The 2019 first quarter bonus categories for the Chase Freedom credit card are active and points/cash back earning for spend on those categories can now be earned.
Freedom’s first quarter bonus categories include:
- Gas Stations
All purchases made in these categories earn 5% cash back – or my favorite, 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent – on up to $1,500 in combined purchases.
Bonus earnings at the bonus categories run now, January 1, 2019, through March 31, 2019.
You can activate the first quarter categories here.
It’s always nice to see gas stations and drugstores as bonus categories since opportunities to max out the $1,500 in quarterly spend – and thus cash back or Ultimate Rewards points earning – are possible with a little effort.
How to Play This Quarter
How lucrative the gas station bonus category can be, really depends on your individual situation. If you commute long distances, you may be able to max out the $1,500 in quarterly spend just by filling up your vehicle’s gas tank. If you live in a major city and use mass transit, you may never even see a gas station, making this bonus category completely useless.
If your situation is the latter, or somewhere in between, there is a workaround. Many gas stations sell gift cards, too, making that another way to maximize the quarterly bonus categories.
Pick up gift cards to retailers from whom you’ll be buying anyway and earn the bonus points/cash back for thatspend.
And, some grocery store gas facilities sell their own grocery gift cards, fee-free, making it easy to indirectly earn the 5x bonus on your grocery spend for the quarter.
Again, depending on your situation, drugstores can be a great points/cash back earner just by making your regular purchases using the Freedom card.
However, if saving money is the goal in addition to maximizing your points/cash back earning, drugstores may not be the best place to buy your “staples” type items. When compared to Target or Walmart for example, most drugstores charge much higher prices for the same merchandise.
But, if you’re someone whose health plan doesn’t cover prescription drugs and you/your family have some high costprescriptions, using the Freedom card to pay is a great way to maximize this quarter’s bonus categories.
And, most drugstores carry a large number of gift cards. As with the gas station example, buy gift cards to retailers from whom you’re going to purchase anyway and earn the bonus points/cash back in the process.
For those who are hard-core about points earning, drugstores usually sell Visa, Mastercard andAmerican Express gift cards in addition to merchant-specific gift cards. Yes, the bank issued gift cards come with a fee – usually around $6 for $200 in gift cards – but often the return you can get using the earned points for free travel makes up for the fees paid.
So to max the $1,500 in quarterly spend, you’d buy 7 $200 Visa gift cards totaling $1,400 and receive 7,000 Ultimate Rewards points for approximately $40-$50 in gift card fees.
Yes, I know, that example’s not a complete maximization, but it’s close enough.
You could then use those gift cards to pay for your everyday expenses…dining, gasoline, essentials…at any retailer who accepts Visa (which is everyone), essentially earning 5x on those purchases.
Many Miles and Points hobbyists are familiar with other ways to liquidate those gift cards that aren’t so labor intensive. For those unfamiliar, there are roadblocks that may not make that maximization option as easy as I described. Again, there are options to navigate those roadblocks, too. But I present the bank gift card purchases as an option to get all you can out of the bonus categories this quarter if that’s your goal.
Tolls are pretty straight forward and not so easily maximized.
In fact, I know of no way to use this category, outside of paying tolls your commute may require, to earn bonus points.
Some may pay high tolls in the areas they drive, though. In that case, use your Freedom card when paying your tolls January 2019 through March 2019.
The Chase Freedom Credit Card
The Chase Freedom credit card is a great way to earn Ultimate Rewards points which can, ultimately, be used to travel for free.
Or, if cash back is your thing, it really couldn’t get any easier to earn 5% cash back. Just use your Freedom card in the quarterly bonus categories and bam! some easy cash back.
If you don’t have a Freedom card, read our review for all the card’s details and ways to maximize the card for your benefit.