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Activate Chase cash back categories for Q4 2020 now

Cardholders will be able to earn 5% cash back on Walmart and PayPal purchases

Summary

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 announced the launch of fourth quarter 5% cash back categories on the Chase Freedom Flex and the retiring Freedom card.

From Oct. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on Walmart and PayPal purchases (up to $1,500 in combined purchases) after activation.

Besides that, the new Flex card offers 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases and 1% on everything else.

See related: Chase to launch new Freedom Flex card, add new categories to Freedom Unlimited

For current cardholders, third-quarter bonus categories on the retiring Chase Freedom®* are still active as well. Through Sep. 30, 2020, cardholders who activated by the Sept. 14 deadline can earn 5% cash back on purchases at Whole Foods Market and on Amazon.com purchases (up to $1,500 in combined purchases). All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

See related: Which is the best card to use on Amazon.com purchases? 

Activation for fourth-quarter categories on both the Freedom and Freedom Flex launched on Sept. 15, 2020 and will be open until Dec. 14, 2020.

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

  • You must have activated third-quarter bonus categories by Sept. 14 on your Chase Freedom card to earn 5% cash back.
  • From July 1 to Sep. 30, Freedom cardholders can earn 5% cash back on eligible Amazon and Whole Foods Market purchases.
  • You can begin activating fourth-quarter bonus categories on Sept. 15, 2020, for both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex.
  • From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on eligible Walmart and PayPal purchases.
  • The 5% cash back bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter.
  • As of Jan. 12, 2020, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2020

WinterSpringSummerHoliday
January – March

(Activation closed)

April – June

(Activation closed)

July – September

(Activation closed)

October – December

(Activate starting Sept. 15, 2020)

  • Select streaming services
  • Gas stations
  • Phone, cable and internet services
  • Gym memberships
  • Fitness clubs
  • Grocery stores
  • Select streaming services
  • Amazon
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Walmart
  • PayPal

Chase only releases its quarterly bonus categories one quarter at a time, so we can’t yet predict what will be offered in 2021. Here’s a quick look at some of the categories Chase has offered in the last year.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2019

WinterSpringSummerHoliday
January – MarchApril – JuneJuly – SeptemberOctober – December
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores
  • Tolls
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Department stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay

What is included/excluded in the ‘Amazon’ category?

With so many consumers currently relying on Amazon for all types of purchases – from everyday necessities to new furniture – this category is certainly an exciting addition. According to Chase, Chase Freedom cardmembers can earn cash back on all of their online Amazon.com purchases this quarter. This includes the purchase of Amazon gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders and the cost of your annual Prime membership.

What is included/excluded in the ‘Whole Foods Market’ category?

Since Whole Foods has been acquired by Amazon, the addition of this category isn’t surprising. All Whole Foods Market purchases will qualify for 5% cash back this quarter. Note that you will not earn the bonus if you order groceries through a third-party delivery service like Instacart or Shipt.

What is included/excluded in the ‘Walmart’ category?

In this category, you can earn 5% cash back at Walmart Discount Stores, Walmart SuperCenters and Walmart Neighborhood Markets, as well as Walmart-branded gas stations operated by Walmart. Purchases made on Walmart.com or using Walmart Pay will qualify as well. Non-Walmart merchants operating within or on Walmart premises, such as sell fast food restaurants and beauty services, are not included.

What is included/excluded in the ‘PayPal’ category?

Transactions made using your Chase Freedom or Freedom Flex card with PayPal for purchases will be eligible for 5% cash back. Xoom transfer payments are not included, and you may not be able to use your card for Friends and Family or Person-to-Person (P2P) transactions.

Tips for maximizing your 5% cash back

  • Make your Chase Freedom your primary method of payment on Amazon.com.
  • Pay off the rest of your Amazon Prime membership fee with your Freedom card.
  • If you’re planning any big purchases for the holidays, see if you can make those at Walmart with your Freedom or Freedom Flex.
  • Stock up on Walmart gift cards for purchases throughout the year, to help meet the spend cap.
  • Stock up on items from Walmart that you can use throughout the year, such as cleaning supplies or canned goods.
  • Whenever you’re shopping online, if there’s an option to check out through PayPal, use it and pay with your Freedom or Freedom Flex card.
  • Check if you’re eligible for PayPal Key to be able to shop through PayPal anywhere Mastercard is accepted and maximize your rewards.

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

Chase Freedom® (including Chase Freedom Flex in Q4)Discover it® Cash Back
January – MarchGas stations, select streaming services and phone, cable and internet servicesGrocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April – JuneGrocery stores, select streaming services and gym memberships and fitness club purchasesGas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs
July – SeptemberAmazon and Whole Foods MarketRestaurants and PayPal
October – DecemberWalmart and PayPalAmazon.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 fourth quarter of 2020.

Discover it Cash Back offers a lot of flexibility with its categories since almost anything can be purchased on Amazon. Target.com and Walmart.com are also great options for online shopping. If you prefer to shop online, which many people do during the pandemic, the Discover it Cash Back has a great earning potential for you in the fourth quarter.

At the same time, many online stores offer checkout through PayPal. Plus, if you’re eligible, you can use PayPal to shop at any online retailer that accepts Mastercard with PayPal Key and earn rewards on your Chase Freedom or Freedom Flex. On top of that, you can also get 5% back at Walmart when using the card in-store – rather than only on the website.

For the next year, we can’t predict which card will be best for you, as Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time and Discover has yet to announce its 2021 calendar.

*The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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