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

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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 is just around the quarter, which means reshuffling which credit cards to use to maximize all of your purchases.

For those of you with the Chase Freedom (no longer open to new applicants) or Chase Freedom Flex, today you can begin to activate the new Q3 2021 5x rotating bonus categories: Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) and select streaming services.

You can now activate your Q3 2021 categories and start using them to earn 5% (or 5x points) with your card in these categories, up to a cumulative $1,500 spending maximum per quarter, and then 1x.

Want more credit card tips and travel news from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex Q3 2021 categories

From July 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 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:

  • Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart)
  • Select streaming services
(Photo by d3sign/Getty Images)

Just keep in mind the limitations for each of these categories.

Grocery category limitations: Some merchants that sell grocery items are not included in this category; for example, larger stores that sell a wide variety of goods and groceries, such as warehouse clubs, discount stores and some smaller merchants such as drugstores, and merchants that specialize in only a few grocery items. Purchases made at gas stations from merchants who also operate grocery stores are not included in this category.

Streaming category limitations: Only subscriptions paid for or purchases made with the following select merchants will qualify for this category: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube TV. 

Don’t forget to activate your third 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. 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’s 5% cash back effectively becomes 5x Ultimate Rewards points, 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, now is an excellent time to act as the welcome 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. That’s especially true if you’re planning an upcoming road trip or home improvement project where the upcoming quarter’s bonus categories can really be maximized. The no-annual-fee card also offers a $200 cash back welcome bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

In addition to the rotating 5x bonus categories, the new Flex also 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 relaunched Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Official application link: Chase Freedom Flex 

Additional reporting by Chris Dong. 

Featured image by d3sign/Getty Images

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 up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants 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
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.