Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
fittan
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:58 pm

Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by fittan » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:14 pm

Hi, I know many of us have this card. It gives a great 5% cash back but unfortunately each category last only 3 months. I have a "trick" to maximize this that I like to share (I haven't heard anyone mention this).

When it is the gas category, I will top up my Speedway gas card for $1500. Speedway gives instant 2.5% discount when you top it up so that amount charged is about $1460. In addition when you buy gas and enter the rewards card, you get another 1% or so. Combine with the 5% from Chase you'll get almost 9% off gas. $1500 of gas should last a while and when the gas category comes around. Rise and repeat.

When it is the grocery category, I also do the same with a local grocery call Market Basket. I will buy $1500 of gift cards which will last me several months.

When it is wholesale, I buy $1500 of Costco gift card online. Same process.

The only category I don't really use is departmental store/walmart. But I am sure u can buy $1500 of Kohl's gift card if you want.

Anyone else done the same thing?

Colorado13
Posts: 900
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:58 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by Colorado13 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:25 pm

Great ideas, thanks for sharing. I will purchase grocery store gift cards to use throughout the year for groceries and gas. I also buy gift cards (some for me, some for gifts for upcoming birthdays, etc.) at the grocery store during the April-June time period so that I can receive a 5% discount on those too.

Topic Author
fittan
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by fittan » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:29 pm

Colorado13 wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:25 pm
Great ideas, thanks for sharing. I will purchase grocery store gift cards to use throughout the year for groceries and gas. I also buy gift cards (some for me, some for gifts for upcoming birthdays, etc.) at the grocery store during the April-June time period so that I can receive a 5% discount on those too.
One suggestion...test by getting a $100 gift first and then check if Chase "recognizes" merchant and apply points. If it does, then proceed to max it out.

runner3081
Posts: 2171
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:22 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by runner3081 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:26 pm

Paid for our AirBNB with gift cards purchased with 5% off and 4x gas bonus points.

Usually, I just buy 1.5K of gift cards to the grocer we visit and run those down through the quarter and year.

Note, I always buy in $100's, in case there is fraud, cards are lost, stolen, etc.

I will say that in the past, I would be more diligent about always maxing out, but sometimes I am not as concerned these days. There is only a 3% bonus for using the card during 5% as my daily CC is 2% all of the time (Delta of 3%).

MichCPA
Posts: 596
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:06 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by MichCPA » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:35 pm

+1

Most of this also applies to the Discover it.

mega317
Posts: 3052
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:55 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by mega317 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:45 pm

The only issue here is that gift cards can be lost or stolen so there's a little risk. As I have posted before, I will use the grocery (and pharmacy) quarter to buy gift cards to amazon, netflix, spotify, and immediately load onto my account online.

I was typing that another issue is I think gift cards are technically against the rules at least for some rewards programs. But I just looked at the terms for Chase Freedom and that isn't mentioned there.

dollarsaver
Posts: 334
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:17 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by dollarsaver » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:13 pm

fittan wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:14 pm
Hi, I know many of us have this card. It gives a great 5% cash back but unfortunately each category last only 3 months. I have a "trick" to maximize this that I like to share (I haven't heard anyone mention this).

When it is the gas category, I will top up my Speedway gas card for $1500. Speedway gives instant 2.5% discount when you top it up so that amount charged is about $1460. In addition when you buy gas and enter the rewards card, you get another 1% or so. Combine with the 5% from Chase you'll get almost 9% off gas. $1500 of gas should last a while and when the gas category comes around. Rise and repeat.

When it is the grocery category, I also do the same with a local grocery call Market Basket. I will buy $1500 of gift cards which will last me several months.

When it is wholesale, I buy $1500 of Costco gift card online. Same process.

The only category I don't really use is departmental store/walmart. But I am sure u can buy $1500 of Kohl's gift card if you want.

Anyone else done the same thing?
Hi. thanks for this info. Didn't check the Chase Freedom 5% rules, but I assume gift cards bought at a CVS or Walgreen until 3/31 and Market Basket gift cards bought at Market Basket starting 4/1 up to $1500 will earn us the $75? Thanks again!

CorradoJr
Posts: 111
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:03 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by CorradoJr » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:36 pm

The issue with buying a certain brand’s gift card is that you have now put all of your eggs into one basket. For example, unless your gas station is absolutely the cheapest in town, it isn’t worth it.

In my area, there are probably 40-50 gas stations near my daily commute. For the last several years a few have been the cheapest, but there is no one consistently cheap gas station - I use Gas Buddy to help find the cheapest).

On $3.00/gal average price of gas, if you could find $2.84/gal gas, this would exceed the 5% savings from a credit card “gas” category. In my area, the spread is currently $1.05 according to Gas Buddy ($2.93 cheapest to $3.98 most expensive) so there is a good chance of me finding a better price.

cowbman
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:10 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by cowbman » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:51 pm

The simplest thing is Visa gift cards at gas stations or drug stores that can be used almost anywhere. You can pay taxes with them, insurance, etc. There is a fee associated with it, which is usually about 1-1.1%.

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 5566
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by whodidntante » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:45 pm

cowbman wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:51 pm
The simplest thing is Visa gift cards at gas stations or drug stores that can be used almost anywhere. You can pay taxes with them, insurance, etc. There is a fee associated with it, which is usually about 1-1.1%.
I also buy pre-paid Visa or Mastercard cards. I use those pre-paid cards to pay taxes, which has the added benefit of lower fees than for a credit card.

User avatar
RickBoglehead
Posts: 3198
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:10 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:54 pm

Costco gas is much cheaper than Speedway, 4% back.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

User avatar
Rainier
Posts: 1429
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:59 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by Rainier » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:36 am

Don't forget, if you have a CSR the Freedom points aren't worth 5%, they are worth 7.5% when booking travel on the Chase website.

What's the fee to buy a Visa gift card?

bob60014
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by bob60014 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:02 am

Rainier wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:36 am
Don't forget, if you have a CSR the Freedom points aren't worth 5%, they are worth 7.5% when booking travel on the Chase website.

What's the fee to buy a Visa gift card?
In my area, Chicago, the cards I see are $5.95 per card.

michaeljc70
Posts: 5189
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:57 am

I'm frugal and always use a cash back card (usually Citi Double Cash) and do things like buy discounted gift cards, use Amex discount offers, move brokerage accounts for bonus $$$$, etc. This category thing though I just don't like bothering with. I don't think it is worth the trouble for 3% extra for a few months. I don't spend that much on most of these categories anyway. I buy most of my gas at Costco. Sometimes they have 5% at Amazon typically before the holidays and I will make that card my default payment on Amazon because it is easy.

User avatar
birdog
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:35 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by birdog » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:11 am

Good tip. Thanks for sharing. I've been considering getting this card next and this info will help to maximize the benefits.

arf30
Posts: 506
Joined: Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:55 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by arf30 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:14 am

The Freedom never seemed worth it to me with the $1500 limit per quarter on the 5% categories - a lot of extra work for maybe $300/year. Maybe if I was into UR points, but I'm not.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 9462
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:23 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:54 pm
Costco gas is much cheaper than Speedway, 4% back.
I have to drive an hour to get to the nearest Costco.

Like the OP, I use (this quarter) Freedom to buy Shell gas cards at Shell stations. Shell fuel rewards run periodic promotions where every $X spent in a Shell store gives me 5 cents a gallon discount (usually for $25 spent). Shell gift cards qualify. 5% off with Freedom this quarter and Discover next quarter keep this going half this year.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Topic Author
fittan
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by fittan » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:26 am

Rainier wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:36 am
Don't forget, if you have a CSR the Freedom points aren't worth 5%, they are worth 7.5% when booking travel on the Chase website.

What's the fee to buy a Visa gift card?
that's only if you have the Chase sapphire reserved (50% more) or the CS preferred (25%) more. without either, you're not getting this bonus value.

Topic Author
fittan
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by fittan » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:29 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:54 pm
Costco gas is much cheaper than Speedway, 4% back.
Of course...hard to beat Costco gas price. The only problem is that not all Costco have gas station (I live in MA).

Topic Author
fittan
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by fittan » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:38 am

arf30 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:14 am
The Freedom never seemed worth it to me with the $1500 limit per quarter on the 5% categories - a lot of extra work for maybe $300/year. Maybe if I was into UR points, but I'm not.
Actually it is less than that. Assuming our "baseline" card is doublecash 2%. This strategy only "earns" an extra 3%. If we spend the max of $1500/quarter , that's $6000/year. This will earn us an extra $180/year.

For some it may not be worth the hassle, but for minimum work (kind of fun actually) I get to earn $180/year (tax free) and I think it is worth it. And I am not going out of the way to spend or shop at these retailers. I will shop at Speedway, Market basket, Costco and Walmart anyway.

User avatar
alpenglow
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 12:02 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by alpenglow » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:06 am

After experiencing fraud with a batch of Home Depot gift cards, I decided it wasn't worth the savings. $700 worth of $100 gift cards were compromised, which was a whole lot more than the money saved on the discount. Luckily for me, after many phone calls, Home Depot made me whole. It could have gone the other way I'm sure. Whatever the case, I spent hours resolving it. For these reasons, I've stopped maxing credit card rewards with gift cards. The risk to reward just isn't there for me.

Oddball
Posts: 60
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 9:35 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by Oddball » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:31 am

fittan wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:38 am
arf30 wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:14 am
The Freedom never seemed worth it to me with the $1500 limit per quarter on the 5% categories - a lot of extra work for maybe $300/year. Maybe if I was into UR points, but I'm not.
Actually it is less than that. Assuming our "baseline" card is doublecash 2%. This strategy only "earns" an extra 3%. If we spend the max of $1500/quarter , that's $6000/year. This will earn us an extra $180/year.

For some it may not be worth the hassle, but for minimum work (kind of fun actually) I get to earn $180/year (tax free) and I think it is worth it. And I am not going out of the way to spend or shop at these retailers. I will shop at Speedway, Market basket, Costco and Walmart anyway.
Before I starting looking at the % cash back options, I use to carry a CC balance which I would transfer to new 0% accounts every 12 or 18 months depending on the deals. Once I got my CC balance to zero and starting caring about the % cash back, I already had a Chase Freedom and Double Cash card (Citi actually sent me an offer to convert a different Citi card to Double Cash). So now I just use those 2 cards and rotate when to use the Freedom card based on what the 5% categories are. It isn't really any extra work/hassle as I would need to buy gas, groceries, etc. anyways.

User avatar
Rainier
Posts: 1429
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:59 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by Rainier » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:48 pm

fittan wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:26 am
Rainier wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:36 am
Don't forget, if you have a CSR the Freedom points aren't worth 5%, they are worth 7.5% when booking travel on the Chase website.

What's the fee to buy a Visa gift card?
that's only if you have the Chase sapphire reserved (50% more) or the CS preferred (25%) more. without either, you're not getting this bonus value.
Which was clearly noted by me saying "if you have a CSR..."

User avatar
Rainier
Posts: 1429
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:59 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by Rainier » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:04 pm

Next quarter and groceries are a toss up for me. I don't need to manufacture spending to get to $1,500 on groceries, the issue is diverting the spending from 4x MR points on my AMEX Gold card. With the CSR 1.5x bonus and valuing AMEX MR points at 1.9 cents its an even match.

Not sure I want to load up on gift cards either. $1,500 in Amazon credit would basically sit around until Christmas.

Obviously, if I have home improvement spending it is an decision to put on the Freedom for the points but if it is a big purchase (like a dishwasher) I'd rather had the benefits of some of my other cards.

Of all the cards I have the Chase Freedom could easily get dumped just for simplicity. My wife hates the rotating categories anyway.

michaeljc70
Posts: 5189
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:53 pm

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:08 pm

Rainier wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:04 pm
Next quarter and groceries are a toss up for me. I don't need to manufacture spending to get to $1,500 on groceries, the issue is diverting the spending from 4x MR points on my AMEX Gold card. With the CSR 1.5x bonus and valuing AMEX MR points at 1.9 cents its an even match.

Not sure I want to load up on gift cards either. $1,500 in Amazon credit would basically sit around until Christmas.

Obviously, if I have home improvement spending it is an decision to put on the Freedom for the points but if it is a big purchase (like a dishwasher) I'd rather had the benefits of some of my other cards.

Of all the cards I have the Chase Freedom could easily get dumped just for simplicity. My wife hates the rotating categories anyway.
That is the thing. Most of these posts don't look at opportunity costs. Like spends for a credit card bonus or a discount gift card that could be bought (on a non 5% credit card). For example, looking at discount gift card sites you can buy a 6% off Whole Foods gift card, get a 2% bonus using a Citi Double reward card and the 5% reward for a category looks like nothing.

User avatar
aspirit
Posts: 452
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:52 am
Location: SMA.SFL

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by aspirit » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:10 pm

fittan wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:14 pm
Hi, I know many of us have this card. It gives a great 5% cash back but unfortunately each category last only 3 months. I have a "trick" to maximize this that I like to share (I haven't heard anyone mention this).

When it is the gas category, I will top up my Speedway gas card for $1500. Speedway gives instant 2.5% discount when you top it up so that amount charged is about $1460. In addition when you buy gas and enter the rewards card, you get another 1% or so. Combine with the 5% from Chase you'll get almost 9% off gas. $1500 of gas should last a while and when the gas category comes around. Rise and repeat.

When it is the grocery category, I also do the same with a local grocery call Market Basket. I will buy $1500 of gift cards which will last me several months.

When it is wholesale, I buy $1500 of Costco gift card online. Same process.

The only category I don't really use is departmental store/walmart. But I am sure u can buy $1500 of Kohl's gift card if you want.

Anyone else done the same thing?
As with equity trading.
You’ve made your insightful scheme known.
I suspect these these methods will be gone soon. Good luck! :annoyed
Time & tides wait for no one. A man has to know his limitations. | "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes it's laws" | — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild ~

DrGrnTum
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:22 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by DrGrnTum » Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:30 pm

DW has a Freedom and I have a Freedom. I also have the Reserve. All our points are transferred to the Reserve at the end of the month. Since we use all our bonus points for travel this works out really well for us. Costco and Walmart are good cards to buy online.

For the past year I have used various methods to max out the 5% bonus on each card. I have found that you can minimize the risk of being scammed with fraudulent gift cards is to purchase them on line. In this way you are not buying tapered cards from a display shelf.

One of the main problems I have found with gift cards is that some do not “Auto Drain”. This is when you try to make a purchase for an amount that is larger than the amount you have on the card. The transaction will not go through. You constantly must watch that the value on your card is less or exactly the same as your purchase. The problem comes when you only have a few dollars or cents remaining on the card. It gets difficult to zero out the balance on the card. Sometimes I just take the loss.

Despite the hassle I really like playing this game and my wife and I have been on some nice trips financed with bonus points.

mega317
Posts: 3052
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 10:55 am

Re: Maximizing Chase freedom 5%

Post by mega317 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:36 pm

DrGrnTum wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 1:30 pm
The problem comes when you only have a few dollars or cents remaining on the card. It gets difficult to zero out the balance on the card.
Amazon gift card will take care of this.

Post Reply