Activate now: New 5x quarterly bonus categories on Chase Freedom, Freedom Flex announced

Sep 14, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex’s latest quarterly bonus categories. 

A new quarter has just arrived, which means reshuffling which credit cards to use to maximize all of your purchases.

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For those of you with the Chase Freedom (no longer open to new applicants) or Chase Freedom Flex, tomorrow, Sept. 15, you can begin to activate the new Q4 2021 5x rotating bonus categories: Walmart and PayPal purchases, up to a cumulative $1,500 spending maximum per quarter, then 1x.

This has historically been our favorite quarter, as it should be especially easy to maximize the spending limit.

Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex Q4 2021 categories

From Oct. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2021, Chase Freedom (card no longer available for sign-ups) and Chase Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back (or 5x points) on the following categories:

  • Walmart purchases
  • PayPal purchases

When shopping online, thousands of retailers offer an option to checkout via PayPal. As we head into the holiday season, Walmart can also be versatile whether you’re buying electronics or groceries.

This quarter’s bonus categories come in handy for holiday purchases or online shopping. (Photo by Maskot/Getty Images)

Don’t forget to activate your fourth quarter categories starting today to earn 5%/5x, which you can do online through your Chase account.

Frequently asked questions about Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex bonus categories

How do rotating categories work?

Each quarter, Chase announces a group of bonus categories that will earn 5% cash back throughout the upcoming three-month period. Generally, these categories are announced halfway through the month before the new quarter starts to give cardholders time to activate new categories beforehand. However, you can activate your categories up until midway through the last month of the quarter.

The categories tend to repeat — grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations are all common categories that you’ll notice frequently pop up on the cash back calendar, for example. So when you can maximize your rotating categories, these types of cards can offer quite a nice chunk of cash back or bonus points over the course of a year.

Related: Check out our full Chase Freedom Flex card review

How much cash back can I earn each quarter?

Chase limits the 5% back to the first $1,500 spent in combined bonus categories each quarter you activate the bonus.

While that may not sound like a lot, that cash back adds up over time. If you maximize the cash back categories each quarter, you’ll earn $75 in cash back quarterly — $300 per year. For a no-annual-fee credit card, that’s a lot of value.

Alternatively, that can be viewed as 30,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards earned each year if you also have a premium product, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. In that case, those 30,000 points can be worth up to $600 when maximized with travel partners, according to TPG valuations.

How do I activate my 5% categories each quarter?

You can head over to Chase’s site to activate your 5% cash back for this quarter. You can also register through your Chase mobile app, making one less credit card website you’ll need to visit regularly this year.

Here’s how to register:

  1. Head to the Chase bonus activation page or login to your Chase account.
  2. Enter your last name, the last four digits of your card number and your billing zip code. If you don’t have your card on hand, log into your Chase account to retrieve these digits.
  3. Click “Activate Now” to register.
  4. If you have multiple Chase Freedom cards, make sure to register each one.
  5. Save a screenshot of your activation, just in case there are any issues later.

Can I have both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Flex to double my earning potential?

Yes, you can have both cards! So if you already have the Chase Freedom and want to add the Chase Freedom Flex to your wallet, you’re free to do so. Just keep in mind that the original Freedom card is no longer open to new applicants.

But if you’d rather only have one, the Freedom Flex is available as a product change.

How do I maximize my Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex card?

The most important thing is to make sure you’re activating your categories each quarter and then actually using your card for those categories.

You can set up a recurring reminder in your calendar, or you can sign up for the TPG newsletter (we send out a reminder when it’s time to activate every quarter — plus tips and tricks for maximizing your card strategy and scoring some awesome award redemptions).

Better yet, paired with a Chase credit card that earns fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Freedom Flex’s 5% cash back effectively becomes 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, as you can learn all about in our guide detailing Chase’s “Perfect Quartet.”

In that case, you’ll be able to transfer the points earned with the Freedom Flex to Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners like SouthwestHyatt, and United.

If you don’t yet have the Sapphire Preferred to pair with your Freedom Flex, now is an excellent time to act as the sign-up bonus for the Sapphire Preferred is at an all-time high of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

What are common bonus categories for the Freedom and Freedom Flex?

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure that you’ll potentially be able to maximize other bonus categories throughout the year. For reference, here are the previous Chase Freedom quarterly categories calendar all the way back to 2012, so you can decide if common categories make sense for your spending patterns:


Bottom line

If you’re not already a Freedom Flex cardholder, now’s as good a time as any to sign up. The no-annual-fee card offers a $200 cash back sign-up bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. New cardholders can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

In addition to the rotating 5x bonus categories, the Freedom Flex comes with 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on drugstores, 3% on dining (including eligible delivery services) and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. Those are the same bonus categories as the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex with a sign-up bonus of $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. 

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Chris Dong. 

Featured image by John Gribben for The Points Guy.

Chase Freedom Flex℠


Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 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!
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
Intro APR on Purchases
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Regular APR
14.99 - 23.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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