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May 17, 2011


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Just wanted to let you know that my wife and I just plugged in your examples according to our spending habits. It was eye opening. i will not spend more for the rewards, but keeping with our natural spending habits it is definitely great for us. Thanks for the tip.

Makes sense to use the self serve section of the grocery store to rack up on the 10 points or do multiple $1 fills at the gas station.

I think the reward terms you listed for the Chase Freedom Visa are the same for the Mastercard. I got the Mastercard for my Sam's club purchases.

We had about 70-80 transactions for two people and spent about $2000-$2300 a month. Not a lot but we still able could get $50 or $60 cash back deposited to our checking account. Not bad at all!


I don't believe in "rewards" credit cards.



Have you had any trouble with the 5% cash back on categories? In other words, has Chase been categorizing qualifying quarterly purchases as 'other' and not awarding the 5% bonus? If you have any insight into this, please post your experience.

I just a received a notice today in the mail that CF rewards is changing and that they will now only give 3% rewards back in the top 6 categories. They will have 'rotating' quarterly categories that will still give 5% back, but I buy gas, groceries etc year round - not just in 1 quarter. And they are doing away with the option to get $250 after accumulating $200 in rewards. Time for a new rewards card...


You are lucky that you didn't get that letter sooner. I stopped earning the 3% about a year ago (possibly longer).

ranch111 --

No problems so far. Key is to be sure the place you're buying from is coded correctly. For instance, a Super Walmart may or may not be coded as a grocery store in Chase's system (it could be coded as a mass merchandiser.) Best bet is to make a charge and see what happens the next month. Then you can plan/charge accordingly.

Mark --

What Eric said. You had the old CF, which was better, but was also a pre-credit crunch card. Things have pulled back drastically since then (like the Schwab 2% card not being offered). While the new CF card isn't as good as the old one, it's among the best out there now.

I just looked into the Chase checking account options after logging in to view my credit card activity. For whatever reason, I can't open a checking account with them based on my zip code. That's a shame. I would have started up an account to get the extra rewards you mentioned.

I experimented with this for a couple of months—even going to the trouble of splitting a monthly $100 purchase (refilling a workplace cafeteria card) into 10 transactions at $10 apiece to maximize the rewards. Even with bonus categories, I calculated that I would still come out ahead had I used my 1.5% cashback Fidelity Mastercard. So I only use the Freedom card for bonus categories or when shopping via their Ultimate Rewards site (then redeem points for money off airline tickets through their travel site if their ticket price matches the lowest I see elsewhere.)

Eli --

Good decision.

It's wise to test any card to see what best fits what you buy, where you buy, how much you buy, etc. to see what gives you the best overall return.

Just letting you know that Chase seems to have an even better offer out there. Last week I received a Chase Freedom offer for $300 cash back afer the $500 in purchases were made. I had previously received the $100 offer and then the $150 offer. Not sure if this is an offer for cerain Chase customers (vs. open to everyone), as I do bank at Chase.

Melissa --

I've heard rumblings of this offer out there, but haven't seen it myself (believe it or not, I still get mail to apply for a Chase Freedom card even though I have one), so I'm thinking this is a limited/targeted offer (having worked in database marketing, I know that some customers are worth more than others and thus are worth paying more to acquire.) The $150 offer is the best I've seen that's widely available.

If I ever do get a better cash offer via mail (or any other way), my plan is to apply for the card (yes, even though I have one already), spend on it to get the bonus, then shut it down. ;-)

I did some calculating when they made the switch away from the 3% in top categories and went to the current method and it actually worked out better for me. I use my card for all purchases, even the $1 McDonalds purchases, and get more rewards now then I did with the 3%.
Part of the reason is what Ranch111 commented on above... because certain stores get labeled as other, they don't fall in the correct category, so my Internet bill would be one of my top spending categories and it was only $26.99.
For those that don't use their credit card for all of their monthly spending, the rewards won't add up as quick, but all the little purchases getting 10 points a piece add up quickly.

I did have a problem with chase freedom not awarding me my bonus rewards last year for a plane ticket purchased sept 2010 and i didnt see a credit jan 2011 good thing i caught it and followed up.

Took 2-3weeks to get my points credited.
This weekend i got a letter saying they have credited me with the points.

Funny, I opened a Chase Freedom card with $200 cash back bonus with only requirement to put one (1!) transaction on the card. No minimum needed.

x -

Yes, there's a new offer out just last night. I just blogged about it here:

Just got the 200 for 500 spent in 3 months CF. 11.99 pct. Generous limit.

This after getting nearly 30 Chase "offers" of credit.

Perhaps if I waited a bit longer, they would have paid me generously, just to use a future offer...

I love my CHASE VISA credit card as well! I rarely use cash these days. I ran into some stores that does not take credit card under $5 or even $10.

so wait... I don't see any mention of Chase Freedom visa having any benefits with existing chase checking like this article mentions... Has that changed? All i see is the 1% cash back and the quarterly 5% categories... Please let me know if this checking bonus still exists... Gotta find a replacment for the schwab visa that BOA is killing :(

Nogbody --

You don't see it where -- in the card details? I'm not sure what you mean.

Here's what I'd do if I was you (I'm assuming you're a Chase banking customer or at least have a Chase branch near you):

1. Call the local Chase branch to confirm the deal.

2. Get the card.

I know they still offer it at least for some customers because I received my most recent statement a few days ago and I had bonuses for both options mentioned above.

Thanks FMF, I meant in the details of the card offer (fine print), it only mentions the 1% and the 5% quarterly bonuses... I'll contact Chase directly about the transaction point bonuses that you mention here.. Sounds like a great deal. I'm on the fence between AXP blue and Chase Freedom visa. I'm too simple, I can't do both :) On the one hand AXP is less accepted and has the annual fee, and but the 6% is potentially huge!

Nogbody --

Yes, it's a toss-up if you only want to get one -- depends on what you buy, where you buy it, how much, etc.

For chase checking customers, points earned = 1.1x+10 for each regular purchase and 5.1x+10 in a bonus category. On a 1 dollar purchase in a regular category, that is 1.1(1)+10 or 11.1 points and in a bonus category 5.1(1)+10 or 15.1 points.

Purchase price/effective cash back (for chase customer)/effective cash back (for chase customer in a 5% bonus category)


With tiny purchases, the CF card is unmatched in cash back. As you increase the purchase price of a given purchase, the benefit normalizes at a rapid rate back. Eventually, the 10 free points for the purchase become nearly negligible as the effective cash back just reverts to the 1.1/5.1.

This is illustrates what T mentioned earlier in the thread - make small purchases at high frequency to maximize the effective interest rate. The gas station/grocery self check-out are ingenius methods to maximizing your effective cash back (especially since those are purchases which are usually in the need and not want category on a monthly living basis).

I don't see the point in wasting time splitting up transactions to get the 10 pt bonus. Just go get a grocery/gas/food rewards card instead, like Citi Forward and AMEX Blue Cash. That way you get over twice a much cash back and don't waste time splitting up transactions.

We just post a sticker on the top of the Citi, Chase, AMEX, BoA and another Chase-Business card. We whip out whichover one makes most sense during a given transaction and month. Let these companies play games......We will be on the top of their games for us to maximize.

So, for example, I will never have $1500 charged to a 1% card, since I would have pushed it to the 2% card on all purchases.

In the end, we charge approx $25K to $32K per year, and therefore, we manage to receive a good $1000 or so per year with the 2%, 3% and 5% money back situations. This is in addition to opening/closing cards and bank accounts and getting freebies from these companies.

I teach my family members that 'gimmicks' that give a consumer an advantage only last for so many years. I leverage it to the max and then when those deals are gone, they are gone for a long time. Try getting a 'baking dish' by opening a new bank accounts (thing of the past). So, for now, credit card companies are clamoring over each other, and it is the time to take advantage.


Received mailing yesterday that Chase is changing the Exclusives program and eliminating the 10 bonus UR points per transaction. The new program will give 10% bonus on all UR points earned, including those earned through bonuses. This is a significant downgrade for my spending patterns.

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