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Activate Chase Freedom cash back categories for Q1 2021 now

Chase has announced the 5% cash back categories on the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the retired Freedom card for the first quarter of 2021.

From Jan. 1 through March. 31, 2021, Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on select streaming services, internet, cable and phone services and wholesale club purchases (up to $1,500 in combined purchases) after activation.

Besides that, the new Flex card offers 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases and 1% on everything else. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

See related: Chase to launch new Freedom Flex card, add new categories to Freedom Unlimited

Activation for first-quarter categories on both the Freedom and Freedom Flex launched on Dec. 15, 2020, and will be open until March 14, 2021.

Here’s what you need to know at a glance:

  • Activation of first-quarter bonus categories begins on Dec. 15 for both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex.
  • Cardholders must activate by March 14 to earn the bonus rate.
  • From Jan. 1 to March 31, Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on eligible streaming services, internet, cable and phone services and wholesale club purchases.
  • The 5% cash back bonus is capped at $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter.
  • As of Jan. 12, 2020, Chase Freedom cardholders earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2021

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March

(Activation closes on March 14)

April – June

(Activation closed)

July – September

(Activation closed)

October – December

(Activation closed)

  • Select streaming services
  • Phone, cable and internet services
  • Wholesale clubs

TBA

TBA

TBA

Chase only releases its quarterly bonus categories one quarter at a time, so we can’t yet predict what will be offered in the rest of the quarters in 2021. Here’s a quick look at some of the categories Chase has offered in the last year.

Chase 5% cash back calendar 2020

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March April – June July – September October – December
  • Select streaming services
  • Gas stations
  • Phone, cable and internet services
  • Gym memberships
  • Fitness clubs
  • Grocery stores
  • Select streaming services
  • Amazon
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Walmart
  • PayPal

What is included and excluded in the ‘Select streaming services’ category?

In this category, you can earn 5% cash back on select streaming services, including music and video streaming.  The eligible services include Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube TV.

What is included and excluded in the ‘Phone, cable and internet services’ category?

You can earn cash back on your monthly bills, such as your cable, internet and phone services. To earn 5% cash back in the category, make sure to pay these bills with your Freedom or Freedom Flex card.

Equipment purchases don’t qualify in this category. You may also not receive the bonus cash back if you pay for your phone, cable or internet service at a merchant’s store that’s not classified in the applicable services category.

What is included and excluded in the ‘Wholesale clubs’ category?

In this category, you can get 5% back when you’re shopping at wholesale clubs, including Sam’s and BJ’s. You can also use your Chase Freedom (no longer available for new applications) to earn bonus cash back at Costco. Since Costco only accepts Visa cards, the new Freedom Flex, which is a Mastercard, won’t be accepted. Mastercards are, however, accepted on Costco.com.

See related: Best credit cards for Costco purchases

earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending in rotating categories each quarter, upon enrollment, then 1%.

Chase vs. Discover cash back categories 2021

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Discover it® Cash Back

January – March Select streaming services, phone, cable and internet services, wholesale clubs Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April – June TBA Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs
July – September TBA Restaurants and PayPal
October – December TBA Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com

Which card offers the best deal?

The best card for you depends on where you plan to spend your money in the first quarter of 2021.

Discover it® Cash Back offers bonus cash back at grocery stores at the beginning of the year. Since groceries are regular expenses that can get rather high, especially if you’re grocery shopping for a family, this category can be pretty lucrative.

At the same time, if you have a wholesale club membership, it can be very easy for you to meet the spending cap in this category with your Chase card. This can make up for the other two underwhelming categories.

For the rest of 2021, we can’t predict which card will be best for you, as while Discover has announced its categories for the next year, Chase only releases bonus categories one quarter at a time.

Source: creditcards.com

Stacking up deals to max out cash back, points on holiday shopping

It’s shopping season, and millions of us who aren’t out shopping in stores right now are sitting in front of our computers buying out the internet. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for groceries or gifts – if shopping is on your to-do list this month, you’re in luck.

With retail stores scrambling for shoppers, the cash-back craze gone wild and banks offering up to 10 points per dollar on some purchases to entice consumers to use their credit cards, the opportunities for stacking deals upon deals has reached fever pitch.

Right now, there are more stackable offers for online shopping than I’ve ever seen in all my years of points wrangling. There are so many offers, in fact, that some days I find myself in shopping paralysis trying to decide which credit card to pair with which offer and accompanying points or cash back portal to get the best return. These are the good kinds of 2020 problems that put money back into your pocket.

See related: Not traveling anytime soon? Here’s what do to with your points and miles

Getting started with deal-stacking

If you’ve never heard of deal stacking, it’s just a fancy term for using multiple coupons or deals to maximize your savings or earnings on one purchase. In the travel-rewards world, we also like to call it the double or triple dip.

Getting started with deal stacking is as easy as considering each and every one of these three steps or ‘stacks’ anytime you make a credit card purchase.

Stack 1: Check for credit card offers and register if needed

Always choose the card that will earn the most points per dollar spent in your purchase category. And don’t forget to register for any special offers from your credit card to earn bonus points or discounts. These offers are usually easy to find by logging into your credit card account.

Stack 2: Shop using cash back- or points-earning portals

Before you buy online, always access the online store via a shopping portal like Ibotta or Rakutan rewards if you’re looking for cash back. If you’re collecting points, try the portal of your favorite airline, hotel group or bank program.

A tool like Cash Back Monitor can help you decide which portal will offer you the best return for each purchase you’re planning to make.

Stack 3: Scan your receipts for more rewards

After you make your purchase, scan your receipt into an app like Fetch Rewards or CoinOut to accrue points that can be turned into gift cards for more shopping – and even more savings.

Deal-stacking in practice

My friend Angel Trinh over at Pennywise Traveler is a rock star on deal-stacking and loves to share tutorials on her stacking successes. Because points-stacking is best explained through example, here’s how she’s stacking up deals for her Amazon purchases this month using her American Express® Gold Card.

Putting into practice the first stacking principle, when Trinh checked her American Express Gold Card account this month, she saw that she was targeted with an offer to earn 8 Membership Rewards points per dollar on Amazon purchases (up to 3,000 points). She registered her card for the offer, then set out to spend $375 – the amount it would take to max out the bonus to earn the full 3,000 points.

“For American Express, the best way to maximize deal stacking and to save money is to add AmEx offers to your account,” Trinh explains. “You can add a maximum of 100 offers to your account for discounts.”

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In checking out, Trinh acted on this offer and opted to pay 1 Membership Reward point (a single cent) towards the cost of the items in her cart. Even though this was a single cent, it triggered a 10% discount on her full purchase! This offer added an additional savings of $37 back on the $375 spent to max out her 8x American Express offer – stacked on top of the 3,000 Membership Rewards points already earned.

After maxing out points and saving 10% using steps one and two, Trinh’s final deal-stack for her Amazon shopping was to check for additional cash back returns using Fetch Rewards.

Because Amazon receipts are only digital, no physical scanning is even required. You simply link your Amazon account to Fetch Rewards, and after you’ve completed your online shopping, use the app to trigger an automatic scan for your Amazon receipts. The number of points earned varies based on what you’ve purchased and from which store and allows you to cash out your accrued earnings with gift cards.

Bottom Line

Deal-stacking is easy to start, not too hard to master and can certainly help you put more money back in your pocket – while also putting presents under the Christmas tree this year. Happy holiday shopping!

Source: creditcards.com

Cash back perks to look for in 2021

December 26, 2020

If you’re like many people, your spending habits changed in 2020. You probably traded travel and in-person dining for online shopping and takeout. You may have even added a streaming service or two to your list of subscriptions.

Credit card issuers have started offering new perks and rewards to address these changes. And though these perks try to solve for pandemic woes, there’s something to be said for the convenience they offer, even when normalcy returns. There are also a few long-standing features, like online shopping portals, that belong in the credit card conversation now more than ever.

The best cash back card for you depends on your spending habits. So when your budget or lifestyle changes, you should make sure your credit cards are still bringing you consistent value. Here are a few cash back credit card features you need to look out for in 2021.

All information about Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature, Wells Fargo Propel and U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

1. Discounted grocery and takeout delivery services

If you’re planning to do a fair portion of your dining at home this year, you should look for a card that makes that easier and cheaper. With the right card, you can earn rewards on restaurant and grocery store purchases, while also saving on the services that deliver them, like Uber Eats, Doordash and Instacart.

Here are a few of our favorite cash back cards for food delivery:

American Express® Gold Card – You’ll get up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership, as long as you’re enrolled by Dec. 31, 2021. This service usually costs $9.99 per month, offering an unlimited $0 delivery fee for restaurant orders and 5 percent off restaurant orders over $15, along with a $0 delivery fee on select supermarket groceries over $30. In addition, you’ll get up to $120 in annual dining credits for eligible purchases with Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® – If you enroll by 12/31/2021, you and your authorized user(s) will receive at least 12 months of complimentary DashPass (usually $9.99 per month), which means free delivery on qualifying DoorDash orders. You’ll also get up to $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card – Because it’s in the Mastercard network of credit cards, you’ll get two months of Instacart Express, including $0 delivery fees on orders over $35. You can get this benefit with any US-issued Mastercard card, but the Capital One Savor is an especially good option because it also offers 4% cash back on dining and 2% cash back on grocery store purchases.

2. Online shopping portals and rewards

Though cash back cards are known for their simple redemption process, you can often get even more value by using their shopping portals. Not every card and issuer has this option, but it’s certainly worth looking into if you now prefer to do your shopping digitally.

For example, the Shop Through Chase portal features deals from over 200 retailers, offering boosted cash back rates as well as discounts on purchases at stores like Nike, Banana Republic, Sephora and Under Armour. Other shopping portals include the Wells Fargo Earn More Mall and the Citi Bonus Cash Center.

Another option is to use a credit card that offers boosted cash back on online shopping purchases. While the cash back rates may not be as high as you would find in a shopping portal, you’ll earn consistent cash back on all of your online shopping purchases, regardless of the merchant.

Our favorite cash back card for online shopping is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, which earns 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings), as well as 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Note, however, that those rates apply only to the first $2,500 in combined grocery store/wholesale club/choice category per quarter. After that, it’s just 1%.

Another contender is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature. You have to have a Prime membership to get it, but the rewards offer serious value for Amazon lovers. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases.

3. Streaming service rewards

As streaming services continue to multiply, it seems like you need two or three subscriptions just to stay up to date on your favorite shows. Earning cash back for your subscriptions can make this pleasure a bit less guilty.

The best card for earning cash back on streaming services is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, including Disney+, HBO and HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, Prime Video and more.

Another great card that offers rewards for streaming subscriptions is the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, which offers 3 points per dollar for select streaming service subscriptions. While this isn’t strictly a cash back card, you can redeem your points for cash back at the same value. Plus, there’s no annual fee.

4. Rewards on utilities

If you’re working from home or spending more time indoors, your utility bills have probably increased this year. It might instinctively feel wrong to pay bills with a credit card, but it can actually save you money. With the right card, you can earn cash back on your energy, electricity, gas and water bills. Just make sure your utility providers don’t charge a convenience fee for using a credit card.

The best cash back card to use for home utilities is the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card. This card allows you to pick two categories from a list of 12 to earn 5% cash back in (on up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter). On that list of twelve is home utilities. If you were to spend $150 on eligible utilities each month, that 5% cash back would put an extra $90 in your pocket annually.

Bottom line

The start of a new year is a perfect time to assess your budget and credit card strategy. If you’re earning a measly 1% cash back or nothing at all on a significant portion of your budget, consider applying for a credit card that will help you make the most of those expenses. Check out our full analysis of the best cash back credit cards and apply securely when you’re ready.

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Source: creditcards.com