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I like maximizing category bonuses on the rewards card I already have in my wallet as much as possible to earn points way faster than the standard rate of one point per dollar, and one card that sometimes makes that very easy is the Chase Freedom®. This quarter it is particularly easy as the 5x bonus categories are grocery stores, Starbucks, and movie theaters. Be sure to activate your 5x bonus here!
Unless your coffee or cinema addition is way stronger than mine, the category that holds the most 5x potential is likely grocery stores. Like always, the 5x bonus payout is capped at the first $1,500 in bonus categories each quarter, which would result in 7,500 points for just $1,500 in spending.
You will see this 5x advertized as 5% cash back by Chase, but you can do even better if you or your spouse/partner also has a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus® Business Card, or Ink Bold Card in addition to the Freedom card. If one of you also has one of those premium cards then you can transfer the points earned by the Freedom to one of those cards, and then on to Ultimate Reward transfer partners like United, Hyatt, Marriott, Southwest, Singapore, and more in order to maximize their value for travel.
The USDA reports that an average moderate food plan for a family of four can run north of $1,000 dollars per month, so for most families it should be easy enough to hit the $1,500 5x cap in three months if you simply used your Freedom Card for groceries you were going to buy anyway. That is a very good strategy for those who like to keep things as simple as possible while still racking up extra points.
However, if you are like me you might already have a card you like using for your grocery purchases, or maybe you somehow don’t normally have $1,500 in grocery expenses in three months, there is another way to still easily get all 7,500 points at 5x. In those cases remember that grocery stores are often one of the very best sources of gift cards these days. In fact, some grocery stores even like to hand out bonus fuel points or similar if you buy certain gift cards, so you may be able to stack opportunities.
Whether you want a gift card to a retailer like Gap or Nordstrom, a travel provider like Southwest or Marriott, a restaurant like Outback or Cheesecake Factory, an iTunes gift card, or even need a Visa gift card, you may well find it at your local grocery store. This can be a good supplement to regular grocery purchases if you don’t naturally have $1,500 in grocery, Starbucks, and movie expenses to charge on your Freedom card during the first quarter of 2015.
What is your plan to earn easy 5x points during the first quarter of 2015? If you want to start planning ahead, here is a preview of 5x bonus categories for the Chase Freedom for the rest of the year.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.