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

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

Million Mile SecretsSome Airline & Hotel Gift Card Purchases Count Towards Chase Freedom 5X BonusMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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 Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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

Million Mile Secrets

@rob – Very nice! Thanks for sharing.

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

Million Mile Secrets

@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.

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.

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.

@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).

Million Mile Secrets

@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!

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