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Chase Freedom® cashback rewards calendar 2019

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Find out the 5% Chase Freedom® cashback categories.

Chase Freedom® is a great credit card for earning accelerated rewards with your purchases. With quarterly rotating categories, you can earn cash or points to use for Amazon.com or travel. But the catch is you need to 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’ll still earn unlimited 1% cash back, though.

Here’s a layout of what you can expect:

QuartersJanuary–March 2019April–June 2019July–September 2019October–December 2018
Primary 5% categoryGas stationsGrocery stores — Walmart and Target not includedGas stationsDepartment stores
5% sub categoryTolls and drugstoresHome improvement storesSelect streaming servicesWholesale clubs and Chase Pay

What’s new

Grocery stores remain unchanged as a 5% cashback category in the April to June 2019 quarter, and gas stations remain unchanged in July to September. The main difference between these quarters in 2019 and 2018 is the subcategory.

Last year, you could earn 5% cash back on PayPal and Chase Pay purchases in the second quarter and Lyft and Walgreens in the third. In 2019, Chase removed these subcategories and added home improvement stores and select streaming services instead.

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 great deal. But you have to 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 that for the July through September quarter you can activate the 5% category by September 14 and still get the cash back retroactively on all qualifying purchases.

How to activate?

There are a few 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 per quarter purchased in the accelerated categories earn 5% cash back. After that, and for everything else you buy, you’ll 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 where you earn cash as a statement credit or a deposit, with the Chase Freedom® you earn points. This gives you redemption flexibility to get cash, gift cards, to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program or to pay for your Amazon.com purchases.

Another card with rotating categories

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

  • New cardmember bonus: $150 after you spend $500 in eligible net purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in eligible net purchases each quarter on the combined two categories you choose.
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 16.24% - 25.74%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great offer from U.S. Bank, a 2019 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2019
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Compare cashback credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
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 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
20.24% to 26.24% variable
$0 to $99
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
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 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$95
Earn $250 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees

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 and earn $150 bonus cash back.
  • Add an authorized user.
    This way you can quickly clear the signup bonus and reach the 5% cap on the 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® and you can get a solid, points-earning combo.
  • Transfer your points.
    If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, transfer your points to that card and redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for 25% higher value. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® also let you transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio with Chase hotel and airline partners.
  • Link your card to PayPal.
    This can help you 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 and get 5% back instead of the base 1%.

Compare Chase Freedom® vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Compare bonus rewards categories

The Discover it® Cash Back has the following 5% cashback categories in 2019:

  • January to March
    Grocery Stores
  • April to June
    Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
  • July to September
    Restaurants
  • October to December
    Amazon.com

Both the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cash Back cards have offered gas stations, grocery stores and wholesale clubs in the previous quarters. The two categories lacking in the Chase card were restaurants and Amazon.com purchases.

However, when Chase Pay is listed in the 5% categories, use it on categories that aren’t listed, including restaurants that accept this payment method.

Which card is better?

It’s hard to give a universal answer since everyone’s spending needs are unique to their lifestyle. But if you’re looking to maximize your cash back, using both cards for the 5% cashback categories could prove worthwhile.

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.

But if you’re not sure whether this card is right for you, consider other cashback credit cards and compare your options.
The 3 types of cashback credit cards, explained

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