Last chance to get 8.5% back at grocery stores with Chase Freedom cards — here’s how

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There are a ton of credit cards out there that earn bonus points and cash back on grocery store purchases which is an especially useful benefit while we spend more time at home. But there are a few ways to truly maximize the return of every grocery run you make.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® currently offer a $200 cash bonus (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Additionally, you’ll earn 5% cash back (or 5x Chase points) at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in spending for the first 12 months of your card membership (then 1% back). However, we’ve just learned that the offer for 5%/5x points on groceries for the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited will end on Jan. 13, 2021. Consider applying soon so you can take advantage of this offer.

But not all cash back cards are created equal. The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited® technically earn Chase points, that can be redeemed for cash back. You are welcome to redeem your Chase points for cash at a rate of 1 cent per point, but there are scads of other options that will give you a significantly better return rate if you also have one of the following cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®

I’ll show you why swiping a Chase Freedom card at the grocery store could actually net you 8.5% back, instead of just 5% back that’s advertised.

With 86,000 Chase points, you can book a flight to Europe in Singapore Airlines’ first class suites. (Image courtesy of Zach Honig)

The Chase Freedom cards can earn you way more than 5% back at grocery stores

Here’s the point: We estimate that the average value you’ll get from Chase points is 1.7 cents — though this is entirely dependent on how you use Chase points. For example:

  • Redeem them for cash back, and you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point
  • If you redeem them for flights, hotels, rental cars, or cruises through the Chase Travel Portal, it’s possible to get a value of up to 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® (you can read about the Chase Travel Portal to learn how)
  • Through April 2021, you can use the Pay Yourself Back feature on select Chase cards to cover dining, grocery and home improvement store purchases at a rate of 1.25-1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. This is nearly like cash back and an awesome way to use your points if you aren’t traveling anytime soon.
  • Transfer your points to valuable Chase travel partners, and it’s possible to get a value of 1.7+ cents per point

The more strategically you redeem your points, the better the return. You need to read our post on the best ways to use Chase points.

When I swipe my Chase Freedom card at grocery stores and earn 5x points back, I do not consider that a 5% return. I know for an absolute fact that I will get way more value than just 5%. I’m banking on 8.5% or above, because Chase points are worth an average of 1.7 cents each (5 x .017 = 8.5%) to me since I redeem them for travel experiences.

Get significantly more value from Chase points

It’s quite easy to get a significantly higher percentage back, depending on how you use your Chase points. For example, you could transfer Chase points to Hyatt for a stay at the bucket-list Park Hyatt Maldives. This resort costs 30,000 points per night, but it frequently sells for $1,000+ per night. That means you’re getting a return of 3.3 cents per point. Earning 5 points per dollar at the grocery store with your Chase Freedom Flex means you’re getting an effective 16.6% back on groceries!

Not everyone will pack up and head to the Maldives, however. It’s quite far. And we recommend earning a couple welcome bonuses from the best airline credit cards so you can fly there for free in a fancy lie-flat business class seat — you don’t want your relaxing white-sand-vacation to abruptly transition into 30 hours of cramped steerage flights home, after all.

You’ll save $1,000 per night by transferring Chase points to Hyatt for a stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

Perhaps a more likely scenario for you is that you’ll reserve functional hotels during road trips, or book plain jane stays near friends and family for the holidays. You can save plenty of money this way, as well. For example, I looked up the Hyatt Place nearest to me on a completely random date — the Hyatt Place Cincinnati/Sharonville. Rooms sell for $150 per night (after tax), but the hotel is a Category 1 on the Hyatt award chart. That means you’ll pay just 5,000 points per night. That’s still a return of 3 cents per point. If you use your points in this way, earning 5x points at grocery stores would effectively earn you 15% back.

Earning transferrable Chase points

It’s important to note that to unlock the true power of Chase points you need a Chase card that allows you to transfer points to Chase airline and hotel partners. The three cards that allow this are:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®

If you don’t have any of the above products, signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be a great option since its currently offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 Chase points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. 100,000 Chase points are worth a whopping $1,700 at our valuations of 1.7 cents apiece.

A potentially more lucrative offer for grocery spend

Since the Freedom grocery offers initially launched a few months ago, Amex has come out with an even more enticing offer for those spending at U.S. supermarkets. If you apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll earn 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.

If you can max out the offer, you could potentially earn 225,000 points through The Platinum Card® from American Express. We value Amex points at 1.8 cents each when redeemed for travel, meaning those points would be worth over $4,000! Earning 10x Amex points per dollar equates to an 18% return on grocery and gas spend.

The only downside to this is that the Amex Platinum comes with a hefty $695 annual fee (see rates & fees), whereas the Freedom cards are no-annual-fee products. However, the Platinum card has a ton of other perks and benefits that can easily outweigh the cost of the annual fee.

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited® offer 5% cash back (5x Chase points) at grocery stores on up to $12,000 in spending for the first 12 months after you open it. Remember that this offer for 5%/5x points on groceries will end on Jan. 13, 2021, so make sure to apply for either card ASAP to lock in the potential to earn a ton of bonus points for 12 months.

The absolute worst you will earn with the card is 5 cents per dollar. But a more realistic value is 8.5 cents per dollar — as long as you use the points you earn towards travel. And if you’re skilled in using Chase points, it’s entirely probable that you can receive a return closer to 15 cents per dollar for your grocery store spending. Read our post on the best ways to use Chase points and you’ll see what I mean.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions! And subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points strategies delivered to your inbox once per day.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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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