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While Discover was kind enough to lay out its Discover it® Cash Back quarterly bonus categories for all of 2019, Chase prefers to trickle its Freedom bonuses one quarter at a time.

On Thursday, the issuer announced a trio of bonus areas where you can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 of purchases between Jan. 1, 2019 and Mar. 31, 2019:

  • Gas stations
  • Drug stores
  • Tolls

Tolls seems like quite the oddball, particularly considering how many of them are cash-only affairs, but those with SunPass and EZ Pass accounts should consider loading up funds during the quarter to maximize their return. In Florida, you can even pay for certain on-airport lots with your SunPass account.

Of course, 5% back at gas stations will no doubt be music to the ears of those who don’t have a go-to fuel card. It’s worth noting that both gas stations and drug stores frequently sell gift cards for retailers and restaurants, enabling a backdoor approach to earning 5% back on even more categories.

Road trippers rejoice: 5% back at gas stations (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)
Road trippers rejoice: 5% back at gas stations. (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

In addition to the 5% back categories, you’ll earn 1% back on all other purchases. When paired with a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, that becomes 1x Ultimate Rewards. We’re big fans of utilizing Chase’s roster of transfer partners to maximize earnings, and you can learn more in our exhaustive guide to the Chase Perfect Quartet.

In order to start earning the 5%/5x bonus in these categories, you’ll need to activate them on the Chase website before the new quarter begins. The Q4 bonus categories — wholesale clubs, department stores and Chase Pay purchases — will run all the way through the rest of the year until Dec. 31, when the 2019 first quarter categories will kick in starting on Jan. 1. You must activate those bonus categories by Friday, Dec. 14. Remember that you can only earn the bonus on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in these categories each quarter.

If you don’t yet have a Chase Freedom, there’s still time to sign up in order to take advantage of the upcoming Q1 bonus categories. The card, which has no annual fee, currently comes with a sign-up bonus of $150 (or 15,000 points if you have one of the Chase Sapphire cards) after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening. The card is a great one to have in your wallet in order to fine tune your Ultimate Reward-earning strategy — check out our full review of the card here.

Chase Freedom®

It's a stellar cash back card on its own, but when paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom's 5x Category Bonuses let you rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, transferrable to partners or redeemable via the portal.

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More Things to Know
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 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
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
0% Intro APR on Purchase for 15 months
Regular APR
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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