Maximize Your Ultimate Rewards Earning Potential with Freedom Card & Chase Exclusives

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There is a bunch of hype these days about the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards because of their 5x Ultimate Rewards earning potential, and rightfully so, but there is another Chase card that has extremely lucrative Ultimate Rewards ability that should also get some “time in the sun”.  Even though getting a business card is relatively easy, not everyone is interested in a business card or has any interest in the world of prepaids.  For those who like to keep things a little simpler, but still earn a bunch of Ultimate Reward points, here is the answer.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “Chase Trifecta” it is referring to the Chase Freedom, a Chase Checking account, and either the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold/Ink Plus type of card.  When you have the three required articles for the Chase Trifecta, then you never have to earn just 1x on a purchase again.  Here is how those three items work together to create a symphony of points.

Chase Freedom Visa:

This card has rotating 5x (advertized as 5%) quarterly bonus categories for some pretty common purchases such as grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, Best Buy, Amazon, and more.  The 2013 bonus categories have not yet been announced, but I have been told that should be forthcoming in the near future.  The quarterly bonuses are capped at $1,500 for 7,500 Ultimate Reward points, but earning an easy 30,000 points per year at 5x for a fee-free card is pretty great.  You can use this card to earn cash back, but if you also have an Ink Bold/Ink Plus or Chase Sapphire Preferred account then you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards accounts from your Freedom card to one of those accounts and then transfer them 1:1 to a variety of hotel and airline partners.  This is typically the most valuable way to redeem those points.

Outside of the rotating 5x bonus categories, all other qualifying purchases earn 1x (1%)…unless you also have a Chase Checking account.

Chase Checking and Chase Exclusives:

As I have written before, the Chase Exclusives program turns what is a good card into a great card.  When you have both a Freedom card and a Chase Checking account, you will automatically be enrolled in the Chase Exclusives program.  That means that you earn an extra 10 points per transaction, plus an extra 10% on all transactions.  That means if you buy a $1 cup of coffee instead of earning just 1 UR point for the 1 dollar purchase (or potentially 2 on the Chase Sapphire Preferred for “dining”) then you will earn 11 points for the transaction plus an extra 10% for a total of 12 points for the transaction.  That is essentially 12x for that small purchase.  It may not sound like a lot, but it can really add up for those who have many small purchases on their credit cards throughout the week.

The bad news is that rumor has it this Chase Exclusives program is being “downgraded” beginning on or around 11/11.  Those in the program before that time are rumored to be able to keep the current benefit structure.  This would not surprise me at all since it is what happened to the Exclusives program for the old Ink Bold last November.  Assuming the rumor is true, I don’t know if the cut-off will be for all Freedom cards obtained before 11/11, or for all who were formally enrolled in the Exclusives program before that date.  The process for getting the Exclusives program up and rolling with your Chase Checking and Chase Freedom card typically takes a few billing cycles.  It is an automatic process, but it does not happen immediately.

I personally keep $1,500 in my Chase Checking account so that I am not charged any fees for having the account.  You can also avoid the monthly fee in their basic account by having a $500 direct deposit each month, or having another linked account/investment totaling at least $5,000.  I don’t actively use this account, but I keep it to maintain my Chase Exclusives benefits.  There are are coupons out there for $200 when opening up a Chase checking account.  I believe those coupons require a direct deposit in order for the money to be awarded.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Bold Charge Card, or Ink Plus Business Card

The Exclusives program specifically involves the Freedom card and Chase checking, however it is necessary to have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Bold or Ink Plus in order to be able to transfer the Ultimate Reward points earned on your Freedom card to United, Hyatt, British Airways, Priority Club, Marriott, etc.  So while that card is not essential for the Exclusives Program, it is a key piece of the “Chase Trifecta” that allows you to really maximize earning and using Ultimate Reward points.

The Chase website that shows the Chase Exclusives program listed with some other benefits of having a Chase checking account is still active, but when you click specifically on the Chase Exclusives portion of the site for more details, that website is no longer active (and hasn’t been at least for a month or so).

I use my own Freedom card more frequently because of the Exclusives program than I would without it (and earn more points as a result), so I hope it isn’t too late for some of you to still add this program to your points earning arsenal!


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  1. Great post about CHASE and the bennies. ALSO, as a reminder, that CHASE offer military and veterans Military Banking program. No monthly fees AND no required minimum balance for their mid-level checking acct Premier Plus…… sweet…

  2. You can open an acct via telephone. My zip doesn’t have a CHASE branch but was able to start the process over the phone and they will send you signature card for signature which you must return within 30 days. But, I couldn’t use one of the many coupon codes available ($100-$200) and since I had to travel to New Jersey, I just visit the local branch and opened an acct.

  3. I have a question about the direct deposit.
    Do you know if it means 1 $500 direct deposit or would 2 $250 direct deposits per month also count? I have a Credit Union checking account and would like to fund that with the majority of my bi-monthly paycheck and only put a TOTAL of $500/month into the Chase account. As of right now I have the Chase getting 2 $500/month direct deposits.
    And one more question, though I realize this might be a YMMV type of situation…
    Do you remember how long it took for you to get your Exclusives points? And how did you tell that you were actually getting them? Is there a certain breakdown in the Chase UR website I should look for? Ok more than one question…sorry!

  4. @Solo, thanks for that reminder!
    @IPBrian, I know people work solutions for that sort of problem.
    @Solo, thanks for sharing. 😉

  5. I’ve closed my Chase checking account for 3 months and I’m still getting the 10% bonus + 10 points per transaction 🙂

  6. It should be noted that US Military (at the branch I went to, it was available to current and former) can open a Chase checking account for free without having to keep the $1500 minimum balance, and they will still qualify for the Chase Exclusives program if they have the Freedom. Note: this can only be done at the branch, hence no bonuses for opening an account. Granted, I live in a city next to a military base and Chase is most likely trying to compete with USAA and the other military-affiliated credit unions.

  7. Some of the blogs are reporting that the required spend to get the bonus on the INK Bold and INK Plus cards is going to drop from 10K to 5K on 11/11. Have you heard anything about that?

  8. I”m so glad that I got my “Trifecta” up and running in the past few months. I thought the Sapphire was going to be my go-to card, but it’s turned out to be the Freedom b/c of the +10 points. They JUST started posting…phew!

  9. Hi,
    10% on freedom is only based on the number of dollars you spend, nothing else.
    7% on Sapphire is based on all points earned (including shopping mall, 2x travel).

    Actually the 7% is more lucrative.

    • @Max, last year that was true, but a letter went out this year a few months ago that indicated they would be changing some of that up this year. The letter wasn’t 100% clear to me as to how it will pay out this year, but I have my fingers crossed it will still work that way.
      @Jack, I have not heard any of those rumors directly, but it would not surprise me if it were true since there was that offer that accidentally leaked a few weeks ago. My fingers are crossed it is true, but I have no info one way or the other right now.
      Glad the Exclusives Program works so well for many of you!

  10. I was just about to apply for the freedom and open a Chase checking account. If you were me, would you do it now and hope for the best or not bother and wait till the 11th to see what happens? Which would you open first, credit card or checking account?

  11. @Nicole, personally I would do it as soon as possible, and get both right away. I am not sure it matters at this point in terms of order. If by chance a better offer for the Freedom comes out (and I have not heard any rumor of that nature), then Chase usually matches within 90 days.

  12. @Ben L, I have a direct deposit of 2x $250 per month into my Chase checking account from my bi-monthly paycheck. The rest of the deposit goes into a savings account.

  13. Here is my situation. I have a chase checking account and a chase freedom account. Just heard about the exclusives program and send a message to Chase and should be enrolled in a few days, so no prob there.
    The thing is the Freedom card I have has $3k locked @ 3.5% on a balance transfer offer a while ago, which I am in no hurry to pay down and any new spend will be charged 19%.
    My question is if I get another Freedom card, after 11/11 will the points charged on my new card still register on my account with the grandfathered checking/freedom combo or will it be only on the new card account at the lowered rate?
    Any baseless speculation appreciated, thanks. 😉

    • @TravelGuide37, truthfully I would keep things simple and just start maximizing the Freedom after your balance transfer is paid down. If you wanted to get a different version Visa vs MC now you could and I bet it would also work with the exclusives program, but I’m a simple gal so I would probably just wait it out.

  14. @travelguide, Personally I’d transfer that 3K balance to a different card ASAP, since there are so many other offers out there at 0% interest for the same time frame.
    Save yourself that 3.5% and put your small daily spends on the freedom card instead and watch the points roll in.

    • @Sean, it does grant UR points, but they can’t be transferred to hotel and airline partners without Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or CSP. Can just use for cash back or for gift cards without those other cards.

  15. Would love a post on maximizing yr chase bennies/or any cc for charitable purchases. As a NYer, I’m trying to figure out what to do to help so many who are suffering. I’m doing a Costco run today (Costco Amex ) and then delivering to the rockaways tomorrow.
    I know about aa miles and Red Cross. Thanks

    • @Groucho, don’t forget about the $25 promo from Amex and Costco then! If you aren’t sure what I am referring to, Deals We Like wrote about it yesterday. I use my US Bank Flex Perks card for 3x on charitable purchases. Thank you for helping!

  16. I didn’t have a problem with Chase Exclusives. I contacted Chase when I got the Freedom card (response below) and started seeing the points more quickly than they described. Like MP…I maintain a checking acct with $1500 to be exempt from fees.

    “Thank you for contacting Chase.

    I would like to inform you that the activation of 10 on 10 additional points is done in batches. Since you have a Chase checking account, I request that you allow up to three billing cycles before seeing the new rewards on your statement. We will notify you when your account will be enrolled for the 10 on 10 Exclusives program.”

  17. One other thing of note – I accidentally waited past Nov 11th to open a Chase checking account to get the “exclusives” bonus. Confirmed with the rep at the local branch that I was signed up, and then after the first statement wandered in with a printout and confirmed that it takes a few billing cycles before the 10% + 10 points/transaction starts showing up on the statement. She also confirmed that since I had the Freedom card before the Nov 11 program change that I was grandfathered into the old program rather than the new one. The new one is less attractive, with an *annual* bonus of 10% on points earned, but no per transaction bonus.

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