Although I wrote earlier about the great new offer for 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, holiday shoppers should also consider the Chase Freedom. It’s another card that earns Ultimate Rewards points and has no annual fee. However, this card is more oriented toward shopping than travel.
Most purchases earn just one point per dollar with no cap, but every quarter Chase announces a new set of preferred merchants. Shop at those stores and you’ll get five points per dollar, up to a maximum of $1,500 in purchases that quarter (7,500 points total).
Even better, apply for the Freedom card now and get 15,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $500 in the first 3 months. Add an authorized cardholder and get another 2,500 points. That’s worth a total of $175 in statement credits.
Getting five Ultimate Rewards points is a pretty good deal. Even better is when that merchant is Amazon.com, which sells almost everything. And now Chase has decided to improve the offer to 10 points per dollar when you use your Chase Freedom card between November 23 and December 31, 2015. (Other Amazon companies, including Zappos, Audible, and Diapers.com are also eligible.) If you don’t already have a Chase Freedom card, there’s still plenty of time to apply and receive your new card before the holiday shopping season is over.
The major catch here is that the Ultimate Rewards points you earn with the Chase Freedom card aren’t like other Ultimate Rewards. Normally you can only redeem them for cash back — a penny each. That means 10 points per dollar is effectively 10% back on Amazon purchases. Still good, but we can do better.
If you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Ink Plus business card, then those cards also earn Ultimate Rewards. You can consolidate your Ultimate Rewards points into a single account. Once they’re associated with the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Plus, then you can transfer them to a variety of airline or hotel loyalty programs, where you might get much better value than a penny. For example:
- Earn 10 Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Freedom at Amazon during the promotion.
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Freedom card to your Sapphire Preferred.
- Then transfer those to your United MileagePlus account (or another airline or hotel partner). You’ll end up with 10 United miles per dollar.
If you don’t personally have a Sapphire Preferred card, you can still transfer them to a card owned by your spouse or domestic partner — and then he or she could transfer them to an external loyalty account. I don’t recommend applying for two Chase credit cards at once, so maybe you could apply for the Freedom Card and your spouse could apply for the Sapphire Preferred. This is the strategy my wife and I use.