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The Chase Freedom is a popular cash back credit card with no annual fee and a unique feature. Every three months, the card switches its bonus categories, offering new opportunities to earn extra cash back. Once you activate the categories, you’ll earn 5% cash back any time you make a purchase during the quarter in any of the categories, up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter.
Chase recently announced the latest set of bonus categories, which will launch on July 1 and run through Sept. 30, 2020. The new categories are:
- Whole Foods
Given that many people are still spending much of their time cooking at home and ordering supplies online, this is an ideal set of Chase Freedom bonus categories. Amazon is more popular than ever for online purchases, since it carries nearly anything you can imagine, and Whole Foods has a devoted customer base who will easily be able to maximize this category.
Chase Freedom card holders can earn 5% cash back at Whole Foods during July, August and September, up to $1,500 in purchases.
Remember that in order to earn bonus cash back on the Chase Freedom card, you need to activate the categories every quarter either online at chase.com/freedom or by phone. You don’t have to activate the categories before you’ve made a purchase — you can do it afterward and still get the bonus cash back retroactively. But the last day to activate these third quarter categories is Sept. 14, 2020.
Also keep in mind that you’ll only earn 5% cash back in these categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. For any purchases beyond that cap, you’ll only get 1% cash back, which is identical to the rate you’ll get on any purchases made outside the bonus categories.
Make your Chase Freedom cash back go even further
The 5% cash back earned in these bonus categories each quarter is lucrative in and of itself. But there’s a way to increase the value of your Chase Freedom cash back even more.
When you have the Chase Freedom card and also one of Chase’s premium travel credit cards — which include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Ink Business Preferred Credit card — you have the option to transfer your Chase Freedom cash back into Ultimate Rewards travel points on your Chase travel credit card at a rate of 1 cent per point.
From there, you can redeem those points at a higher value for travel purchases — either at 1.5 cents apiece on the Chase Sapphire Reserve or 1.25 cents each on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred.
Convert your Chase Freedom cash back to Ultimate Rewards points and redeem them for travel at a higher rate.
Chase also recently launched additional redemption options on its Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards. The new “Pay Yourself Back” feature allows you to redeem your points in several other eligible categories. The current categories are grocery stores, dining establishments (including delivery and takeout) and home improvement stores, and from now through Sept. 30, you’ll get the same redemption rates in these categories — 1.5 cents for the Sapphire Reserve, 1.25 cents for the Sapphire Preferred — as you do for travel redemptions.
Finally, you can potentially increase the value of your Ultimate Rewards points even further by transferring them to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel partners. This option requires some time and research in order to understand how these partner loyalty programs work, but if you put in the effort, it’s possible to travel to exotic destinations in first class using these points for very little money.
Of course, if you prefer cash to travel rewards, you can just redeem the cash back you earn on the Chase Freedom card for a statement credit, or a direct deposit into most US checking and savings accounts. Other options for redeeming include gift cards and Amazon’s “Shop With Points” program, though you may not get as much value for your points when using those methods.
Pair the Chase Freedom and take advantage of its bonus categories
Regardless of whether you’re interested in cash back or travel rewards, the Chase Freedom is a useful credit card to have in your purse or wallet. You’ll just want to make sure you have another credit card to pair it with, since that’s when its most valuable.
If you’re interested in travel, get a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve and convert your Chase Freedom cash back to travel points, increasing their value and opening up multiple additional redemption options.
If you prefer cash back, pair the Chase Freedom with another credit card that earns a higher rate on purchases outside the bonus categories. CNN Underscored’s benchmark credit card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, is one such option, as it earns 2% cash back on everything you buy — 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off. Then use the Chase Freedom when you make a purchase in the bonus categories, and the Citi Double Cash on everything else.
And if you don’t already have a Chase Freedom credit card, you might want to consider getting one and using it to earn extra cash back. The card even currently comes with a sign-up bonus of $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months after you open the account. Just note that this offer is only available when applying directly with Chase.
Thinking about getting a new credit card? Read CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards of 2020.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.