Activate your Q4 categories to earn 5% cash back on upcoming holiday shopping

Oct 1, 2019

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Today is the first day you can start earning 5% cash back on fourth-quarter bonus categories with your rotating cash-back credit cards. Issuers including Chase, Citi, Discover and U.S. Bank all offer cards with 5% cash-back categories that can change each quarter. While this type of rewards structure takes a bit more effort to keep up with, it offers a way to maximize rewards on specific categories that you may miss out on with other credit cards.

Remember, you have to enroll in the new categories each quarter in order to receive 5% cash back. Activating new categories is a simple process that can be done online through the issuer’s website.

With the holidays fast approaching, many issuers focus fourth quarter categories on categories like online shopping and department stores. Here’s a quick rundown of the fourth quarter bonus category offers from each issuer:

Chase Freedom

For the fourth quarter, Chase Freedom cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent at department stores and with PayPal and Chase Pay. The department stores category includes Belk, Bloomingdales, Dillards, Macys and more. You can view Chase’s full list of eligible stores here. Unfortunately, discount stores such as TJ Maxi and superstores such as Target do not fall into this category.

All three categories are perfect for maximizing holiday shopping, both in-store and online.

Keep in mind that if you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll really be earning 5x Ultimate Rewards points — which are worth 2 cents each according to TPG valuations.

Here’s how to activate your 5% cash back:

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

You can also register through your Chase Mobile App.

Discover it Cash Back

Now through the end of the year, you’ll earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target, with a $1,500 cap in purchases after you enroll. These categories almost perfectly complement the categories offered by the Chase Freedom.

Amazon.com is a great category going into the holidays, and you’ll earn 5% back on purchases including digital downloads, gift cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Prime subscriptions and more. Also keep in mind that that you only earn 5% back on Walmart purchases when they are made online (or through the app), but this includes instore pickup.

Rewards will be added to your account within two billing periods. You can enroll by logging into your Discover account online or in the app, navigating to the cashback bonus tab and clicking “Activate Now.”

Citi Dividend

While this card is no longer open to applications, existing cardholders can still enjoy its rotating 5% cash-back category offerings. Similar to the other rotating category cards, the Citi Dividend’s fourth quarter categories focus on maximizing upcoming holiday shopping. You’ll earn 5% back on up to $2,000 spent at Best Buy and at department stores.

You can activate these new categories by logging into your Citi Dividend account.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature operates a little differently than your typical rotating cash-back credit card. Rather than be assigned two or three different categories each quarter, cardholders choose two categories each quarter from U.S. Bank’s eligible list to earn 5% cash back (with a $2,000 cap per quarter in combined purchases).

The current list cardholders can choose from includes:

  • TV, Internet and Streaming Services
  • Home Utilities
  • Select Clothing Stores
  • Cell Phone Providers
  • Electronic Stores
  • Gyms/Fitness
  • Fast Food
  • Ground Transportation
  • Sporting Goods
  • Department Stores
  • Furniture Stores
  • Movie Theatres

Many of those categories aren’t covered by other cash-back cards (including other rotating cash-back cards), which is a huge advantage to this card. Plus while you can switch categories, you can theoretically just reactivate the same categories each quarter to earn consistent rewards on the same categories. While U.S. Bank retains the right to change its list of categories, it typically stays the same throughout the year.

You are required to reactivate your categories each quarter, even if you elect to keep them the same. To activate, you can either call the number on the back of your card or log in to your account at usbank.com/cashplus.

Bottom line

Using rotating cash back credit cards is a great strategy for earning bonus rewards in specific categories throughout the year — just as long as you can keep up with the categories and remember to activate the offers each quarter.

Fourth quarter categories are active from now through Dec. 31, 2019. If you haven’t already activated your bonus categories, login to your account online or through your issuer app so that you aren’t missing out on 5% cash back rewards.

Featured image by Rafa Elias/Getty Images

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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