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Chase has launched cash back categories for Q4 2019

Earn 5 percent back at department stores and on PayPal and Chase Pay purchases


See the latest bonus categories from the Chase Freedom card and get tips on how to maximize your cash back.

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Chase has launched its 5 percent cash back category for the fourth quarter of 2019. From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019, Chase Freedom® cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on department store, PayPal and Chase Pay purchases (up to $1,500 in combined purchases) after activation. Other purchases will earn 1 percent cash back.

With holiday shopping looming, the department store category is sure to be a lucrative option for Freedom cardholders. Plus, PayPal and Chase Pay are both very flexible, allowing users to rack up cash back anywhere they can use the payment solutions.

See related: Chase Pay closing stand-alone app in 2020, expanding into merchant sites

Eligible cardholders can activate fourth quarter categories as of Sept. 15, 2019, here.

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

  • You can begin activating the fourth quarter bonus categories on Sept. 15, 2019 to earn 5 percent cash back.
  • From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2019, cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back at department stores, and on PayPal and Chase Pay purchases.
  • 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


January – March

April – JuneJuly – September
(Activation closed)
October – December
(Activate starting Sept. 15, 2019)
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores
  • Tolls
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Department stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay

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 “department stores” category?

The “department stores” category is limited to select merchants, but luckily, most big name stores make the list. Purchases made at retailers including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s will qualify for the bonus. You can view a full list of participating merchants on the Chase website.

What is included/excluded in the “PayPal” and “Chase Pay” category?

To qualify for the PayPal bonus, cardholders can use their Chase Freedom connected to their PayPal account. Payments made online, in the PayPal app or on third-party sites all qualify for the rate.

Similarly, Chase Freedom cardholders who pay using the Chase Pay app or any third-party retailers that offer the solution can earn the bonus. Chase recently announced a renewed focus in integrating Chase Pay across thousands of retail websites, so check your favorite merchant’s checkout platform next time you shop.

Tips for maximizing your 5 percent cash back

Through October 1:

  • Update your payment account on all eligible streaming services to your Chase Freedom card for the third quarter.
  • Use the Freedom card for all your gas purchases.
  • Purchase gift cards for restaurants, retailers and more at gas stations to meet the spend cap.
  • Stock up on items from gas stations that you can use throughout the year, such as cleaning supplies or snacks.
  • 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.

Beginning October 1:

  • Use your Freedom card for all department store purchases.
  • Make Chase Pay your primary payment method at merchants who accept the mobile wallet.
  • Link your Freedom card to your PayPal account, and pay through the service whenever possible.
  • Consider buying holiday gifts at merchants who accept Chase Pay or PayPal.

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 it® Cash Back
January – MarchGas stations, drugstores and tollsGrocery stores
April – JuneGrocery stores and home improvement storesGas stations, Uber and Lyft
July – SeptemberGas stations and select streaming servicesRestaurants and PayPal
October – DecemberDepartment stores, PayPal and Chase, Target and

Which card offers the best deal?

That depends on how you plan to spend your money during the fourth quarter of 2019. If you like to do your holiday shopping on Amazon, the Discover it Cash Back card’s categories can help you earn rewards on gifts. Additionally, the bonus categories at Target and provide a great opportunity to stock up on holiday decorations and earn cash back along the way.

However, if you are planning a trip to department stores this Black Friday, the Chase categories might better suit your needs. Plus, since PayPal can be used to pay for thousands of online purchases, the Chase Freedom’s categories can add flexibility to your online shopping.

Going into 2020, though, we can’t tell you which card offers the better deal. Based on the past year, we can speculate that Chase may offer the bonus rate on gas stations, drugstores and tolls at the beginning of the new year. Similarly, we can guess Discover will offer a bonus rate on grocery store purchases. But since Discover hasn’t released its next year of bonus categories yet – and Chase only releases one quarter at a time – it is impossible to predict which will be best for you.

See related: Activate Discover’s 2019 Q4 bonus category nowChase Pay: How to use it and rack up cash back rewards,

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