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What Are The Bonus Categories For Chase Freedom

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 5 minute read

When it comes to no-annual-fee cash-back credit cards, few can compete with the Chase Freedom Flex Card and its forerunner, the Chase Freedom Credit Card. That is in no small part because of the fact that they have unique rewards systems that may give you up to 5% cash back on certain purchases.

Key Differences Between Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex are both no-annual-fee credit cards, however the 5% cash-back bonus on the original Freedom card is only available in a rotating set of categories.

If you spend more than $1,500 every quarter, you will only receive a maximum of $75 in bonus cash back from Chase, regardless of how much you spend in any given bonus category.

Unlimited 1% cash back is available on both regular and bonus category purchases made beyond the quarterly spending cap. Maximizing quarterly bonus cash-back earnings is obviously beneficial to the cardholder.

The Freedom Flex card is the more generous option since it offers a dedicated 5% cash-back category for all travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel site and a second, unlinked 3% cash-back category for all other expenditures (including groceries, gas, and entertainment) (including CVS and Walgreens).

However, Freedom Flex cardholders who take advantage of the card’s 5% bonus areas might reap significant benefits.

To be honest, it’s not as tough as you may think. Chase Freedom card holders have a number of options to maximize their cash-back earnings in the current quarter’s 5% bonus cash-back categories.

2020 and 2021 Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Category Calendar (Cash-Back Calendar)

First, let’s check out the 5% rotating categories for the rest of 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021 that are offered on Chase Freedom cards.

  • Warehouse clubs, Internet/cable/phone services, and some streaming services will be available in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Gas stations and home improvement stores in the second quarter of 2021
  • Grocery shops and some streaming services in the third quarter of 2021
  • Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market in Q4 2021
  • Grocery shops in Q1 2022
  • Amazon and various streaming providers in Q2 2022
  • Gas stations, movie theaters, auto rentals, and select live entertainment will be available in the third quarter of 2022.

Manually activate your bonus cash back this quarter to receive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined category purchases. To receive the 5% cash back, sign in and click the “Activate” button next to the symbol.

If you activate by the 14th of the final month of the quarter (that’s March 14, June 14, September 14, and December 14), you’ll get cash back on all of your bonus category purchases up to the quarterly category maximum, dating back to the first day of the quarter.

Q3 2021 Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories:

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex credit cards feature two extra cash-back categories from July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021: groceries and select streaming services.

Grocery Stores

Except for the supermarket areas at Walmart and Target, most food and supermarket purchases fall under this category. Bonus rebates are not often applied to the following types of purchases:

  • Tickets for the lottery
  • Orders for money
  • Gift certificates
  • Other cash-like transactions at the customer service desk

The 5% additional cash back may not apply to purchases made in the prepared foods area, at the in-store restaurants and cafes (such Starbucks and food courts), or on alcoholic beverages sold in a different location from the rest of the shop.

Choose Streaming Services

Expenditures made with a subset of streaming service providers fall under this umbrella.

  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • YouTube and YouTube TV
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • Sling TV
  • Netflix
  • Apple Music
  • Paramount

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and may omit certain qualified service providers. Chase can supply you with an up-to-date list of supported services, since the streaming industry is always evolving.

And through the end of September, if you set up autopay for all qualifying services using your Chase Freedom or Freedom Flex card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on all streaming purchases.

5% Bonus Categories in the Past for Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex

Chase frequently reuses previous quarter’s bonus categories, so looking back at them might provide you a glimpse at what you might be in for in the next several quarters.

Q3 2020 Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex offered two extra cash-back categories on purchases made at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market from July 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020.

This quarter’s 5% cash-back categories for the Chase Freedom card were less complicated than those of previous quarters. Bonus rebates applied to all purchases made on Amazon.com and at physical Whole Foods Market stores (including those placed online for in-store pickup or delivery).

If you use Chase’s Shop With Points tool to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points, any portion of your purchase that would normally be eligible for cash back will not be.

Q4 2020 Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories

Between October 1 and December 31, 2020, Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex card holders might earn 5 percent more cash back at Walmart and 3 percent more at PayPal.

Q1 2021 Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories

Warehouse clubs, Internet, cable, and phone services, and certain streaming services were the three bonus cash-back categories for the Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex credit cards from January 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021.

Q2 2021 Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories

Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex card holders might earn extra cash back at petrol stations and home improvement retailers between April 1 and June 30 of 2021.

Chase Cash Back Tracking

Getting your cash back with a Chase Freedom card requires some technical accounting, but it’s not too complicated. Chase, like other credit card issuers, classifies purchases into two categories: those that qualify for cash back and those that do not. Some activities that are similar to cash sales are:

  • Transfers of funds
  • ATM withdrawals and cash advances
  • Gift card purchases
  • Lottery tickets, casino chips, and other gaming token purchases

Most net purchases made with merchants online and in-store qualify for cash back. When we talk about “net purchases,” we’re referring to the final amount of a transaction less any credits, refunds, or chargebacks.

There are no limits on the amount of cash back you may earn or the percentage of transactions that qualify for cash back.

There is a quarterly spending cap of $1,500, beyond which bonus category purchases receive an unlimited 1% cash back. Bonus category purchases earn an extra 4% cash back for a total of 5% cash back on eligible purchases.

Credit card statements from Chase Freedom show two types of cash back: 1% regular cash back and 4% bonus cash back.

Bottom Line

You may earn an extra $300 yearly with your Chase Freedom cash-back card if you make the most of the 5% cash-back categories. In addition to earning 1% cash back on all transactions, forever, with the Chase Freedom card.

The Chase Freedom FlexSM Card’s flawless cash-back record requires consistent work on the cardholder’s part. To begin, each quarter you must actively engage your bonus categories.

A digital wallet or third-party payment software like PayPal makes it less likely that you will get bonus cash back when you believe you are.

It may be difficult to maximize your cash-back rewards during a given quarter if you don’t typically make many purchases in the areas that are being highlighted.

However, many people find that a test like this prompts them to examine their spending habits more carefully. Much though getting 5% cash back is a win in and of itself, it’s even better if you can discover methods to trade in non-essential purchases for those in the bonus categories.

Check out our in-depth analysis of the Chase Freedom Flex credit card for a summary of the card’s features and benefits.

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