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If you buy gas, like coffee or shop at Amazon, get excited: The Chase Freedom card just announced its 5% bonus categories for 2013, and they’re pretty darn good ones: Gas in two quarters, Amazon, Starbucks and more. This is reason enough to consider the Freedom if you don’t have one already. And that’s before we’ve mentioned the Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening signup bonus.
2013 Chase Freedom bonus categories:
- Q1 (January – March): Gas, drugstores and Starbucks
- Q2 (April – June): Restaurants and movie theaters
- Q3 (July – September): Gas, theme parks and Kohl’s
- Q4 (October – December): Amazon.com and “select department stores”
The card earns 5% back on bonus categories up to $1,500 spent per quarter, and 1% thereafter. You can also get up to 20% cash back in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, which allows you to click through to online retailers as diverse as Macys.com and the Holiday Inn.
Look to the Freedom for gas rewards
Earning 5% cash back on gas for 2 quarters, the Freedom effectively has a 3% average rewards rate on gas for the entire year. This places it among the best of the no-fee gas cards, while also earning rewards on other categories (ie caffeine fixes).
The Freedom is ideal for an Amex or Discover cardholder looking for a backup in case the primary card isn’t accepted, a frequent driver looking to earn 5% rewards with no annual fee, and for someone looking to establish a credit history – anecdotally, we nerds with thin files have found it relatively easy to qualify for.
However, if you’ve got excellent credit or travel frequently, you can also consider:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred: Requiring excellent credit, the Preferred’s main appeal is its killer Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. signup bonus. It earns 2% rewards on travel and dining and 1% elsewhere and bumps up your points’ value 25% if you redeem for travel through Chase. Effectively, then, your rewards rate is somewhere between 1.00% base/2.00% bonus and 1.25% base/2.50% bonus. While the rewards rate isn’t as good as the Freedom’s and it has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), the signup bonus is an order of magnitude larger – particularly considering that its value can be up to 25% higher. Key for travelers, it has no foreign transaction fee.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns 2% rewards on all purchases, making it one of the most lucrative cards out there. Its $59 annual fee is also waived in the first year, and you can redeem your rewards as a statement credit against any travel expense whatsoever. It, too, has no foreign transaction fee.
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