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Activate Chase cash back categories for Q4 2020 now

Cardholders can 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 launched the fourth-quarter 5% cash back categories on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the retired Freedom card.

From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 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. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

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

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

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

  • Activation of fourth-quarter bonus categories began on Sept. 15 for both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex.
  • Cardholders must activate by Dec. 14 to earn the bonus rate.
  • 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 and 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 and 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 transactions.

Tips for maximizing your 5% cash back

  • 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, then 1%.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2020

Chase Freedom Flex℠

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 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, and with the holiday season and sales events approaching, it can be easy to meet the spending cap. Plus, if you prefer to shop online, which many people do during the pandemic, the Discover it Cash Back has great earning potential for you in the fourth quarter.

At the same time, many online stores offer checkout through PayPal. Additionally, if you’re eligible, you can use PayPal to shop at any online retailer that accepts Mastercard with PayPal Key and earn extra rewards on your Chase Freedom or Freedom Flex. Chase also allows you to 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 while Discover has announced its 2021 categories, Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time.

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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