How to Maximize the Chase Freedom 5x Bonus for Q4 2017: Walmart and Department Stores

Chase Freedom just announced the Q4 categories for 2017: Walmart and department stores. I'm glad that the Chase Freedom categories are different from Discover It 5% categories this quarter. 

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If you have a Chase Freedom card, you can earn 5x back on up to $1,500 in category spend for Q4 (October, November, and December). Depending on how you value your points, this can be worth 5-10%. 5% if you cash out your points as a statement credit, and potentially 10% back if you transfer the points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and use transfer partners. 


For the Walmart category, there is some fine print:

  • Does NOT include merchants that operate within Walmart like fast food restaurants, beauty services, and gas stations that are not Walmart branded
  • Does NOT include Walmart affiliate businesses like Sam's Club and 

Walmart category inclusions:

  • Walmart Discount Stores
  • Walmart SuperCenters
  • Walmart Neighborhood Markets
  • Walmart branded gas stations operated by Walmart

Online purchases made at DO count. If you already shop at Walmart, this category is straightforward.

However, if you rarely shop at Walmart, I encourage you to look at gift cards and non-perishables. 

For non-perishables, you get free 3-day shipping. If your cart is more than $35, then you can get free 1-2 day shipping.

Department Stores

There are a few rules to be aware of:

  • Does NOT include discount centers, specialty stores (anywhere that sells primarily one product including shoe stores, electronic stores, and pet stores)
  • Any department store not included on the Chase Freedom site will NOT qualify for 5x cash back
  • Merchants not included: Target, TJ Maxx, and electronic stores (see here for full list)
  • Gift cards purchased at any locations other than the department stores on the inclusion list

Department stores that qualify for 5x cash back:

  • JCPenney®
  • Kohl's®
  • Macy's®
  • Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack
  • Sears®
  • Barney’s
  • Baskins®
  • Bealls
  • Beiter’s
  • Belk
  • Bergdorf Goodman
  • The Big Store
  • Bloomingdale's
  • Bon-Ton®, including
  • Bergner's®
  • Boston Store®
  • Carson's®
  • Elder-Beerman®
  • Herbergers®
  • Younkers®
  • Boscov's
  • Burke's®
  • Cayman's®
  • Cee & Cee Department Store
  • Cook Brothers
  • Dillard's
  • Flemington Department Store
  • Getz's®
  • Gumps
  • Jeffery
  • Joe Brand
  • Loehmann’s
  • Lord & Taylor
  • Magic Mart
  • Neiman Marcus and NM Last Call
  • RH Renny
  • Saks Fifth Ave and Off 5th
  • Shopko
  • Von Maur®
  • Weaver’s Store

Optimal Strategy

If you do shop at these stores, you can earn a lot of cash back by combining the Freedom card with cash back shopping portals. 

In addition to the 5x from the Chase Freedom, you can stack cash back from online shopping portals. I like to use to see which shopping portal earns the most cash back. For example, is offering 7% back on purchases. If you don't have a account, use our referral link to get $10 on your first purchase.

This means that if you use your Chase Freedom card (5x cash back) and (7% cash back), you can effectively get 17% cash back (assuming you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve and transfer partners). 

If you don't want to buy physical items from Walmart, gift cards are also an option. I usually purchase gift cards for Uber and restaurants. Another alternative is to buy gas pump gift cards from Walmart to use at Sam's Club. Check the cashback sites to see if gift cards will count towards the cash back shopping portal points. Some sites have fine print where gift cards are excluded. 

The same strategy applies for online shopping at department stores. Check for the optimal shopping portal to earn more cash back.