How to maximize your Freedom 5X purchases

Every 3 months, the Chase Freedom card offers 5X on spend within different categories of merchants.  This quarter (October through December), the 5X categories are hotels, airlines, Best Buy and Kohl’s. 

Here are some terrific ways to spend within those 5X categories:

Buy miles for .8 cents (Wyndham)

Loyalty Traveler summarizes the current bonus opportunities from Wyndham.  The gist is that its possible to book cheap hotel rooms (without showing up to check-in) and earn bonus points, then transfer the points to airline miles.  I really enjoyed this part of Loyalty Traveler’s post:

I found it interesting that Deals We Like linked to View from the Wing today who linked to Deals We Like  August post where she linked Travel by Points and Hack My Trip who linked Travel by Points who in his August post linked Loyalty Traveler for a blog post about the 16,000 points Wyndham Rewards promotion. It is like a genealogy chart of credits.

Maybe now I get get into his next genealogy chart?

Regarding the Freedom card:  Use it to pay for these stays. This way you’ll earn 5 points per dollar while buying miles (or hotel points) very cheaply!  Also, go through BigCrumbs to Wyndham to book your stay for a (possible) additional 2.1% cash back.

UPDATE: According to a post on FlyerTalk, Wyndham may not honor this deal after all.  For details, please see this post from View from the Wing.

Marriott & Southwest

Marriott has a terrific ongoing promotion in which you can earn 12 Southwest points per dollar when buying Marriott gift cards.  Go to www.marriottvacationcardoffer.com/southwest to purchase up to $1000 worth of Marriott gift cards.  If you use those Southwest points for “Wanna Get Away?” fares, then each point is worth 1.67 cents.  In other words, this is like a 20% rebate on Marriott gift cards.  Alternatively, you can trade in those points to get more Marriot gift cards (at a value of 1 cent per point).

Use your Freedom card to buy the Marriott gift cards and you’ll earn 5X on the purchase this quarter!  Thanks goes to Greek2Me who has confirmed that this purchase shows up on the Freedom statement as a hotel 5X purchase.

You can take this further by using your Marriott gift cards to qualify for Marriott’s Megabonus promotion.  Go to Marriott.com to sign up.  Different people are offered different promotions, but most people are offered a free category 1 to 4 night after every two Marriott stays.  You can take it even further by doing a Marriott Platinum Challenge at the same time!  See “Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott” for details.

Radisson Buy One Get One

Radisson has been running yet another great promotion (not as good as their incredible point-earning promotions, but still…) where one stay at any Radisson hotel will result in a voucher for a free night at any Radisson in the US, Canada, or Caribbean.  Unlike the Wyndham promotion, you do need to show up and check in.  Read “Hotel Promo Worthy of a Mattress Run: Radisson Buy One Night, Get One Night” for details.  Pay with your Freedom card for 5X!

Kohl’s 25X triple dip

While this has worked for me in the past, there is no guarantee that this will work every time, but it’s worth a shot.  Here’s how to get 25 points per dollar at Kohl’s:

  1. Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Kohl’s.  Kohl’s currently offers 10 bonus points per dollar through the mall.  Buy Kohl’s gift cards for yourself.  Pay for the gift cards with your Freedom card.
  2. Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall again to Kohl’s to buy merchandise.  Use the Kohl’s gift card to pay.

If points post for all of the above, you should get 25 points per dollar!  To save even more (potentially, a lot more), check out the tips in this old (but still relevant) post: “Fantastic points and savings at Kohl’s.”

UPDATE: A reader has reported that the double-dip did not work.  They got points for using a Kohl’s gift card, but not for buying one.  You can still get 15X simply by going through the UR mall to Kohl’s to buy items and pay with your Freedom card (10X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall + 5X from the Freedom card this quarter)

Best Buy / Kohl’s gift cards

Both Best Buy and Kohl’s sell gift cards to other merchants (in-store only).  Merchant gift cards come with no taxes or fees, so using your Freedom card to buy gift cards to restaurants, department stores, etc. is a great way to max out your $1500 quarterly 5X spend.  At Best Buy, you can get Amazon Kindle gift cards which can be used for all Amazon purchases (but not for the Amazon Payments service).  Best Buy also sells Visa gift cards, but they charge $5.95 for $200 cards.  This amounts to a 3% fee.  If you don’t think you can otherwise max out your Freedom 5X category, this can be worthwhile (since 5X is worth more than 3%), but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.  (Hat Tip to GrahamCC)

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Notes

In order to receive 5X for Freedom purchases, you do need to activate the 5X bonus before the end of the quarter. And, don’t forget that the 5X bonus is limited to $1500 of spend per quarter.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the Kindle gift cert idea from Best Buy. It took me a visit to two different stores but I was able to purchase $25 Kindle gift cards and post them to my Amazon account. Only bought $100 to make sure it worked correctly! But it did. Now I hope they have some left when I go back!

  2. Yep, will definitely use the Amazon idea. I actually want to buy a Fire, and we use way more than $1500 in a year there. So thanks!

  3. Has anybody tried using Kohl’s gift cards to buy other non-kohl’s gift cards in store? If we could upgrade those kohls gift cards to some other cards then we can definitely make this incredibly useful.

    • Moshe: the Kohl’s cash register doesn’t allow buying gift cards with gift cards. You can check things like this by searching the Frequent Miler Laboratory. In the Lab table’s search box type “upgradegc kohls”, for example.

      Grant: Great question. I don’t know how whether the Marriott card would give you 5X. In general, I value Ultimate Rewards points much higher than Marriott points, though, so I’d recommend using your Amex reloadable (if it was loaded at 5X using an Ink card) if you don’t have the Freedom card. Thanks for the tip about the new card design. I didn’t know they had added a chip.

  4. @FM, good morning, do you think the Marriott Rewards Premier card will provide additional points for purchasing the Marriott gift card? Sounds like the Freedom card thinks it is a hotel transaction, but don’t know if I should use Marriott or Sapphire (or AMEX reloadable) for the transaction.
    .
    On a side note, the Marriott Rewards Premier card came out with a new design similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with a chip and signature feature: http://boardingarea.com/mjontravel/2012/10/18/my-new-marriott-rewards-premier-visa-arrived/

  5. In the Kohls part of the post, bullet 2says to pay with the gift cards, and bullet 3 says to pay with the Chase freedom card. I am confused, which one did you pay with? Thanks

    • Gary Perkins: You’re right, I had the steps out of order. I have now edited the post with (hopefully) clearer directions. Pay for the gift cards with your Freedom card, then pay for merchandise with your gift card

  6. the T&C for the wyndham deal says that only qualifying rates apply for the 16,000 point bonus. the T&C states that non-qualifying rates include those from travel agents, groups, employees…etc. when i booked the hotel through big crumbs there was a number hardcoded into the space for a travel agent number (presumably so big crumbs gets their cut) It would seem that going through big crumbs would disqualify me from earning points. What do you think? thanks

  7. Am I right in that the Freedom Card UR points cannot be transferred directly to United or Hyatt, etc.? Do you have to ‘link’ them to an Ink or Sapphire card? I have a friend who has the Freedom card only and would like to advise them as to whether or not he needs to get one of the others.
    Also, can any of these strategies can also be managed by just using the Ink Bold card?

    Thanks.

    • Susan: That’s correct. If you have a Freedom card, then you also need to have a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Palladium card in order to convert the points to United, Hyatt, etc. It also works if a family member in your household has one of those cards. Just log into Ultimate Rewards, select “Combine Points”, and move the points to one of the cards I listed. Then, the points can be moved to a number of loyalty programs including Hyatt, United, BA, Amtrak, etc.

  8. @susan I have two Freedom cards and I can transfer UR points freely between the two to generate rewards. I suspect that this would be similar between Freedom, Ink and Sapphire. You may not be able to link directly, but earn 5% UR through Freedom and transfer to your Ink or Sapphire to do a UA or Hyatt redemption.

    I do not have Ink or Sapphire, so I cannot confirm this.

  9. Miler,

    Just a quick question, if I start my Marriott platinum challenge in November I will have up to Feb 2013 to complete, would I be able to have platinum status with Marriott through Feb 2015 or would it only last to 2014? assume I meet the required 9 stays in the 3 month period

    • xiao: That’s a great question. I signed up in August and was told that if I complete the challenge, my status would be good until Feb 2014. My assumption is that yours would also last until Feb 2014. Usually, you have to sign up for something like this after mid-year to get it to extend another year out.

  10. @Susan:
    Under the ‘combine points’ section of the ultimate rewards portal for any card it should allow you to transfer points to anyone else who has one of the cards mentioned here. When I only had the freedom I transferred points to a friend who had the sapphire preferred and he then transferred the points to my southwest account. Accounts don’t need to be linked, but you do need the credit card or account numbers to make transfers.

  11. I think United has 2000 miles as a bonus for $400 card, I am guessing that would also post 5x when we use freedom? (because their url is not marriott.com)

    also, does this work for e-cards as well? I bought an e-gift card through topcashback with freedom on marriott.com and the transaction says ” Marriott Gift certificates”. WOuld i get 5x on this as well?

  12. I prepaid several stays for early next year at a hotel I stay at 4-5 times per year. I was at the hotel at the time. They were booked online but show up as paid through the hotel.

  13. I don’t like posting amazon gift certificates to my amazon account. The reason is you won’t get extended warranty and purchase protection for any goods you purchase even if 99% of the item is purchased with a credit card and 1% is purchased with the gift card. Found this out the hard way after my wife drop her 1 month old ipod on the kitchen floor. $30 of the purchase was on gift card and $200 on credit card – warranty claim was denied. I suppose it might be good for items that do not “break” like maybe kindle book purchases.

    • Don T: It might be too late to stop you, but a reader reported this morning that the Kohl’s double dip didn’t work. They got points for using the gift card, but not for buying the gift card.

  14. I still don’t have a Freedom card, which is kind of silly, because it seems like an easy 30k UA each year.

    Is 10k typically the best bonus one can find on this card? Is it worth waiting for a better offer?

  15. I know buying airline miles isn’t the best way to get them, however with the some cars giving you 5x when buying from airlines wouldn’t it be a good way to get miles and bounse points too? I’m new to this so thinking out loud. Have to say your blog has me thinking, however, I have to wait for my refi to done first….

    • Tony: Its a good thought, but there are two potential gotchas: 1) sometimes when you buy miles from an airline, the charge is billed to points.com rather than the airline (so you wouldn’t get 5X); 2) Even with 5X, its not usually a great deal. For example, suppose an airline charges 3 cents per mile and you buy 10,000 miles. That would cost $300. At 5X you would get an additional 1500 miles. Your total cost per mile would be: $300 / 11,500 = 2.6 cents per mile which is still not a very good deal unless you just need some more miles to top of your account for an award.

  16. I didn’t see this tip on your blog so I thought I’d share. Some Kohls coupon codes only work with a Kohls credit card, but the majority of the purchase doesn’t have to be on that card in order to qualify for the coupon code. So you could buy a Kohls gift card at the store for 5X or through a gift card website for 15% off. Make sure that the gift card is slightly less than the purchase you’re making(so that you can charge a small amount to the Kohls card)and you’ll get the coupon code plus the gift card points plus UR points when you go through that site.

  17. Cee Lee: Great tip, thanks! The Kohl’s card is one of the only department store cards I would consider signing up for just so that I can qualify for the 30% off codes that are often available.

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