Some Airline & Hotel Gift Card Purchases Count Towards Chase Freedom 5X Bonus

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I love the Chase Freedom 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.  Keeping a card for a long time helps increase your credit score and builds a history with Chase which often has the best offers.

Up to the end of December you earn 5 times the number of Ultimate Rewards points for up to $1,500 in airline and hotel purchase directly through the airline or hotel, Best Buy & Kohl’s with the Chase Freedom (provided you activate the category by December 14, 2012).  Note that the $1,500 limit applies to quarterly purchase among ALL categories – airlines, hotels, Best Buy & Kohl’s.

Million Miles Secrets reader harvson3 pointed out that airline and hotel purchases made via the Ultimate Rewards travel portal also earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points PLUS an extra 1% for using the Ultimate Rewards portal for a total of 6X Ultimate Rewards points or cash back.

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

Mommy Points has a post on how to use Chase Blueprint to track your spending by category.

5X Points for Airlines & Hotels

In the comments to a post on the Chase Freedom Q3 2012 category bonuses, readers asked if buying hotel and airline gift cards would count towards the 5X Ultimate Rewards point category bonus.

The terms say that only ticket purchases directly from the airline or hotel room directly from the hotel count towards the 5X Ultimate Rewards points or cash back:

Airline ticket purchases made directly with the airline will qualify for bonus cash back. Please note that other air travel-related purchases will not qualify

My Experiment

I was curious to see if I would earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points by buying airline and hotel gift cards.

I earned 5X Ultimate Rewards points for buying an American Airlines, Marriott, & Southwest gift card directly from the hotel website.  I even earned an extra 2X Ultimate Rewards points for purchasing 1 Marriott gift card via the Ultimate Rewards portal.

ExperimentDelivery FeeAmountTotal5X Chase Freedom Bonus2X Bonus For Using Ultimate Rewards Portal
$75 American Airlines Gift Card from American Airlines Website$4.95$75$79.95YesNA
$90 Hyatt Gift Card from Hyatt Website$6$90$96NONA
$120 Gift Card from Marriott thru Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal$1$120$121YesYes
$100 Gift Card from Marriott Vacations (Southwest Promotion)$1$100$101YesNA
$147 Southwest Gift Card From Southwest Website$2.95$147$149.95YesNA

I also double dipped and bought another Marriott gift card though the promotion with Southwest and earned Southwest points in addition to 5X Ultimate Rewards points.  But I didn’t earn any Southwest Companion Pass points.

The American Airlines, Southwest and Marriott gift cards didn’t have an expiration date on them.

However, I didn’t earn any points for buying a Hyatt gift card.  Note that these were MY results, and things could have changed over the last month.  Your miles could vary.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line:  If you suspect that you won’t max out the 5% category bonus for airlines or hotels with the Chase Freedom, you could buy gift cards and use them later on.  Be sure to do a test purchase to see if you earn bonus miles for the purchase before buying a ton of airline & hotel gift cards.

And make sure that you can pay off your entire credit card balance when it comes due!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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39 responses to “Some Airline & Hotel Gift Card Purchases Count Towards Chase Freedom 5X Bonus

  1. I was about to congratulate you on actually doing some work (you must feel exhausted), but then I noticed that you did all of this last month. Presumably you were too busy destroying the usefulness of Bluebird (for your own personal gain, and at everyone else’s expense) to bother posting this particular gem until now.

  2. Thanks for (destroying, eviscerating, killing) this (deal, value, shortcut) by publishing it on your blog-o wait, isn’t that what blogs are for?
    Go away Seth, it doesn’t matter what name you use, u are still a pos.

  3. Darius, I wish you would delete useless comments like the one above from “user name” – they are mean spirited and do not help those of us who benefit from and enjoy your blog. If “user name” does not like what you do, then he/she should move on to another one. Thanks.

  4. do you get UR point with Chase Freedom card or only cash back.
    Also i have the Ink bold card can i still get the 50k from ink plus card?

  5. Enjoy your posts. Ignore the troublemakers!

  6. tm
    Dariaus don’t listen to the haterz

    Your blog is good, and has improved tremendously since the early days. It is awesome.

    These deals will go bad eventually. It’s the internetz….

    Can’t have it both ways unless you have a secret handshake, and then many many deals/fare mistakes etc would never be discovered.

  7. did you try e-gift cards with marriott? I was wondering if you could get bonus when you buy e-gift cards from marriott because it’s much easier

  8. how can you find out in the middle of the monthly statement if your points posted and you are indeed earning the 5x bonus?

  9. User Name: I totally agree with you. This freedom deal in the post is BS. BB was the best deal. MMS totally destroyed the deal, but he has huge personal $$$ gain. All of us are left with dust.

  10. typo alert:

    Note that the $1,500 limit acquires to quarterly purchase among ALL categories – airlines, hotels, Best Buy & Kohl’s.

    should be

    Note that the $1,500 limit applies to quarterly purchase among ALL categories – airlines, hotels, Best Buy & Kohl’s.

  11. I had Freedom success buying Hyatt gift card at a Hyatt. Success with American Airlines gift certificate too. I the gift certificate emailed to me, and saved on the delivery cost.

  12. Just curious because I am old school, did Emily not change her name from [Personal information edited] to dubash so you guys could do amazon payments and stuff. I was considering this as well

  13. Thanks for publishing this was not able to figure out how to use my 1500 this Q

  14. @cindy

    Per your post, “If “….user name” does not like what you do, then he/she should move on to another one……”.

    You can do the same, cindy, just skip username’s post.

    MMS should be able to take the heat, otherwise dont post.

  15. @guestA – I’m fine with readng constructive differences of opinion, but these people who just post whiny, useless rants waste everyone’s time. I’d love to see those deleted. They want all deals to be publicized until the exact point that they reach them (they do no research themselves), and then stop right there. The blog is great and this post offers information that will be useful to many.

  16. bostonwalkerboston

    Darius, keep the goog work, ignore the clowns

  17. @daveS
    Not to be a stick in the mud but… Research is unnecessary with step by step instructions.

    It seems to me that promoting BB every single day to promote the IB didnt really help. It likely encouraged excessive spending and that likely killed the deal. It was probably going to die any way. MMS is just doing what he gets paid for, he clearly doesn’t care what happens to deals, why should he, he still got paid. I think people have way too much emotion tied up into this. MMS writes a blog for money not to help, hurt, or kill deals. He wants hits and clicks and he gets that by promoting deals and pointing you to his links. Nothing more nothing less. It’s a business, like anything else. MMS doesn’t care about you, the sooner people realize this the sooner everyone can move on and go to the next deal.

    The only thing I don’t care for is him not giving credit where it’s do. It’s like he scours FT for trending topics and re writes about them. But really what do you expect…

    • @User Name – Whew! For a moment I thought you were going soft…

      @cindy – A better approach might be to follow Gary’s suggestion and publish information more explicitly depending on the level of drama on the blog – the more drama in the comments the more explicit the post. 🙂

      @Mark – If you have the Chase Sapphire/Ink Bold/Plus etc. you can transfer the points to that card and then to airlines and hotels. If you just have the Freedom you can redeem for 5% cash back. Yes, you should be able to get the 50K sign-up bonus on the Ink Plus as well.

      @Mary @Qadsfasdfas @DaveS @bostonwalkerboston – Thanks!

      – I did not buy the electronic gift cards, since I’d lose track of it. With a physical gift card, I put it in my folder and know that I have it!

      @Kenny – There’s no sure way to tell and the 5X points may not even post to your next statement if the transaction was too close to the statement closing date. But check the Blueprint application when you log onto your account to see where your spending is categorized. But since it bunches Travel together, it may not help. My Hyatt gift certificates were tagged as Utilities for some strange reason.

      @rob – Thanks! I fixed it.

      @JetsFan – Thanks for letting us know. I’ve never bought a gift card at a hotel, but of course if you do that it will be tagged as a direct hotel purchase!

      @Avid Reader – Feel free to post comments using your real name and email, but I’m losing my patience for fake comments. I will start banning those types of comments.

      @guestA – I don’t mind taking the heat. But the excessive whining & carping is unbecoming of adults. I welcome comments, but that doesn’t mean that I have to follow your suggestions.

      @jason @User Name @Avid reader
      – Let’s be clear. Bluebird wasn’t killed because a bunch of unsuspecting folks signed up for Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards, waited 10 days to get it in the mail, and ran to Office Depot to buy tens of thousands of dollars of Vanilla Reloads. If you believe that, you likely don’t understand human nature very well.

      Folks new to miles and points aren’t going to buy thousands of dollars of Vanilla Reloads just because they read it on a blog – at least not initially. Bluebird most likely died from abuse by folks who already had those cards, who were already buying Vanilla reloads, but now had a reason to ramp up their spending because of Bluebird.

      I don’t care which links people use and go out of my way to promote links which don’t earn me a commission (for example the Top 2 deals on the Hot Deals tab).

      – That’s a good way to max out the categories as well!

  18. I’ve blogged about this before, but the best method to take advantage of the 5X this quarter is buying Amazon Kindle Giftcards at Bestbuy and spending it on There should be tons of deals coming up for black friday.

  19. Tim formerly avid reader

    I never said they were newbs. I said constant peddling of the BB to promote clicks for the IB (new or not) and people excessively buying VR led to its demise.

  20. I’ve been buying Shell gift cards at Kohls all month with my Freedom card to get 5X on gas 🙂
    I like romsdeal’s idea to buy amazon gift cards at Best Buy, I think I’ll try that next!

  21. The more I read the hater comments, the more I seem to like this blog. Weird.

    Bluebird was killed because of fraud, abuse, and worst of all, people hiding vanillas in OD stores. How annoying.

    Daraius, thanks for a great blog.

  22. Folks, I think it’s best to ignore the whiners they might go away, or not /shrug. It won’t change anything whether they do or don’t.

    Maybe they should go to arithmetic school though. If half the 7,500 people Darius mentions still read his blog (no offense Darius), and half of them bought $1,000 in a month, and somewhere a servicer loses 3% on it that’s about $50,000/month. Anyone who thinks a Chase, American Express, Citibank would notice that is just being silly. It’s a rounding error.

    Now if other people are putting $10K, $20K a month or more through, that could really start to add up. Of course those people are all over this game, and would be doing it whether Darius writes about it or not.

    Still it’s a free country and there’s no law that says you have to learn to add up before you are qualified to whine.

  23. Srp traveller, o_0 …what? I’m not gonna go there. I can appreciate the intent.

  24. Awesome idea! Thanks Darius

  25. I’m giving this a try right now with United. I’ll let you know…

    And as for the people who are blaming you for the Vanilla/Bluebird issues – just ignore them. Things change.

  26. I wish people would stop propagating the lie that “abuse” a subjective term or “fraud” is what killed the deal. Also Citi Chase and Amex didnt stop the deal.

  27. Daraius,
    Do you think freedom is likely to up the sign up bonus anytime soon? used to be as high as 40k points in 2012, but most recently, it has been only 10k ($100). I have the card but i usually spend way more than the 1500/quarter in bonus categories, thus considering getting a 2nd copy for my spouse. Any thoughts?

    I am not following the Bluebird issue. The Vanilla Reload part is dead at OD, right? The rest card otherwise still works for billpay, correct?

  28. @WishyAnand — I agree with you. I think I like the blog now more than ever because I do feel that the criticism is being unfairly directed only at this blog, and I think Daraius handles it all very admirably.

    Of course, the people complaining most loudly about OD yanking VRs are probably the ones who were doing the most abuse (hiding cards, buying extreme quantities). They are the ones who killed the deal, not this blog. Even if the info had been confined to the Frequent Miler blog, and was not published elsewhere, I’m sure the deal would still be dead by now (judging by the comments on that blog, the readers were not exercising any restraint in their OD purchases).

    • @wise – I don’t have inside information on the Freedom sign-up bonus so can’t speculate. There were a lot of great offers last year on the Freedom, but those were “unofficial” offers and Chase has done a good job of not letting those slip out. If you spend way more in the bonus categories, you will likely make up for the lower sign up bonus in a few quarters, but do the math to see for yourself.

      Vanilla Reloads are no longer available at Office Depot, but you can get them at CVS and some Walgreen’s will let you buy them with cash. You can load the Bluebird with a debit card or with a Vanilla Reload and use Bluebird for paying bills.

      @Nick – Thanks! I can’t say more, but Chase was aware of the spending trend at Office Depot and the ramp up in late October could have finally led to Office Depot no longer stocking Vanilla Reloads.

      @AK – It takes a lot of time to have the arrows and pictures, so not every post gets them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  29. I don’t see any big bright arrows … where am I? 😉

    They are very liberal with giving 5x this quarter. I had something that simply had “Inn” in the transaction that got 5x. That was a pleasant 2800 UR surprise.

  30. Thanks for the post, I wish I would have seen this earlier in the year. I never realized you could get bonus points for the Plus and Premier card. We had the premier card earlier in 2013 and have 65k points towards a companion pass. So just signed up for the Plus card and got approved. If it shows up in 7-10 business days, then we’ll have about 15 days or so to meet the $2000 spend to get the 50,000 points posted to a December statement. Its gonna be close! Really hope those points transfer to Southwest as soon as the statement closes.

  31. I see on AA you can buy virtual gift cards and not have to pay the fee. Can you do instead?

    • @AJ – This is in the wrong thread, but the points will transfer as long as you complete the minimum spending 10 days before the statement due date. Good luck!

      @farsighted99 – I don’t have any personal experience, but suspect it should work.

  32. Pingback: The Week in Review « Points Envy

  33. @Daraius: $50 GC from gave me 5x points with the Freedom card.

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