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Merchant categories on Chase Freedom statement

Update 05/06: Some readers suggested in the comments that the categories displayed online may be not what the Chase Credit Card department is actually using when calculating rewards. In other words, don’t believe your eyes when you see “Other” as the category. You might still be getting that bonus reward! ;-)

I have been keeping an eye on the activity on my Chase Freedom Plus card and I noticed that many popular merchants get to the “Other” category implying these transaction will not result to the bonus cash back (2% on top of the normal 1%).

I understand this is up to the merchants to properly categorize the transactions when reporting them to Chase and so the bank can’t really do much about it (and this is probably why the customer support is ignoring my emails to them). That said however, I decided to build a list of popular merchants that systematically get to this “Other” category so I could possibly get advantage of other credit cards when shopping at these places.

Popular merchants reported as “Other” by Chase Freedom Plus

Albertson Michaels
Bed Bath & Beyond Old Navy
Burlington Coat Factory Party City
Butera Presbyterian Hospital
Caputo & Sons Market Sears
Dick’s Clothing & Sports Sunflower Farmer’s Market
Dillards Target
Dominicks The Home Depot
Harvest Fresh TJMaxx
JC Penney Toys R Us
Jewel Osco Trader Joe’s
Kohl’s Walgreens
Linens N Things Wal-mart
Meijer

I will try to keep this list up to date as I collect more activity on my card. If you want to add to it - just comment to the blog post and I will include your names as well. Just make sure that the merchants you report are truly categorized as “Other” on your statement.


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32 Responses to “Merchant categories on Chase Freedom statement”


  1. 1 Navin Mar 27th, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Wal-mart ?? jeez.. i had been using my chase freedom thinking i’m making 3%. I guess i have to start using FNBO Direct credit card when I shop at Walmart – it gives me a 2%.

  2. 2 Ron Mar 27th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    How are you finding out where the transactions are getting categorized? I have the Freedom Card as well but I have to load the transactions into a spreadsheet to try to match the reward totals.

  3. 3 Jake Mar 28th, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Hey Yan,

    Thanks for the list. I’ve actually had a Chase Freedom card since last June (’07) and just got a 2nd one in December with the same plan as you (different categories on different cards), so thanks for the list.

    I have an automated gym and cell-phone payment that posts to my original card and then I charge my gasoline purchases to it as well. Everything else goes on the newer card that has a higher credit limit so I reach my $200 $50 reward faster.

    Re: Wal-Mart, Meijer, Target

    Chase announced a while back that any store that so-called “Superstores” would not be included in the 2% bonus. The reason for this is that they carry both retail merchandise and groceries and all other manner of product (automobile-related, etc.) and there is no way for Chase to tell what you are spending your money on there.

    Personally I think there should just be a “Superstore” category with the same cap as the others, but that’s not how they chose to play it. Shame, because that’s probably where I spend a good deal of my money…

    There are a few grocery store chains that have expanded into the “Superstore” business: Kroger, Giant Eagle (I’m sure there are a few others)… that remain categorized as Groceries… so you can actually buy retail merchandise at those stores and have it go towards your grocery 2% bonus!

    Cheers

  4. 4 Yan Mar 28th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Ron, you can find the categories by going to your credit card Activity online. For some reason they are not in the statements. This is for Chase Freedom Plus. Not sure if the legacy Chase Freedom is the same but I would assume it is, these cards are almost the same except for a few differences I highlighted here.

  5. 5 Ron Mar 28th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Yan, It must be a Freedom Plus thing because I’ve searched high and low online (I have the legacy card) and have found no such thing. I’ve even mentioned to a rep on the phone before that information should be included somewhere. I’ll have to check back and see if they plan on including at some point.

  6. 6 shaam Mar 28th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Besides the ones you have already listed, the following are listed as “OTHER” on my account:

    Albertson, Dillards, JC Penney, Linens N Things, Old Navy, Presbyterian Hospital, Sears, Sunflower Farmer’s Market, Trader Joe’s

  7. 7 Yan Mar 28th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Jake, thanks for the info. If you happen to find any links to the Chase announcements you mention, please post them here.

    Also, outside the main subject, I hope you guys all pay your credit card bills in full or any interest Chase (or other issuer) charges you will quickly wipe out all of your rewards.

    Watch this NPR program if you do not trust what I am saying.

  8. 8 Chad Mar 29th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    My guess is that the Chase site hasn’t been updated to handle these new 15 categories for this product.

    Has anyone seen a category of “Department Store” on the activity yet? I haven’t. But that doesn’t mean their systems can’t tell the difference. We need to do the math I guess to see.

    The other proof I have of the category difference is the use of “Dining and Entertainment” on the activity. Those are two different categories now with this 15 category organization. Quick service or fast food is the “dining” and the other categories of movie rentals or movie theatres or even cable could be considered “entertainment”. So I wouldn’t trust these list of “others” yet. We will have to wait for Chase.com to get updated to support their new product.

    I had similar issues with Blockbuster’s online services when they updated their product and their website wasn’t ready to support the new product. And with Chase, I’m sure it is a lot more complicated. They don’t just have a Freedom card to support.

  9. 9 Lulugal11 Mar 29th, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Yeah I really hate that the places I spend the most money show up as other. Grrr. Chase really needs to do something with that.

  10. 10 Chief Family Officer Mar 29th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    I have a Chase Borders card (not Freedom), which gives 3 rewards points per dollar spent on g/g/d (works out to 3% if you go for the $100 cash check reward). I was more than a little surprised to see that Chase classified Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Ralphs as “other.”

  11. 11 Jake Apr 1st, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Just to clarify re: the category “Other” appearing on your online account activity – Chase’s Credit Card division is separate from the online banking division.

    The Card division is categorizing your purchases and determining your rewards based on what the “seller” is giving them. Card does not provide this information anywhere that I know of.

    The categories displayed in your online activity are simply what the online banking division has the “seller” categorized as. These don’t necessarily match up with what Card is getting from the sellers.

    So as far as I am aware, there is no way currently to view the composition of your rewards accurately.

  12. 12 Yan Apr 1st, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Chad, Jake, thanks for your comments. I have updated the post to include this information. As others suggested, Chase clearly needs to clean this mess to avoid misunderstanding. Chase Freedom Plus promises to be a great card and I hope Chase has the resources to get it right

  13. 13 Diane May 4th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Just got a postcard from Chase on the Rewards Plus card — there now is a category for department store. But I only saw one restaurant category, for fast food/quick service food.

  14. 14 John F. May 6th, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Strange that Chase Freedom Plus doesn’t put Trader Joe’s in a bonus category.

    My Chase Freedom (not Plus) statement clearly placed it in the Grocery category, and granted the 2% bonus.

    Are you sure you got that right?

  15. 15 John F. May 6th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Note that the categories that appear alongside transactions in the activity page don’t correspond very closely to the categories Chase Freedom uses for bonus rewards.

    For example, the monthly fee from my gym appears as “dining and entertainment” in the activity page, but it was nevertheless correctly awarded the bonus.

    So just because something appears as, say, “Other” in the activity page, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be properly assigned to a bonus category.

    Conversely, something labeled “Grocery” in the activity page will not necessarily be assigned to a bonus category.

    In other words, the categories shown on the activity page are not a very useful guide for determining whether a given purchase will earn a bonus.

    Merchants categorize themselves with credit card companies using a “merchant category code”, typically a 4-digit number. There are lots of those codes, reflecting a high granularity of categorization — much finer than the broad categories you see on the activity page or the broad categories defined by the Chase Freedom program. Those categories are essentially buckets of arbitrarily selected merchant category codes.

    I believe the activity page categorization scheme is shared by all Chase card programs, predating the Chase Freedom program’s different category scheme.

  16. 16 John F. May 6th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    To clarify, Trader Joe’s was assigned to a bonus category (Grocery) by the Chase Freedom program, but it appears on the activity page as “Other”.

    I don’t know of a way to both easily and definitively discern whether a given merchant is in a bonus category, but my bills have been short and simple enough that I’ve been able to determine exactly which charges are given the 2% bonus.

  17. 17 Yan May 6th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Some readers suggested that Chase has not worked out all the kinks yet and so you can see discrepancies as far the categories recorded on your account activity page and the actual rewards. I hope this is fixed some time soon because I really like this card.

  18. 18 John F. May 6th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    The discrepancy between the activity categories and the rewards categories isn’t unique to the Chase Freedom program. We’ve had 4 other Chase cards with 4 different rewards category definitions for several years.

    Since Chase hasn’t done anything over the years to bring the activity categories into line with the various rewards programs, I’m inclined to think that doing so either isn’t a high priority, or that they don’t really regard it as a “kink” to be worked out.

    For all I know, the various rewards category groupings were developed independently by different teams at Chase, without consultation with each other, with each category painstakingly defined with a unique selected list of merchant category codes. It may not be a simple project to rationalize all of those categories defined in disparate programs, so that the activity categories exactly match each of category reward schemes.

    Alternatively, Chase could display the reward categories in the activity page instead of the same activity category definitions for all programs. But that could get complicated, and they’ve been doing these reward cards for years without feeling the need to do so.

  19. 19 Steve Jul 4th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that most of the vendors on your list qualify for greater than 2% bonus if you shop through the rewards program online. This is probably why they are not recognized when you shop in store. For example, I believe Dicks Sporting goods actually gives you 5% bonus (1% base 4% bonus) if you shop through the online chase rewards portal and use your card.

    PS. I just upgraded to the Plus program and the CSR told me that the cash version is automatic credit every month, so I took the points one, hoping that the 20000 points fo $250 cheque deal still applies.

  20. 20 Evelyn Jul 12th, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I’m not sure why nobody else seems to have reported this, but I have never been able to earn 3% on anything since getting the Chase Freedom card in October 2007. We live in California and all of our purchases are showing as (Other). We use our card mostly for groceries at Safeway, Lunardi’s, Molly Stones and Trader Joe. None of these stores seem to qualify. Home Depot and Pet Smart also show as “Other”. When we asked customer service to supply us with a list of which stores are honored in their rewards categories, we received a vanilla form letter (no answer at all).

  21. 21 Chad Jul 12th, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Evelyn – please read the comment from Jake above. He sounds like he works for Chase and I happen to know Chase very well…so just trust the comments I’m sharing if you don’t follow his comment. Your statement should have a bonus earning amount each month and should say which of the 15 bonus categories you have spent in during the activity period. Chase does not have the ability currently for these unique categories to be applied to the Freedom account. So you will see a lot of OTHER next to items that could be a rewards category. My previous comments explained the logic – and again – just trust me. Note that not all stores qualify for the extra 2% bonus rewards. For example, HomeDepot is a discount store. It is the responsibility of the store or merchant to report the transaction properly to Chase as well. The following text was taken from chasefreedomnow.com – Purchases not eligible to receive the 2 bonus points include, but are not limited to, purchases made at superstores, warehouse clubs and discount stores. Online and catalog purchases are not eligible to receive the bonus points unless the merchants have correctly identified and billed the transactions.

  22. 22 Chad Jul 12th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    If you shop online I strongly suggest you go to ChaseRewardsPlus.com and sign in with your Chase username and password. If you have more than one account,then select which card account you want to shop with and then browser the over 400 online merchants for extra cash back and other special offers. For example, I bought a TV from Vanns.com recently and earned another $38 in Chase Rewards just by clicking on the button from the Chase site before checking out at Vanns.com. I’ve seen rewards up to 10% back or 10 points per dollar spent. Combine the discount with the other automatic 1% to get your total discount.

  23. 23 Lee Oct 15th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Each merchants bank assigns the merchant a code called a Merchant Catergory Code (MCC). The MCC code must be within one of the bonus earning catergories to earn the 2% bonus. So basically it all depends on what code the merchants bank gives them at processing.

  24. 24 mantis89 Feb 12th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    I found a way to find the Merchant Category Codes (MCC) for locations that Visa uses to categorize your rewards. Go here: http://visa.via.infonow.net/lo.....dAction.do

    You can search by location name where you live and it will pull up a list of those locations along with the MCC that they use.

    I hope this helps.

  25. 25 mantis89 Feb 12th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Sorry,

    http://visa.via.infonow.net/locator/usa/supplier/

    You may have to go to this site first.

  26. 26 Alison Mar 7th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I have been extremely frustrated by this very problem.

    Every grocery store I have shopped at has been categorized as “other.” These include Jewel, Pick ‘N Save, Sentry, Whole Foods, Gerbe’s (Kroger) and Wal-Mart.

    Since groceries are my biggest monthly credit card expense I wish there was something I could do to change this. Does anyone know if there is someone at the stores we can contact about having them change the category they registered with?

  27. 27 Yan Mar 7th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I recently tried to cancel my Citibank Divident MasterCard but the rep offered me 5% on all Grocery & Gas purchases for 1 year and so I kept it and now use it for all my groceries and and gasoline purchases

  28. 28 Rita Knott Feb 4th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Any computer companies listed on Chase Freedom Cards that offer a 10% rebate?
    ie. MAC?

  29. 29 Rita Knott Feb 4th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Any Chase customer listed as Apple.com for the 10% rebate?

  30. 30 Matt Mar 1st, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Well, might as well add these grocery stores into the “OTHERS” category:

    Safeway Store (I believe this is a nationwide grocery store)

    Bel-Air (if you live in California, you should be familiar with this grocery chain, which also operates under Raley’s and Nob Hills)

    CVS Pharmacy (A top-3 drug stores in the United States, recently acquired Longs Drugs)

    FoodMaxx (come on, it has FOOD in its name and it’s still OTHERS?!)

  31. 31 Kate Mar 15th, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Jewel Osco shows up as category “other” on my Chase activity, but is listed with the following Merchant Category Code when I search their database:
    GROCERY STORES/SUPERMARKETS/BAKERIES -5411

    http://visa.via.infonow.net/lo.....wSearch.do

    It shows up as “Supermarkets” when I view my Discover card recent activity.

    They both have 5% cash back on grocery for this month, but I think I’ll stick with Discover for grocery shopping this month.

  32. 32 Kate Mar 16th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Here’s the reply I got from Chase customer service:

    When viewing your current transactions on line, they may be categorized as “other” until the statement closes. I have verified that the purchase made at Jewel Osco is being categorized as a “grocery store” purchase and therefore earning the 5% cash back.

    Please be advised, if a merchant is not a specialty store and provides a variety of products, the merchant may choose a general category descriptor rather than a
    specific category. For example, a store that sells clothes, gas, automotive parts, and groceries may choose the category ?Superstores? rather than ?Groceries? or ?Gas.?

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