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Starting today you can earn 5% cash back on third quarter bonus categories with your rotating cash-back credit cards. Issuers including Chase, Citi, Discover and US Bank all offer cards with 5% cash back categories that 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.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Q3 bonus category offers from each issuer:

Chase Freedom

Today through September 20, 2019, you can earn 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in purchases) on gas stations and select streaming services. This is the first time Chase has included streaming services as a bonus category, covering Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify.

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

This quarter, you’ll earn 5% cash back at restaurants and on purchases made through PayPal, with a $1,500 cap in purchases after you enroll. Rewards will be added to your account within two billing periods. Restaurant spending isn’t a bonus category that’s hard to come by, but 5% cash back is more than you’ll earn with many cards.

Unfortunately, purchases made using a mobile wallet or similar technology may not be eligible for the cash back bonus if the tech doesn’t provide sufficient transaction details.

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. This year’s bonus categories are similar to last year’s options, with the addition of drug stores this past quarter. For the third quarter, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $2,000 in airline and car rental purchases.

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

While 5% cash back is generous even for some travel credit cards, remember that Citi is stripping benefits from most of its cards effective September 22, 2019. This includes Worldwide Car Rental Insurance, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance Protection, Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance and more — all of which are valuable when purchasing airline tickets or renting cars.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card

The US 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 US 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 each year, you can theoretically just reactivate the same categories each quarter to earn consistent rewards on the same categories. While US 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.

Third quarter categories are active from now through September 30, 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.

Know before you go.

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

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 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
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.

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