Activate Quarterly Rewards For Amazon, Gas, Home Improvement, and More

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Blog

Jun 15, 2015 | Updated Apr 27, 2016

There are several cards that offer these rotating category rewards, which generally provide 5% cash back in a category that changes every 3 months.  (Check out the Table of Contents on the left)

You’ll usually need to activate each new category yourself, and the easiest way to do so is by logging into your online account. You will have some time before the category starts to activate it before it actually begins.

Keep in mind that although some card issuers allow you to activate your category later on and receive rewards retroactively on all the purchases you’ve made, but others require you to activate before you will receive any rewards. If you forget to activate, you’ll forego your 5% cash back and get 1% back instead. Some of the issuers below will let you set up an alert to inform you when a category is coming that you’ll need to activate.

Here are the 5 most popular cards that offer 5% cash back in rotating categories.

Discover it® Credit Cards

Discover offers two credit cards with 5% categories that require activation: the Discover it®  (including the NHL Discover it card) and the Discover it® for Students

Click here to log in and activate your rewards.

Update June, 2015: There is currently a promotional offer from Discover to double the cash back you earn after 1 year of usage, making these some of the most rewarding cards available. This offer is only available to new cardholders and could be discontinued at any time.

The “it” cards share the same rewards categories, and for the months of July, August, and September, the category is Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Take note that with Discover cards you must activate the reward category before you can earn the 5% cash back in that category. You’ll earn 5% back on the first $1,500 you spend, and then 1% afterward.

Discover 3'd Quarter Rewards

Activating your quarterly rewards is pretty easy.

Some example home improvement retailers include:

Ace® Hardware Floor & Decor® Menards®
The Home Depot® Lowe’s® Benjamin Moore®
Stanley Steemer® Coit® Lumber Liquidators

Some example department stores:

Bloomingdales JCPenney® NORDSTROM
Saks Fifth Ave & Off 5th Kohl’s® Macy’s
Dillard’s Bon-Ton Belk®

See more example retailers here (you may have to click the appropriate quarter: July to September).

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom card has a different 5% category for the upcoming three months: Gas Stations and Kohl’s (including This discount applies to the first $1,500 you spend, after which 1% is awarded.

Click here to log in and activate your reward category.

Unlike Discover, Chase allows you to earn your 5% cash back even if you wait until the last minute to activate your rewards. You’ll have until June 14th to activate this category, and then you’ll earn the 5% discount on eligible purchases going all the way back to April 1st.

Chase 3'd Quarter Rewards

Activate your 3’d quarter rewards if you use the Chase Freedom

This card is no longer available for application, having been replaced by the Citi Double Cash card. Existing cardholders can still use the card, however, and will benefit from the 5% rewards category.

You may need to activate your rewards category before you will begin earning rewards.

This quarter, the reward category is Airlines and other travel expenses, including purchases from Hilton Hotels .

Click here to log in and view your account and rewards.

Citi Dividend Activate Rewards

5% cash back categories for the Citi Dividend


U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Unlike the previous cards, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature lets you choose your own reward categories each quarter. They have a unique interface with which you can drag and drop the categories of your choice.

Click here to log in and activate your categories. You can also view more information about each category, including example retailers.

Every quarter you can choose 2 categories for 5% cash back and 1 category for 2% cash back.

The eligible 2% cash back categories are:

Gas Stations Grocery Stores Restaurants

The eligible 5% cash back categories are:

Select Clothing Stores Gym/Fitness Centers Sporting Goods Stores Cell Phone
Bookstores Department Stores Electronics Stores Fast Food
Furniture Stores Car Rental Charity Movie Theaters
U.S. Bank Activated

The many categories to choose from with the U.S. Bank Cash+

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