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October 18, 2007


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Unbelievably, Ralphs, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's don't register as grocery stores for my Borders Chase Visa. It really is a lot of guess work on the category until you get that statement.

RE: #4, I wondered how Target & Wal-Mart would be classified, since I think there is a category for department stores included in the magical 15. I guess dept stores are more like Macy's, etc.

I got my first bill with my new Chase card this week - it was only $65.95, but I made $2.02 in rewards off that, so it appears I got the full 3% on my 4 charges during that period.

I go with the cashreward card (or whatever it is). 1% credited to my balance each month (no rewards, not special categories, no points, no waiting to reach a threshold). It's the best for people that want a little cash back but don't want to waste time and brainpower getting it.

I think it is important to point out to others that there is a cap on the rewards you can earn with this card. Notably, You can only earn the 3% for the first $600 in purchases each month for a total reward of $12 per month. After you hit that $600 mark, every charge after that only earns 1% with no cap.

Here are the magic 15 categories for Chase Freedom: Grocery stores (that are not affiliated with or departments of superstores, warehouse clubs or discount stores), gas & convenience stores, quick service payment/fast food restaurants, telecommunications, cable/satellite TV/Internet Service Providers, video rentals, department stores, dry cleaners, drugstores, movie theatres, local and suburban commuter passenger transportation (including ferries, bridges, tolls, parking garages, taxis/limos), pet supply stores and veterinary services, utilities, beauty shops (salons and spas), or gym/recreation memberships.

CFO, that really seems weird. Chase classifies Whole Paycheck and TJ's as grocery stores on my Chase Rewards VISA and I get the full bonus rebate. You may want to give them a call and ask--if they're not grocery stores, then what exactly are they?

Also note that while quick service payment/fast food restaurants are one of the categories, full service restaurants aren't. So yes, you might wind up earning 3% on your McDonald's or Chipotle, but you'll never get more than 1% back on much bigger meal tabs at a real restaurant. If you're big on eating out, there are cards that will get you 3% on all classes of restaurants in either unlimited amounts or a lot more than $12/month.

After reading about all the restrictions on Chase Freedom and questionable merchant categorizations earning you 1% when you think you're getting 3%, there's something to be said for the Orchard Bank MasterCard, which gets you 2% across the board on ifs, ands or buts, other than a $400 maximum rebate/year.

I love the Chase banking interface. I can pay any of my Chase cc's instantly simply by transferring money from my Chase checking account. I originally opened the account for the bonus, but now I am going to keep it because of how easy it is to work with the card I use the most: chase freedom.

Just to clarify a point about the category - Chase (or any other card issuing bank for that matter) has no control over how the category code is set. The Merchant Category Code (or "MCC") is set by the merchant's bank, not your credit card's bank. Many rewards programs that offer rebates on categories (Amex Blue Cash included) completely depend on the *merchant* setting this code correctly. If a fast food restaurant misclassifies itself as a discount store, you're out-of-luck as far as Chase being able to detect your fast food rebate.

How do I get cash back at Meijer stores? I'm looking for a discount card that works there.

Derek --

See the comments on this post -- there are some thoughts on Meijer there:

Is this site run by Chase or are you being paid by them to hype this card? I just got my first bill from using this card and it is a rip off. MY CASH BACK totalled a little over 1% of the bill which wouldn't be so bad IF: MY CASH BACK can only be redeemed in $50 increments - where I have to APPLY for a CHECK (no credit to my card? A PAPER CHECK? What about the paperless revolution where they don't even want to send a bill--but I have to APPLY for a PAPER CHECK to get my money back?). MY CASH BACK EXPIRES IN 1 YEAR. I don't think I'll be seeing much cash back on this card. Another credit card rip off in my view. How much are they spending in advertising for this card? They'd build up more good will just giving everyone 1% back on their bill without all the hype. What a joke! This is a black eye for Chase.

Anne --

Rule #1 in getting ANY credit card is that you have to get a card based on your needs and spending habits -- you can't simply pick out a card and "hope" it will work for you. To pick the best card for you, see this post:

In this case, if you don't have any spending in Chase's 15 categories that earn you 3% cash back (see this post for a list of them: ), the card isn't likely to be the best option for you.

Anne - I don't see how getting 1%+ back from spending money you would anyway is a "rip-off". As far as the paper checks go, in my experience they usually come within 5-10 business days, so you have them in plenty of time for the due date of the bill.

And if you wait to get your rebate, Chase throws in a $50 kicker bonus.

If you bank with Chase you can simply transfer the payments from your checking. Which I like, if on vacatiion etc, don't have to worry about missing payments. My question is: If you don't bank with Chase,is this possible with another bank.

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