Don’t Forget to Activate Your Q1 Chase Freedom 5% bonus categories

The Chase Freedom credit card offers a regular 1% cash back/1 Chase Ultimate Reward (UR) point on all purchases. Each quarter, however, Chase designates purchases in 3 separate categories to receive 5% cash back/5 UR points per $1 spent, up to $1,500 total for the quarter. For Q1, 2014, the categories are:

  1. Gas stations
  2. Movie theaters
  3. Starbucks

The quarter runs from January 1 to March 31, 2014 and purchases count retroactively, meaning that even if you don’t activate your bonus categories until March 1, for instance, all purchases made before March 1 still will receive 5% cash back/5 UR points per $1 spent.

It’s extremely easy to activate your 5% offer. Chase sends multiple emails and even texts if you sign up for them. I actually activated my bonus while withdrawing from an ATM. There’s even a website link. Chase will email you confirmation when you have signed up, as well.

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The best strategy to maximize this bonus system is to purchase gift cards from in-category retailers. For instance, if you have a favorite gas station, consider buying $100 giftcards. Each $100 giftcard gives you %5 cashback, or 500 UR points. Same goes if you love coffee – buy Starbucks gift cards. Gift cards count just as much as an individual, regular purchase would in terms of earning cashback/points. I used $100 as an example because carrying gift cards of higher denominations is less safe, at least to me.

Remember, the limit is  $1,500 total – not per category. So buying $1,500 worth of Starbucks gift cards and $1,500 worth of gas station gift cards wouldn’t earn you $75/7,500 UR points in each category. One category would earn the full 5% bonus while the other would earn the normal 1%. Still, it’s a fantastic way to rack up easy points – gas stations for most people, especially. For us New Yorkers, the Starbucks category is the most important – this city runs first on caffeine!

So, if you haven’t already – go sign up and get your points!

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