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I’ve had the Chase Freedom® Card for several years, since before I even started reading One Mile at a Time. It’s one of the two no-annual-fee cards I actually use (the other is The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express).
The 5% cash back the Freedom Card offers on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 a quarter) is actually 5x Ultimate Rewards points for those of us who pair it with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
This quarter (January through March), the bonus categories are gas stations and local commuter transportation. Gas stations often sell gift cards for future fuel purchases or other things, and many people meet the bonus that way.
Lucky has said he’s meeting the bonus through Uber, but I can’t imagine spending that much on local transportation in just three months.
Thankfully, I have some ways of paying now for transportation I’ll use later in the year.
Loading money on my transit pass
I live in D.C., so I take the Metro fairly often.
I spend around $50 a month on Metro rides, which means I can load $600 onto my SmarTrip card. (Technically, I’ll be loading $300 each onto two SmarTrip cards, because they won’t store more value than that on a single card.)
Lyft and Uber: gift cards
Lyft and Uber both offer gift cards. So even if you’re not spending $500 a month on those services (if you are spending that much, how come neither of them are turning a profit yet!?), you can pay now and use the credits later.
If you use the MileagePlus X App from United to purchase Uber gift cards, you can also earn United miles in addition to the Chase Freedom bonus.
Using Via for commuting
In D.C., Chicago, and New York, there’s a fairly new ride-sharing option in town called Via. This is great, because over the past few years the Metro has been consistently terrible, thanks to poorly-maintained equipment and infrastructure, underfunding, mismanagement, and fires. (Don’t believe me on that last one?)
On days when I don’t feel like dealing with single-tracking, unreasonably long wait times, and other headaches, I just open the Via app and get a ride to work for a flat $2.95. (The fee varies by city.) Via only operates in D.C. and Chicago during commuting hours, but in New York it’s full time.
I’ve found the service to be better than Uber and Lyft’s car-sharing products (POOL and Line, respectively). I typically have to wait less for a car to arrive (usually around 3 minutes), and the pick-ups and drop-offs it makes are almost always directly along my route (on POOL and Line it’s frequently taken me out of the way to get other passengers).
Via lets you prepay for ride credits, and while the most they offer is $50, they don’t seem to have any restrictions on how many times you can reload.
If you live in a city with Via and are interested in trying it out, you can download the app. If you use my promo code, andrew8h9y, you can get a $10 ride credit (and I get one too). As always, feel free to share your own promo code in the comments.
When possible, prepay whatever transit/local transportation expenses you have for the year now to make the most of this quarter’s bonus.
Any other tips for maximizing the Chase Freedom® Card bonus this quarter?