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Checking Your Chase Freedom 5x Categories

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

I love having the Chase Freedom in my wallet since it’s great for so many different transactions.

Every quarter, Chase runs a promotion for 5% cash-back in different categories. Since the points are actually Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold cards, you’re essentially earning 5x UR points that you can transfer to United, Hyatt, British Airways, or other travel partners. There’s a spending cap of $1500 per quarter, though.

In addition, since I also have a Chase Checking account, I get 10 points per transaction and a 10% bonus of all base points. This is great for small transactions – an otherwise 1x transaction of $2 will still earn me over 12 UR points. The card is also a free card, so it’s one I will keep for a very long time, and one that I’m using to build a relationship with Chase, probably the best of the travel rewards credit card banks at the moment.

Until September 30th, I’m getting 5x for Restaurants and Gas. That means that the $4 I spent a few days ago at a frozen yogurt shop (that’s classified as a restaurant) earned me 30.4 UR points — 20 points on the 5x, 10 points for the transaction, and 0.4 points for the 10% bonus.

From October 1st until December 31st, I’ll earn 5x on Airfare and Hotel (bought through the airline or hotel) as well as Best Buy and Kohls.

Since the categories change each month, I have a system I use to make sure I maximize the $1500 of 5x spending I’m allotted each quarter.That way I know how far away I am from hitting $1500. If I’m more than a bit short, I’ll usually fill in the space by purchasing some gift cards at 5x retailers that I’ll use later.

1) Check all the statements that have already posted during the 5x quarter

Since the quarter began on July 1st, I’ll have to look at these 3 statements, all of which include dates since July 1st.

2) Check your Chase Freedom Rewards Summary for posted points

One way that I double-check that everything has posted is that I make sure that the base points (+1% line) matches up with how much I spent that month. Since I spent $346.87 on my Freedom that month, I got 347 points, which matches up.

From here, I divide the “Bonus Points from 5% categories” number by four. You divide by four because even though it’s a 5x category, it’s 4x on top of the 1x you usually earn.

In this case, 1150 points means I spent about $287.50 on 5x categories that month. The remaining ~$60 was likely on small 1x things where I maximized the 10 points/transaction — as you can see, I made 51 transactions that month for 510 bonus points.

Repeat this for the other statements. You can also just count up all the bonus points in each statement, add those up, and then divide by four.

For myself, I had 3102 points amongst my statements, so dividing by 4 means I spent about $775.50 on 5x categories thus far.

3) Check Blueprint for your spending that hasn’t been posted to a statement

Blueprint should show up right under your Chase Freedom account in your Chase accounts page.

From there, click “Track It”

Once in that view, find the categories that match with 5x categories:

Add those spending totals for “Since Last Statement” to your running total. For me, that means I’ve spent about $1124 on 5x categories this month. With 4 days left in the quarter, I still have $376 left of 5x spending available at gas stations and restaurants. It’s likely that I’ll pick up some gas and restaurant gift cards before the week is over, to maximize that $1500 cap as much as possible.

So there you go. I actually went back into my statements and calculated one-by-one how much I’d spent on 5x categories, and the estimation I made through these steps was only 15 cents off. This is a much quicker way to estimate how close you are to the $1500 cap.

If you have a Chase Freedom, and haven’t activated yet for the 4th Quarter bonuses (Airfare, Hotels, Kohls, Best Buy), you can do that here.

If you haven’t yet gotten a Chase Freedom, I’d wait for when they have a better bonus than their current 10K UR signup bonus. I got this card last year when they offered $300 cash-back for spending $500. Those $300 in cash back were actually 30K Ultimate Rewards points, and since I value Ultimate Rewards points close to 2¢, my haul was actually greater than the spending required to get it. The Freedom is a great card for day-to-day spending, but there are so many other Chase cards that give better sign-up bonuses at the moment.

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