Throughout the year the Chase Freedom credit card offers 5x points on certain spend categories. These are quarterly bonuses where the 5x points is capped at $1,500 spend per month, thus giving you a total of 7,500 Ultimate Reward points (1,500 from regular spend and 6,000 bonus points).

The offers for 2012 were pretty good and even the everyday user could probably come close to capping off the maximum amount of bonus points throughout the year. The categories, however, do change year-to-year and quarterly bonuses for 2013 is now available.

I personally do not think the categories are are good as 2012.

Quarter 1: January-March (Gas stations, Drug stores, Starbucks)

I think hitting $1,500 will be easy. Gas is a huge spend for many and hitting $1,500 over a three month time frame is probably pretty easy to do (unfortunately). Additionally, quarter 1 includes drug stores which typically sell gift cards and other prepaid type of cards. Starbucks can also help if you are shy a few dollars.

Quarter 2: April-June (Restaurants, Movie theaters)

This three month time period will be a little more challenging. I’d say the average family goes to the movie once every month, if that, so the spend at movie theaters will be about $50 if that over the three months. Then hitting the rest with restaurants can be challenging. You are, however, able to buy gift cards during that three month time frame to then use throughout the year to secure the bonus points on restaurant spend.

Quarter 3: July-September (Gas stations, Theme parks, Kohl’s)

Again, gas stations is an easy one. Just that one category could get you your full bonus points. Aside from that amusement parks do add up, but that is probably not a huge spend for most. Also, Kohl’s can go either one. Some people shop there often, while others have never entered the store. Luckily, gas stations can help you out.

Quarter 4: October-December (Select department stores, Amazon.com

It will be the holiday season so select department stores and Amazon.com could be a big win. It will really depend on what department stores are included. As I mentioned before with restaurants, if you shop often at a store, but not enough to hit $1,500 in the three month period, you can purchase gift cards to then use at a future time.

For non-bonus categories, it really does not matter if you use your Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus, but for the bonus spend categories, make sure you use the Chase Freedom card to get the 5x points! Remember, each quarter you MUST activate the bonus categories – make sure to not forget! If you do not manually activate the 5x points, they will NOT be posted to your account.

You can learn more about the Chase Freedom card and its other benefits here.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • David said,

    is this 5X not 5%? is these 2 the same? that always puzzle me because the promo said 5% and yet on boardingarea it is always promoted as 5X. 5% and 5X are 2 diff animal.

  • dealswelike said,

    @David – if you opt for cash back then it is 5% cash back, but if you redeem for travel then it is 5x ultimate reward points. The Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Classic, and Chase Ink Cash do not allow you to transfer to loyalty partners, but instead you can transfer those points to your UR account with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus account. Those points can then be transferred to loyalty partners and thus it is 5x points.

  • Jeremy said,

    I agree with you that this isn’t as good as 2012. Gas is equal in both years as is amazon.com which was Q1 2012. Restaurants also had one quarter each year. So the main difference is that 2013 lacks groceries (was Q2 2012) and airline/hotels (Q4 2012). Those two categories, especially groceries are a huge loss.

    As one who spends very little on gas since I use the subway to get to work, this change makes Chase Freedom a lot less meaningful to me. I’ll still keep it for use with CSP but it’s disappointing. I’m going to look into the AMEX Blue card for 6% on groceries now.

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