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2020 Chase Freedom Categories: Here’s Where You Can Earn 5% Back

8 min read
Sean Messier By Sean Messier May 30, 2019 | Updated Jul 02, 2020

The Chase Freedom® (Review) offers a distinctive cash back system with high reward rates in helpful bonus categories.

And while those bonus categories change quarterly, they nearly always cover purchases that many cardholders make every day.

There’s a tiny catch, though: Chase doesn’t usually reveal the card’s quarterly categories until a few weeks before the quarter begins, so you never know exactly what the future brings.

For Q3 2020, which lasts from July 1 to September 30, the bonus categories are Amazon.com and Whole Foods Markets.

You’ll need to activate each category in order to earn at the bonus rate, and the Q3 activation deadline is September 14.

Here, we’ll explore what the Freedom card’s Q3 2020 bonus categories cover, what types of categories you might see in the future, and how to make the most of your Chase Freedom credit card.

Chase Freedom®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
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securely on the issuer's website

  • $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after 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
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
  • No annual fee
  • 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℠

Chase Freedom 2020 Bonus Category Calendar

Because Chase doesn’t announce the next quarter’s bonus categories until the current quarter nears its end, planning your spending with the Freedom card can be a little tricky.

But as you can see by the cash back calendar below, categories usually include common credit card rewards options, plus a unique addition here and there. We’ve included the full calendar from 2019, too, so you can get a basic taste for what Chase’s bonus categories might look like. There’s no guarantee that any of the categories listed below will appear again, though, so check back to discover how to get cash back from the Chase Freedom once the quarter comes to a close.

Quarter 2020 Categories 2019 Categories
January – March
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
  • Internet, Cable, Phone Services
  • Gas Stations
  • Tolls
  • Drugstores
April – June
  • Grocery stores
  • Fitness club and gym memberships
  • Streaming services
  • Grocery Stores
  • Home Improvement Stores
July – September
  • Amazon.com
  • Whole Foods Markets
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
October – December TBA
  • Department Stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay

You can activate your 2020 Q3 categories starting June 15, 2020 and ending September 14, 2020.

Chase Freedom Bonus Categories: Q3 2020

As we mentioned above, the Chase Freedom bonus categories for Q3 2020 are Amazon.com and Whole Foods Markets.

Both categories are very easy to use, and since Amazon owns Whole Foods Market, they go hand in hand.

Amazon.com is known for selling everything under the sun, more or less, so if you’ve had your eyes on a specific purchase that can be found on Amazon, now’s a good time to buy. Amazon even has its own “Grocery & Gourmet Foods” section, which presents a nice opportunity to order food if you don’t live near a Whole Foods Market.

The Whole Foods Market category is about as simple as it gets. It’s a grocery store. Head to your local Whole Foods Market, stock up, and pay with your Chase Freedom. Depending on the location, the store may offer curbside pickup and delivery for added convenience, too.

Not sure you’ll be able to max out your spending limit at the 5% rate during Q3? Consider purchasing Amazon or Whole Foods Market gift card to use later on. In fact, you may even be able to find gift cards to your favorite stores on Amazon, which adds a lot of flexibility to an already flexible spending category.

Making the Most of This Quarter’s Bonus Categories

There are a few simple strategies for putting the Chase Freedom’s Q3 2020 bonus categories to good use.

  • Buy food: Everyone needs food. If there’s a Whole Foods Market nearby, use your Freedom as your go-to grocery payment method during Q3 2020 to max out your rewards.
  • Buy what you need on Amazon: Electronics? Check. Clothes? Check. Food? Check. You name it, and Amazon probably has it. If there’s anything you’ve been planning to buy, Q3 2020 is a good time to do it.
  • Stock up on gift cards: Amazon sells not only its own gift cards, but gift cards for other stores, too. Whole Foods Market also sells gift cards. So if you’re not looking to buy anything right now, you can still make the most of the 5% categories by preparing for future purchases.

Chase Freedom Reward Categories: What You Need to Know

  • Chase Freedom cardholders can earn 5% cash back on purchases at Amazon.com and Whole Foods Markets
  • Q3 rewards are available from July 1 to September 30, 2020
  • Earning at the 5% bonus rate is capped at $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter
  • Bonus categories must be activated before you’ll earn at the bonus rate; no matter when you activate, all eligible purchases in that quarter will receive 5% back (even those made before activating)
  • Chase Freedom bonus categories for the second quarter of 2020 can be activated starting June 15, and the deadline is September 14
  • Lyft purchases earn 5% cash back through March 2022 (not a category that needs to be activated)
  • All purchases outside bonus categories, as well as those in bonus categories after $1,500 in spending, earn 1% cash back (aside from Lyft)

A Quick Overview of the Chase Freedom Card

The Chase Freedom is mainly known for its rotating 5% bonus categories, but there are a few other features worth noting.

New Chase Freedom cardholders are currently offered a signup bonus of $150 cash back for spending $500 in 3 months, with an impressive 30% return on spend.

There’s also a strong introductory APR offer, providing 0% APR for 15 months on purchases (then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).

The Freedom card comes with a few solid benefits, too.

You get a free DoorDash membership for three months, and then a 50% discount on the membership for the following nine months. The membership, called DashPass, gives you free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.

Shop through Chase is an online shopping portal where you can earn a higher reward rate when you shop at select retailers. At the time of publication, your options include (but aren’t limited to) Macy’s (3% extra), Walmart (2% extra), Home Depot (1% extra), and Best Buy (1% extra).

Plus, cardholders can take advantage of Chase Offers, a similar benefit that provides temporary deals, like discounts or cash back, on certain products or with select retailers once activated.

Several complimentary protections are also included with the Freedom card, including purchase protection, auto rental collision damage waiver, and more, depending on whether your card was issued at the Visa Platinum or Visa Signature tier.

The Chase Freedom is a contactless card, making quick payments a breeze.

How to Make the Most of Your Chase Freedom Rewards

Making the most of the Freedom card’s unique rotating cash back rewards program requires a bit of strategy. Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take to maximize the value of your cash back.

  • Buy gift cards: Even if you don’t currently need anything from the active bonus categories, consider buying gift cards to use on future purchases at those stores. If the current bonus categories include places like gas stations, grocery stores, or drugstores, you may even be able to buy gift cards for use at other stores that you find more convenient.
  • Buy items you think you’ll need in the future: Depending on the current bonus categories, you could buy things that might serve you in the future, even if there’s no imminent need. Nonperishable goods from grocery stores are a good example, as are cleaning supplies and tools you might find at a home improvement store. Tailor your shopping accordingly when categories change.
  • Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Use Shop through Chase and Chase Offers, and you can combine the 1% or 5% rate (depending on the merchant) with additional savings.
  • Transfer your rewards to a Chase Ultimate Rewards points card: Earn a better return on your spending by transferring rewards to an Ultimate Rewards card that allows point transfers and provides bonus points on travel redemptions. Options are:

Cards to Use With the Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is a solid credit card, but the limited, ever-changing nature of its rewards system makes it one that’s easy to use in conjunction with other cards.

We’ve compiled a few cash back cards with rewards programs that complement that of the Chase Freedom, making it easier to maximize your rewards across the board.

 

Discover it® Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRSee Terms

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Features

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in rotating categories (up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, then 1%), 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Cashback Match: Get double cash back for the first year, provided at the year’s end

Conversations around the Freedom card nearly always include mention of its closest competitor, the Discover it® Cash Back (Review). Like the Chase Freedom, it provides rotating bonus categories (see the calendar below) where you earn at a 5% rate until you reach $1,500 in quarterly spending.

One difference, however, is that Discover provides the full year’s bonus category calendar ahead of time, rather than making you wait like Chase. And with the Discover it, you’ll only earn 5% back on purchases made after you activate, unlike the Freedom which provides retroactive rewards for the whole quarter.

Another key difference is that the Discover card’s signup bonus doubles all cash back earned in the first year, which offers more potential value than the Freedom card’s intro bonus. That’s one of the more attractive introductory credit card offers, especially when it comes to cards without annual fees.

While it’s often considered a one-or-the-other situation, the quarterly bonus categories offered by the Chase Freedom and Discover it are often different enough that you can benefit from using them together. Simply use them on whichever bonus categories are in effect for that quarter, and then use the Discover it for other purchases during the first year in order to capitalize on its signup bonus.

Quarter 2020 5% Cash Back Categories
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, and CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft, and Wholesale Clubs
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com

 

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0*
Regular APR13.99% - 23.99%* Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn up to $550 cash back in the first year.
  • $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 13.99% – 23.99%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2020 World’s Most Ethical Company® – Ethisphere Institute, February 2020
  • Annual fee: $0*
  • Rewards: 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose, 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, 1% cash back on everything else
  • Introductory bonus: $150 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 90 days after account opening

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card also offers 5% cash back (up to $2,000) in select quarterly categories. However, rather than earning 5% in categories of your issuer’s choice, you get to pick two categories from a list that’s subject to change every quarter.

Like the Discover it, you’ll only earn 5% cash back on purchases made after you activate. So it’s a bit less forgiving than the Freedom.

You also get to choose one “everyday” category (think gas stations or grocery stores), where you’ll earn 2% cash back. For best value, wait until the Freedom card’s bonus categories are revealed, and then activate this card’s bonus categories to avoid overlap.

U.S. Bank Cash+ 5% Cash Back Categories
TV, Internet & Streaming Services Fast Food Cell Phone Providers
Department Stores Home Utilities Select Clothing Stores
Electronics Stores Sporting Goods Stores Movie Theaters
Gyms/Fitness Centers Furniture Stores Ground Transportation

 

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 2% cash back for all purchases: 1% when purchases are made, and 1% when they’re paid for

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) has earned a reputation as one of the best credit cards for all-around spending. There’s no annual fee, and you get 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% back when a purchase is made, and then another 1% when you pay it off.

The Double Cash is a solid choice for balance transfers, with a 0% intro APR offer for 18 months on Balance Transfers (then 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)).

Using the Double Cash with the Chase Freedom is simple. Pick the Freedom card when spending on its 5% bonus categories up to the $1,500 spending cap, and use the Double Cash for everything else.

 

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.24%–26.24% Variable
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  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile Banking app or Online Banking, or do nothing and it stays the same
  • No expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% – 75% more cash back on every purchase
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Rewards: 3% cash back in one category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Introductory bonus: $200 cash bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening

As with the U.S. Bank Cash+, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) lets you call the shots. Cardholders get 3% cash back in one category that they choose from a preset list (found below), and your category choice can be updated once per calendar month. The 2% bonus categories don’t provide a ton of extra value, but wholesale clubs is a rare category to find.

The BofA card’s quarterly spending cap for earning at the 3% and 2% reward rates is $2,500.

If you’re a BofA bank account holder, this card could be a particularly valuable choice, as you may be eligible for a hefty reward bonus (25–75%).

Bank of America Cash Rewards 3% Bonus Categories
Gas Online Shopping Dining
Travel Drugstores Home Improvement/Furnishings Stores

Learn More About the Chase Freedom

The Freedom’s reward program is strong enough that the card isn’t likely to disappear from the Chase roster anytime soon. And since there’s no annual fee, there’s really no harm in having it on hand, even if you seldom use it. Just make sure you activate the bonus categories each quarter.

For more information on how the card’s rewards and benefits work, check out our full review of the Chase Freedom.

Chase Freedom®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after 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
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
  • No annual fee
  • 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℠

Got any Chase Freedom tips or tricks that we missed? We’re all ears — let us know in the comments.

Like many prominent credit card issuers, there are Chase credit cards for personal and business use alike. One option is the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Review), a flat-rate card that works well alongside the Freedom card.
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At a glance

The Chase Freedom’s 5% cash back categories rotate quarterly. The categories for Q3 2020 are Amazon.com and Whole Foods Markets.

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

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