Chase Freedom® 5% cash back bonus categories: 2021 calendar

mobile wallet purchaseImage: mobile wallet purchase
Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

These offers are no longer available on our site: Chase Freedom Flex℠, Chase Sapphire Reserve®

For the second quarter of 2021, the Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ cards offer 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in the following bonus categories:

  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores

After you hit the $1,500 cap, you’ll earn 1% back on purchases in these same categories.

If you’ve got a Chase Freedom® card (which is no longer available to new applicants), you’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases — but if you get the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card, there are more opportunities to boost your cash back.

Either way, you’ll need to activate these bonus categories by June 14, 2021, to qualify for the 5% cash back and earn up to $75 in bonus cash back rewards.

The categories for the third quarter of 2021 have not yet been announced, but they should be available for activation before the beginning of the quarter.

From our partner

Chase Freedom Flex℠

From cardholders in the last year



2021 Chase Freedom® cash back calendar

  Q1: Jan.– March Q2: April–June Q3: July–Sept. Q4: Oct.–Dec.

2021

  • Wholesale clubs
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Select streaming services
  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores

TBA

TBA

2018, 2019 and 2020 Chase Freedom® cash back calendars

Here’s a look at bonus categories from 2018, 2019 and 2020.

  Q1: Jan.–March Q2: April–June Q3: July–Sept. Q4: Oct.–Dec.

2020

  • Gas stations
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Select streaming services
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness club and gym memberships
  • Select streaming services
  • Amazon.com
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Walmart
  • Paypal

2019

  • Gas stations
  • Tolls
  • Drugstores
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Department stores
  • Purchases made using PayPal
  • Purchases made using Chase Pay

2018

  • Gas stations
  • Internet, cable and phone service providers
  • Mobile wallets, including Chase Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay
  • Grocery stores
  • Gas stations
  • Walgreens
  • Lyft
  • Department stores
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Chase Pay

How to get the most out of your bonus categories

To really maximize your cash back earnings, you’ll have to keep track of the quarterly categories and prioritize your spending accordingly.

It’s also important to note that you won’t automatically earn the 5% cash back rate. You have to activate the bonus each quarter by the deadline specified on the Chase website. You can do this by email, phone, online or at a physical Chase branch. And if you’re a Chase checking customer, you can activate at an ATM as well.

The deadline to activate your 5% cash back for this quarter is June 14, 2021. As long as you activate by the deadline, you’ll be eligible for 5% cash back on qualifying purchases you made dating back to the beginning of the quarter. But if you fail to activate in time, you’ll miss out.

Credit cards to pair with Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠

Here are a few cards that could pair well with the Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ cards to help you maximize your rewards potential.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Get more for your points

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From cardholders in the last year

If you’re looking to maximize your rewards, you can transfer any cash back points you earn from the Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Flex℠ cards to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. This lets you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards to get 50% more value.

Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card to learn more.

Citi® Double Cash Card: Get more for all other purchases

From our partner

Citi® Double Cash Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

With the Citi® Double Cash Card, you can earn 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% cash back for purchases and 1% when you pay off those purchases.

This is a great card for purchases outside of the Chase Freedom® bonus categories, as well as after you’ve exhausted your quarterly 5% cash back earnings rate.

Read our review of the Citi® Double Cash Card to learn more.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Earn consistent high rewards for everyday purchases

With the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, you earn 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1% after) and 2% cash back on purchases made at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This is a great card to use for everyday purchases when the Chase Freedom® categories don’t cover supermarkets, gas stations or department stores.

Read our review of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express to learn more.


About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.