The Chase Freedom credit card is one of my favorite ways to earn cash back. Each quarter they offer rotating categories that offer 5% cash back on your purchases. This cash back comes in the form of Ultimate Rewards points, which hold even more value when you pair the Freedom card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Ink Business cards.
The quarterly bonus categories are capped at $1,500 in spend each quarter. This means that you can earn up to 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points every three months when you max out the bonus opportunity.
Each quarter, the Chase Freedom quarterly bonus calendar is updated with the latest offers for 5% cash-back. You can activate your card up to two weeks before the quarter begins. The bonus categories are retroactive as well. Cardholders can activate the bonus categories until the 14th of the third month of each quarter – March, June, September, and December.
- + Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- + Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- + Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- + Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend
$500on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of
17.24% to 25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee
- 3% foreign transaction fee
The bonus categories change every quarter based on the Chase Freedom calendar. Chase doesn’t announce the full 5% rewards calendar ahead of time, but it’s a good idea to know the categories that they have already announced for the year and how to maximize those categories.
Below is what we know about the quarterly rewards calendar so far, including how to activate your 5% bonus and tips for maximizing the bonus categories.
Chase Cashback Calendar Bonus Categories Revealed for Q2 2019: Grocery Stores and Home-Improvement Stores
- April to June 2019: Grocery Stores and Home-Improvement Stores
January to March 2019: Gas Stations, Drugstores, Tolls January to March 2018: Gas Stations, Internet, Cable and Phone Services, plus Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay April to June 2018: Grocery Stores, PayPal and Chase Pay July to September 2018: Lyft, Walgreens and Gas Stations October to December 2018: Department Stores, Wholesale Clubs, Chase Pay
Chase has revealed the bonus categories for the second quarter of 2019. Let’s take a closer look at what we already know.
APRIL to JUNE 2019
Grocery Stores and Home-Improvement Stores
Chase has announced the 2019 second quarter bonus categories. This quarter, the Chase Freedom card is targeting pretty much everyone, since we all have to eat. And if you’re the do-it-yourself type, then you’ll certainly benefit this quarter as you shop for the items you need to spruce up or improve your house or apartment, or as you beautify your yard or garden with new plantings for the spring.
The categories that will earn 5% cash back are grocery stores and home-improvement stores. Cardholders must activate this cash back offer to receive the bonus points. Activation is open right now and goes through June 14, 2019.
- Grocery stores – stock up your pantry, freezer and fridge – and don’t forget to grab any household items you might otherwise buy at a pharmacy, hardware store or elsewhere. Everything you buy at the supermarket gets you the 5% cash back bonus this quarter. But don’t do your shopping at Walmart or Target – the bonus offers does not apply there.
- Home-improvement stores – Flowers for the yard, vegetables you’re your garden … a new paint job for the house, and any of untold numbers of home-improvement projects you’ve been meaning to do. Now’s the time to get around to them since this quarter you’ll get 5% cash back on everything you buy at stores such as Home Depot, Lowes and others.
JANUARY to MARCH 2019 (EXPIRED):
Gas Stations, Drugstores, Tolls
Chase has released the 2019 first quarter bonus categories. This quarter, the Chase Freedom card is targeting people going on road trips or those that have a lot of medical bills.
The categories that will earn 5% cash back are gas stations, tolls, and drugstores. Cardholders must activate this cashback offer to receive the bonus points. Activation is open right now and goes through March 14, 2019.
- Gas stations – fill up your car and save. Road trips and your daily commute are less expensive with this 5% cash back offer.
- Drugstores – drugstores offer more than prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Many offer toiletries, cosmetics, and a small section of groceries.
- Tolls – reduce the sting of toll roads with 5% cash back on your morning commute or your weekend getaway.
If you won’t spend $1,500 this quarter in gas, tolls, or prescriptions, remember that many gas stations and drugstores sell gift cards. I like to stock up on gift cards to my favorite retailers and restaurants to save 5% on my purchases. And these gift cards also make excellent last-minute gifts for people you’ve forgotten and those who are hard to shop for.
OCTOBER to DECEMBER 2018 (EXPIRED):
Department Stores, Wholesale Clubs and Chase Pay
The Chase Freedom fourth quarter categories are department stores, wholesale clubs, and payments made via Chase Pay. With all of the sales during Black Friday and leading up to the holidays, it will be easy to max out the 5% cash back opportunity. Even if you don’t get caught up in the consumerism of the holidays, Chase Pay is becoming a popular option and is gaining acceptance across many of the merchants that people use every day.
Chase Pay is now accepted at a variety of stores, including restaurants, gas stations, and online. If you haven’t used Chase Pay before, Chase will give you $5 off your first order before September 30, 2018. You can stack the 5% from your Chase Freedom with the in-app offers exclusive to Chase Pay for even greater savings.
If you still are unsure if you spend $1,500 to max out the 5% cash back benefit and earn 7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards, remember that many department stores and wholesale clubs offer gift cards that you can use all year long. My local wholesale club offers discounts up to 20% on gift card packages that we take advantage of on a regular basis.
JULY to SEPTEMBER 2018 (EXPIRED)
Gas Stations, Lyft and Walgreens
The Chase Freedom third quarter categories are gas stations, Lyft, and Walgreens. This is perfect timing ahead of summer road trips where you’ll now be able to earn 5% cash back on gas station purchases. If driving isn’t your thing, Chase Freedom has you covered with 5% cash back when using Lyft to get from point A to point B.
And the next time you need a prescription filled or to do some light grocery shopping, consider stopping by Walgreens to earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points. If you don’t think you’ll spend a combined $1,500 on gas, ridesharing or prescriptions, remember that gas stations and Walgreens usually offer gift cards for some of your favorite stores. Stock up on gift cards to max out the 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points you can earn in the third quarter.
APRIL to JUNE 2018 (EXPIRED):
Grocery Stores, PayPal and Chase Pay
The Chase Freedom calendar was recently unveiled for the second quarter. Between April and June of 2018, you can earn 5% back at grocery stores or by making payments through PayPal and Chase Pay. The inclusion of PayPal makes it easy to earn an impressive bonus for online shopping as most retailers accept the payment method.
JANUARY to MARCH 2018 (EXPIRED):
Gas Stations, Internet, Cable and Phone Services, plus Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
According to the Chase rewards calendar, cardholders can earn 5% back on purchases made at gas stations and on internet, cable and phone services. That also includes payments made with Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
Some stores that do not specialize in selling automotive gasoline may not be included in the gas station category, including truck stops, boat marinas and some heating companies. In the internet, cable and phone services category, purchases of equipment do not qualify for the bonus.
Overall, the Q1 bonus categories should make it easy to rack up a bunch of bonus points because many people need to buy gas, at least on occasion, and there are many stores that allow you to pay with mobile payment systems like Apple Pay.
Up to $1,500 in spending during the quarter in these combined categories is eligible to earn five Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.
After $1,500, you will still earn one point per dollar spent, just like on all other purchases.
Vote for the Next Chase Freedom Rewards Calendar Category
We don’t know for sure what the bonus categories are going to be for Q3 of 2019 just yet, but we want to give you the chance to vote on what you would like to see next. After you make your selection, you’ll be able to see how other readers have voted, too.
How to Activate the 5% Rewards Categories
You have to keep track of the Chase Freedom calendar because you have to activate the bonus rewards categories. Thankfully, it’s easy to do. You need the primary cardholder’s last name, the last four digits of the Freedom card and the billing zip code in order to activate your Freedom 5X categories online.
You can activate your 5% bonus categories as early as two weeks before the next quarter starts. For example, activation for Q2 2019 began on March 15, 2019.
It’s also possible to activate your Chase Freedom bonus categories over the phone, by email, at a Chase ATM or at any Chase location.
Activation is required by the middle of the last month of each quarter in order to be eligible for the bonus points. For example, July through September activation must take place by September 14.
Even if you wait until the last minute to activate, you will still earn bonus points from all of your purchases during the entire quarter, but don’t wait too long to activate. It won’t be possible, and you will not earn any bonus points for that quarter.
You’ll usually see your bonus points on the statement in which the purchase was made, but you may not see it until the next billing statement. Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel or converted to cash back at a rate of one cent per Ultimate Rewards point.
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Tips for Maximizing Your 5% Cash Back
In order to maximize the cash back from the 5% bonus categories with the Chase Freedom, you should spend $1,500 in those categories each quarter. This will net you 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for $75 in cash back.
In Q2 2019, the bonus categories are grocery stores and home-improvement stores, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and others. But be aware that grocery stores do not include Walmart or Target. These categories make the bonus pretty easy to maximize during the second quarter of 2019 because, well, we all have to eat. So, there’s a lot of oopportunities collect the super-charged bones when you go shopping for groceries
Better yet, if you plan your shopping correctly, you can easy max out your bonus since you can buy a lot more than groceries at a grocery store. Many of the household items you might pick up at a pharmacy, a hardware store or elsewhere you can buy at a the supermarket to ensure you collect as much of the bonus cash back as possible.
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Get a Chase Sapphire Card and Get Even More for Your Points
Perhaps the easiest way to maximize your return is by combining the Freedom card with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card. If you do, then you can combine the points you earn and take full advantage of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
With the Sapphire cards, you’ll be able to transfer the points you earn to any of the Ultimate Rewards program’s seven airline partners and get free flights. By doing that, you can get a lot more value out of your points.
How to Get 6.25% Back
Perhaps the best option you’ll have after transferring your Freedom points to your Sapphire card account is redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards online travel portal. Not only can you book flights, hotel stays and more with nearly any travel provider, but you’ll be able to do it at a discount. That’s because you’ll get 1.25 cents per point with the Preferred card and 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Reserve credit card.
Think about it.
If you max out your spending at $1,500 in a quarterly bonus category with your Freedom card, you’ll get 7,500 points. Those points are worth $75 in cash back. But if you transfer the points to your Sapphire Preferred card, you can redeem them for $93.75 in travel through the UR travel portal. That’s a return of 6.25%!
It can get even better, though, if you have the Sapphire Reserve. Those same 7,500 points would be worth $112.50 through the travel portal. That’s a whopping 7.5% return on your initial $1,500 in spending!