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Maybe you're not yet sold on this whole "mobile wallet" phenomenon. After all, swiping or dipping a card seems pretty easy and safe as it is — we've been doing it for years — so what's the incentive?
If you're a Chase Freedom® cardholder, a good answer is bonus cash back in the first quarter of 2018. That's because from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2018, the card's 5% bonus categories are:
Mobile wallet purchases through Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
Internet, phone and cable services
During Q1, you can earn 5% back in these categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases (1% after that). The mobile wallet category is particularly worth optimizing because it means you could earn 5% cash back at any retailer that accepts one of the payment services listed above. Here are some tips to make the most of this quarter.
“The mobile wallet category is particularly worth optimizing because it means you could earn 5% cash back at any retailer that accepts an eligible mobile wallet.”
Optimizing the mobile wallet category
Make the Chase Freedom® your default card on your mobile wallet. Perhaps a bit obvious, but if you have multiple cards on your mobile wallet app and the Chase Freedom® isn’t selected as your default, you could accidentally miss out on some hefty cash-back rewards this quarter.
Look for the NFC symbol on point-of-sale devices. NFC stands for “near-field communication” and is the mobile technology that allows you to swipe your phone at a point-of-sale system and charge the item to cards in your mobile wallet. Retailers in smaller cities and rural areas might not have widespread mobile wallet acceptance yet, but point-of-sale systems are becoming increasingly friendly toward mobile wallets.
Shop online if in-store NFC readers aren’t available. Plenty of brick-and-mortar stores have NFC readers, but many are still playing catch-up, and your options may be limited depending on where you live. If a particular merchant doesn’t allow you to use a mobile wallet, check online to see whether that retailer’s website does. For example, Walmart.com allows customers to use Chase Pay.
“If a particular merchant doesn’t allow you to use a mobile wallet, check online to see whether that retailer’s website does.”
Put a reminder note on your physical wallet. If you’re used to whipping out your credit cards when it comes time to pay, put a sticky note on your wallet to remind you to use your cellphone so you don’t miss out on valuable bonus points.
Think broadly. Remember: The 5% cash back could count toward any purchase you make with a qualifying mobile wallet. Does your grocery store accept them? How about your local drugstore, bookstore or fitness center? Don't leave rewards on the table.
Optimizing the other two bonus categories
No, the Chase Freedom® mobile wallet bonus can’t be stacked with the other bonus categories (i.e., you can’t get an additional 5% back for using a mobile wallet on top of the 5% back for buying gas). But you can think strategically when you make purchases in these categories this quarter:
Gas stations. Cash back in this category isn’t limited to just gas. The items inside the store — including snacks, car accessories, even groceries — may also count toward the 5% back, as long as the store’s merchant category code is labeled as a gas station. That would also mean that if the gas station offers gift cards to other stores, you could earn 5% cash back on those purchases, too.
“Items inside a gas station — including snacks, car accessories, even groceries — may also count toward the 5% back, as long as the store's merchant category code is labeled as a gas station.”
Internet, phone and cable services. This bonus category gives 5% cash back on purchases for internet, cable, satellite television, radio, cellular, wireless data, and landline services. It doesn’t include devices or equipment, but does include services such as Netflix, Spotify and Hulu. There are some caveats to consider, however:
Some telecom services charge a convenience fee or a higher rate for using a credit card. Make sure your cash back isn’t a wash compared with the cost of using a credit card to pay your monthly bill.
The Chase Freedom® doesn’t offer cell phone insurance. Some credit cards — such as the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card — provide their cardholders with cellphone protection as long as they use that card to pay for their monthly cellphone bill. If you switch your monthly payment to your Chase Freedom®, you’ll miss out on this perk.
Don’t overlook other cheaper deals. Some streaming services offer significantly discounted trial periods for new customers to try out their products. So if you're inclined to take advantage of those offers, you'll end up earning significantly less in rewards on those services this quarter because you're paying less for them. But you'll still snag a good discount!
If you don’t have the Chase Freedom® yet, you can also take advantage of the card’s sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Just remember to activate your bonus categories by March 14, 2018, to take advantage of the 5% cash back.
The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.