4? 5 points per dollar.
-Buying gift cards for gas? 5 points per dollar plus you’ll pay the lower cash rates at the pump.
-Buying gift cards for Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Gap, Groupon, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, TJMaxx, Whole Foods, etc? 5 points per dollar.

-You can save even more money at Staples thanks to bonus points with Plink.

-Plus you can buy $200 Visa gift cards that earn 1,000 points and can be uploaded to Bluebird or used for cash back, bill pay, money orders, etc. Or you can use them for everyday spending thereby getting 6-7% back on everything you buy anywhere via the Visa gift cards.

I run through more of the math behind buying gift cards in this post.

You can 5x points on up to $50,000 in annual spending on the Plus or Bold card and on up to $25,000 in annual spending on the Cash card.

-Ink Bold and Ink Plus also earn 2 points per dollar on gas and hotels.  Ink Cash earns 2 points per dollar on gas and dining.

-All Ink cards can also earn cash back on top of points thanks to Mastercard Easy Savings and the Visa Savings Program.

Yes, the Ink cards are business cards. But you may be already running a business that qualifies for a business card and there are several huge advantages that business cards have over consumer cards as you can read here.

If you have a side business or even if you are just starting one you can get a business card.  For example if Joe Smith sells items on Ebay or on Amazon and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

If you do run more than one business you can get the same card for each business. I’ve been able to do that myself.

The really great thing with these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.

On personal cards if you spend money on your card your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time.  A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes a lot of effort and laying out money well before you have to.  Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a few dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month.

On a business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due and even max out your line without it having a negative effect on your score.  Plus if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.

On a card like Ink Cash with 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for 6 months you can owe money without having any negative effect on your credit score.

Point Currency:

Chase Ultimate Rewards offer instant and fee-free transfers to top-notch mileage and points programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Transfer partners include:
United (Star Alliance) will still be an excellent currency, even after the devaluation coming next February.  They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have a short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award.  The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example for flights between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland with no fuel surcharges.  Flights to Israel on Air Berlin are 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees.  You can cancel an award for as little as $2.50. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well.
Korean (Skyteam) offers the best first class availability of any airline in the world (A380 First Class Trip Report here) and they also have true bargains on partner travel, just 30,000 miles to fly round-trip on Hawaiian or Alaska to Hawaii in coach or 60,000 miles in first.  And it’s just 20,000 miles to fly to Alaska in coach or 40,000 miles in first. You can even get a free stopover on the way to or in Alaska!
Southwest offers award travel without capacity controls though the value per point will dip from roughly 1.9 cents to roughly 1.65 cents come next April. If you prefer points can be transferred to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price.
Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses like discounted awards on Delta and transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.
Hyatt will also remain a powerful currency even after its upcoming devaluation in January. They definitely made things less painful by adding a new cash and points option that offers some excellent values, but more importantly you will earn points, elite stay credit, and will be able to use suite upgrades on cash and point stays.  It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program. Or you can always funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak.

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77 Comments On "Chase 5x Cards: Where The Points Really Add Up"

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Are the 2 complimentary lounge visits through the Ink cards per year or per life of the card?


When do I have to open a checking account by, to recieve the 10% bonus?
Do you have an article somewhere about geting $200 for a chase checking?
Do I get 10% back on the sign up bonus?


Per year.

Would need to be open by 12/31 I believe.
You can buy a $200 coupon code on ebay.
I’m not sure if the 10% would apply to the Freedom signup bonus, next February will be the first time that Freedom is giving a 10% annual dividend.



Any chance the lounge visits roll over, or would you lose them if not used?


Thanks @dan
The coupons on e-bay usually need a direct debit or a monthly fee for the account. Any way around that?


I am looking for a nice place to stay in Miami,can anybody help? There is a beauty Marriott Marquis but it’s downtown which that in itself doesn’t bother me, Just that I’m not sure how safe the area is for walking around.


They don’t rollover.

There are some without those restrictions.

HYATT house Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port: 8K
HYATT house Miami Airport: 8K
Hyatt Place Fort Lauderdale 17th Street Convention Center: 8K
Hyatt Place Fort Lauderdale/Plantation: 8K
Hyatt Place Ft. Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port: 8K
Hyatt Place Miami Airport: 8K
Hyatt Regency Coral Gables: 12K
Hyatt Regency Miami: 12K
Hyatt Miami at The Blue: 15K
Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six : 15K
Hyatt South Beach: Opening 2015.


tks for great post (every time there is a chidush). 1. “give 2 free lounge visits per user, even on free additional user cards” meaning that if i add a user, i will end up with 4 cards? can i use the ‘additional card user’s lounge or each needs to use their own. 2. korean and british, in order to use those miles do i need an account (like ANA) or i can use it as a ‘kardom lachpor bo’


you said you bought vanilla reload at a gas station
which gas station has them and lets you use your CC to buy it?


shell has them. wawa has some gift cards. but as far as i know, Chase doesnt consider that a ‘gas station’ category. they divide the gas station and their mini market. Dan will come along and correct me…….

David R

It’s not a steadfast rule that when you pay at the pump with gas gift cards you’ll pay the lower cash rates. Some stations charge the credit card rate. On occasion, I have even been charged an unadvertised rate somewhere in between the cash and credit price. Just make sure to watch the screen on the pump before pumping. If you see you are about to be charged the higher rate, you may want to cancel it and pay with a credit card instead.

@netlevy: Dan wrote “One Vanilla”. That’s different than Vanilla Reload. It could be easier to find a gas station that will be willing to accept credit card payment for the former.

David R

When and how does Chase provide the lounge club invitation code?


If I say my business is 5 or 10 years old could I still put my ss# for tax identification field ? & for how many different business accounts could I use ss# instead of tax identification number ?


Dan wanted to apply and do a 2bm for one business card and one sapphire i have already both cards (bold and plus and a sapphire) do u think with all thats going on now with chase (some say they were shut after new approvals) that its not a good time for it? Last time i did 3 bm about 10 months ago they did not wanna approve all saying got too many cards lately, thanks for ur time.


1. when downgrade ink to freedom, will get freedom BM? Need to complete formal application for freedom first?
2. I applied to Southwest, approved for one, and realize they dont fly to where I need. Easy to ask C to convert to BA card? phone call or formal BA application? will get BA sign bonus?
3. any article showing calculation of worth keeping CSP with AF?
4. if use all cards for CVS, and almost nothing else, is it an issue?


@dan you wrote that u have multiple freedom cards bec u converted sapphire preffered cards into freedom cards. How can we do this? Does chase let you have multiples of the exact same card open at the same time? Why would they give me 2 freedom cards when I have one already. Thanks you dan so much for all your wonderful posts!


@boruch: shell has vanilla reloads? are you sure?


sorry, i meant they have some type of visa, MC however i think chase doesnt consider the mini mart as ‘gas station’ category


nice post.

signed up for visa savings but honestly, dont see a single worthwhile store on the list. Not complaining about free stuff, but they gotta up their game


The freedom points can’t be used for airline if you also have a sapphire or ink??


Dan, I ahve heard that chase upped their mileage requirements to book flights and points are worth less these days. Is this true? If so people should know before diving in.

Note even with todays prices its still a great deal. But don’t count on getting what you used to get.


I need advice – I tried paying a bill through my bluebird account last night and the “add a payee” function wasn’t working so I called and they said they are having problems with the function and the resolution may take 2 days! How can a money exchanging business -not just any business – we are talking about Amex – not be completely available for 2 days? That means I deposited money and can’t use it to pay a bill! Should I call Amex directly? Do you have know who to contact for this? Thanks


if I downgrade my saphire to freedom do is still get the signup bonus and intrest free for 15 months?


LOUNGE passes are calander year?


@Meir i opened a chase total checking account & got a $200 bonus. Paypal transfers didnt count as a direct deposit. Bluebird & amazon payments did count. OTHER ACH DEBITS MAY COUNT AS DIRECT DEPOSIT.


1. It’s in the name of the AU.
2. You need an account.

I said One Vanilla.

@David R:
Call them for it.

As many as you have.

You can get approved for anything if you have lines to shift around.

Because it’s a downgrade.

There are some that look useful to me:

Sure they can.

I wrote about that and linked to that in this very post!
Current prices have already been discounted to account for the future changes.

Don’t have a checkbook to just write a check?

No, new signups only.


@David R: @Dan:
the invitation code for the Lounge Club pass is ” chaseink “


@Dan: no, I never got the checkbook! I guess I should – I’d rather do my transactions online


Thanks Dan for great post currently have a ink card but I don’t wanna have to pay the fee after first yr. if I close out the card it won’t have any effect on my credit score? Is it more advisable to downgrade? If so to which card? Thanks


Closing a business card has no effect on your credit.
Ink Plus can be downgraded but Ink Bold can’t be.


u wrote that i need an account with korean. but do i need miles in the account to book (ANA i can search but need miles to book). just opening an account shouldn’t be a big deal. great post, tks


Dan, one vanilla cards can be loaded to bluebird?so why are we running around looking for vanilla reloads??


how much can I get for chase ultimate reward’s?

ari F

Can the Ink Plus be downgraded to a Chase Freedom?


what do you think about applying and getting accepted for BA and applying today for a freedom?


@Dan what do you mean a Chase checking account you’ll get a 10% bonus in February?

Also still confused, what gas stations let you buy gift cards?



“All Ink cards give 2 free lounge visits per user, even on free additional user cards.”
If I add a user, can I make them a lounge pass too or is it just for the primary account holder?
I spoke to chase and they told me that its only for the primary account holder.
Which one is true?


Hey dan when the chase freedom quarter is 5 points for gas, I called chase freedom and they told me that’s only for gasoline purchases. In your experience do I also get 5 points for other purchases in the store like gift cards? Thanks


BA can be searched without miles.
Korean has to be called without miles though you can search it via 3rd party tools like KVS.

Only at WM.
VR can be loaded online.

@ari F:
No, it would downgrade to Ink Cash.


You get a 10% bonus for all points earned on Freedom during the previous year.

Pretty much every gas station.

I’ve applied online for AUs and gotten the cards.

It’s worked in-store for me. Even worked at a 7/11 that didn’t even sell gas.


I am new to this system of points and miles so please explain what you mean by miles are worth more than selling for cash. I have chase sapphire preferred points that I can sell or transfer to united for a flight to Israel. On the United website I see that is I used miles it would cost 40,000 point per way. If I were to sell the points, 80,000 points should net me $1,160 conservatively. With the money I could spend less to buy a ticket for the same itinerary. Thanks for the clarification.


Thanks for a great explanation! I have the Chase Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and the Amazon Visa. How does the Amazon Visa compare in with these?


Does anyone know, if my business is 10 years old could I still put ss# for tax identification field ?



Rule of thumb, miles are worth more than cash for most:
-Last minute coach tickets.
-One-way coach tickets.
-Coach tickets with stopovers or open jaws.
-Business class tickets.
-First class tickets.

Cash is worth more than miles for most:
-Regular coach ticket bought more than 2 weeks in advance.

It stinks!
Use it as leverage to get a better card.

You can use either.


I guess I’ll use the Amazon card for Amazon purchases only (except this quarter).

Thanks for the info!!


better off getting an Ink card and buying Amazon GCs from office stores.

Or buying Amazon GCs with your Freedom card this month.


You have a point – 5% is better than 3%…

Where can I buy an Amazon GC?


5 UR points are worth much more than 5%.

Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, etc.


Cool! But without the ink, isn’t it better to buy direct from Amazon this month and get 5x points, than 1% at Staples?

Also, how are UR points worth more than 5%?


Read this very post.


OK, reading it again answered my second question, but not the first. Do you mind explaining?

(Oh! Do you mean buying GC’s from Amazon, for other places?)



Why not just get an Ink card?
They’re fantastic cards with great signup and spending bonuses.


‘Cause I’m not a business 🙂


BTW: Chase says that their Amazon Visa gives 2 points for every $1 spent at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores.,4,22&sapphireprefsplit=4&slatesplit=1&


Time to read the post again my friend.

Other Chase cards gives 2 or 5 points per dollar for those categories and again, the points are worth much more than straight cash back.


So Chase Amazon points are not as good as UR points?


Not even close.


So the Ink looks like a good idea. Maybe I’ll wait until I earn the starting bonus on the Sapphire preferred, though…


I think I got it now. Thanks for your patience!


I applied for the Freedom card although I expect to need to use it oversees. (I also have SP, BA, Capital 1.) But for the first $500 it’s worth the 3% fee. In the end I’ll net 37% back on the first $500.


@Dan: From the Ink Bold card agreement: “I agree this is a business account and shall only be used for business purposes and not for personal, family or household use.”
That’s why I didn’t apply despite actually owning a business. I doubt I’ll do $5,000 business only CC spending in 3 months.


I’m pretty sure you’re the only one that’s read that…
It’s definitely not enforced in any way.


Dan, does chase ever ask for official documentation of any kind to prove it if I put on the application that I have a business for 10 years ? ( a different time I wrote 2 years & they rejected it- business very new)


Hi Dan, does amazon payments qualify for the Freedom Q4 bonuses?


Hey dan I know with the chase sapphire you can see exactly how many points you earned per transaction online, but for some reason it doesn’t show them by the chase freedom. How do you keep track of all the points you earn with your freedom, do you have to manually calculate the points? 


when doing with chase a 2bm one business and one personal will that be one credit pull?


Dan I saw your post regarding Capitol card vs Saphire freedom card
regarding miles
Im not following
how will the saphire card use less miles than the Capitol card for the same amt of $ on airfare?

Also when you want to use points on a last minute trip
very often they want alot of points per the trip
so Im not following the last minute deal with points that the Saphire card does
please let me know
Im trying to book tickets with my United points for tickets to Orlando for Pesach
and its almost impossible


anyway to get matched to the current 20k freedom offer? i’ve had my card for almost a year


“The really great thing with these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.”

FYI I was just denied the ink plus because my personal credit history is insufficient…

BH I read the rest of @dan’s posts about how to push and they did in the end approve me 🙂

Thanks Dan!


Dan, I’ve been declined for Ink business card. I called recon 5 times (twice with elevated) and sm’d twice. Still declined. Said I have too many cards opened recently and too high of a balance on them. What should I do now. What is an acceptable balance to carry?


Why are you carrying any balance?


@ Dan I opened a couple of 0% APR cards to help finance home renovations


like you said about business cards… if i want to sell on amazon or ebay thy ask for a tax id number if i dont have it i give my SSN… does this mean im going to start to have to pay taxes now that the info of the things i sell go directly to the IRS? im 19 and in college


No, nothing here is reported to the IRS.


o, bc when i wanted to make an amazon seller account it said that the IRS makes them ask for the tax id…….also whats better for selling ….ebay or amazon?


anyway to get matched to the current 20k freedom offer? i’ve had my card for almost a year


Ink Cash card does not receive Loungeclub benefits. Just called and Chase explained those benefits are only for cardholders who pay the $95 annual.


Dan, is chase ink plus best bus card – no annual fee – get some value? Need a card to spend a few $ a year.