Chase Freedom® Rewards: 5% Bonus Categories for 2018

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If you’ve ever looked into getting a cash back credit card, you’ve probably heard of the Chase Freedom®. One of the most popular rewards cards on the market, the Chase Freedom® offers a range of cardholder benefits and a rewards program that lets consumers earn cash back for each dollar they spend.

Where some cash-back cards offer a flat earning structure, the Chase Freedom® does things its own way. Similar to the Discover it®, the Chase Freedom® doles out a whopping 5% back on your first $1,500 spent in rotating bonus categories. If you can tap into these categories often, you can rack up some cash back rewards rather quickly.

As a traditional cash-back credit card, the Chase Freedom® also offers 1% back on every other purchase you make – with no restrictions and no limits. Best of all, the Chase Freedom® doesn’t charge any type of annual fee.

Here are more details on the Chase Freedom®:

Chase Freedom® Rewards: Bonus Categories for 2018

Now that you know more about the card itself, it’s time to dive into this year’s bonus categories. You’ll notice in the chart below that categories for the first half of the year have been released. Categories for the rest of the year will be announced in the next few months.

Chase Freedom Rewards: 2018 Bonus Categories
Q1: Jan. 1 - March 31Gas stations, internet, cable, and phone services, Chase Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay
Q2: April 1 - June 30Grocery Stores, Paypal, and Chase Pay
Q3: July 1 - Sept. 30Gas Stations, Lyft, and Walgreens
Q4: Oct. 1 - Dec. 31Holiday - Coming Soon

In the past, popular categories have included broad areas like restaurant dining, department stores, home improvement stores, wholesale warehouse stores, and grocery stores. We can only hope some of these categories from the past will be repeated in 2018, as they are some of the easiest to maximize for the average spender. Restaurant dining, for example, can mean anything from a fancy sit-down dinner to a stop at your favorite drive-thru. And if you shop at wholesale clubs like Sam’s Club, BJ’s, or Costco, this card will typically let you earn 5 percent back on those purchases at some point during the year.

Depending on your spending habits and monthly budget, some categories will be easier to hit than others — it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hit the $1,500 limit in every bonus category throughout the year (and unwise to spend more than you can afford just to chase rewards). But even if you max out your bonus category spending for just two quarters of the year, that’s $150 in cash back on $3,000 in purchases. Not bad for a card with no annual fee.

It’s important to remember, however, that you don’t get this benefit automatically. To get 5% back in these rotating categories, you have to “sign up” and activate the bonus each quarter. Depending on how you use your card and whether or not you bank with Chase, there are several ways to activate the 5x point bonus. Typically, you can do so at an ATM, in a bank branch, or on your credit card’s online account management page. You can also do it online via this page.

How to Maximize Your Chase Freedom® Rewards

Earning 1% to 5% back is great, but how can you use those points? Thanks to the way Chase Freedom® operates its rewards program, you have several options when it comes to redeeming your points. Not only can you cash them in for a statement credit at a rate of one cent per point (e.g., 20,000 points = $200), but you can redeem them for gift cards and purchases made through as well.

If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’ll have even more options. With both cards, you can transfer all of your points to your Preferred account and use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for 25% more value. As an added bonus, you can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to popular loyalty programs like Hyatt, Southwest, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and United MileagePlus Explorer.

In terms of benefits, the Chase Freedom® offers plenty on its own – despite the fact it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Those benefits include purchase protection that will refund you for certain purchases if you overpay, extended warranties on certain things you buy, auto rental collision damage waiver, and even roadside assistance. You also get free trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and travel accident insurance as cardholder perks. The limits and requirements for each type of coverage vary.

Should You Get the Chase Freedom® card?

The Chase Freedom®’s 5% bonus categories are valuable, sure, but this is a solid card option whether you take advantage of them or not. The fact that you get 1% back on all purchases means you’ll rack up rewards for every dollar you spend. And since you won’t have to pay an annual fee, you can earn these rewards for free, provided you always pay your bill in full and never carry a balance.

If you’re into cash back and don’t like paying an annual fee to carry a credit card, it’s hard to beat the Chase Freedom®. Of course, there are plenty of other fish in the sea, too. Before you decide on a specific card, make sure to check out other cash back cards using the directory below.

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