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August 24, 2017 12:00 PM PT

Chase Freedom Rewards: 5% Categories

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With 5% cash back on bonus categories, the Chase Freedom is a high-earning cash back card. Get details on the rewards calendar and how it works.

Chase Freedom is one of the most popular cash back cards.

The reason? You get up to 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories. This is a super high reward rate for a cash back card with no annual fee.

However, you need to use it correctly.

Here's the 2017 rewards calendar and tips on being a savvy user.

Rewards Calendar 2017

Here is how the bonus categories work:

Every quarter (every 3 months), there are bonus categories in which you will receive 5% cash back. This is for up to $1,500 in combined purchases from the bonus categories. After that, you will go back to the standard 1% cash back rate.

All other purchases will also receive 1% cash back.

The bonus categories for 2017 are:

  • Q1 (January 1 - March 31, 2017): Gas stations and local commuter transportation (includes taxis, subways, local commuter buses and trains; does not include parking, tolls, and Amtrak®)

  • Q2 (April 1 - June 30, 2017): Grocery stores and drugstores (does not include Walmart®, Target®, discount or warehouse club store purchases; drugstores must be primarily a drugstore and not just a store with a pharmacy in it)

  • Q3 (July 1 - September 30, 2017): Restaurants and movie theaters

  • Q4 (October 1 - December 31, 2017): Walmart and department stores

You must remember to activate the 5% cash back categories every quarter. If you don't, you will only earn at the 1% rate. The activation is free. You can activate online, by text message, via email, by mobile app, by calling customer service, or in person at a Chase bank.

What is the Best Chase Credit Card Promotion for 2017?

How to Get the Most Out of Your Chase Freedom card

Here are some tips on how to get the most rewards:

  • Use it in bonus category purchases. Remember to activate your Freedom card each quarter, and then charge all purchases in the bonus categories to the card. You get 5% cash back up to $1,500 in combined purchases in the bonus categories. This means you can get up to $75 bonus cash back each quarter.

  • Don't forget about the shopping portal. Chase has a great online shopping portal that awards bonus points for every $1 spent at partner merchants. Many popular online retailers offer 3-5x bonus points, with some going up to as much as 20x points. This is one of the best ways to rack up points fast.

  • Pair it with Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you an automatic 1.5% cash back on ALL purchases, at all times. It also has no annual fee. To really maximize cash back, use the Freedom for bonus category purchases, and the Freedom Unlimited on everything else. You can combine your points later.

  • Maximize the redemption value with Chase Sapphire Preferred. With the Chase Freedom alone, you can only redeem for cash back or cash equivalent (like gift cards) at the rate of 1 point = 1 cent. However, when you combine points with a premium Ultimate Rewards card, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can do more with your points.

    And plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you 2x points on travel and dining. So you can use it to get more points on those purchases (when they don't overlap with the Freedom's bonus categories). And it also has no foreign transaction fee, so you can take it abroad as well.

    Tip: If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points can go even further. You can redeem for travel on the Chase travel portal at 50% more value (1 point = 1.5 cents). And it gives 3x points on travel and dining.

Should You Get the Chase Freedom Card?

Generally, there are few downsides to this card. For a card with no annual fee, the reward rate is excellent. However, here are just some things to think about:

  • Do you shop in the bonus categories? If you don't, then you won't be getting much out of the 5% cash back. In that case, think about whether Chase Freedom Unlimited is a better option, with its flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

  • Are you planning on applying to other Chase cards? Chase has a 5/24 rule that applies for certain cards. If you've opened 5 personal credit card accounts in the past 24 months (with any bank), you will not be approved for a new Chase card.

    If you are nearing that limit and there are other Chase cards you're interested in, think about which one is more important to you. Prioritize that application.

  • Are you planning on using it abroad? Unfortunately, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you're traveling abroad, carry a card with no foreign transaction fee in your wallet instead.

Note: Chase usually requires good to excellent credit for their cards. This usually means a credit score of around 700+. If you know your credit isn't quite there, focus on building credit first.

Cash Back Calendar

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Chase Freedom Calendar vs Discover It Calendar:
Discover It Discover It is another popular cash back card with 5% rotating bonus categories. It works in a similar way. You get 5% back for up to $1,500 in combined purchases from the bonus categories each quarter. The biggest difference is that instead of a sign-up bonus after meeting the minimum spend, you get 100% cash back match for the first year.

Is Chase Freedom or Discover It better? It depends on which card has bonus categories that match your lifestyle more.

 

Chase Freedom

Discover It

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 14 months
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 14 months
Purchase APR15.99% to 24.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors11.99% to 23.99% Variable* based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.99% to 24.74% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors11.99% to 23.99% Variable* based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Foreign Transaction Fee3% of each transaction in U.S. dollarsNo foreign transaction fee
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.Introductory Bonus Cash Back: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers).
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.Cash Back Rewards: 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Cash BackBonus Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Categories for 2017:
Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2017): Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls, and Amtrak® purchases)
Q2 (April 1 - June 30, 2017): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases)
Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2017): Restaurants and movie theaters
Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2017): Walmart and department stores
Bonus Cash Back: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating categories that change each quarter (requires free and easy sign-up for 5% Cashback Bonus)*
Limitations apply*. See issuer's website for additional program details.
Bonus Categories for 2017:
January - March 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Gas Stations, Ground Transportation & Wholesale Clubs
April - June 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Home Improvement Stores and Wholesale Clubs
July - September 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Restaurants
October - December 2017: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Amazon.com & Target

Chase Freedom: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees was obtained on July 17, 2017 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Discover It: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees was obtained on July 3, 2017 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom and Discover it® - Cashback Match™ has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

There are subtle differences in the calendar. See which one you like more to maximize your cash back earnings. However, one thing to note is that with Discover It, you lose out on being part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards family (which has its own benefits).

Chase Freedom Compared to Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase has another Freedom card: the Freedom Unlimited. Instead of 5% cash back in rotating categories, you get a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

This may be better for you if you have varied spending (for example, if you tend to spread your spending between shopping, groceries, gas, eating out, movies, etc. every month).

Bottom Line

Chase Freedom is a popular card for good reason. It gives a high 5% cash back rate on rotating categories and has no annual fee. Think about whether the reward categories match your spending and if there are other cards you may want instead.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on August 24, 2017. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Chase website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom, Discover it® - Cashback Match™, and Chase Sapphire Reserve has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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