There is a bunch of hype these days about the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards because of their 5x Ultimate Rewards earning potential, and rightfully so, but there is another Chase card that has extremely lucrative Ultimate Rewards ability that should also get some “time in the sun”. Even though getting a business card is relatively easy, not everyone is interested in a business card or has any interest in the world of prepaids. For those who like to keep things a little simpler, but still earn a bunch of Ultimate Reward points, here is the answer.
If you aren’t familiar with the term “Chase Trifecta” it is referring to the Chase Freedom, a Chase Checking account, and either the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold/Ink Plus type of card. When you have the three required articles for the Chase Trifecta, then you never have to earn just 1x on a purchase again. Here is how those three items work together to create a symphony of points.
This card has rotating 5x (advertized as 5%) quarterly bonus categories for some pretty common purchases such as grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, Best Buy, Amazon, and more. The 2013 bonus categories have not yet been announced, but I have been told that should be forthcoming in the near future. The quarterly bonuses are capped at $1,500 for 7,500 Ultimate Reward points, but earning an easy 30,000 points per year at 5x for a fee-free card is pretty great. You can use this card to earn cash back, but if you also have an Ink Bold/Ink Plus or Chase Sapphire Preferred account then you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards accounts from your Freedom card to one of those accounts and then transfer them 1:1 to a variety of hotel and airline partners. This is typically the most valuable way to redeem those points.
Outside of the rotating 5x bonus categories, all other qualifying purchases earn 1x (1%)…unless you also have a Chase Checking account.
Chase Checking and Chase Exclusives:
As I have written before, the Chase Exclusives program turns what is a good card into a great card. When you have both a Freedom card and a Chase Checking account, you will automatically be enrolled in the Chase Exclusives program. That means that you earn an extra 10 points per transaction, plus an extra 10% on all transactions. That means if you buy a $1 cup of coffee instead of earning just 1 UR point for the 1 dollar purchase (or potentially 2 on the Chase Sapphire Preferred for “dining”) then you will earn 11 points for the transaction plus an extra 10% for a total of 12 points for the transaction. That is essentially 12x for that small purchase. It may not sound like a lot, but it can really add up for those who have many small purchases on their credit cards throughout the week. At the very least, earning an extra 10% on all base points earned makes it a better card for many purchases than the Sapphire Preferred which only pays out an annual 7% bonus on points earned.
The bad news is that rumor has it this Chase Exclusives program is being “downgraded” beginning on or around 11/11. Those in the program before that time are rumored to be able to keep the current benefit structure. This would not surprise me at all since it is what happened to the Exclusives program for the old Ink Bold last November. Assuming the rumor is true, I don’t know if the cut-off will be for all Freedom cards obtained before 11/11, or for all who were formally enrolled in the Exclusives program before that date. The process for getting the Exclusives program up and rolling with your Chase Checking and Chase Freedom card typically takes a few billing cycles. It is an automatic process, but it does not happen immediately.
I personally keep $1,500 in my Chase Checking account so that I am not charged any fees for having the account. You can also avoid the monthly fee in their basic account by having a $500 direct deposit each month, or having another linked account/investment totaling at least $5,000. I don’t actively use this account, but I keep it to maintain my Chase Exclusives benefits. There are are coupons out there for $200 when opening up a Chase checking account. I believe those coupons require a direct deposit in order for the money to be awarded.
The Exclusives program specifically involves the Freedom card and Chase checking, however it is necessary to have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Bold or Ink Plus in order to be able to transfer the Ultimate Reward points earned on your Freedom card to United, Hyatt, British Airways, Priority Club, Marriott, etc. So while that card is not essential for the Exclusives Program, it is a key piece of the “Chase Trifecta” that allows you to really maximize earning and using Ultimate Reward points.
The Chase website that shows the Chase Exclusives program listed with some other benefits of having a Chase checking account is still active, but when you click specifically on the Chase Exclusives portion of the site for more details, that website is no longer active (and hasn’t been at least for a month or so).
I use my own Freedom card more frequently because of the Exclusives program than I would without it (and earn more points as a result), so I hope it isn’t too late for some of you to still add this program to your points earning arsenal!
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