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Hey, so, my Chase Freedom Visa has a refer-a-friend feature, where both the referrER and the referrEE get rewards. I figure if you're going to join anyway (*), I may as well leech off you, and you can get $150 cash back (see item 2) - so just send me a PM with your first name and the email address you want to use, and we'll both reap the grim benefits. Yeah, this is pretty cheesy, but what the heck.

Note: This is for the Chase *Freedom* Visa, which is their no-annual-fee, lowest-level card - I've used them for years, and Chase's online system is terrific - much improved in the last few months. This card also participates in the "Ultimate Rewards" program, and the reward points are transferable 1:1 to the Chase Sapphire cards (it works - I just did it yesterday), and if you have both cards, you *absolutely* want to transfer *all* your points to the Sapphire card (I suggest doing it now before they change their minds about allowing the transfers). If you don't transfer your points to Sapphire, then you're throwing money away - I know it sounds weird (and it *is* a very clumsy system), but the Ultimate Rewards points are worth more if they're under the Chase Sapphire account, rather than the Chase Freedom account - so make the transfer!

Assuming Chase doesn't change the rules, and you aren't yet ready to take the Sapphire plunge, you can accumulate points with the no-fee Freedom Visa, and then several years from now, get the Sapphire Visa and make the transfer. Again, that's assuming that Chase doesn't change the rules, and quite honestly, I wouldn't bet the ranch on that happening.

To all cardholders of the Chase Freedom Visa: I highly recommend that you put an auto-reminder into your calendars to ping you at the beginning of each quarter (Jan 1, Apr 1, Jul 1, and Oct 1), at which point you should sign in, click on each account, and enroll in their 5% bonus program. It changes each quarter, and you must re-enroll each quarter to get 5% cash back. Here is their 2016 program, which shows the categories that you'll get 5% cash back on. It costs nothing to activate, but you *must* click each account you have separately, for whatever reason (all Chase accounts will be under the same user id and password) - it takes just a few seconds to do. Note that in this quarter (which is quickly coming to an end), they're giving you *Five Percent* at restaurants - they obviously found out I was on a diet this summer. Seriously, this is a *great* feature if you have major purchases to make, and any $1,000+ purchases might want to be based around when you can get the 5% back - something to think about, for sure - this upcoming quarter includes Department Stores, so if you're going to drop $1,500 on a mattress at Bloomingdale's, that's $75 in your pocket if you wait until October.

Note also: The Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa - which is the deluxe card we've all been salivating over - does not have this refer-a-friend feature. The 3%-back on dining and travel is awesome, but it's better to use Freedom's 5%, and then transfer the Freedom points over to Sapphire. You'll maximize the cash in your pocket by using both of these cards judiciously, and it pays to own both.

(*) I emphasize: if you're going to join anyway. I only want you to consider this if you were going to sign up for Chase Freedom Visa anyway; I'm not trying to talk anyone into doing anything they weren't already going to do. The way this works is that I give Chase your first name (only) and email address that you wish to use, and then they send you an "invitation" to apply for the card via this program. You should be aware that whatever email address you use will probably be sold by Chase, used for marketing, etc., but that would happen anyway (unless you're still working with paper bills and the U.S. postal system).

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Note that the 5% bonus is only good for up to $1500 in purchases for each quarter. So once you go past that, it may be worth using a different card if you can get more than the base 1% back. Although I think it's possible to have more than one Freedom card if you're so inclined.

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