I often write about the Chase Freedom credit card because it is such a good basic credit card from Chase. This quarter (January 1st through March 31st, 2015), you can earn 5x points (or 5% cash back) on purchases made at grocery stores (not including Target and Walmart), movie theaters, and Starbucks stores. For a detailed list of participating merchants categorized as grocer stores, see the Chase FAQ here. You earn 5x points on up to $1,500 in combined purchases made from these bonus categories.
Most people should have no problem spending $1,500 at the bonus category merchants before March 31st, 2015. This will earn you a quick and easy 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points, or $75 cash back. Since we have a combined total of 4 Freedom cards (2 for me, and 2 for Jen), this will earn us a quick and easy 30,000 points (7,500 x 4), or $300 cash back! This is enough for a free 1-way economy flight to Europe or Asia in off-peak travel season and enough for a free 1-way Southwest flight anywhere Southwest flies.
We buy most of our groceries from Costco, but we do buy some groceries at Albertsons and Trader Joes, which are participating merchants.
If you need help ramping up spend at grocery stores, you will find that most of them sell Visa gift cards (issued by Metabank) up to $500 with a $5.95 activation fee. Spending $505.95 on a Visa gift card will earn 2,530 points, or $25.30.
Once you have your $500 Visa gift card: you can save it to make normal purchases at a later time, or load the $500 into your Bluebird account and use it to pay off your credit card bill! You can also use these Visa debit gift cards at Costco for PIN based transactions. There’s no other way to earn 5x at Costco!
Most grocery stores also sell other types of gift cards (clothing, gas, Home Depot, etc) without any activation fees.
While the bonus for signing up for this card isn’t usually that high (currently the bonus is only $100 or 10,000 points), the Freedom is a great card to convert into. For instance, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the $95 annual fee is due, instead of closing that account, you can convert it to the no-fee Chase Freedom card. If you have an older Chase credit card in your sock drawer somewhere, you can give Chase a call and convert that card into a Chase Freedom.
I’m off to the grocery store now!