Chase launches its cash back category for Q1 2019

Earn 5 percent back at gas stations, drugstores and tolls

Chase Freedom cash back categories

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Chase has launched its 5 percent cash back category for the first quarter of 2019. From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2019, Chase Freedom® cardholders can earn 5 percent back at gas stations, drugstores and tolls on up to $1,500 in combined purchases. BJ Mahoney, general manager of Chase Freedom, explains, “Whether for the daily commute or a weekend getaway, Chase Freedom is helping card members earn more cash back as they travel during the quarter.”

To activate the first quarter bonus, click here.

Here’s what you need to know at a glance:

  • The Chase bonus category for the first quarter can be activated as of Dec. 15, 2018.
  • You must activate the bonus category prior to March 14, 2019, to receive 5 percent back.
  • From Jan. 1 through March 31, 2019, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5 percent cash back at gas stations, drugstores and tolls.
  • The 5 percent cash back bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter.
  • All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.

Chase 5 percent cash back calendar 2019

Winter Spring Summer Holiday

January – March
(Activate by March 14, 2019)

April – June
July – September
October – December
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores
  • Tolls
Coming soon
Coming soon
Coming soon

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

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 “drugstores” category?

The “drugstores” category includes merchants that specialize in selling prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, supplements and other health-related items. The merchants may also sell cosmetics, toiletries, greeting cards and household items, including cleaning supplies and packaged food and drinks.

Merchants that sell a wide variety of goods and contain an onsite pharmacy, such as warehouse clubs, discount stores and grocery stores, are not included in this category.

What is included/excluded in the “tolls” category?

The “tolls” category includes merchants that collect fees related to toll roads, highways and bridges. Purchases made to replenish your electronic toll collection account during the first quarter of 2019 will also qualify for the bonus.

Tips for maximizing your 5 percent cash back

  • Use your Chase Freedom card to purchase gas for each car in your household.
  • Purchase medication, toiletries, cleaning supplies and other household items from drugstores – such as Duane Reade, Walgreens and CVS – instead of grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
  • Use your Freedom card to purchase gift cards for restaurants, department stores and more from drugstores.
  • If you use tolls, replenish your electronic collection account during the first quarter of 2019.
  • Earn up to 7 percent cash back when you stack your bonus with cash back from a variety of retailers through Chase’s shopping portal, including:

Comparing Chase and Discover bonus categories

Chase isn’t the only card issuer that offers a 5 percent cash back bonus. Upon enrollment, Discover also allows cardholders to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending in categories that rotate quarterly. 

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2019

  Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom®
Discover
Discover it® Cash Back
January – March Gas stations, drugstores and tolls Grocery stores
April – June Coming soon Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
July – September Coming soon Restaurants
October – December Coming soon Amazon.com

Which card offers the best deal?

That depends on how you plan to spend your money during the first quarter of 2019. For example, if you have a long commute to work each day, or if there’s a road trip in your near future, the Chase Freedom card offers the better deal. But if you spend a large amount on food each month, you could benefit more from Discover’s grocery stores category.

Beyond the first quarter, though, we can’t tell you which card offers the better deal. Based on past years, we can guess that Chase may offer the bonus rate on wholesale club, department store, ride-sharing and Chase Pay purchases sometime during 2019. However, because they don’t release their full calendar in advance – like Discover does – it’s impossible to know which card will best suit your spending habits throughout the remainder of the year.

See related: Discover unveils entire 2019 cash back calendar, Chase Pay: How to use it and rack up cash back rewardsChase Ultimate Rewards guide: The best ways to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points

Tip

Tip: Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited cardholders can save more at Shell
Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cardholders can save at least 5 cents a gallon through all of 2018 by enrolling in Shell's Fuel Rewards program. Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cardholders automatically get gold status in Fuel Rewards.


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Updated: 01-23-2019