Chase Freedom® cashback rewards calendar 2020

Discover 5% cashback categories and updates you'll want to know.

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Chase Freedom® is a strong credit card for earning accelerated rewards with your purchases. You can earn cash or points to use on Amazon or for travel in rotating categories. The catch: You must activate the 5% cashback categories every three months, and you’re capped at $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter. For all other purchases, you earn unlimited 1% cash back.

QuartersJanuary–March 2020April–June 2019July–September 2019October–December 2019
Primary 5% categoryGas stationsGrocery stores — excludes Walmart and TargetGas stationsDepartment stores
5% sub categorySelect streaming services, Internet, cable and phone servicesHome improvement storesSelect streaming servicesPayPal and Chase Pay

What’s new

Grocery stores remain unchanged as a 5% cashback category in the April to June 2019 quarter, gas stations remain unchanged in July to September and Department stores and Chase Pay remain unchanged in October to December. In the first quarter of 2020, gas station also remains a primary category.

The main difference lies with subcategories. In 2019, you could earn 5% cash back on tolls and drugstores in the first quarter, while in 2020 you get select streaming services, Internet, cable and phone services.

Select streaming services include Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify.

Steps to activate your Chase Freedom® cashback categories

Getting 5% cash back on your purchases is a solid deal. But you must activate each category to get your rewards.

When to activate

You can activate your Chase Freedom® cashback categories two weeks before the quarter starts until the 14th day of the final month of the quarter.
This means for the January through March quarter, you can activate the 5% category by Saturday, March 14, and get cash back retroactively on all qualifying purchases.

How to activate

Choose among four ways to activate your categories:

  • Visit the Chase Freedom® or Chase Ultimate Rewards website. Provide your email and get notifications when it’s time to activate
  • Call the number on the back of your card
  • Visit a Chase bank branch
  • Use an ATM while making a cash withdrawal if you’re a Chase checking customer

What counts as a 5% cashback category purchase?

Up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in the accelerated categories earn 5% cash back. After that, and for everything else you buy, you earn 1% cash back. If you maximize your categories, you can earn $300 annually on these categories alone.

With the Chase Freedom®, you actually earn points

Unlike other cashback credit cards that earn you cash as a statement credit or a deposit, you earn points with the Chase Freedom®. This gives you redemption flexibility to get cash or gift cards, book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program or pay for your Amazon purchases.

Compare cashback credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.49% to 25.49% variable)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.49%, 21.49% or 25.49% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
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Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.49% to 25.49% variable)
6% cash back at US supermarkets. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 16.49% to 25.24% variable)
Earn a $150 signup bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

Tips to maximize your Chase rewards

  • Clear the signup bonus.
    Spend $500 on purchases within your first 3 months of card membership to earn bonus cash back.
  • Add an authorized user.
    Another cardmember on your account can help you quickly clear the signup bonus and reach the 5% cap on quarterly categories.
  • Pair your card.
    The Chase Freedom® is an excellent credit card by itself. But pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for a solid points-earning combo.
  • Transfer your points.
    If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, transfer your points to that card for redemption through Chase Ultimate Rewards at 25% higher value. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® let you transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio with Chase hotel and airline partners.
  • Link your card to PayPal.
    Quickly reach the cap when PayPal is listed in the 5% categories.
  • Use a digital wallet.
    When Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or a similar service is listed in the quarterly categories, use them to pay for purchases that otherwise don’t fall into the category for 5% back, instead of the base 1%.

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom® can be a solid choice if you’re looking to get the highest cash back on multiple categories that rotate throughout the year. It can be an even better choice if you pair it with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to maximize your rewards.

If you use a digital wallet — especially Chase Pay — you can earn 5% cash back on categories that aren’t listed in the quarters. Similar cashback cards don’t have this option.

Not sure if this card is right for you? Consider other cashback credit cards to find the strongest you’re eligible for.
The 3 types of cashback credit cards explained

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