Chase Freedom categories 2017

Earn 5 percent back at Walmart in Q4

Chase Freedom cash back categories

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Chase has announced the 5 percent cash back category for the fourth quarter of 2017. From October through December 2017, Chase cardholders can earn 5 percent back at Walmart and department stores.

Cardholders hoping for a bonus on Amazon purchases or on wholesale club purchases – the fourth quarter bonus categories in the two previous years – may be disappointed by the news. However, we see a lot of potential value in the bonus for customers embarking on a season of holiday purchases, due to Walmart’s free shipping benefits, as well as the discount retailer’s already low prices.

To activate the fourth quarter bonus category, click here.

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

  • The Chase bonus category for the fourth quarter can be activated as of Sept. 15, 2017.
  • You must activate the bonus category each quarter prior to the Dec. 14, 2017 in order to receive 5 percent back.
  • From Oct. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2017, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5 percent cash back at Walmart and department stores, including JCPenney, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Bloomingdale’s.
  • The 5 percent cash back bonus is capped at $1,500 per quarter.
  • All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.
CHASE 5 PERCENT CASH BACK CALENDAR 2017
January - March
Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls and Amtrak purchases)
April - June
Grocery stores and drug stores (not including Walmart and Target purchases)
July - September
Restaurants and movie theaters
October - December
Walmart and department stores (activate as of Sept. 15, 2017)

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

According to Chase’s website, the category covers purchases at Walmart Discount Stores, Walmart SuperCenters, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, www.walmart.com, Walmart branded gas stations operated by Walmart and any other Walmart branded retail stores operated by Walmart.

Note that your lunch stop at the McDonalds inside your local Walmart won’t score you any bonus points. The bonus excludes merchants operating within or on Walmart premises such as merchants that sell fast food, beauty services, and gas stations that are not Walmart branded. Walmart affiliate businesses such as Sam’s Club are also not included.

What is included/excluded in the “department stores” category?

Purchases made in-store and on a qualified merchant’s website are included. The category does not include supercenters, discount stores, or specialty stores (i.e., stores that sell primarily one line of products such as shoe stores, pet stores, electronics stores and clothing stores). If a merchant is not on the list, you will not earn bonus rewards.

Rewards maximizers hoping to earn bonus points buying vendor gift cards should note that this tactic won’t work with the department store category. Gift card purchases outside of cards for the specific department store will not earn bonus rewards.

The list of qualified department stores covers many major retailers, including:

  • JCPenney
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack

Tips for maximizing your 5 percent cash back

  • Do your grocery shopping at Walmart and get the benefit of low prices on grocery items.
  • Buy your gas from Walmart for a 5 percent bonus, which beats the rate on most gas cards, including the Costco card.
  • Do your holiday shopping at Walmart and get free shipping on orders greater than $35, including free two-day shipping. (Note that Amazon.com charges for two-day shipping for anyone who isn’t a Prime member.)
  • Buy Walmart gift cards and use them at Sam’s Club to get a 5 percent discount on your shopping there.
  • If Walmart merchandise doesn’t appeal to you, you may be able to buy vendor gift cards from Walmart, including Walmart online. Walmart carries a large array of gift cards, including for Southwest and Uber.
  • Earn up to 11 percent cash back when you stack your 5 percent bonus with bonus cash back for the following retailers through Chase’s shopping portal:
    • 6 percent extra cash back at Macys.com
    • 5 percent extra cash back at Saks.com
    • 5 percent extra cash back at Lord & Taylor
    • 4 percent extra cash back at Kohl’s
    • 4 percent extra cash back at JCPenney
    • 4 percent extra cash back at Bloomingdale’s
    • 3 percent extra cash back at Neiman Marcus
    • 2 percent extra cash back at Sears
    • 2 percent extra cash back at Barneys New York

Comparing Chase and Discover bonus categories

Chase isn’t the only card issuer that offers a 5 percent cash back bonus. Discover also allows cardholders to earn 5 percent cash back in categories that rotate quarterly. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017, Discover it and Discover More cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 at Amazon and Target. 

CHASE VERSUS DISCOVER CASH BACK CATEGORIES 2017
  Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom
Discover it
Discover it
January – March Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls and Amtrak purchases) Gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs
April – June Grocery stores and drugstores (including Walmart and Target purchases) Home improvement stores and wholesale clubs
July – September Restaurants and movie theaters Restaurants
October – December Walmart and department stores Amazon.com and Target

So which card offers the best deal? Ultimately, we believe it boils down to your shopping preferences.

If you prefer shopping Walmart or department stores, Chase offers the better deal. Many people who shop at Walmart do so because of the prices and convenience. In addition to providing a wide range of low-priced items all in one place, Walmart offers free two-day shipping on purchases of $35 or more as well as free instore pickup on select items. Customers can also order groceries online, and get free, same-day pickup.

Freedom cardholders can also earn the 5 percent bonus at a variety of department stores, giving them the opportunity to earn the higher cash back rate on big ticket items, such as kitchen appliances from Sears or designer clothes from Neiman Marcus. Additionally, cardholders can earn more back at eligible department stores with Shop through Chase.

If you prefer Target or Amazon over Walmart, then Discover offers the better deal. Along with the 5-percent cash back bonus for Discover it and More cardholders, Target shoppers enjoy free shipping on orders of $35 or more, plus free returns. Amazon shoppers also receive 5 percent back on Amazon.com purchases, including digital downloads, Amazon.com gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Local Deals and Prime memberships.

Other options for 5 percent cash back at Target and Amazon

If you’re interested in getting 5 percent back year-round – and aren’t concerned about missing out on the other perks offered by Discover – the Target REDcard offers 5 percent back on all Target purchases, along with free shipping and a 10-percent off coupon each year on your REDcard anniversary.

Amazon also offers the opportunity to earn 5 percent cash back at Amazon.com year-round with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa, which gives new card members a $70 Amazon.com gift card with sign up, and the Amazon.com Store card, which offers a $20 Amazon.com gift card. But keep in mind that you must be an Amazon Prime member to apply for either of these cards. 

Whichever card you choose, the ability to earn 5 percent back during the holiday shopping season – whether at Walmart and department stores or Target and Amazon – is a great opportunity. 

See related: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which is best for you?, Which is the best card to use on Amazon.com purchases?

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


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Updated: 11-23-2017