Time to Activate Chase Freedom Second Quarter 5x Bonuses: Grocery Stores and Movie Theaters

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I just got an email letting me know that it is time to activate my second quarter Chase Freedom bonus categories: grocery stores and movie theaters.  If you only have the Chase Freedom, then these categories will give you 5% cash back from April 1 – June 30th.  However, what that really means for miles and points junkies is 5x Ultimate Reward points.  Since I value UR points, in accounts that can transfer points on a 1:1 ratio to airline and hotel partners, at closer to 2 cents each than one cent (which is what the cash back means), then this deal is much better if you also have an Ultimate Rewards earning card with those airline and hotel transfer options.

A few days ago I checked my spending progress on the first quarter bonus categories of gas stations and Amazon.com, and we should hit the $1500 max for the categories for the quarter.  That equates to 7,500 Ultimate Reward points for things we were going to buy anyway (or 6,000 more points than you would get without the bonus categories).  I see no reason why we won’t hit the maximum each quarter, so that will equate to 30,000 Ultimate Reward points per year for everyday spending for our family.  That is more than is needed for a domestic round trip flight, or a night at any Hyatt in the world, etc.  In short, it is a good amount of bonus points.

Now that I have the “points trifecta” set up on my own account, I will post more soon about transferring the UR points earned on the Freedom to a UR card that allows transfers to hotel and airline partners, how the checking bonus comes into play, etc.  For now, go activate your second quarter spending bonus for your Freedom card so that you don’t accidentally forget and miss out on lots of extra points.

If you are interested in setting up your own “points trifecta”, here are some links to applications for the relevant cards.  You need at least one Ultimate Rewards earning card that allows for hotel and airline partner transfers (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold Business), a Chase checking account, and the Freedom to really maximize the Ultimate Rewards earning system.  The only downside to applying now is that I have seen higher sign-up bonuses for the Chase Freedom card ($250 or $300 cash back – which equate to 25,000 or 30,000 UR points) and the Sapphire Preferred used to be at 50,000 UR points.  Who knows if/when those larger bonuses will come back, but if you think you will max out the second quarter spending categories of grocery stores and movie theaters, then it might make sense to get the card now so you don’t miss out on those bonus points.  I actually got my Freedom card by converting an old Chase I wasn’t using, so I didn’t get any sign-up bonus points, and I still love the card.

Application links:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Ink Bold℠ with Ultimate Rewards

Chase Freedom® Visa

My family probably spends at least $500 per month at grocery stores anyway, but if we didn’t, we would certainly be buying gift cards to other retailers at the grocery store so that we could max out the 5x bonus category!  Have you maxed out the Q1 bonuses?  Are you looking forward to the Q2 bonus categories?


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The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. Anyone know if Chase Freedom recognizes grocery stores in foreign countries (esp Canada) in the same bonus category as US grocers? I realize there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee, but with the 5x bonus, it would still be worth it for me to use the Freedom card.

  2. Is there somewhere on the Chase site where we can check the spending amounts in each category or is this something you’ve just kept track of on your own?

  3. @Barry, my inclination is that a grocery store is a grocery store regardless of US or Canada, but I have no first hand experience. Hopefully someone else can chime in.

    @Stacey, I just did it manually by totaling up my transactions. I think there is a section on the monthly statements that tells you how many points you earned from the bonus categories that quarter, but that obviously isn’t “real time” data.

  4. I am looking forward to 5x on groceries.

    My plans:
    – Target and Walmart, the FAQ say grocery purchases only, do they really breakdown to that detail level? I am going to test it with other purchases.

    – Get 5x on all purchases by buying Visa giftcards at Kroger and use the Visa GC everywhere else. Earns Kroger fuel points too – see below.

    – Fuel discount at Tom Thumb and Kroger. 4x fuel points for giftcards purchase at Kroger up to April 10, 1x on everything else including Visa GC, not sure about AX or Mastercard. For example: $125 of regular GC + $500 Visa GC ($5.95 fee) = 1000 points = $1/gal off gas (35 gal/max) = up to $35 save on gas = 3155 UR pts ($631 spent on GC). Use Visa GC on non-bonus categories (restaurant, bills, etc). Use Freedom CC for gas at Kroger, I am not sure if gas is coded as Kroger to get the 5x.

  5. I currently have Chase Amazon card since 2008 and not using it for three months now because I obtained CSP and Ink Bold in Jan. and Feb.. I still have a few thousand points on Amazon card. I want to close it and open the Freedom. Can I transfer those points to CSP? Will Chase run credit check on me? Freedom card will be a better substitute card for Amazon with no annual fee and better points earned. Thanks

  6. @MP, With a couple of weeks left, may I ask if I can buy gas gift cards inside Shell/Chevron gas station to get 5x for this quarter? Next quarter, would gas gift card inside grocery store(s) be qualified for 5x? Oh, thanks for Chase Freedom referral. It is a nice combo 🙂

  7. I should’ve tested this before, but do we know if Amazon gift cards count towards the 5x? I’m a few hundred dollars short of maxing out, and I know I’ll spend the Amazon money throughout the year on things anyway… I’d rather get the 5x now!

  8. @MichaelIP, I love the grocery store fuel points double-tip. As for the non-grocery purchases at Target, I can only assume they have a system in place for that, but it is worth testing. Let us know!

    @Global traveler, some Chase cards can convert to certain other chase cards. I don’t know if the Amazon card can convert to a Freedom, but a secure message to Chase will probably get you all those answers. If it can convert then they will not run a credit check.

    @Nguyen, from what I can find online, it all depends how the gas station “codes” those purchases. It looks like it will work at some gas stations and might not at others. It is worth a shot since you will probably use the gift cards anyway, but it isn’t guaranteed.

    @dubaych, no, it would take me years and year to spend $500 at a movie theater, but it doesn’t take me long to spend that much at a grocery store, and both categories count.

    @Jeffrey, this article makes it look like they will count, but if anyone else has first-hand experience, feel free to weigh in!

  9. @MichaelP – You do not get Kroger Gas points on Amex or MasterCard gift cards (the ones with a fee). Kroger does sell Target gift cards, so just buy those and use them there. We are remodeling a bathroom and have bought over $1k in gift cards for home depot the past week with the 4x’s gas points, so we’re set for March/April on gas! Also, we used Amex Blue (not Chase Preferred since we are already maxing that out with amazon). Amex Blue Preferred is 6% cash back, no cap (that i can find at least). Much better deal when amazon is already maxed anyway.

  10. @Jeffrey – my statement shows the gift cards do get points. The Chase Freedom site used to also show that gift cards would earn points. I’m planning to maximize mine, too, by splitting it between gas and amazon. Time to visit a large gas station to see what gift cards they carry.

    @MichaelP – Target and Walmart won’t get 5x points. I’m pretty sure of this from past years and you can also see the list here https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/merchants.aspx

  11. Forgot to mention that we’re also turning around and using the gift cards through Ultimate Rewards mall for 10points/$, so $1k in gift cards = $60 cash back, $4/gal off gas with points ($1/gallon max at a time), and then 10,000 Ultimate rewards points worth $200.

  12. @Curtis, You may be right about the AX and Mastercard but I did received fuel a few days ago for purchasing Visa Debit Card (it had a fee) at Kroger.
    Good idea about the Target GC at Kroger. Thanks.

    @reeder, hmmm… seems to be conflicting info, the FAQ said it will work on grocery only for Target and Walmart – https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/FAQ.aspx#Efive5
    I will have to try buying Walmart GC for use it at Sams Club.

  13. This is probably a stupid question… but does this mean that you make the majority of your purchases on your Chase Freedom card and just keep the Sapphire card so that you can transfer the points over to that program? Also… do you just automatically get the “bonus points/percentage” for having a checking account open and using your Freedom card?

    Hope this isn’t too confusing!

  14. Ok, anybody else flashback to “Wonder Twin powers activate!” ??? The Sapphire and Freedom being the wondertwins.

    I agree that Amazon GCs count. I’ve done ~$500 this quarter, but that’s my limit. If it’s on account there I’ll just spend it more freely and negative the bonus.

  15. Don’t forget to sign up for Discover. Chase is retroactive as long as you sign up by the deadline.

    DISC 5% next quarter is on restaurants (and movies) but is NOT retroactive.

  16. Sounds like you guys have this one covered with out me. 😉 Mikes, love the “wonder twin activate” line and thanks for the reminder about the Discover categories.

  17. @Gary: not so much.

    The only thing we put on Freedom is the bonus categories stuff. We use Cap1 by default as that gets us 2% in our pocket. Arguably, even at 1pt/dollar you get more than 2% return on Chase UR points, but our current travel habits don’t support that.

    Dining and travel goes onto the Sapphire since that is 2pts/dollar all the time.

    Of course, that is over-ridden by any quarterly bonuses or mall bonuses. evrewards is good for finding the best online mall to use for bonuses.

    @Mommypoints – you’ve trained us (raised us?) well. 🙂

  18. I use the Freedom for all purchases $10 and under. The reason being you get 10 pts per transaction plus 10% of every dollar if linked to a Chase checking account. $10 will give you 21 pts, a little over 2x. Obviously, the benefits increase as the amount spent approaches zero. I am basing this all on what’s in the T&C. I haven’t verified it in my statements.

  19. Everyone’s needs and habits will vary, but if you also have the Chase Checking, then there is a strong argument to favor the Freedom with many purchases, especially small ones that are not in a Sapphire bonus category. Heck, even a $2 soda would be better on the Freedom at 2 + .20 (for 10% bonus) + 10 = 12.2 as opposed to on the Sapphire Preferred for 2 x 2 = 4.

  20. I just applied and got accepted for the $200 cashback/ $20,000 point Freedom offer, are people still having luck getting the bonus bumped up to 30,000?

    I am psyched to buy my Disney giftcards at Giant Eagle and get a free tank of gas and tons of points for more TRAVEL!!!!

  21. I’m new to the gift card buying game at grocery stores. I’m about to spend a lot of money on a loadable AMEX gift card with a 5.95 activation fee at my local Harris Teeter. Does this purchase count towards the 5x category bonus? If so I would be essentially be making 3.82% cashback on every single purchase I make, even at costco. That’s incredible.

    • @Joshua, as long as it is rang up as a regular grocery store purchase it should work. You could always try one as a test just to be sure.

  22. Well, I loaded an AMEX Gift Card with $482. Total purchase was $487.95 with the $5.95 fee. The charge is still pending, but we’ll find out if chase runs this as a grocery store purchase. If so, I’ll be buying another one to get to the full $1500 amount. I’m getting married in May and we have a lot of expenses coming up that wouldn’t normally get cash back at a higher rate. I’ll update when I see the charge post.

  23. trying to figure out next card. got the CSapphire Preferred in mid march. I think the Freedom is next.we were thinking to switch to Chase anyway. DD has a high school account with Chase – I wonder if that counts.
    I think I can apply next week. Then DH can Apply for Chase Ink Bold in two weeks. No prob making the spend. was also looking at the citi advantage cards with 2 browser. can u give me an order to apply based on this info?

    • @GrouchMama, I would put a minimum of a month between your Chase personal apps. Personally I put more than that, but people do have success after a month. You can then apply for Freedom and the Citi cards on the same day as they are from different banks. The Ink Bold for your husband should be a good card, too. Good luck!

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