See the latest bonus categories from the Chase Freedom card and get tips on how to maximize your cash back.
As we move into the new year, and many cardholders start to revamp their rewards card strategies, the new categories on the Chase Freedom card provide some great opportunities. Beyond earning on your monthly phone, cable and internet bills, the gas station category in particular can be very lucrative. For busy families and road trippers, gas can make up a significant portion of your budget – meaning more potential for cash back rewards.
Eligible cardholders can activate first quarter categories through Mar. 14, 2020, here.
Here’s what you need to know at a glance:
- You must activate first quarter bonus categories by Mar. 14, 2020 to start earning 5% cash back.
- From Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2020, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on select streaming services, at gas stations and on phone, cable and internet service purchases.
- The 5% cash back bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter.
- Beginning Jan. 12, 2020, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.
- All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
Chase 5% cash back calendar 2020
January – March
(Activate by Mar. 14, 2020)
April – June
(Activate starting Mar. 15, 2020)
July – September
(Activate starting June 15, 2020)
October – December
(Activate starting Sept. 15, 2020)
Chase only releases its quarterly bonus categories one quarter at a time, so we can’t yet predict what will be offered through the rest of 2020. Here’s a quick look at some of the categories Chase has offered in the last year.
Chase 5% cash back calendar 2019
January – March
|April – June||July – September||October – December|
(Activate by Dec.14, 2019)
What is included/excluded in the “select streaming services” category?
Unfortunately, not every popular streaming service will qualify for the bonus cash back. Currently, the list of qualifying merchants is limited to Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube.
See related: Best credit cards for streaming services
What is included/excluded in the “gas stations” category?
According to Chase’s website, the “gas stations” category includes merchants who sell automotive gasoline that can either be paid for at the pump or inside of a gas station. Merchants that do not specialize in selling automotive gasoline, such as truck stops, boat marinas, oil and propane distributors and home heating companies, are not included in this category.
What is included/excluded in the “phone, cable and internet services” category?
According to the Chase website, phone, cable and internet services encompass all related bills, including your mobile phone payments, sattelite television and radio and wireless data. Equipment purchases, however, will not qualify. Note that if you pay your phone, cable or internet bill in a merchant’s physical location, it might be classified as equipment rather than a service charge – meaning you won’t earn the bonus rate.
Tips for maximizing your 5% cash back
- Use your Chase Freedom card for all gas station purchases.
- Make your Freedom card your primary payment method for all qualifying streaming services.
- Pay your phone, cable and internet bills with your Freedom card.
- Purchase gift cards for restaurants, retailers and more at gas stations to meet the spend cap (ask about restrictions on these purchases).
- Stock up on items from gas stations you can use throughout the year, such as cleaning supplies or snacks.
Comparing Chase and Discover bonus categories
Chase isn’t the only card issuer that offers a 5% cash back bonus. Discover also allows cardholders to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending in rotating categories each quarter, upon enrollment.
Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2020
Discover it® Cash Back
|January – March||Gas stations, select streaming services and phone, cable and internet services||Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS|
|April – June||TBA||Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs|
|July – September||TBA||Restaurants and PayPal|
|October – December||TBA||Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com|
Which card offers the best deal?
The best card for you depends widely on how you plan to spend your money in the first few months of 2020. For cardholders who spend a significant amount on gas and their cable and internet bills, the Chase Freedom might offer the better deal.
But cardholders who spend more on groceries and pharmacy purchases might benefit more from Discover’s categories. Plus, grocery stores are a great place to bulk buy items for the year to help meet the full spend cap – maximizing cash back potential.
For the rest of the year, however, we can’t predict which card will offer the better deal. Since Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time, it is impossible to know how your rewards potential will shift quarter to quarter.
Based on 2019, we can speculate that Chase might offer bonus cash back at grocery stores, department stores or on mobile wallet purchases later in 2020. With Discover, we know for sure the issuer will feature lucrative categories including wholesale clubs, restaurants and PayPal. Take a look at the coming opportunities to decide if the card makes sense for you.
See related: Discover announces full cash back calendar for 2020