New Chase Freedom bonus categories: Back in the game

I’m pumped about extra cash back on grocery and home improvement store spending this spring


The Chase Freedom card’s bonus categories for Q2 2019 are grocery and home improvement stores. I’m excited because spring is when I do most of my shopping at stores like Home Depot. Here are some other ways you can maximize your Chase Freedom earnings.

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The second-quarter Chase Freedom bonus categories have been announced, and I’m pumped.

Earning 5 percent back with my Chase Freedom card at grocery and home improvement stores in April, May and June is music to my ears. This will certainly get me out of the rut I’ve been in with this card.

My only complaint? The 5 percent cash back rate applies to $1,500 in purchases ($75 in rewards), after you activate the bonus categories. I spend about $2,400 a quarter on groceries alone.

And the spring is my favorite time to visit Home Depot for flowers, grass seed and fertilizer. I usually do this in the first nice weekend in May, and it’s something I look forward to all winter.

See also:  Credit card rewards can help you sell your home this spring

How to get the most out of the Q2 Chase Freedom categories

Most of you should have no trouble maximizing the Q2 Chase Freedom categories. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average American household buys about $1,100 worth of groceries in a typical three-month span. If you won’t hit a combined $1,500 at grocery and home improvement stores, you can supplement your regular spending in several ways. For example:

  • Buy gift cards at the grocery store. This will effectively nab you a 5 percent discount wherever you end up using the gift card, such as a gas station, restaurant or online retailer. Or, you could buy grocery gift cards for later in the year. Whatever floats your boat!
  • Stock up on supplies. Buy stuff that won’t go bad anytime soon (canned goods, toilet paper, laundry detergent, toothpaste and so on). Also, keep in mind that home improvement stores have something for everyone (moving boxes, home organizers, lamps, furniture, etc.). You don’t have to be a suburban weekend warrior with a riding mower to earn 5 percent at a store like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

The best way for me to maximize my Chase Freedom card in Q2 will be to spend at home improvement stores first. That’s because my Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express gives me 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in spending per year, then it’s 1 percent).

See related:  The best flat-rate cash back credit cards

Other cards that reward home improvement spending

My next-best option at home improvement stores is my Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which gives me 1.5 percent cash back on everything.

My spring yard supplies would normally cost about $200, but I think I’ll take advantage of this promotion to prepare for summer and even fall. That means extra fertilizer, yard waste bags and whatever else catches my eye at Home Depot. I’ll hit the rest of the $1,500 quarterly limit at the grocery store.

A bonus on home improvement spending is pretty unique. You can get 3 percent cash back at home improvement stores with the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card if you choose that category over travel, dining, online shopping, gas and drugstores.

That becomes 3.75 percent if you keep at least $20,000 with the bank, 4.5 percent if you maintain a balance of at least $50,000 and 5.25 percent if you hit the $100,000 threshold.

I love that Preferred Rewards structure, and it’s also great that you can change the top-earning category every month if you so desire.

See related:  Easy ways to boost cash back savings with your credit cards

Home store cards offer discounts, but beware of deferred interest

You could also opt for a store card such as the Lowe’s Consumer credit card (5 percent off eligible purchases or six months’ special financing on purchases of $299 or more). Home Depot has its own credit card as well – it offers a longer special financing period (up to 24 months) but no rewards.

You should know that this “special financing” is deferred interest, meaning that if you don’t pay the full amount within the allotted time, they’ll charge you retroactive interest on the average daily balance. And interest rates on these and other store cards are typically much higher than you’ll pay on general-purpose credit cards.

I’d stay away unless you select the 5 percent discount at Lowe’s and make a sizable purchase that you can pay in full before accruing any interest.

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