How to Maximize the Chase Freedom 5x Bonus for Q1 : Gas Stations, Internet/Cable/Phone Services and Mobile Pay

Chase just announced the Chase Freedom Q1 categories for 2018: gas stations, internet/cable/phone services, and purchases made with mobile pay (Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay). 

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If you have a Chase Freedom card, you can earn up to 5x back on up to $1,500 in the combined category spend for Q1 (January, February, and March). As a reminder, you must activate the 5x  categories on the Chase Freedom website by March 14, 2018. 

Depending on the cards you have in your wallet, Ultimate Rewards (UR) points earned from the Chase Freedom can be redeemed at 1.0-1.5x. The optimal strategy is to transfer the UR points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeem for travel. 

Chase Freedom (1x)
a) $150 sign-up bonus = 15k UR points
b) 5x back = 5%

Chase Sapphire Preferred (1.25x*)
a) 15k * 1.25x = $187.50
b) 5% * 1.25x = 6.25%

Chase Sapphire Reserve (1.5x*)
a) 15k * 1.5x = $225
b) 5% * 1.5x = 7.5%

*redeem towards travel like flights and hotels

Gas Stations

If you're someone who spends a lot on gas, then you can optimize the gas category by buying gas gift cards for the rest of the year (or up to $1,500). 

In some areas, 7 Elevens code as gas. Although the category is labeled as "gas," you're not limited to gas purchases. Most 7 Elevens and other convenient stores sell gift cards to Amazon and restaurants. 

To check if a specific merchant codes as gas, use the Visa Supplier website

Internet/Cable/Phone Services

Only purchases for internet, cable, satellite TV, radio, cell phones, wireless data, and landline services qualify for 5x. 

Equipment purchases are NOT included. For example, if you purchase a cell phone at Best Buy, then you will NOT earn 5x. The purchase must be at a cellular retailer like Verizon or T-Mobile to qualify. 

Important: The merchant must code accordingly as an internet/cable/phone services to qualify for 5x cash back. If you're unsure about the service provider, use the Visa Supplier website to check if the merchant codes for a qualifying category. 

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments include purchases made using your Freedom card with your Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay digital wallet during check out. 

If you make qualifying digital wallet purchases on another 5x category, you will only receive 5x cash back.