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This past weekend we were all home for the second weekend in a row. I know that sounds utterly unimpressive, but it might be a first for us so far in 2013. Since we were home, we had time to do lots of simple things as a family like drink coffee, eat breakfast together, hunt Easter Eggs, work on some home improvement projects, and do some shopping. I love traveling, but I love the pace of these calmer weekends as well. I love them even more when they ring in at 5x points and up. I had the chance to capitalize on some points earning opportunities available right now, and do some planning for some upcoming opportunities.
Calculating How Much I Have Spent in Current Freedom 5x Categories:
We are quickly coming to the end of the first quarter of the year, which means that the current 5x Chase Freedom bonus categories of Starbucks, gas stations, and drug stores will come to a close. There is a $1,500 maximum each quarter toward the 5x bonus and I want to make sure that I max that out, especially when the categories are as easy as these are. However, I had lost track of where I stood on maxing out at $1,500, so I did a little investigative work. The easiest way to quickly see where you stand is to use the Blueprint feature on the Chase website.
From your account homepage, click on BluePrint option for the Freedom card.
Then select the “Track It” option. Next, select the option you are interested in. For the purposes of this project I was interested in Drug Stores, Gas Stations, and Restaurants (which is what Starbucks would fall in).
You can see how much you spent in each category month by month for the past 12 months by clicking on the category.
I was able to see that I had spent just over $500 at drug stores, $400 on gas, and about $100 at Starbucks (gulp). That means that I have another $500 I can spend by 3/31 in those categories and get 5x. That should be pretty simple with a quick stop at CVS.
Planning for Next Quarter’s Freedom 5x Categories:
Beginning on April 1st the 5x Freedom categories are restaurants, movie theaters, and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. We are lucky if we see one or two movies in a theater a year, so that category won’t do me much good. For better or worse, we do eat out/pick-up food a decent amount, but probably not to the tune of $1,500 in three months. So, we will be turning to Lowe’s to help us “top off” the $1,500 cap. My husband is pretty handy and we are in the process of doing some spring-time home improvement projects. I honestly think being at home on the weekends can cost more than traveling! Today we needed to pick up some gardening supplies, and while we are there I took the liberty of scouting Lowe’s with my tiny traveling partner for things we might need come April 1st. I mean if she is going to travel with me, it is time she starts doing her share to earn points, right?!
They had plants.
There were tons of popular retailers available there – far more than my local office supply stores has. It was roughly on par with many of my local grocery stores. The Amazon gift cards are always useful for me, but so are many of the common food and clothing retailers. If you are more advanced in the world of gift cards this probably won’t be too exciting for you, but for the rest of us this can be a pretty easy and useful way to earn some extra points at stores we would visit anyway.
I had seen the Home Improvement “Do It Yourself” Gift Cards at my local office supply store for a little while now, but I hadn’t purchased one until recently. It is a no-fee gift card that can be loaded with up to $500 and used at many different “home improvement” stores including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace, Sears, Sherwin Williams, True Value, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and more. In fact, it seems there are tons of stores where it is accepted, and not all are home improvement stores in the traditional sense. It is a Discover card, so the store must accept Discover. I think this card is awesome. My husband is always shopping at those types of stores, but doesn’t want to go through tons of hoops to earn points. However, he would happily have one gift card that he could use at any of those stores. You should also use it to shop via shopping portals for stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and earn points that way.
We bought our Home Improvement gift card with a card that earns 5x at Office Depot and then used it while at Lowe’s to buy some garden supplies and a TJ Maxx gift card since we were heading there later in the day. There was no issue buying that gift card with the Home Improvement gift card. If you want to get creative with this gift card, then read the comments section on this post by Frequent Miler. I believe he has since had some issues with shopping online at Sears with this card. I’m probably too boring to do anything crazy that is likely to get noticed, but keep his story in mind if you get this card. I know that there will be more of these Home Improvement cards in my future as it is an easy way to get 5x and meet my husband’s needs of keeping point earning pretty simple.
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