One of my favorite workhorse cards for earning miles is the Chase Freedom card because of the great quarterly bonus categories they have for earning points. This current quarter (July through September) has been 5x points per dollar spent on gas stations and restaurants. It’s been great to get 5x points on all of my dining experiences, especially since food adventures are a huge portion of my monthly expenditure.
Now, Chase advertises the 5x points as a “5% cashback,” whereas all other purchases are still 1x point per dollar spent (or “1% cashback” according to Chase). But in actual reality (and what many consumers do not seem to understand is that), since the Chase Freedom card points are part of the Ultimate Rewards points from Chase, the 5x points are actually worth closer to 8% to 10% “cashback” if you are redeeming for airline miles or hotel points instead of actual cash or gift cards.
I’ll explain the math in a little bit, but what I’m excited about is that this coming quarter (October 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012) the bonus spend categories will be 5x per dollar on Airfare tickets (for tickets booked at the airline’s site), Hotel stays (for stays booked at the actual hotel’s site), Best Buy, and Kohls on up to the first $1,500 you spend in this quarter’s bonus category. Since I am a big travel fanatic, and since this is a blog primarily on travel deals and leveraging points & miles to get you to places for free, this is a GOLDEN opportunity to use the Chase Freedom card to score your next roundtrip ticket to Europe or Asia for free!
So Chase Freedom Cardholders, don’t forget to go to the Chase Freedom site and register for the Oct-Dec bonus category spend! You *have* to register in order to get in on the bonus points. Registration is open now, so take just 30 seconds out of your busy schedule.
Okay. Now let’s do some fun math and talk about what we could be earning this coming quarter–especially during the Black Friday holiday shopping season!
Let’s do some hypothetical math here. I will base this off of some of my projected spends (we’ll use round numbers to make the math easier):
- Spend $300 total in airfare between Oct 1 and Dec 31 = $300 x 5x points = 1,500 points
- Spend $200 total in hotel fare between Oct 1 and Dec 31 = $200 x 5x points = 1,000 points
- Spend $1,000 total at Best Buy between Oct 1 and Dec 31 = $1,000 x 5x points = 5,000 points
- Spend $0 total at Kohls between Oct 1 and Dec 31 = $0 x 5x points = 0 points (I usually don’t shop at Kohls, so I’m just being realistic with my own numbers)
- TOTAL POINTS EARNED FROM OCT 1 TO DEC 31 (hypothetically) = 7,500 points
Now, remember that the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn from your Chase Freedom card have a 1:1 transfer ratio back to most major airlines and hotel programs. I’ll take United for example, since I value United miles the most when it comes to airline miles. (This is because UA flies just about everywhere, and their reward redemption rates are pretty decent.) 7,500 points earned therefore translates to 7,500 United miles. That is almost enough for a one-way saver ticket from San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK) in economy, which cost 12,500 United miles! And if you already have a good amount of miles in your account, keep in mind that roundtrip economy tickets from SF to Europe are only 60,000 miles!
If you play your cards right–especially with Black Friday coming up and those new gaming consoles (Xbox 720, etc.) + new television deals out there–you should easily be able to hit the $1,500 maximum limit in the bonus categories and score the 5x points on those purchases!
The only downside to this deal is the restriction that the 5x points bonus only applies to the first $1,500 you spend in the bonus category!