2018 Chase Freedom Q3 Bonus Categories Have Been Announced!

Chase Freedom - Earn 5% cash back at gas stations

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The Chase Freedom® Credit Card is a simple card that could easily get overlooked in your wallet. But that would be a mistake because it has tremendous earning potential! Each quarter, the Chase Freedom® card has bonus categories that will earn 5% cash-back (or 5x points — see below for details).

The key to this card’s power is knowing how to use the bonus categories for maximum benefit.

In this post, we’ll go over the bonus categories for 2018, plus tips to get the most out of your Chase Freedom® card.

New 2018 Q3 Bonus Categories Announced

Chase announced the bonus categories for Q3 will be gas stations, Lyft, and Walgreens. That means any qualifying purchases made at these merchants July 1, 2018-September 30, 2018 (up to $1,500) will earn 5% cash- back. Any purchases made in these categories over $1,500 plus all purchases at non-bonus stores will earn 1% cash-back.

Chase Freedom 2018 Q3 Bonus Categories
The Chase Freedom 2018 Q3 bonus categories are gas stations, Walgreens, and Lyft.

Benefits Of The Chase Freedom® Card

The Chase Freedom® card is a simple but powerful credit card. This no annual fee card offers bonus categories that rotate quarterly. Any purchases in the specified category will earn 5% cash-back (up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter). All other purchases will earn 1% cash-back.

Welcome Bonus

The Chase Freedom® card is offering a $150 bonus after spending $500 in your first 3 months of having the card. Plus, when you add an authorized user and make your first purchase in the first 3 months, you can earn an additional $25 cash-back!

How Your 5% Cash-Back Works

Each quarter, your Chase Freedom® card will feature a different bonus category that will earn 5% cash-back (up to $1,500) instead of the standard 1% cash-back. Any purchases over $1,500 in the bonus category plus all other non-bonus category purchases will earn 1% cash-back.

If you max out your bonus, you will earn $75 cash-back (or 7,500 points) each quarter or $300 cash-back (or 30,000 points) per year. Not a bad earning potential for a card with no annual fee!

How to Activate Your Bonus

Each quarter, you must activate your bonus categories. You will be able to activate the next quarter’s bonus categories about 2 weeks before the start of that quarter. For example, you can activate the Q3 bonus now, which started on June 15, 2018.

Activating your bonus only takes a few clicks.

1.  Log on to your online Chase account and select your Chase Freedom® card from the selections at the left-hand side of your screen.

2.  If your bonus needs to be activated, you will see Not Activated at the right-hand side of the Chase Freedom® dashboard. Click on the blue Activate button to continue.

View your Chase Freedom® dashboard by selecting the Freedom card at the left of the screen. Then, you can activate your bonus by clicking the blue Activate button at the right of your screen.

3.  You will see a detailed description of the bonus categories you’re activating. Click on the big green Activate now button to complete the activation. That’s all there is to it!

How To Activate The Chase Freedom Bonus Categories
Click on the green Activate now button to complete the activation so you can start earning 5% cash-back!

Chase offers 4 other ways to activate your bonus:

  • Set up an email reminder and activate with one click.
  • Phone: call 1-800-524-8200
  • Chase branch
  • ATM

Each quarter has a deadline for activating your bonus. As long as you activate by the deadline, any qualifying purchases from the entire quarter will earn the bonus points.

Once your bonus categories are activated, you will be able to see Activated in your online dashboard for your Chase Freedom® card.

Chase Freedom 5% Cash Back Activation
Make sure you activate your bonus categories each quarter.

How to Check Your Progress on the $1,500 Maximum

Maxing out your bonus each quarter is key to making the most of your Chase Freedom® card.

  1.  To check your progress, click on the blue See details button right under Activated (see screenshot above). This button will take you to the Chase Freedom® details page where you can keep track of your progress. Unfortunately, Chase shows you a general idea of your progress, not an exact dollar amount.
Keeping Track of your Chase Freedom bonus
Chase offers a quick snapshot of your progress towards the maximum bonus.

2.  If you want to know how much you have spent down to the penny, you will need to use the “search” feature right above the list of your transactions.

Check your Chase Freedom bonus progress
To see how much you have spent in a quarter, use the search feature.

3.  Under Time Period, select Specific date range. Next, input the start date of the current quarter with the end date being the current day. Then, click on the blue Filter button.

This selection will bring up a list of all transactions on your Freedom card in the current quarter. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to select only the purchases in the bonus categories, so you might have to do some manual math.

Chase Freedom Search Feature
Search your transactions by Specific date range to see all of your purchases in a particular quarter.

2018 Bonus Categories

Chase Freedom 2018 Bonus Categories
Use quarterly bonus categories to maximize your rewards. Image courtesy of creditcards.chase.com.

Q1: January-March

  • Gas stations: Gas stations not including truck stops, boat marinas, oil or propane distributors, or home heating companies.
  • Internet, Cable and Phone Services: This category includes internet, cable, satellite TV, radio, cellular, wireless data, and landlines, but excludes equipment.
  • Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay: Includes purchases made with your Chase Freedom card through Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay digital wallet.

Q2: April-June

  • PayPal: Includes purchases and sending money through PayPal with your Freedom card.
  • Chase Pay: Includes purchases made with your Freedom card through Chase Pay digital wallet.
  • Grocery stores: Grocery stores excluding purchases made at Walmart, Target, discount, or warehouse club stores such as Sam’s, Costco.

Q3: July-September

Chase just announced that the upcoming Q3 bonus categories will be gas stations, Lyft and Walgreens.  Activate your Q3 bonus categories starting through September 14, 2018.

  • Gas stations: Gas stations not including truck stops, boat marinas, oil or propane distributors, or home heating companies.
  • Lyft
  • Walgreens

Q4: October-December

Activate your Q4 bonus categories starting September 15, 2018 through December 14, 2018.

  • Coming soon!

Bottom Line: Chase has announced the new bonus categories for Q3: gas stations, Lyft, and Walgreens. Purchases made at these locations July-September will earn 5% cash-back.

Past Chase Freedom® Bonus Categories

If you have used a Chase Freedom® card for a while, you know that many of the bonus categories are repeated year after year. It’s a good thing to know because if a category you use frequently is often a bonus category, it might make sense to apply for a Chase Freedom® card.

2017 Bonus Categories

  • Q1: Gas stations and local commuter transportation
  • Q2: Grocery stores and drug stores
  • Q3: Restaurants and movie theaters
  • Q4: Walmart and department stores

2016 Bonus Categories

  • Q1: Gas stations and local commuter transportation
  • Q2: Grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • Q3: Restaurants and wholesale clubs
  • Q4: Department stores, drugstores, and wholesale clubs

2015 Bonus Categories

  • Q1: Grocery stores, movie theaters, and Starbucks
  • Q2: Restaurants
  • Q3: Gas stations
  • Q4: Amazon.com

Hot Tip: Chase repeats bonus categories often, so if you see one that you use often like grocery stores or restaurants, it could be a good idea to apply for a Chase Freedom® card.

How to Maximize The Value From Your Chase Freedom® Card

Max Out the Bonus Categories Each Quarter

The key to making the most of this card is to max out your bonus category each quarter. You will earn 5% cash-back on the first $1,500 in purchases in the bonus category, which results in $75 cash-back (or 7,500 points) each quarter. Here are a few tips to help you reach that $1,500 mark without buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need.

  • Grocery stores: This is one of the easiest categories to maximize because most grocery stores sell gift cards to just about anywhere. If you won’t spend the full $1,500 on groceries, purchase gift cards to stores that you frequent often. Many grocery stores even sell airline and other travel gift cards.
  • Gas stations: This one might be hard to max out entirely on gas, but many gas stations sell more than just gas. You can earn 5% cash-back on basic groceries and gift cards at gas stations.
  • Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay: This is another easy category to max out. Many stores are now taking these forms of payment. For instance, my grocery store now accepts Apple Pay, so I can purchase my groceries (and gift cards!) with Apple Pay to earn 5% cash-back.
  • PayPal: More and more websites are accepting PayPal as a form of payment now. Just be sure to link your Chase Freedom® account to your PayPal account.
  • Walgreens: You can purchase basic groceries, health, and beauty items and even prescriptions at Walgreens. Check for gift cards, one of the easiest ways to get the most out of the 5% bonus category!

How Much Are My Points Worth?

Now that you know how to earn tons of points from your Chase Freedom® card, it’s good to know how much they are worth.

When you use your Chase Freedom® points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, your points are worth 1 cent each. However, they can be worth more if you transfer them to a premium card.

Chase Credit CardValue of UR Points (Booking Through Travel Portal)
💳 Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card1.5 cents
💳 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card1.25 cents
💳 Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
1.25 cents
💳 Chase Ink Plus Business Card1.25 cents
💳 Chase Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card1 cent
💳 Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card1 cent
💳 Chase Freedom Unlimited®1 cent
💳 Chase Freedom® Credit Card1 cent

Hot Tip: For a step by step guide to booking travel through Chase’s online portal, check out: The Complete Guide to Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.

Pair With A Premium Card

If you hold a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠, you can maximize the value of your Chase Freedom® card.

Instead of taking cash-back, you can choose to transfer the points earned on your Freedom card to a premium Chase card. Transferring points will increase their value when you use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

For example, your 7,500 points are worth $75 in travel through the Chase Freedom® card. However, if you transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, they would be worth $93.75. If you transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, they would be worth $112.50!

Once you transfer points to the premium card, you have the option of transferring them to any of Chase’s hotel and airline partners. Transferring your points to Chase’s travel partners is the best way to get maximum value from your points. You could get 2, 3, or more cents per point!

Bottom Line: You can get the most value out of your Chase Freedom® card by pairing it with a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, Chase Sapphire Preferred®, or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠.

Final Thoughts

The Chase Freedom® card is a great no annual fee card that has enormous earning power! This card offers 5% cash- back in bonus categories that rotate quarterly. The new Q3 categories are gas stations, Lyft, and Walgreens. Maxing out your bonus each quarter is a great way to earn tons of Chase Ultimate Rewards points!


What Are The Current Chase Bonus Categories?

Now through June 30, 2018 the Chase Freedom bonus categories are Paypal, Chase Pay, and Grocery Stores.  Starting July 1, 2018 the categories will be gas stations, Lyft, and Walgreens.

Is The Chase Freedom a Cash Back Card Or An Ultimate Rewards Earning Card?

The Chase Freedom is advertised as a straight cash-back card. And while you can absolutely take the cash-back, you can get more value by using earned rewards as Ultimate Rewards points instead.

With Ultimate Rewards points, you can book travel directly through the online travel portal. If you have a premium Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer those points to hotel and airline partners for even more value.

How Is The Chase Freedom Different From The Chase Freedom Unlimited?

While these 2 cards have similar names, they are indeed very different! The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash-back in rotating categories every quarter. The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a flat 1.5% cash-back on all purchases.

When Do I Need To Activate The Bonus Categories?

You can start activating each quarter's bonus categories about 2 weeks before the start of the quarter. You can activate the bonus anytime in the specified period to earn bonus points for the entire quarter.

  • Q1: Activate anytime between December 15, 2017-March 14, 2018
  • Q2: Activate anytime between March 15, 2018-June 14, 2018
  • Q3: Activate anytime between June 15, 2018-September 14, 2018
  • Q4: Activate anytime between September 15, 2018- December 14, 2018

I already have the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Can I still apply for the Chase Freedom?

Yes! You can absolutely have both of these cards in your wallet, and that's a great strategy to earn tons of Ultimate Rewards points! However, your application could be denied if you have opened too many cards recently. Chase operates by the 5/24 rule. That means if you have opened up 5 or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the last 24 months, you will most likely be denied.


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