Chase Freedom Q3 2018 5x Points Categories Revealed

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The Chase Freedom® Card is one of my favorite no annual fee credit cards, as it offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter. Most people use this as a cashback card, meaning the 5x points really translates into 5% cashback in these categories.

The best part is that in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, points earned on this card can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points, and be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners. Since I value one Ultimate Rewards point at significantly more than one cent, that’s my preferred use of those points.

For this quarter (April 1 through June 30), Chase is offering 5x points for the first $1,500 of combined purchases for PayPal, Chase Pay, and grocery stores. Registration for this bonus category closes tomorrow (June 14), so if you haven’t yet registered, be sure you do so soon. You’ll continue to earn 5x points through the end of the month (assuming you haven’t maxed out the bonus category), though only if you activate the bonus by June 14.

Up until now, Chase has kept the 5x points category for the third quarter of 2018 a secret. That has finally changed.

Between July 1 and September 30, 2018, the Chase Freedom will offer 5x points on the first $1,500 of combined purchases with Lyft, Walgreens, and gas stations. Registration for this category will open on June 15.

I was thrilled with the first two bonus categories for the year, given the emphasis on rewarding mobile payment options. Those were really easy to max out. While I might not usually use mobile payment services, it’s easy to switch a lot of charges to them.

Unfortunately this bonus category is significantly less rewarding for the categories I spend money in:

  • Personally I use Uber over Lyft, though perhaps I should use Lyft this coming quarter
  • I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to Walgreens
  • The last time I bought gas was when I rented a Silvercar in Orlando a couple of months ago

So these seem to me like very specific bonus categories, since they’re not even including all ridesharing, or all drugstores. While I’ve maxed out the first two bonus categories of the year, I don’t think I’ll be maxing this one out.

As a point of comparison, in the third quarter of 2017 the card offered 5x points at restaurants, which was much more valuable to me.

What do you make of the Chase Freedom third quarter 2018 bonus categories?

(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)

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Comments

  1. Agree that these are pretty underwhelming. Gas stations are useful, but I’ve never used Lyft and very rarely go to Walgreens.

  2. It’s a bit underwhelming, but I can’t complain too much. I use Lyft quite often and my apartment is right next to a Walgreen’s so I guess it works out in my favor but not everyone has that advantage.

  3. 1) Lyft is basically the same thing as Uber in most markets – drivers tend to have both apps. Should be easy to max out
    2) Walgreens is a great category, as Walgreens should include Duane Reade. Many New Yorkers spend thousands annually on Duane Reade

    That said, I switched my Freedom to Freedom Unlimited recently because I found Chase’s rotating categories to be underwhelming generally

  4. Could you buy a bunch of gift cards for other stores/vendors from Walgreens to get some of the bonus spend? I will definitely be using Lyft a lot more for the next 3 months!

  5. What is Chase trying to achieve by making it so specific this time? I’ve loved the Freedom up to now but these rotating bonuses are getting ridiculous. Why not create a loyal card that offers consistent bonus on the most common expenses. Like gas and groceries.

  6. I use Lyft to/from airport since you earn SkyMiles for each $ spent. This makes those trips slightly more lucrative.

  7. I’m very disappointed by this. I normally look forward to the restaurant category in Q3. Lyft will be okay, but I do not have Walgreens near me. And I dont own a car so I never buy gas. Sadness.

  8. 1. Lyft over Uber, just out of principle.
    2. Walgreens has gift cards.
    3. I have a car and I’ll also chip in for gas for long road trips.

    and most importantly…

    4. I don’t have a Chase Freedom due to 5/24 so my comments are irrelevant.

  9. Very underwhelming. If this continues, the card’s appeal will lessen dramatically.

    Lyft’s ok but obviously I can’t spend $1500 on it.

    Will really miss the dining option when at a conference in July.

    Will need to buy gift cards from Walgreens or Gas stations but honestly you can only keep so many of them.

  10. Gas station category is easy to max out, even without a car. Many gas stations have gift card kiosks inside. I buy Target and Amazon GCs to max out the $1500, then use those for spending over the next several months

  11. This is probably difficult for all the city dwellers on here to comprehend, but I’m excited about this one because I spend a lot more on gas stations than restaurants (or grocery stores for that matter) in any given quarter, so finally I’ll get some decent earnings.

  12. How would chase know you bought gift cards, just buy a pack of gum and $500 on amazon or whatever you spend and boom 5x points.

  13. 1. It’s easy to switch from Uber to Lyft, Lucky. It’s not like you’re switching from ATT to TMo. The apps function essentially the same way though Uber has a bigger global reach.

    2. Walgreens is easy to max out because they sell gift cards, including Amazon gift cards that you can load as much as $500 on to.

  14. Saw a YouTube video from credit wiz yesterday revealing these. I had doubt about the categories as they’re very specific with Lyft and Walgreens. But I guess he was right.

  15. Good question t. I would guess not. The costco citi visa gets 4% at every gas station. Walgreens and Lyft? Not so exciting. I am going to take this card out of my wallet for the next three months.

  16. @Ed. C

    We city dwellers get that people spend a bunch on gas, but if you’re already earning 3x points through Sapphire Reserve (or 2x Saph preferred), than this is still less valuable than having the chance to earn 5x/$ on things that would have NO bonus (groceries, paypal, retail) that are offered by Chase in other quarters. The marginal benefit is smaller.

  17. I just got out from 5/24 and have 2 slots open, but what’s been offered on the Freedom in recent quarters doesn’t seem nearly as alluring as I’d seen in the past. I was already planning to wait till the start of July, but I think I’m in no rush to grab this one. I’m not saying I won’t get it, but no rush.

  18. Yeah, so long as I can buy gift cards, I’ll be happy. Can count on two hands how many times I paid for gas with anything other than a gift card in the last several years. (Okay, probably more during our vacations, but…)

  19. On average, Lyft is much cheaper than Uber in Seattle. In other cities I’ve been to it’s similarly priced or cheaper as well.

    Walgreens and Gas Stations have gift cards so that’s what I’ll do. I think Costco gas and car wash both code as gas.

  20. Hard to beat 4% back on any gas via the Citi Costco card but 5% will do it next quarter, I’ll easily max out 2 cards on gas.

    Annoying that I’ve met my Rx deductible this year so Walgreens is of very limited value now to me…outside giftcard purchases.

    I know I’m throwing a few points away but I tend to not worry too much about the Freedom bonus categories anymore. Grocery has been ok to me but I’m not going out of my way to max our two cards out…

  21. @Evan I was wondering how long it would take for a city dweller to take offense. Just as you point out the lack of bonus categories that YOU can take advantage of, it works both ways. I rarely get the opportunity to earn extra because it seems Chase targets merchants that I either don’t use or do not have locations in my area. Because of where I live, I don’t have the opportunity to use it for groceries – Chase doesn’t honor purchases at the “big” store in town. Yeah, that would be in “flyover country”.

    And I do have the CSR, but outside of dining out once in a while or for travel I rarely use it. So, yeah. I’m happy for this quarter’s categories.

  22. Well this sucks. I never go to Walgreens cause it isn’t near me. My car is electric and I never use Uber/lyft. Whatever happen to their good categories like Amazon and wholesale food places.

  23. Naota, You probably can just mimic amazon by buying their gift cards at a gas station.

  24. The absence of restaurants is a disappointment. I feel like the categories have been going downhill for a while and this card may not make as much sense anymore…

  25. Very disappointing of Chase to exclude restaurants as that was the Q3 category the last few years.

  26. The Walgreens stores near me don’t allow buying gift cards with credit cards. The clerks told me that there were frauds associated with gift card purchases using credit card, so now they accept only cash or debit cards. 🙁

  27. Walgreens also gives 2% back in the Chase shopping portal. Assuming you can double up and get 7 points when ordering through Walgreens online. I get my contact lens through them. They regularly send 20% off coupons too (probably brings it down to regular price).

    With Lyft, I don’t know why this was offered to me but I now get 2 Delta points per dollar spent. This made alone made me switch from Uber. Glad to grab 5 Chase plus 2 Delta.

  28. Why Walgreens instead of drug stores?

    May be because most Walgreens would not allow credit card to buy gift cards that are not retailer gift cards while CVS would? Otherwise, why excludes CVS?

  29. @fll, I never bought Visa or Amex gift cards using a credit card before… so, we cannot use a credit card to buy Visa /Amex gift card at Walgreen? How about at gas stations? Does anyone know? Will gas station accept a credit card as a form of payment to purchase Visa / Amex Gift cards?

  30. Given that 7% of consumer income is spent on gas, most people will be more than happy with 5% back on gas. It won’t get me to max out, but with some creative gift card purchasing, maybe I can.

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