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Here's Chase Freedom 5% cash-back calendar so you can plan your spending

Here are the bonus 5% cash-back categories for the Chase Freedom credit card.

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Chase Freedom® credit card holders can activate bonus 5% cash-back categories for the third quarter of 2020 now through September 14. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending across purchases made at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market from July through September (then 1%).

Below, CNBC Select shares the cash-back calendar for 2020, and how you can use a 5% cash-back card to your advantage.

Chase Freedom cash-back calendar 2020

Chase announced the bonus 5% cash-back categories for the first half of 2020. The remaining categories will be released throughout the year.

Here are the bonus categories for 2020:

  1. January to March (activation closed): Gas stations, select streaming services* and internet, cable and phone services
  2. April to June (activation closed): Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), select streaming services*, gym memberships and fitness clubs
  3. July to September (activate now through Sept. 14): Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  4. October to December (activate starting Sept. 15): TBA

*Eligible streaming services include: Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube TV, Google Play and ESPN+.

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®
Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable on purchases

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Long intro 0% APR period for purchases
  • Rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back in select categories upon activation

Cons

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • Cash-back program limits 5% cash-back earnings to $1,500 a quarter
  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $539
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,894

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Chase cash-back calendar vs. Discover cash-back calendar

Chase and Discover are the two most popular card issuers offering 5% cash-back cards. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two cash-back calendars for 2020.

Quarter Chase Discover
January to MarchGas stations, select streaming services and internet, cable and phone servicesGrocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), Walgreens and CVS
April to JuneGrocery stores, select streaming services, gym memberships and fitness clubsHome Depot (June only), gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs
July to SeptemberAmazon.com and Whole Foods MarketRestaurants and PayPal
October to DecemberTBAAmazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com

So far in 2020, both Chase and Discover included common spending categories, such as and gas stations and grocery stores, in their calendars. Discover also included restaurants, and it's yet to be released if Chase will too. In 2019, Chase didn't include restaurants.

How 5% cash-back credit cards work

In order to benefit from 5% cash back, you're required to activate bonus categories each quarter. Once you activate bonus categories, you can start earning 5% cash back. Chase allows you to save activation reminders to your calendar and set up email alerts.

There are limits to how much spending qualifies for 5% cash back each quarter. After you spend a combined $1,500 in the bonus categories, the cash-back rate drops to 1%. This maximum spending requirement resets every quarter.

All other purchases made outside the bonus categories automatically earn 1% cash back. If you're looking to optimize how many points you can earn, we suggest using an alternative cash-back or rewards credit card for spending outside the bonus categories, so you earn at least 2% or 2 points per dollar spent.

The Citi® Double Cash Card ranks as No.1 cash-back card with no annual fee and earns cardholders an effective 2% cash back: 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay for purchases.

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Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.