The Next Two Cards
Sooo … you’ve picked your Sapphire card and spent your $4,000 and gotten the sign-up bonus (get these cards one at a time, so you aren’t trying to spend up the bonus on multiple cards!) What’s next?
Two Freedom cards. The Chase Freedom Visa, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited Visa. Both of them, you will be glad to hear, have no annual fees.
The Freedom cards are marketed as cash back cards - you get X% cash back for this or that purchase, etc.
BUT, if you have a Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire RESERVE card, you are enrolled in the Ultimate Rewards program, and that cash back automatically and optionally becomes Ultimate Rewards points. This isn’t widely advertised, but it’s true - I’ve done it. You can still get the cash back if you like, but I consider transferring them to frequent flier miles 1:1 to be inherently
more valuable, by 50% or more. If your goal is to travel, this is a no-brainer.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited will be what you do most of your spending on - anything that isn’t dining or travel (see the Sapphire cards). For ALL PURCHASES, the Freedom Unlimited gives you 1.5 points per dollar. Great deal. Sign up your utility bills for this and use it for anything not in a bonus category.
The regular Chase Freedom card makes things even more fun. It normally only gives you one point per dollar, like the Sapphire cards outside of the bonus categories … BUT, every quarter, the Freedom card has a bonus category that gets you 5x the points. You have to register (for free) to receive this extra point bonus; it is easy to do online, and you will probably get e-mail reminders. The first quarter of this year was gas stations. The second quarter was grocery stores. The third quarter was restaurants. This quarter is department and drug stores.
This 5x bonus is HUGE, and good for up to the first $1,500 you spend in that category. Don’t spend $1500/quarter on gas? Consider doing this … close to the end of the period, or even at the beginning of the period, BUY ENOUGH GIFT CARDS IN THE RELEVANT CATEGORY TO MAX OUT YOUR POINTS. I bought $500 worth of Shell gas cards and ended up wishing I had bought more. The next quarter I bought $1000 worth of H.E.B. Grocery Store gift cards. I use those whenever I need gas or groceries, and I pocketed a big chunk of the 5x point bonus. (Hint: make sure you don’t lose those gift cards! They’re good as cash.)
Each Freedom card has a sign-up bonus of $150 cash back when you spend $500 within the first three months. Easy, right? I’m not sure about this, but if you have the Sapphire card, the whole “cash-to-points” deal may apply to this sign-up bonus as well - so those $150 bonuses become 15,000 points. Between the two cards, that’s 30,000 points for spending only $1,000. Not bad.
Photo by Dylan Ashe
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