- The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back – or 5x points – in different spending categories each quarter of the year.
- You can earn 5% back or 5x on the first $US1,500 you spend in combined purchases in these categories.
- The categories for the final quarter of 2019 were just announced: department stores, PayPal, and Chase Pay.
- You have to activate the bonus categories each quarter, so don’t forget to take this step.
Crazy as it may seem, we’re closing in on the final stretch of 2019. And with a change in seasons comes a change in the rotating quarterly bonus categories on one of our favourite cash-back credit cards, the Chase Freedom.
Q4 Chase Freedom bonus categories
Starting on October 1, the following Q4 bonus categories will take effect:
- Department stores
- Chase Pay
Naturally, you need to make purchases with your Chase Freedom card to qualify for the bonus points. You’ll need to connect your Freedom card to your PayPal and Chase Pay accounts if you want to earn bonus points on purchases made through those two services.
These categories could be convenient if you’re planning on doing any holiday shopping at department stores or at merchants that accept PayPal. The inclusion of Chase Pay is a bit interesting, because Chase will be shutting down the Chase Pay app in 2020 – but this bonus category is only active until the end of 2019 anyway, and even after the app is no longer available, you’ll be able to use Chase Pay while shopping online.
You can activate these Q4 bonus categories via your Chase account starting on September 15.
How Chase Freedom quarterly bonus categories work
Each quarter of the year, the Chase Freedom card earns 5% back (or 5x points) on a different set of bonus categories. The Q3 categories for July to September are select streaming services and gas stations.
While the Chase Freedom is technically a cash-back card, if you also have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can combine rewards between the two cards and transfer them to travel partners. That’s why you can think of the Freedom’s bonus categories as earning you either 5% back or 5x points.
You’ll earn 5% back or 5x points on up to $US1,500 in combined purchases during the final quarter of the year. So if you max this out, you’ll earn $US75 back, or 7,500 Chase points.
Each quarter, you need to activate the quarterly bonus categories in order to be eligible for cash back or bonus Ultimate Rewards points. You’ll receive an email prompting you to activate them through your Chase Freedom account.
The best Chase credit cards
Previous Chase Freedom 2019 bonus categories
Here are the previous quarterly bonus categories on the Chase Freedom from earlier this year:
- Q1: Gas stations, tolls, drugstores
- Q2: Grocery stores and home improvement stores
- Q3: Select streaming services and gas stations
Chase Freedom card details
In addition to earning 5%/5x on quarterly bonus categories, the Chase Freedom earns 1% cash back/1 point per dollar on all other spending.
It’s a no-annual-fee card, but it does charge a foreign transaction fee, so you won’t want to use it abroad.
The Chase Freedom is currently offering a sign-up bonus of $US150 when you spend $US500 in the first three months. If you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, that $US150 bonus can be equivalent to 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points – and you can transfer those points to travel partners like British Airways, Hyatt, and Singapore Airlines.
Chase Freedom credit card review
Other credit card options
If you want to explore other options before committing to the Chase Freedom, there’s one very similar card to check out, as well as other cash-back credit cards with different bonus category structures.
Also with quarterly bonus categories: Discover it® Cash Back
This card doesn’t offer the ability to convert cash back into points for travel if you have another card like the Freedom does, but it does offer different 5% bonus categories each quarter of the year.
The Discover it Cash Back earns 5% cash back on up to $US1,500 in purchases each quarter when you activate the bonus categories, just like the Freedom, so you max out at $US75 back each quarter, or up to $US300 back each year.
The card has no annual fee, and earns 1% back on all other purchases. New cardholders will get all their cash back matched at the end of their first year, so if you earned $US500 back total, Discover would match that for a total of $US1,000 back.
Unlike Chase, which announces quarterly cash-back categories every three months, Discover reveals its calendar for the year at once.
Here’s the 2019 5% cash-back calendar for the Discover it Cash Back:
- Q1: Grocery stores
- Q2: Gas stations, Uber, and Lyft
- Q3: Restaurants and PayPal
- Q4: Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com
A strong alternative: Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you don’t want to keep track of quarterly bonus categories, you may want to consider Chase’s other cash-back Freedom card instead.
The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% back on all purchases with no limit, but if you’re a new cardholder you can currently earn 3% back on the first $US20,000 you spend in the first year. The trick of turning cash back into Ultimate Rewards points when you have another eligible Chase card works with the Freedom Unlimited too, so you could be earning 3x points on purchases in your first year – a very solid return on spending.