How to Optimize Chase Freedom’s 5% Cash Back at Walmart

The retail giant sells everything from daily necessities to holiday and seasonal items, and you can rack up rewards on those purchases.
Chanelle Bessette
By Chanelle Bessette 

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Shopping for others is nice, but nothing says you can't also reward yourself a little bit, especially during the holiday season. And if you're a Walmart regular, your Chase Freedom® credit card can help you do just that.

From October through December 2017, the card is offering 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending at Walmart and department stores. Cardholders must activate those categories to earn the 5% cash back, and all other purchases earn 1% cash back.

While department stores can be a good place to find specific items, Walmart sells just about everything, from home goods and holiday items to clothes, groceries and more. So let's focus on strategies for optimizing your spending there. Here’s what you can do to earn the maximum $75 bonus cash back.

Steps and strategies

  • Shop online. Maybe you don't live near a brick-and-mortar Walmart. No worries, because purchases on count toward the 5% cash back, and the website offers free two-day shipping on qualifying orders of $35 or more. (If you do happen to live near a physical Walmart store, you may have the option of picking up in-store for free.)

  • Stock up on gift cards. Walmart sells gift cards for many different kinds of merchants, including food, travel and entertainment. Buy them this quarter, earn your 5% back, and then use the cards year round as gifts or at your favorite stores. Keep in mind that buying gift cards for Walmart at other retailers (like grocery stories) doesn’t count toward the bonus.

  • Make Walmart your grocery store. Many Walmarts have full grocery sections, including deli and bakery items. Those purchases all count toward the 5% cash-back bonus. And while you're at it, check to see whether you live near a store that offers free Walmart Grocery pickup. You can order groceries online and pick them up the same day. They’ll even load up your car when you arrive.

  • Fill up at a Walmart gas pump. If your local Walmart also has Walmart-branded gas pumps, you can earn 5% cash back there, too. But even if the Walmart near you doesn’t sell gas, you can buy a Walmart gas gift card, get 5% back, and then use the gas card when you do drive near a Walmart station.

  • Do your holiday shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall during this quarter. Walmart and typically have major deals for both, so you can make the store your shopping destination for Halloween costumes and candy, your Thanksgiving food spread, and Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.

  • Prepare for winter weather. Need rakes, brooms or leaf bags? Many Walmarts have huge garden departments. Need an ice scraper or snow-melting salt? Those can be purchased at Walmart as well.

  • Get the Chase Freedom® sign-up bonus if you don’t have the card yet. The Chase Freedom® offers a sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Pair that with your 5% cash-back earnings, and you’re setting yourself up for a nice year-end padding to your bank account.

What to keep in mind

  • Don’t forget to activate your fourth-quarter bonus categories. Chase sends its cardholders a reminder email to activate the bonus. You can log into your Chase account and activate it from your dashboard.

  • Walmart-affiliated businesses don’t count. Although Sam’s Club and are owned by Walmart, you won’t earn the 5% cash-back bonus by shopping with them. Third-party vendors inside Walmart properties (including beauty salons and fast-food restaurants) won’t count either unless their merchant category code is set up as Walmart.

  • Department stores are also a bonus category. If the store is on this list of approved Chase merchants, your purchases there count for 5% cash back. If you shop online through the Chase bonus mall, you may have the opportunity to earn even more cash back if the department store is featured. Keep in mind that superstores like Target and Kmart and discount stores like TJ Maxx aren’t considered department stores.

Walmart and department stores offer a wide variety of wares that can help with holiday, seasonal and everyday needs. By spending strategically this quarter, you can wind up with some bonus cash in your pocket and start the new year with some extra income.

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