Chase announces new 5x quarterly bonuses on Freedom, Freedom Flex for Q1 2021

Dec 14, 2020

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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. 

The holiday season is upon us and this crazy year is on its way out. That means credit card issuers are actively prepping for the first of the new year.

For those of you with the Chase Freedom (no longer open to new applicants) or Chase Freedom Flex, Chase just announced its Q1 2021 rotating bonus categories: wholesale clubs, select streaming services and internet, cable and phone services.

Starting tomorrow, on Dec. 15, you can activate your Q1 2021 categories, which means new opportunities to earn 5% (or 5x points) with your card in these categories, on up to a cumulative $1,500 spending maximum per quarter, and then 1x.

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Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex Q1 2021 categories

From Jan. 1, 2021, through March 31, 2021, Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on the following categories:

  • Wholesale clubs
  • Select streaming services
  • Internet, cable and phone services

Don’t forget to activate your Q1 categories starting tomorrow in order to earn 5%/5x, which you can do online through your Chase account. Also know that today (Dec. 14), is the last day to activate the 2020 Q1 bonus categories of PayPal and Walmart.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

New Chase Freedom Flex

For existing Freedom cardholders, the Freedom Flex is available as a product change. If you don’t have the Freedom, you can apply for the Freedom Flex as a new product. The original Freedom card is no longer open to new applicants.

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.

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 reading: Check out our full Chase Freedom 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 30k 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?

Beginning on Dec. 15, you can head over to Chase’s site to activate your 5% cash back for next 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 log-in 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.

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

Of course, 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.

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 the newly announced 5x/5% Q1 bonus categories, such as wholesale clubs (like Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.), work well for your spending patterns.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor. 

Featured photo by Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
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