It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the no annual fee Chase Freedom card. In fact, I think it’s one of the best no annual fee credit cards on the market. While the card is plenty great by itself, pairing it with a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards, makes the card even more valuable. That’s because when paired, you’re able to transfer Chase Freedom cash back points to the Ultimate Rewards program. Not bad for a no annual fee credit card!
It’s important to remember that the no annual fee Chase Freedom card only earns 1% cash back (points) on all purchases. However, each quarter, Chase gives cardholders the ability to earn 5% cash back (5X points) on certain purchases. Chase rotates these 5% bonus categories quarterly. Additionally, Chase limits the benefit to the first $1,500 spent within the categories each quarter. That means you have the ability to earn 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points quarterly.
Activate The Chase Freedom 5% Cash Back Quarterly Bonus
There is really only one “catch” to earning 5% cash back on the rotating bonus categories. That catch is that you have to register or activate the bonus category quarterly. While everyone should strive to activate the bonus category when the registration period opens, Chase does retroactively award 5% cash back each quarter. That means, as long as you register before the close of the quarterly registration period, Chase will give you the 5% back on any qualifying purchases made within the quarter. Keep in mind the registration period typically ends the day before the following quarterly registration period opens.
Activating the 5% cash back benefit is also extremely easy and there are a number of ways to do it. The absolute easiest way to activate the benefit is within a reminder email. On December 19 Chase Freedom sent me an email reminding me to register for the Q1 2018 5% cash back bonus category.
Below this section of the email is a listing of which purchases qualify for the 5% cash back quarterly bonus.
Sure enough, activation of the Q1 2018 5% cash back bonus took just a single click. Once clicked you’re directed to a confirmation page which confirms your activation.
Now all you have to do is use your card for qualifying purchases and you’ll earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent within the quarterly bonus categories.
Chase Freedom Q1 2018 5% Cash Back Bonus Categories
Now that you know how to register for the 5% cash back quarterly bonus, let’s take a look at which purchases qualify.
In my opinion, Chase is being extremely generous with the Q1 2018 bonus. For starters, you’ll earn 5% cash back on all gas station purchases. I don’t spend as much on gas as I used to, but I don’t have any other cards that earn 5% cash back on gas. Instead I’ve been using the Citi ThankYou Premier card to pay at the pump. For Q1 however, I’ll make sure to put all gas station purchases on my Chase Freedom card.
Next, Chase is offering 5% cash back on all Internet, Cable, and Phone Service payments made in Q1 2018. Anyone with the Chase Ink Business card won’t care too much about this category, but for most of us this is a category that we mostly only earn 1% back. Personally, I also think this category is genius. Most of us setup our utilities to auto-pay each month. With this bonus, I’m guessing many will setup these services to charge their Chase Freedom card and will neglect to change it back the remainder of the year. Smart move Chase!
Lastly, Chase Freedom cardholders will earn 5% cash back on all mobile payment purchases. These include purchases made through Apple Pay, Chase Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay. I’m surprised by how slowly people and myself have been adopting mobile payments. For Q1 2018 I know that I’m going to set the Chase Freedom card to my default Apple Pay card and try to make an effort. It’ll be nice to earn 5% cash back at Walgreens and on online purchases that accept apple pay.
Set Reminders For Chase Freedom Quarterly Bonus Registration Periods
As I mentioned earlier, Chase offers different bonus categories each quarter. For 2017 the bonus categories were as follows.
For 2018 Chase hasn’t yet relieved the bonuses for Q2-4, but the bonus categories are typically fairly predictable. I’m curious to see if the Mobile Payments category appears more than once this year as card issuers try to get people to use mobile payment more often.
To make sure you never miss a bonus category registration period, make sure to sign up for the Chase Freedom quarterly bonus reminder calendar.
After you register for the current bonus period, you should see the option above to set reminders. Simply click a link on the page and the dates will automatically be added to the calendar of your choice.
The Chase Freedom card is my favorite all-around credit card in my wallet. I love that the card lacks an annual fee, yet still offers an easy way to earn Ultimate Rewards points rapidly. Thanks to the rotating quarterly 5% cash back bonuses I earn an additional 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points each year. The only thing that I dislike about the card is that you have to register for each quarterly bonus. However, Chase makes it extremely easy to register so that alone shouldn’t deter anyone from getting the card.