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.

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Lawn mowers.

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Books.

20130324-142158.jpgAnd gift cards. Lots of gift cards.

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20130324-142210.jpgThere 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.

Home Improvement Gift Cards:

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.

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support.

Posted by Mommy Points | 14 Comments

14 Responses to “5x’n Weekend”

  1. JP says:

    When do the 5X bonus points actually post?

    My statement closed last month, and I had about $1,000 in drugstore purchases ;) which were correctly classified when looking at blueprint.

    I wasn’t given 5x points though.

    Do they all post at the end of the quarter, or should the post each statement?

  2. Vivek Doshi says:

    Thank you for the post. I have the Freedom Visa. Can I still apply for the Mastercard version? If so, and I get denied because I have the Visa, what do i say to the reconsideration line for as to why I want the Mastercard? Thank you.

  3. mommypoints says:

    JP, if the charge is near the end of the statement then they may not post until the next month. Happens to me all the time.
    Vivek, I have read mixed reports on success of having both. Some have gotten both and some have been turned down. Here is a recent thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/chase-ultimate-rewards/1436421-can-you-have-chase-freedom-visa-mastercard.html
    Perhaps some retailers you utilize only take MC or you like the protections that come with the MC better.

  4. RomsdeAls says:

    I met my 7500 bonus on jan 2 :). That’s a lot of money at starbucks. I always use free drink coupons or get discounted giftcards. Stocked up on 50% off groupon sbux

  5. G says:

    Seriously, there is almost no reason to not hit the $1500 in quarters 1 and 3 this year if you drive to work. With gas prices where they are now, I would guess that most people spend around $3000 a year in gas just driving to and from work and then around on the weekends doing errands (i.e. $750 per quarter or $250 a month). Fill up at gas stations using your Chase Freedom during the 5x quarters and then toward the end of the quarter when you know where you are at on spending, buy gift cards at the gas station you usually go to and max out spending on gift cards to use during the non 5x quarter. That way you are still getting 5x rewards on gas the entire year–this is primarily for those people, like me, who almost NEVER go to drugstores…albeit I did get a gift card for a large purchase I had to make which would have otherwise netted me only 1x points. Also, if you need stamps, CVS does sell them.

    I doubt I’m going to come anywhere near hitting the 5x max this next quarter, but who knows, excited to see the numerous gift cards–its going to be tough to remember to use the Freedom rather than the Sapphire Preferred at restaraunts.

    @mommypoints–do you know whether using Chase Freedom through UR Portal at Lowe’s will still get you 5x points (and other bonus) on gift card purchases? Right now Lowe’s is 5x points in UR (for 10x total next quarter if Lowe’s stays where it is now–fingers crossed). Would be nice to get 10x points on gift card purchases :)

  6. Tommy says:

    and another bonus with those Home Improvement “Do It Yourself” Gift Cards is that you can use that GC at Lowe to purchase other gift cards if needed.

    I have use these cards during to buy gas card at Lowe’s. We pick up a bunch of these and amazon cards during the HEB ($300 GC for $250 sell last holiday)

  7. Mariana says:

    Great post. Did you see if Lowes sells Visa/Amex gift cards? Hubby and I both have the freedom so we like to maximize the 5x but that means we have to spend $1000 per month in these categories. We don’t spend that much at restaurants and movies (maybe $200 to $300 per month at most) so I need to come up with a way to maximize with Loews.
    I will probably spend $500 or so in gardening materials come May.

  8. [...] Earning 5x Year-Round with Chase Freedom, Lowe’s Submitted by Marcus • about 1 min ago Website: boardingarea.com [...]

  9. russell says:

    From reading some of these comments;
    Unless OD doesn’t have a specific gift card you want don’t buy the HI card for this. i.e. buying an Amazon or gas card at Lowes with a HI card from OD is the same points as simply buying an Amazon or gas card at OD.
    .
    ps. online you can only buy Lowes gift cards, none of the merchant options.
    With a Lowes gift card you cannot buy any merchant cards.

    • mommypoints says:

      russell, right there is not benefit in buying a HI gift card just to use it to buy another gift card you could buy at OD. It makes sense if you can use it at at store you can’t buy a gift card to at OD or to use at another store to buy a gift card to yet another store that you can’t get at your local office supply store….or to give to a husband who wants home improvement store options. ;)

  10. Nick Knight says:

    @G – Points for gas is never very interesting to me. I have a PenFed card that gives 5% on gas every day, all year. Up to 50k a year, I believe. So, while there is a small benefit to using the Freedom (1.1x + 10), it’s very small. I’ll have to try, personally, to max out on restaurants (a trip to Hawaii in May will help somewhat :) and make up as much of the rest as possible at Lowes. Discover has an overlapping 5% on HI stores -too bad; I just don’t need THAT MUCH home improvement stuff.

  11. G says:

    @Nick–when you say 5% on gas from PenFed, are you talking 5% cash back only? I understand that it might seem like 5% cash back for Penfed v 5% cash back for Freedom, but it isn’t if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold. With those, you can conver to UR points which are worth more, at least in my valuation, than simply 5% cash because of the ability to transfer 1:1 to United. It really is dependent on how you value the points though.

  12. Nick Knight says:

    @G – Unless, of course, you max out your Freedom card elsewhere and STILL get 5% off of your gas, every day, all year. I understand the added value of UR points, honest, but why not get the best of both worlds?

    I just don’t see points for gas as a positive when I get a great deal already. I have to go for the bonus points elsewhere. Unless I’m not going to be able to max out, then perhaps I’ll take the gas option for whatever time I can.

  13. Kelly says:

    Just a warning, my Starbucks is posting as Department store rather then Restaurant. I’ve sent a secure message to Chase to try and get them to correct it, but other people may have that issue for credit with the Q1 bonus

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