How to Maximize Chase Freedom 2013 5x Categories

The Chase Freedom card doesn’t get a lot of press time here at Help Me Travel Cheap.

The reason is simple: its sign up bonus is a lot less than most travel related credit cards.  Currently, the sign up bonus for the Chase Freedom MasterCard and Visa are both 10,000 points, which is equivalent to $100 cash back.

However, if  you’re not really into signing up for credit cards and canceling them before the year is up, then the Chase Freedom card might have some attractive points earning opportunities.

There are currently only a few cards that offer any sort of 5x opportunities.

  1. Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards offer 5x in the following categories: office supply stores, cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV.  This benefit is limited to $50,000 per year.
  2. Chase Freedom rotating categories

Chase Freedom 2013 5x Rotating Categories 2013

  • January – March = Gas Stations, Drug Stores, & Starbucks
  • April – June = Movie Theaters and Restaurants
  • July – September = Gas Stations, Theme Parks, Kohl’s
  • October – December = Amazon.com and Select Department Stores
Details:
Every quarter you’ll need to be sure to register your card to be eligible for the 5x bonus categories.  Also, there is a $1,500 (7,500 points) limit each quarter.  In a year, that means you should be able to earn 30,000 points by strategically spending $6,000 in the designated categories.

Why You Should Use the Chase Freedom in Conjuniction With Ultimate Rewards

Chase Freedom points cannot be transferred to airlines or hotels, but Ultimate Rewards can.  If you have both a Chase Freedom card and an Ultimate Rewards earning card, you can transfer your Freedom points to your Ultimate Rewards account.
This turns your 5% cash back into a potential 5 airline or hotel points per dollar.

Ultimate Rewards are More Valuable Than Regular Freedom Points

Freedom points generally are only eligible for one penny cash back per point.
That means the max you could get out of 40,000 Freedom points is $400.  That’s not bad at all, but let’s look and see what could happen if those points could be converted into Ultimate Rewards points.
40,000 Freedom points -> 40,000 Ultimate Rewards -> British Airways Avios
Let’s say a person where flying from Chicago, IL to Springfield, MO.  That flight could easily cost $200.  If a person were to cash out Freedom points, they could use their $400 to buy two tickets.  If a person had the flexibility to transfer to Ultimate Rewards and then British Airways, they could get the tickets for 9,000 Avios RT.  That means instead to two round trip tickets they could get four round trip tickets.
40,000 Freedom -> 40,000 Ultimate Rewards -> United MileagePlus
If a person were flying from Washington, DC to Caracas, Venezuela in March 2013, they might pay round $1,300.  If they cashed out Freedom points, they’d still be stuck with a bill of about $900.  However, if those points were transferred to United MileagePlus, someone could get the flights for 40,000 United miles plus about $140 in taxes and fees.
We could use other examples, but I think there’s enough here to prove that the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards is much more valuable than the general Freedom points.

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