Ever since I switch to Chase Freedom Plus as my primary credit card, I have been trying to keep an eye on my spending and accumulated rewards. Last week I received my third statement and can share some more details on the benefits the Plus upgrade offers compared to the regular Chase Freedom card.
First of all, when I signed up, the card came with miles rewards and I have still not been able to switch to the cash rewards mode. I called the customer service a couple times but several weeks later I still see miles in my account rewards page. The whole procedure also resulted into some mess in the rewards reported online. Last month reporting was partially frozen and I now see those rewards credited back to me as an adjustment.
Difference between miles and points
The main difference is in the options available for redeeming rewards. In the miles mode, a $50 Shell Gift Card in exchange for 5,000 reward miles is probably closest you can get to cash. There are more options if you are willing to travel, for example an unrestricted round trip ticket to any destination (max value $350) for 25,000 rewards miles looks very interesting. In the cash mode your best option is to wait till you collect 20,000 points and exchange them to a $250 check. This is what I have always done with the old card.
Charging travel on Chase Freedom is not a good idea
My total bill this month came to $3719. We are planning a trip to my friends’ wedding for June, hence more expenses than usual. A big chunk of it is the tickets from United Airlines. They were correctly categorized as “Travel” on the account activity page but are missing from the Top Purchase categories on my bill due to the fact that “Travel” is not one of 15 categories currently covered by Chase (scroll down for the complete list of covered categories). I would have gotten a better deal if I used my Costco American Express for this purchase since it offers straight 2% on travel related expenses.
On average this card pays 3.75% straight cash rewards
My overall bonus earnings this month came to 2,222 miles (or points) which means 30% of my spendings qualified for bonus rewards. This is much less than I had during the first month (48%). If I exclude travel (tickets and car rental) then the percentage goes up to 52%. Looking back at the last 3 months, 42% of my spendings qualified for bonus rewards, 55% if I exclude this month’s travel. This overall means that the card pays back approximately 3% straight rewards, or slightly more (3.75%) if you wait to convert 20,000 points into $250 check.
Spending categories eligible for bonus rewards
Here is the complete list of 15 categories that qualify for Chase Freedom bonus rewards. Out of these, the top 6 categories by spending will be used to calculate your rewards.
- Department stores
- Fast food & quick service restaurants
- Gas & convenience stores
- Cable/Satellite TV, internet providers
- Pet supply stores/veterinarian
- Phone/cell phone bills
- Movie theaters
- Grocery stores
- Gym memberships
- Beauty salons/SPAs
- Movie rentals
- Dry cleaners
- Local commuting
Please share your own experience in the comments. Have you had problem switching from miles to cash like I did? What is your average cash back rewards rate on this card?