Chase Freedom 2021 Q3 Bonus Categories

The Deal:

The Chase Freedom Visa (no longer available) and the Chase Freedom Flex (review) are great no annual fee credit cards that earn 5x back on rotating quarterly categories. While these cards are advertised as cashback cards, they actually earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. Therefore, the default is 5% cash back, but see below on how to get greater than 1 cent per point when redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points (hint: I routinely easily get about 2 cents/point when transferring to Hyatt)!

The categories for July – September 2021 are:

  • Grocery Stores
  • Select Streaming Services

Key Info:

  • ACTIVATE at chase.com/freedom or chase.com/freedomflex
    • Must Activate no later than September 14, 2021
    • Activation is retroactive – you will earn 5x for all qualified bonus category purchases since July 1
    • NOTE: If you have more than one Freedom Visa and/or Flex card, you MUST ACTIVATE each one separately
  • Purchases must post between July 1 and September 30.
    • Bonus only applies to the first $1,500 in net purchases

What Counts?

A common question with the Freedom bonus categories is what counts and what doesn’t count. There is a Merchant List but here are the highlights …

Grocery Stores:

Most grocery stores and supermarkets, but not discount / warehouse clubs (e.g., Costco, Target, Walmart, etc.). Here is what Chase states is included in the Grocery:

Merchants in the Grocery Stores category include supermarkets, merchants that offer a full service grocery line of merchandise including a deli and bakery as well as smaller grocery stores. Some merchants that sell grocery items are not included in this category; for example, larger stores that sell a wide variety of goods, such as Target®, Walmart®, discount stores, warehouse clubs, and some smaller merchants such as drugstores and merchants that specialize in only a few grocery items. Purchases made at gas stations from merchants who also operate grocery stores are not included in this category. Delivery service merchants will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in the grocery stores category.

Select Streaming Services:

Only subscriptions made with the following merchants qualify:

  • Apple Music
  • Disney+
  • ESPN
  • Fubo TV
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Pandora
  • SiriusXM
  • Sling
  • Spotify
  • Vudu
  • YouTube TV

Here is what Chase states is included in the Select Streaming Category:

Merchants in the Select Streaming Services category specialize in delivering music and video content over the internet. Only subscriptions paid for or purchases made with the following select merchants will qualify for this category: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube TV. The listed merchant(s) should not be considered sponsors or co-sponsors of this program. All trademarks are the property of their respective owner(s).

Hacking the Deal:

Hack #1: Get the Freedom Flex Card

If you don’t already have one, then you can apply for a Chase Freedom Flex card now, and still have plenty of time to utilize the card for the first quarter. Just make sure that you are eligible for the Freedom Flex:

  • You don’t already have the Freedom Flex card. (Having the Freedom Visa or Freedom Unlimited do not preclude you from getting the Freedom Flex.
  • You have not earned the bonus on the Freedom Flex in the past 24 months
  • You have not opened 5 or more credit cards in the past 24 months (the Chase 5/24 rule)

For reference, here is the 2021 Quarterly Calendar:

Hack #2: Redeem for > 1 cent per point in Value

There are a number of ways to increase the Value of an Ultimate Reward point. As a baseline, they are worth $0.01 per point in value by getting a statement credit or redeeming it in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Get 1.25 cents per point

Ultimate Rewards Points are worth $0.125 each when redeemed in the travel portal or using the Pay Yourself Back feature if you have one of the following credit cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred

Get 1.50 cent per point

Ultimate Rewards Points are worth $0.150 each when redeemed in the travel portal or using the Pay Yourself Back feature if you have one of the following credit cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • J.P. Morgan Reserve

Hack #3: Transfer Points to Partners for outsized value

If you have one of the following Chase cards , then you can transfer your points to one of Chase’s Transfer airline or hotel partners for potentially outsized value:

  • Consumer Cards
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve
    • J.P. Morgan Reserve
  • Small Business Cards
    • Chase Ink Business Bold (No longer available)
    • Chase Ink Business Preferred

I am often able to get at least 2 cents per point, which makes this card earning effectively 10% cashback on above bonus categories!

Chase Airline Transfer Partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirate Skywards
  • Flying Blue Air France KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase Hotel Transfer Partners:

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Hack #4: Up to $240 / year in Streaming Credits

The revamped American Express Platinum now offers up to $20/month in Digital Entertainment Credits for the following services:

The Deal expires on Friday October 1st, 2021 (i.e., make sure you make the purchase before Friday October 1st, 2021)

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