Use Gift Cards to Max Out the 5% Chase Freedom Grocery Category Bonus

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I love the Chase Freedom Visa and MasterCard because it makes it really easy to earn 5 times the number of Ultimate Rewards points (up to $1,500 or 7,500 points a quarter) for purchases which Emily and I would make in any case!

The Chase Freedom is a fee-free card, so it is a good Chase card to keep for a long time.

My Favorite Section in the Grocery Store!

Up to the end of June (10 days away!), you earn 5 times the number of points for purchases in grocery stores and in movie theaters with the Chase Freedom Visa and MasterCard (provided you already activated the category).  And from July to September, you get 5 times the number of points for purchases in gas stations and in restaurants.

You can either redeem the points earned for cash back (5% cash back isn’t too shabby and some folks prefer cash back) or transfer the Ultimate Rewards points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold/Plus card and from there to airline or hotel partners.

We did not max out the $1,500 spending limit for grocery stores, so I went to the local Dillon’s grocery store and stocked up on the following:

1.   Dillon’s store brand cards.   We can use the Dillon’s gift card to not only  pay for groceries, but also to pay for gas because Dillon’s store cards are also valid at Kwik Shop & Quik Stop gas stations.

Buying grocery store gift cards

We also sent a Dillon’s grocery gift card as a gift to a relative to use at a Kroger store.  Dillon’s is part of the Kroger family of stores, so you can use their gift cards at either store!

2.  Southwest gift cards.  We stocked up on ~$200 worth of Southwest gift cards.  I know I’ll use them at some point, so I might as well earn 5 times the number of points!  I didn’t buy the BP and Shell gas cards because they charge more for gas where I stay, but could be worth it if they have cheaper gas in your area.

Southwest Gift Cards For Sale in my Grocery Store

3.   Amazon gift cards.  I try to do as much of my shopping online, so I bought ~$100 worth of Amazon gift cards and applied them to my Amazon account.

Amazon Gift Cards For Sale in my Grocery Store

As I expected, all these purchases counted towards the 5% category bonus for grocery stores!

Grocery stores carry a HUGE selection of gift cards – Starbucks, Bob Evans Restaurants, Target, Marriott, McDonalds, Lowes, Home Depot – so don’t give up if you haven’t yet maxed out the 5% category bonus for grocery stores with your Chase Freedom!

Huge Selection of Gift Cards in my Grocery Store

Bottom Line:  If you suspect that you won’t max out the 5% category bonus for grocery stores with the Chase Freedom Visa and MasterCard, buy gift cards and use them later on, but make sure that you can pay off your entire credit card balance when it comes due!

You could even buy a $500 Visa, MasterCard, or AMEX gift card and use that for regular purchases.  You’d still come out ahead, even with the ~$6 purchase fee.

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37 responses to “Use Gift Cards to Max Out the 5% Chase Freedom Grocery Category Bonus

  1. For those of us in California: Vons/Safeway is offering $10 of free groceries for purchasing $100+ worth of Visa Gift Cards ($5.95 activation fee). You end up $4 ahead per $100 you purchase, and it’s a great way to hit the $1500 by June 30.

  2. What’s the way to check how much I had spent on grocery?

  3. Something that is somewhat related to this is Uniteds new option of cashing in gift cards for mileage plus miles. So in theory you’d earn the points and bonus for buying the cards at the grocery store using the Freedom card, transfer the points to Ultimate Rewards and subsequently to United, and then on top of that cash in the gift card that you bought for target,etc on Uniteds website and convert that to miles as well.

  4. can i purchase 4 $100 Visa Gift Card at one time and receive $40 off at Vons or do I need to make 4 seperate visits?

  5. Where’s the link on united.com to get more info about cashing in GCs for MP miles?

  6. Giant foods in the MD/VA/DC area is offering $10 off next purchase coupon on most $50 gift cards thru this friday. Coupon can be used on next gift card etc. Some people buying hundreds.

    FT thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1355881-revived-giant-supermarket-40-50-gift-cards-1-per-household-officially-5.html

  7. It would help many to explain how to view your category spend so far on Freedom.

  8. Don’t forget Fuel points at Kroger too! While 4x Fuel points ended last night, you can still get 2x usually on gift cards.

    • @AK – That’s a great deal and we need that in Kansas too!

      @Mark – The easiest way is to look at your statement and divide the quarterly spending bonus category from April to June by 4. That should be approximately how much you’ve spend in the bonus categories.

      @Tom – You could do that, but the transfer ratio is very bad and it is almost like buying miles directly from United at 3.5 cents per mile.

      @sil – I suspect it may require 4 visits, but don’t know for sure.

      @tassojunior – Thanks for the link! I’ll post soon on how to check your spending in a category.

      @Curtis @RJH
      – That’s a good point! You’ll see in the pictures that the purchases were made when it was 4X fuel points, but I didn’t write about it.

      @DrSifu – I suspect it depends on how many gift cards you purchase. Gift cards are sold in grocery stores, so it is a legitimate purchase. On the other hand I wouldn’t get tens of thousands of dollars in gift cards per month.

  9. I hope you’re using the Kroger Fuel points as well! They just had a promo giving 4x points on gift cards (normally its 2x points).
    I bought enough gift cards in May and June to get $2.00 gallon off on gas, so I bought 35 gallons last night and saved $70.00!

  10. I wonder if the CC companies care if your grocery bills are $1000-$2000 when historically they have been $100-$200? Basically, does it raise a red flag that you are abusing the perk? I’m short on Hilton points and would love to use my Amex at a grocery stores to get 6x, but don’t want to raise any flags.

  11. This is exactly what i do! I noticed that the grocery store you are shopping happens to be Kroger!!!!! In this case, there are alot more to this then just 5% URP.

    They have 4X fuel points promotion(Normally 2X fuel points for GCs, only works for non-reloadable GCs) running right now as well. Then total savings per every 100 dollar on GC comes out to:

    5% for Freedom URP points ~ $5.00
    100 dollar on GC @Kroger gets you 400 kroger fuel points(that is $0.40/gallon off up to 35 gallons) = $0.40*35 = $14.00.

    Then the total savings is whooooping $19.00 per $100 spent on GC at Kroger. 19%%%%%

  12. What strictly counts as a grocery store? Are pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens included in that definition?

  13. RJH and SeqLee, how are you guys stacking your 10 cents per gallon off? I have over 4000 fuel reward points at Ralphs, but i can only redeem them 100 points at a time for 10 cents/gallon off at a time. how do i redeem all 4000, for 40*10 cents = $4.00/ gallon off at a time or is that a Kroger only option, not Ralphs. I live in socal…

  14. Don’t forget certain Publix grocery stores sometimes take $10 off a $50 gas card for EVERY $50 one spends on grocery. They used to only require $25 grocery purchase per gas card discount. So a $100 grocery bill (excluding gift card purchases) and 2 x $50 gas cards, saved me $20. Too bad I didn’t bring Chase Freedom card that day (been holding grudges against them sometimes), otherwise it would also be worth $10 in UR points! Could have been a $30 value for a $200 spend=15% cash back!

  15. Any way to get this 5x promotion with Chase Sapphire Preferred card?
    Thanks

  16. FYI, my local Giant Foods has changed their policy/practice (per direction from corporate HQ according to the store mgr) on GC purchases, despite what the ad in their flyer stated. Now, the printed and handwritten sign above the GC rack states you won’t receive the $10 coupon (from the Catalina printer) when you buy fuel GCs and I think some other categories, as well as Giant GCs (which was always the case). The sign also says limit one GC per household and you can’t use the $10 coupon for future GC purchases. So, instead of being able to instantly redeem a $10 coupon on the next GC, I guess you will have to buy food. Of course, YMMV.

  17. Do purchase made INSIDE a gas station count as a “gas station” category purchase for 5% next quarter? Or does only purchases at the pump count?

    • @seqlee – You’re right about the fuel points, but I didn’t mention it because not everyone has a Kroger or Dillion’s! But it is an extra savings!

      @Tausif Salim
      – CVS and Walgreens don’t count as grocery stores.

      @Cmoz – 15% cash back would have been cool!

      @H K
      – You can’t get 5% with only the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but you can if you have the Chase Freedom and transfer the points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

      @bf – Thanks for the update!

      @Roger – Purchases inside the Gas Station will also count towards the 5% bonus category.

      @MissMiles – That’s correct – buying gift cards from a grocery store up to the end of June on on the Chase Freedom should count towards the 5% category provided you activated the 5% quarterly category.

  18. Just confirming I understand, as I was thinking about buying some gift cards at Whole Foods- buying anything (groceries, Whole Foods gift cards and even gift cards to other stores) in the supermarket qualifies?

  19. https://www.hiltonhhonors.com/Quarterlypages/2012/Q3/landing.aspx

    In case any of you are staying at Hiltons – this may help 🙂

  20. Mark The Shark

    There was a nice post on Mommy Points about checking your current category spend using their BluePrint program which breaks down your spending very neatly.

  21. @Mark the Shark – just be aware that Blueprint isn’t always correct. For example, Blueprint has a category called Dining which includes the usual suspects, but also includes liquor stores. So you would think a purchase at a liquor store (e.g. wine, beer) would count for the Chase SP 2X bonus category. But it didn’t for me, and Chase customer service rep said my purchase would count only if merchant was coded as a dining establishment, which most liquor stores aren’t. YMMV.

  22. Hi!
    What is the difference between Visa Gift Card and Prepaid Visa Debit card? Which one should I buy to qualify 5% ? anybody knows?

  23. The easiest way to keep track of you quarterly spending for the Freedom card is to use Chase BLUEPRINT. Once you logged in
    Click on BLUEPRINT when it opens click on Go To Track it (bottom right).
    Click I want to arrow on the right >Add or edit budgets (enter your budget for Grocery store $1500)
    Chase will update it frequently so that you know how much you have spent on this category.

  24. Keep up the good work Million Mile Secrets. Thanks

  25. my wife’s 567 grocery store purchase got declined on the spot. she purchased $500 giftcard plus $67 in grocery. we tried the $67 grocery alone and got declined too. luckily I had my freedom card and used it and went right.

    she got call from chase asking why such a huge amount of spend at a grocery store and this amount is not a normal spend pattern at grocery store before. I hung the phone up. I acted like her and called chase back and gave them meaningful explaination and her fantastic relationship with chase, she has chase checking, SP and chase PC card too.

    Eventually it worked well and even awarded some points for the inconvinence and embarassment we faced at the store.

  26. so becareful guys! CHASE will get you and ban you unless you don’t play it safe cos they watch every transaction you make!

    • @Mark The Shark @hoglard1 @Mous – Blueprint is the easiest way to see your spending (you just click a few buttons!), but it doesn’t reflect your true spending since certain categories may not qualify under the Freedom category rules. That’s why I prefer dividing the Apr-June category total by 4 on my statement to see the spending which has earned me the bonus points. But Blueprint is an easy-to-access proxy of your spending by category.

      @happy9z – You’ll earn the 5X points on either card as long as you’re able to pay for it with the Freedom at the grocery store.

      @rob – Thanks for sharing, but I’m sure there are families who purchase more than $500 in groceries at a time. And here in Kansas many folks spend way more than $500 when they drive to town to stock up for the farm.

  27. @ Darius

    I read in safeway store (dominicks) ads that you earn gas points for gift card purchase= 10 cents off per gallon.
    I still dont know how and where you get the 10 cents gas off?
    the safeway stores in IL don’t have their own stations at store.

    tell me somehting about this, thanks

  28. Hi DD!
    I have a question for you. We have been thinking of applying for united chase + ink bold cards. Also we are planning to open a citibank checking account. Can you tell me if I can fund my citi account with chase cards? If not, what other cards can I use to fund?
    Thanks,
    Diana

    • @rob – I don’t live in IL so I’m not going to be of much help!

      @Diana
      – You used to be able to fund a citi checking account with a credit card but not any more. Also be careful that you’re not charged cash advance fees for the account funding.

      @HikerT – Good point!

  29. If your grocery store carries ebay GCs, get them instead. You can usually buy the other GCs cheaper on ebay and get 2% ebay bucks to boot.

  30. I had never taken the Freedom 5% cash back categories seriously until this quarter’s grocery category. I got my Freedom card 14 months ago, since then the categories were just not for me. But two months ago, the Safeway/Vons had a MasterCard gift card promotion: buy $100 or more MasterCard gift card, get a $10 store coupon for next grocery shopping. I bought two $500 value gift cards and one $200 value card separately and got three $10 store coupons, and of course, those 4x bonus Ultimate Rewards points. My wife thought it was quite a deal so she applied her Freedom card last month. Now, Safeway/Vons is having a similar gift card promotion this week: buy $100 or more VISA gift card, get a $10 store coupon for next grocery shopping. We bought a $500 VISA gift card yesterday for $505.95, but there was no coupon issued. After talking to the manager, we got refunded $10 IN CASH and the manager apologized for the inconvenience. I will buy again later this week until maxing out the $1500 limit.

  31. Jerry W,

    We dont have Ralphs in my area, but Kroger fuel points can be used for a max of $.10/gal off on gas at Shell stations, or $.10/ gallon up to $2.00/gallon off on gas at Kroger fuel stations (up to 35 gallons per purchase).

    So, I took my empty gas tank plus (4) 5 gallon gas cans to the Kroger fuel station and loaded up.

    I haven’t bought gas for $1.35/gal since, … the nineties?

  32. Is this going to work