I’ve hinted at the credit cards I intend on adding to my wallet on a few different occasions. To put it simply, after getting approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve I have been on a quest to complete the “Chase trifecta” — ultimately maximizing the amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards I earn on every dollar spent.
Even thought the Chase Sapphire Preferred does not provide any more benefit than the Reserve in terms of spending bonus, last September I was able to secure the 50,000 point sign-up bonus after only $4,000 in spend. I don’t consider this an addition to the Chase trifecta, but I do think it’s worth mentioning, as it was such a large part of my Ultimate Rewards stash. Unfortunately, you can no longer be approved and receive the sign-up bonus for both the Reserve and Preferred. At this point I needed a few months to drop below 5/24, which led me to the Chase Ink Business Preferred card — which I picked up at the beginning of this year.
Even though I could have been approved for another personal card earlier, given that I was approved for a business card, I wanted to wait until I completed the minimum spend for the sign-up bonus. Which leads me to where I am now — the Chase Freedom.
Not only is the Chase Freedom an incredibly lucrative cash back card by itself, it is most lucrative in conjunction with the other Chase cards that I have mentioned. I don’t want to give a full review of the card here, but the Freedom card offers 5% cash back on purchases in rotating quarterly categories, up to $1,500 . The current bonus categories are gas stations, internet/cable/phone services, and mobile wallet payments. These points can either be redeemed for cash back, or transferred to one of the accounts that accrue Ultimate Rewards — that is assuming that you have one of those cards. I intend on transferring the points I earn on the Chase Freedom card to my Sapphire Reserve account — where the points are valued at 1.5 cents when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
For now, I want to go over the steps to take once you receive your Chase Freedom card. Like many other things in this game, it may seem straightforward, but if not correctly and thoroughly you could potentially miss out on a lot of points.
1. Activate your credit card
While most cards these days will be activated upon the first transaction, it is good practice to call and activate your card. There is nothing special here in terms of the Chase Freedom specifically, I figured it was still worth mentioning, though.
2. Activate the quarterly bonus
This is something that you should get in the habit of doing with this card — and really the most important thing when it comes to the Freedom card. There are two ways to do this:
- Go to this website: https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/activate where you will be prompted to enter some pretty basic information.
- Or you can log into your personal Chase account (assuming you’ve created/have one) and follow the “Activate Card” link under the Chase Freedom tab. If you have a Chase account and the Freedom does not show up, I’d recommend calling Chase immediately to ensure it was entered into the system correctly — it makes for transferring points and managing your accounts much easier in the future.
3. Educate yourself on the bonus categories.
At this point you are ready to begin spending on the card, but like anything else, it is important to be fully knowledgeable about something before throwing your money at it. This is no different.
Besides activating the quarterly bonus categories, being knowledgeable about what those categories are is just as paramount. On the surface, a lot of these categories seem straightforward, but there are always certain intricacies that may be easily overlooked. For instance, the current “internet/cable/phone services” category has a lot of “fine print” in regards to where you can earn a bonus.
I would highly suggest visiting the monthly calendar on Chase’s website at least once a quarter to ensure you are putting your spend in the right spot.
*4. Upload to your mobile wallet of choice.
While the Chase Pay app should have your Freedom card immediately upon your approval, I find the Apple Pay app to be a bit more user accessible (with an iPhone of course) — which requires the upload of the card information. I am only mentioning this here because it obviously affects the current bonus category, but I think it will continue to be a quarterly category in years to come, as the push for mobile payment continues.
5. Finally, determine your spending strategy.
Like any other card that is added to your wallet, you must determine how this new card affects your strategy. Do you begin to look for restaurants that only accept Apple Pay, or do you continue earning 3x with your Sapphire Reserve? Do you pay your cable bill with the Freedom even though it incurs a fee?
These are just a few of the questions one should ask themselves when trying to determine the credit card strategy — no matter what cards they have. There is no right answer to how you spend your money. I do think, however, there is an argument for the most efficient way to spend.
The Chase Freedom is an incredibly lucrative card, especially when complementing other Chase cards. For many, though, simple setups of the card will be passed over and many points will be left on the table. While it is not a long or tedious process, you must not forget to activate the bonus categories and make sure you are fully aware of said categories.