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Credit Cards

Here's the 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 and the Chase Freedom Flex in 2021.

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The Chase Freedom® is not currently available to new cardholders. Please visit our list of the best cash-back cards for alternative options.

Chase Freedom® (no longer accepting new applicants) and Chase Freedom Flex℠ credit cardholders can activate bonus 5% cash-back categories for the third quarter of 2021 now through Sept. 14. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending across purchases made at grocery stores (excluding Target® and Walmart®) and on select streaming services from July through September (then 1%).

Below, Select shares the cash-back calendar for 2021, and how you can use a 5% cash-back card to your advantage.

Chase Freedom cash-back calendar 2021

Chase announced the bonus 5% cash-back categories for the third quarter of 2021. The remaining fourth quarter categories will be released later in the year.

  • January to March (activation closed): Wholesale clubs*, cable, internet, phone services and select streaming services**
  • April to June (activation closed): Gas stations and home improvement stores
  • July to September (activate now): Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) and select streaming services**
  • October to December (activate starting Sept. 15): TBA

*The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a Mastercard, which is only accepted online at Costco.com, not in-warehouse. Learn more about what credit cards Costco accepts.

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

Chase Freedom cash-back calendar 2020

While the full 2021 categories are released during the year, you can review the entire 2020 calendar to get some insight into what is traditionally included.

Here were the bonus categories for 2020:

  • January to March (activation closed): Gas stations, select streaming services, internet, cable and phone services
  • April to June (activation closed): Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), select streaming services, gym memberships and fitness clubs
  • July to September (activation closed): Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
  • October to December (activation closed): Walmart and PayPal*

*Qualifying purchases made using PayPal at Walmart will only earn a total of 5%.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on dining and at drug stores, 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three 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

  • Balance transfer fee

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

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

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, since the full 2021 calendar for Chase isn't available.

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 DecemberWalmart and PayPalAmazon.com; Target.com; Walmart.com; and Best Buy

In 2020, both Chase and Discover included common spending categories, such as gas stations and grocery stores, in their calendars. Discover also included restaurants, while Chase didn't.

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 more than 1% cash back.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card ranks as No.1 cash-back card with no annual fee and earns cardholders 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining (including takeout) and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases.

The Citi® Double Cash Card is the runner-up and earns cardholders an effective 2% cash back: 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay for purchases.

Citi has also recently launched its own 5% cash-back card, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, which is a competing option to other 5% cards because you don't need to activate each quarter.

Cardholders of the Custom Cash Card can get 5% cash back on purchases in their top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (then 1%). The card also offers a welcome bonus with a pretty low spending threshold: Earn $200 cash back after spending $750 on purchases in the first three months of account opening (fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back).

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Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by Select 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 Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.