Chase Freedom Cash-Back Calendar: Current Categories and Merchants

Manage your spending to maximize the Chase Freedom 5% bonus.

The Chase Freedom credit card provides 5% cash back on purchases totaling up to $1,500 in select categories that rotate every quarter. After the spending threshold has been reached in any given quarter, the cash-back bonus drops to 1%. To make the most of the cash-back benefits of this credit card, you’ll have to keep track of which bonus categories are valid for each quarter.

Here’s a look at the current 5% cash-back categories for the Chase Freedom credit card, along with additional information about the card’s features and benefits. To jump ahead and learn about a specific area of interest regarding the Chase Freedom card, click on one of the following links:

What Are Chase Freedom Rewards This Month?

Chase Freedom cash-back bonus categories are applicable for an entire quarter, not just one month. Chase Freedom cash-back quarters follow traditional calendar quarters:

  • Q1: January through March
  • Q2: April through June
  • Q3: July through September
  • Q4: October through December

For the 2020 first quarter, Chase has announced the following bonus categories:

  • Gas stations
  • Internet
  • Cable and phone services
  • Select streaming services

For purposes of the 5% bonus, Chase defines “select streaming services” as the following:

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  • Disney+
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • YouTube TV
  • ESPN+
  • Apple Music
  • Sirius XM
  • Vudu
  • Sling
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • Fubo TV

The 5% cash-back bonus only applies to the first $1,500 spent on combined purchases in the bonus categories. Thus, the bonus cash-back is limited to a maximum of $75 per quarter. After the bonus threshold has been reached, the cash-back payout drops to 1%.

See: Best Cash-Back Credit Cards

 

What Is the ‘5 Category’ for Chase Freedom?

The “5 Category” is one way to refer to the current 5% cash-back categories offered by the Chase Freedom card. As mentioned above, for the 2020 first quarter the 5% cash-back categories for the Chase Freedom card are gas stations, select streaming services, internet services and cable and phone services.

Learn: 3 Killer Credit Card Combos for Travelers That Earn You (Almost) Quadruple the Rewards

What Are the Chase Freedom Rotating Categories?

The Chase Freedom bonus categories change from one quarter to the next. While some categories repeat from year to year, there are no official “set” categories. However, a look back at historical bonus categories gives you an idea of the types of categories Chase is likely to feature in the future.

Here’s what the Chase Freedom 5% quarterly categories have been over the past few years:

  • Q4 2019: Chase Pay, department stores, PayPal
  • Q3 2019: Streaming services, gas stations
  • Q2 2019: Home improvement, grocery stores
  • Q1 2019: Drug stores, tolls, gas stations
  • Q4 2018: Department stores, Chase Pay, wholesale clubs
  • Q3 2018: Walgreens, gas stations, Lyft
  • Q2 2018: PayPal, groceries, Chase Pay
  • Q1 2018: Gas stations, mobile wallets, internet, cable and phone services
  • Q4 2017: Department stores, Walmart
  • Q3 2017: Movie theaters, restaurants
  • Q2 2017: Drug stores, grocery stores
  • Q1 2017: Local commuter transportation, gas stations

Although the categories for the Chase Freedom 5% bonus change quarterly, a few categories seem to pop up with regularity. Gas stations, in particular, are often a 5% category, as are drug stores, department stores and Chase Pay. While this pattern isn’t a guarantee of future categories, it’s a good general guide as to the types of options you can expect going forward with the Chase Freedom card.

Learn More: Chase Interest Rates: How to Get the Bank’s Best Rates

How Do I Get the Most out of My Chase Freedom Categories?

To maximize the value of the Chase Freedom quarterly 5% cash-back bonus, you’ll need to plan ahead and tailor your spending. Whenever possible, try to bunch your spending in a particular category to the quarter when you can earn the bonus.

For example, during the 2020 first quarter, the 5% bonus category included internet, phone and cable services. If you’re used to paying for these expenses monthly, consider paying for an entire year during the first quarter. This way you can get 5% cash back on your entire annual bill rather than just three months’ worth of payments.

Of course, this strategy doesn’t work for all categories. For example, you can’t buy a year’s worth of gasoline during the quarter and store it all year just because it falls into a bonus category. But for these types of regular-use categories, you can still maximize your rewards by using the Chase Freedom card instead of other cards during the quarter in which the bonus applies.

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One important thing to remember is that the 5% category bonus is not applied automatically. You’ll have to activate your card with Chase to qualify for the quarterly bonus categories. Here’s the activation schedule for the remainder of 2020:

  • April to June (activate starting March 15)
  • July to September (activate starting June 15)
  • October to December (activate starting Sept. 15)

Another important factor to remember is that there is a limit to your quarterly bonus. If you’re going to spend more than $1,500 for the quarter in the bonus categories, your additional purchases will only net a 1% cash-back bonus. At this point, you’ll have to determine if you can get better value from the other cards you have.

Up Next: Best Rewards Credit Cards

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About the Author

After earning a B.A. in English with a Specialization in Business from UCLA, John Csiszar worked in the financial services industry as a registered representative for 18 years. Along the way, Csiszar earned both Certified Financial Planner and Registered Investment Adviser designations, in addition to being licensed as a life agent, while working for both a major Wall Street wirehouse and for his own investment advisory firm. During his time as an advisor, Csiszar managed over $100 million in client assets while providing individualized investment plans for hundreds of clients.