This is post #2 of a series regarding the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
- Introduction to Chase Ultimate Rewards Program
- Maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards with Chase Freedom
- Downgrading your Chase Ultimate Rewards Card to Avoid the Annual Fee
- Best Redemption for Chase Ultimate Reward Points – Hotel Stays
- Best Redemption for Chase Ultimate Reward Points – Air Travel
- Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: Sapphire Preferred vs. Ink Bold
- Top 10 Chase Ultimate Reward Questions
Now that you got an introduction on the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, there are a few tips/tricks to really maximize your earnings! As I mentioned in the previous post the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus are the only Ultimate Reward earning cards that give you the full benefit of being able to transfer your hard earned points to partner loyalty programs. But what about the Chase Freedom credit card – a pretty common card that gives you cash back. Overall, it is a decent cash back card especially with their 5% quarterly bonuses, but being able to transfer those points earned would be even more ideal, wouldn’t it?!
If you couple the Chase Freedom card with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus, your points then become more valuable! The points earned from all your Ultimate Reward earning cards are grouped into one account and all points are then able to be transferred over to a participating hotel/airline program.
So if you already have one of the cards, why would you get the Chase Freedom card? The Chase Freedom card has NO annual fee and has rotating quarterly bonuses. For each bonus category you will receive 5x points up to $1,500 spend. The good thing is that these are your typical spending categories, i.e, gas, groceries, travel, etc.
2013 Bonus Spend Categories:
- January-March: Gas Stations, Drugstores, Starbucks
- April-June: Restaurants, Movie theaters, Lowes
- July-September: Gas stations, Theme Parks, Kohl’s
- October-December: Amazon.com, Select department stores
For example, if you spend $1,500 dining out between July and September, you will earn a total of 7,500 Ultimate Reward points (1,500 from regular spend and 6,000 bonus points). That is a great bonus!
For non-bonus categories, it really does not matter if you use your Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus, but for the bonus spend categories, make sure you use the Chase Freedom card to get the 5x points! Each quarter you MUST activate the bonus categories – do not forget! If you do not manually activate the 5x points, they will NOT be posted to your account.
Now, that was pretty quick and easy, but that is not all! Let’s say you do not want to get another credit card and couple the Chase Freedom card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus card. Make friends! Currently, points earned from the Chase Freedom card can be transferred to other people’s Chase Ultimate Rewards account (update: they have been cracking down on transferring points outside of your immediate family and closing account, so tread with caution – I personally would not do it). So if you transfer points to a friends/family members account who have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus, those points can then be transferred to a partner loyalty program. Those points can then be transferred to anyone’s reward account, the names do not have to match (yet), unlike American Express Membership Rewards. So if you followed that, we just did a full circle to get your points earned from the Chase Freedom card into your preferred loyalty program. You can also do this with your own accounts, but applying for either the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus when the time is necessary and transfer your points from your Chase Freedom account to the new account you just opened.
And… we are still not done! Having a Chase Checking account will continue to maximize your points, but only works if you also have the Chase Freedom credit card – this program is called “Chase Exclusives.” UPDATE: This program has been discontinued for new card members, however, those who had the card previously have been grandfathered into the program and the following bonuses will still be honored:
- 10% extra points on Chase Freedom card purchases – For example, a $100 purchase will actually net you 110 points. If this purchase was part of one of the quarterly bonus categories you would earn 510 points (you will not earn a 10% bonus on the 5% bonus – no double dipping!)
- 10 bonus points on every purchase – Every time your Chase Freedom card is swiped, you will earn 10 bonus points. For example, 10 five cent purchases will earn you 50 bonus points while 1 $100 purchase will earn you 10 bonus points – moral of the story… split up your purchase into multiple transactions!
You must have both accounts to be enrolled in the “Exclusives” program and unfortunately it does take a month or two to kick in. Additionally, Chase often sends out $150 cash back coupons for opening up a checking account (direct deposit and a minimum amount is necessary). Just make sure to meet the minimum to avoid any monthly fees as those are no fun! Others have also suggested getting the checking account prior to the Chase Freedom card as this will speed up the process. As a reader commented, you can also call Chase to have them manually give you the 10 points per transaction plus the 10% bonus if the two accounts are not yet linked.
So now, your $1,500 in purchases at the grocery store between July and September will earn you 7,750 points (or $77.50 if you prefer the cash back option – I’d go with the loyalty points though)! Here is the breakdown:
- 1,500 – regular spend
- 6,000 – 5x quarterly bonus
- 150 – 10% “exclusive” bonus
- 100 – 10 points per purchase “exclusive” bonus (assuming 10 transactions)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred application – 40k bonus points with $3,000 spend in 3 months; $95 annual fee waived the first year
- Chase Ink Bold application – 50k bonus points after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months; $95 annual fee waived for the first year
- Chase Ink Plus application – 50k bonus points after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months; $95 annual fee waived for the first year
- Chase Freedom Visa application – 10,000 bonus points with $500 spend in 3 months; no annual fee
Disclosure: Some links in this post contain affiliate links where I get paid commission if apply and get approved for a credit card. I will only list the best credit card offers as my goal is for you to travel for free!