4x Fuel Points, 5x Ultimate Reward Points, and Groceries, Oh My!

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Welcome to summer! In my little world that means welcome to weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and other celebrations where gift giving is required. I actually love giving gifts, so while financially it can hurt a bit to have so many events in a two or three month time frame, I think it is pretty fun. Whether you like gift giving or hate it, everyone should maximize it to the fullest! Yesterday the stars lined up to make maximizing these purchases pretty easy – especially if you shop at a Kroger (or similar) grocery store.

While shopping at a Kroger’s grocery store yesterday, I saw this sign when I was walking in the door.
Some might say the sign looked a bit homely, or even almost tacky, but to me it was absolutely beautiful.

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It signaled the return of 4x fuel points on gift card purchases at the grocery store. This is fantastic since it coincides with the Chase Freedom Visa card 5x quarterly bonus category of grocery stores that runs through the end of June. If you don’t have a Chase Freedom card, then you could substitute in another card that earns bonuses at grocery stores such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card that earns 2x Membership Reward points on gas and groceries in stand alone gas stations or grocery stores, or if you are a cash-back kinda shopper (which I am not) then even the Blue Cash Preferred Amex that earns 6% back could be a good choice (up to first $6,000 annually).

For the purposes of this exercise, I will use the Freedom card as an example since it is the card that I have and use at grocery stores currently. Yesterday I picked up three gift cards. I bought one Amazon card for $50 that will be used to purchase various children’s birthday presents so that I can take advantage of Amazon Prime (that I purchased in the first quarter of this year when Amazon was offering 5x points on the Freedom) and have them shipped around the country for free. I got one Babies R Us $25 gift card to use as part of a baby shower present for a cousin who is registered at that store. I also picked up one $25 Subway gift card since it is a convenient lunch stop for The Man and me. Grand gift card total was $100 for purchases I would make in the next couple weeks anyway. This $100 in gift cards earned me 400 fuel points, which translate to $0.40 off per gallon at the gas station. It also earned me 500 Ultimate Reward points that I will likely transfer 1:1 to either United or Hyatt, though Ultimate Rewards offers many other redemption choices I could pick from.

I was already at the grocery store to purchase food for my family, and I was already going to make purchases at Subway, Amazon, and Babies R Us anyway, so this purchase required no extra time or money. I had about $80 of other groceries that I purchased at the same time, so my $180 charge at a grocery store is not likely to be a charge that raises any red flags with a bank, or otherwise puts my points in jeopardy. This is just almost too easy. The card issuer wants me to use my card at grocery stores, and the grocery store wants me to buy gift cards. Fantastic! I’m happy to oblige on both fronts. I need to do the math to see how much I have spent at grocery stores on my Freedom card this quarter so that I can be sure to maximize the $1500 quarterly limit with other gift card purchases that I will be able to utilize this summer.

This may not be an overly fancy or complicated way to rack up the points, but it sure is an easy and effective way. In my view, every little bit helps, and I will welcome those 500 points to my Ultimate Rewards account, and I will appreciate the extra 40 cents off per gallon when we fill up my husband’s truck.

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a card using my affiliate link.  As always, thanks for your support!

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  1. I mentioned this on another blogger’s comment. This is a good way to maximize Ultimate Rewards and the gas discount is a just nice bonus.
    Just keep in mind that, in Kroger and affiliated stores, the fuel points expires in two calendar months. You may redeem up to 1,000 pts for $1.00 discount per gallon. Also, there is a limit of 28 or 38 gallons per redeem for the discount(do not remember the exact number).

  2. Thanks for the reminder, I just checked to see how much spend I have left until I hit the $1500 Grocery Store limit for 5x with the Freedom card. Chase website doesn’t make it easy to figure this, you pretty much need to get out your calculator. I found their Blueprint application will help figure the Grocery Store category spend out, but it doesn’t use the 4/1/12 start date of the promo but instead uses the cycle date for its calculations. I still have some spending left until $1500, so off to the store tomorrow to pick up some gift cards and put them on the Freedom card.

  3. AS a note, the Kroger’s own gift cards are normally not counted for 4x points. It must be third party giftcard (amazon, shell, staples, etc.)

  4. I believe it’s 35 gallon maximum. And until the end of September – up to 2000 points ($2.00 off/gal) can be used per fill up.

  5. $2.00 off/gal? How do you redeem more than 100 points at a Shell gas station? I’ve only been able to get $0.10 off per gallon (using 100 points). Is there some trick? According to http://www.ralphs.com/in_store/fuel/Pages/default.aspx,

    “Is there a limit of how many fuel points a customer can redeem at once?
    There is a limit of 100 fuel points that can be redeemed for 10¢ off per gallon at Ralphs Fuel Centers or participating Shell stations in a single transaction. Fuel savings are limited to 35 gallons, per vehicle, per purchase. Credit and Debit Card fraud prevention policies limit transactions at the dispenser. Offer can’t be combined with any other discounts.”

  6. @MOMMY

    I emailed you twice yesterday regarding a question about CLUB CARLSON but you chose not to respond!

    I am quitting your site for better sites like noobietravel, millionmiles and frequentmiler.
    good luck on your nonsense stuffs!

  7. Safeway the same promo here in WA. They sell ebay GCS so I’ve been buying them up with my Freedom as I consider ebay to be the most valuable GC currency (you can always buy other GCs on ebay for less than face and earn 2% ebay bucks). ebay GCs have become much harder to find as OfficeMax no longer sells them.

  8. @Paul this is at Kroger owned stations only–at Shell you are limited to one reward per fill up.

    My problem is that my local Randall’s is offering the same deal, but they have stopped accepting credit cards for gift card purchases 🙁

  9. Love this promo! And a great way to get 5x UR points on Amazon with the Freedom card this quarter.

    Also, I believe the AMEX PRG gives you 2x (not 3x) points at supermarkets.

  10. I suggest using a money-management program like Quicken to track expenses. It helps me to never spend more on credit cards than I can pay off at the end of the month. It also makes it easy to categorize expenses, so I can quickly pull up a report for how much I’ve spent on groceries for a specific period such as quarter-to-date.

    I do have a question about the Freedom quarterly bonuses. Is it up to $$1500 in combined categories, or per category? Should I be adding up groceries and movie theatres to get to the $1500 total? (I see a lot of movies…)

    Thanks MommyPoints, I find your blog very useful and entertaining…read it every day!

  11. Glad this promo stacking works for so many of you! Apologies about the 3x error with the PRG (that is for airfare not groceries) – all fixed now to 2x. I wish it was easier to track the bonus category expenses in real time with the Freedom other than having a manual process! To answer a couple questions:
    -it is $1500 in all bonus categories per quarter so you would add movies and grocery stores together.
    -Jim, I received your emails but am not able to return all emails the same day I get them when I am traveling. Most of the emails I receive while out of town will get returned when I get back in town (or when I get a few hours of downtime with solid internet). Wish I could get everything done instantly, but that is not possible. 😉

  12. “I wish it was easier to track the bonus category expenses in real time with the Freedom other than having a manual process! To answer a couple questions”
    It is easy,log in to your account click on blue print,then track it,then spending.You will then see your spending by category.

  13. The problem I have is seeing my exclusive rewards.( like the 10 points per swipe for having a checking account and freedom CC.)Last month I asked Chase and they said “it takes a couple statements before that kicks in” Not sure about that, and if so is it retroactive? What has been your experience?

  14. @Jim – This can take a billing cycle or two to begin on your account and my experience is it is NOT retroactive. Sucks because I opened a Chase checking last August and immediately switched all spending to my Freedom and Sapphire Preferred only to have Chase tell me they can’t retro-date any of the 10 pts/transaction or 10% bonus pts for any of my activity. Oh well…I’m seeing a big difference now that it kicked it, but it did take about two months (will show specifically on your statement at those bonuses dedicated to their own line).

    On a related note, neither the Chase branch or Chase customer service could verify the whole ‘exclusives’ program. CS rep told me to call the branch, the branch told me to call the credit services people. I just waited it out and it eventually showed up. Best of luck,
    -Chris

    • Bender, my experience was the same as yours. Takes a little bit, but is automatic and was not retroactive. Thanks for sharing!

  15. While the Exclusives program took 2 months to kick-in, customer service readily calculated and credited me the points due for transactions during those 2 months. I actually called Ink Bold (old card before Nov 2011) customer service and the rep was very knowledgeable of the Exclusives program and handled that and Freedom account for the retroactive credit.

  16. Gussomer, you will pay a fee for a Visa, MasterCard or Amex gift card that you buy at a grocery store, but not for gift cards they stock for stores, restaurants, Amazon, etc., at least not where I live. This strategy is not one of manipulating cash-equivalent cards, but of buying gift cards for places you know you’ll shop anyway in the future (or which you will give as gifts) to get the extra bonus miles and fuel points.

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