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This article was last updated Apr 10, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Chase Freedom® cardholders can now activate their bonus 5% cashback categories for the first quarter of 2019 — gas stations, tolls, and drug stores. Activation is available until March 14 to benefit from the higher rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
We’ll review the first quarter bonus cashback categories for the Chase Freedom®, what you need to know to earn 5% cash back, and how the Chase Freedom® calendar compares to Discover’s 5% cashback calendar.
Chase Freedom® cashback calendar 2019
|January – March||April – June
(activate now through June 14)
|July – September
(activate starting June 15)
|October – December
(activate starting September 15)
|Gas stations, tolls, drugstores||Grocery stores* and home improvement stores||TBA||TBA|
* Not including Target and Walmart.
Here’s what you need to know:
- You need to activate the bonus categories to earn 5% cash back. Chase allows you to add reminders to your calendar. Easily activate via ultimaterewards.com or chase.com/freedom or by calling the number on the back of your card.
- Each quarter, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in that quarter’s bonus categories. After you hit the maximum spend of $1,500 in that category, you’ll earn 1% cash back.
- All purchases outside the bonus categories automatically earn unlimited 1% cash back.
How the 2019 calendar compares to 2018
While the full 2019 cashback calendar isn’t available — Chase only releases bonus categories every quarter — you can get a good idea of what bonus categories Chase may include this year by looking at the 2018 cashback calendar.
Here are the bonus categories from 2018:
|Chase Freedom® cashback calendar 2018|
|January – March||April – June||July – September||October – December|
|Gas stations, internet/cable/phone services, Chase Pay®, Google Pay, Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay||Grocery stores, Paypal, Chase Pay®||Gas stations, Lyft, Walgreens||Department stores, wholesale clubs, Chase Pay®|
New additions for the first quarter of 2019 include tolls and drugstores, but mobile phone payment apps were removed. Last year, tolls weren’t a bonus category at all and drugstores were limited to purchases only made at Walgreens in the third quarter. However, Chase Pay®, Google Pay, Apple Pay®, Samsung Pay may reappear as bonus categories later in the year.
And, hopefully, Chase will bring back restaurants as a bonus category, since it hasn’t appeared since 2017.
Chase cashback calendar vs. Discover cashback calendar
Chase currently only revealed bonus categories for the first quarter of 2019, while Discover has released its full cashback calendar for the year. The ability to see all of the bonus categories for the year gives Discover a leg up on Chase, since cardholders are able to plan spending months in advance. While Chase’s bonus categories for the second, third, and fourth quarters are unknown, you most likely can expect to see grocery stores and department stores, since both have been on the 2017 and 2018 calendars.
Here’s what we know so far:
|Chase Freedom®||Discover it® Cash Back|
|January – March||Gas stations, tolls, drugstores||Grocery stores|
|April – June||Grocery stores, home improvement stores||Gas stations, Uber and Lyft|
|July – September||TBA||Restaurants and PayPal|
|October – December||TBA||Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com|
Alternative to quarterly bonus category cards
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
- No annual fee
- $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
- Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
- You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile Banking app or Online Banking, or do nothing and it stays the same
- No expiration on rewards
- 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
- If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
See additional details for Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
An alternative to Discover and Chase’s quarterly rotating bonus categories is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card which will provide cardholders a flexible rewards program beginning January 14.
If you’re an existing or new Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card holder, you’ll be able to earn 3% cash back in one of six categories: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings; 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs; and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Unlike other rotating bonus category cards that preselect bonus categories every quarter, cardholders can choose which one of the six categories they want to earn 3% cash back in every month.
In addition to a cashback program, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers a 0% introductory apr on purchases for 12 billing cycles (after, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR APR). This allows you to finance new purchases over a year without incurring interest charges. Just know that the Chase Freedom® offers a longer 0% intro apr on purchases for 15 months (after, 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR), which provides more interest-free financing.