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New 5x quarterly bonus categories on Chase Freedom, Freedom Flex

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 4/2/2021 The Points Guy
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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. 

It’s a new month and a new quarter, so there are lots of changes in the line-up of which credit cards to use for what if you like 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 starts a new quarter of 5x rotating bonus categories that include gas stations and home improvement stores.

You can now activate your Q2 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.

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Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex Q2 2021 categories

Road trippers, car commuters heading back to the office and homeowners gearing up for upcoming projects can come out ahead this quarter. From April 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021, Chase Freedom (card no longer available for sign-ups) and Chase Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on the following categories:

  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores
a person driving a car: (Photo by Peter Griffith/Getty Images) © Provided by The Points Guy (Photo by Peter Griffith/Getty Images)

We’re already starting to see travel pick back up — especially domestic travel — as the weather heats up, more people get vaccinated and states begin reviewing restrictions.

For those who aren’t comfortable getting on a plane just yet, a road trip somewhere within driving distance may be the perfect getaway this upcoming quarter. If that’s the case, 5% on gas could be a great way to maximize your trip. Additionally, some offices may continue to welcome back more in-person workers.

On the home improvement side, spring is often a great time to start spring cleaning. And I don’t know about you, but spring cleaning always leads me to add new home improvement projects to my list. If that sounds like you (or if you’ve just been putting off a project until the weather starts to get warmer), earning 5% on materials for your project is stellar. Just keep in mind that warehouse clubs, discount stores, home furnishings and gardening/landscaping stores are not included in this category, according to Chase.

Don’t forget to activate your second 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 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?

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 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points with $4,000 in spending in the first three months.

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.

Featured image by John Gribben for The Points Guy. 

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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