Hooray! It’s almost April 1st, which means that grocery stores (and drug stores) will soon be the Chase Freedom’s 5x categories du jour. Because I don’t go out of my way to maximize the Freedom categories every quarter like I should, I get excited about the grocery one, because that’s the category that absorbs the highest amount of my “natural” spending. I could probably root around for gas stations that sell gift cards, or stock up on beef jerky to milk this category’s bonus for more points, but I haven’t bothered. Same thing last winter when the 5x category was drug stores. Sure, I earned some extra points on my antidepressants (and isn’t earning extra points the real antidepressant?), but I didn’t really do that much else to hit the $1500 quarterly limit.
I’ll tell you what this has to do with minimum spending, which I admit is kind of circuitous. Because I spend so much on groceries (Justine and I make almost all of our meals at home, and I get lunch from Whole Foods every day), the Amex Everyday Preferred’s 4.5x bonus on groceries earns us a ton of points. However, as everyone knows, you only get the 4.5x bonus if you use the card 30 times in a month. When it’s my main card, I hit the 30-swipe threshold within a couple weeks, but when I’m working on a minimum spend requirement, it’s harder. While I’m willing to sacrifice the extra half-point to get whatever bonus is attached to that minimum spend, I don’t like sacrificing 3.5 points on groceries if I can avoid it. In fact, this year has been an even bigger example of this struggle, since I’m trying to use the Blue for Business on all unbonused spend, which means I’m right on the bubble every month getting 30 swipes.
However, for three glorious months every year, the Freedom card gets 5x on groceries, meaning I can sock-drawer the Everyday Preferred and still maximize my earning. (Also, I’d probably max out the $6000 per year limit on the Everyday Preferred’s grocery bonus if I used it year-round, so it’s nice to give it a break.) That’s why – assuming I can line up a few cards with increased bonuses – I like to work on minimum spending requirements during the 2nd quarter (or really whatever quarter the Freedom gives 5x on groceries). Any time you use an airline co-brand or hotel card for everyday spending, you’re foregoing more valuable earning opportunities, so it’s nice to minimize the impact by not letting the change in my card usage for unbonused spend spill over to other categories. The only danger would be if I take on more minimum spend requirements than I can reasonably meet through unbonused spending and have to start using those cards for my precious groceries. I try to be disciplined enough in my card-opening habits to avoid that, though.
Oh, speaking of card-opening, I did end up getting approved for that Korean Air card after all. I don’t know my credit limit or anything, just that I got approved and will get the card in the mail soon. Now that I have it, I’m focusing on all the reasons I shouldn’t have applied for it… Anyway, not really related to the above, but also not worth its own post, so it gets tacked on here like a half-formed appendage.