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

8 min read
Sean Messier By Sean Messier May 30, 2019 | Updated Sep 17, 2020
Insider tip

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Review) has replaced the Chase Freedom® (Review). The Freedom Flex adds a host of new rewards, and it uses the Mastercard network, rather than Visa. Current Freedom cardholders who’d prefer the Freedom Flex can contact Chase to request a product change, or may apply for the Freedom Flex separately in order to get the introductory bonus.

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

And while some of its 5% 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 5% categories until a few weeks before the quarter begins, so you never know exactly what the future brings.

For Q4 2020, which lasts from October 1 to December 31, the bonus categories are Walmart and PayPal.

You’ll need to activate your categories in order to earn at the bonus rate, and the Q4 activation deadline is December 14.

Here, we’ll explore what the Freedom Flex card’s Q4 2020 bonus categories cover, what types of categories you might see in the future, and how to make the most of your Chase Freedom Flex credit card.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

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

Chase Freedom Flex 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 Flex 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 Flex 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
  • Walmart
  • PayPal
  • Department Stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay

You can activate your 2020 Q4 categories starting September 15, 2020 and ending December 14, 2020.

Chase Freedom Flex Rotating Bonus Categories: Q4 2020

As we mentioned above, the Chase Freedom Flex bonus categories for Q4 2020 are Walmart and PayPal.

Both categories are very easy to use. Walmart sells a plethora of essentials, like groceries and toiletries, as well as clothes, toys, video games, car parts, and more. It shouldn’t be hard to max out that $1,500 spending limit at Walmart alone.

PayPal encompasses a similarly vast scope. As long as you can use PayPal to complete an online purchase, you can earn 5% back. And PayPal is a fairly prominent checkout tool.

Not sure you’ll be able to max out your spending limit at the 5% rate during Q4? Consider buying gift cards that you can use later on. Walmart sells gift cards for a variety of stores and restaurants, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding an online merchant that sells gift cards and allows you to complete purchases using PayPal.

Making the Most of This Quarter’s Rotating Bonus Categories

There are a few simple strategies for putting the Freedom Flex’s Q4 2020 bonus categories to good use.

  • Buy essentials at Walmart: Need groceries? Stock up at Walmart. Running low on toilet paper? Check Walmart. If it’s considered “essential,” Walmart probably has it.
  • Shop online: Check to see whether your favorite online merchants accept payment via PayPal. There’s a good chance they might, which makes Q4 2020 a great time to make any online purchases you’ve been contemplating.
  • Stock up on gift cards: The Freedom Flex card’s Q4 2020 categories make it simple to earn cash back on gift cards purchased online and at Walmart. This method is especially useful if you don’t need anything right now, but you know you will in the future.

Chase Freedom Flex Reward Categories: What You Need to Know

  • Chase Freedom Flex cardholders can earn 5% cash back on Walmart and PayPal purchases during Q4 2020
  • Q4 rewards are available from October 1 to December 31, 2020, and can be activated from September 15 to December 14
  • Earning at the 5% bonus rate is capped at $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter (rotating categories only)
  • Rotating 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)
  • Freedom Flex cardholders also earn:
    • 5% cash back on:
      • Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
      • Lyft rides (through March 2022)
      • Grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases; up to $12,000 spent in the first year)
    • 3% cash back at:
      • Restaurants
      • Drugstores
  • All purchases outside the bonus categories, as well as those in the rotating bonus categories after $1,500 in spending, earn 1% cash back

A Quick Overview of the Chase Freedom Flex Card

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

Topping the list? Its other rewards. Beyond its rotating categories, the Freedom Flex offers an impressive 5% cash back (with no spending limit!) on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You get that excellent 5% rate for groceries, though it’s limited as mentioned above. As if that weren’t enough, you get 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, too, completing what’s easily one of the most valuable credit card offers available for no annual fee.

Chase Freedom Flex cardholders are currently offered a signup bonus of $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months, with an impressive 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 Flex 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 Flex card, including purchase protection, an auto rental collision damage waiver, and cell phone protection, thanks to its World Elite Mastercard benefits.

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

How to Make the Most of Your Chase Freedom Flex Rewards

Making the most of the Freedom Flex 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.

  • Make purchases in non-rotating categories: The Freedom Flex card provides high rewards rates on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, as well as purchases made at both restaurants and drugstores. And, with these categories, there are no spending limits to worry over, so you should use them as often as you can.
  • 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 typical 1%, 3%, or 5% rate (depending on the merchant) with additional cash back or 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 Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex is a solid credit card, but the 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 Freedom Flex, 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 Flex card nearly always include mention of its closest competitor, the Discover it® Cash Back (Review). Like the Freedom Flex, 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 Flex 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 Flex card’s intro bonus. That’s one of the more attractive introductory credit card offers, especially when it comes to cards without annual fees.

The downside? The Discover card offers none of the additional rewards — beyond the rotating categories — that have given the Flex an edge on the competition.

While it’s often considered a one-or-the-other situation, the quarterly bonus categories offered by the Chase Freedom Flex 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 Flex.

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 Flex 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 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 (must pay at least the minimum due on time)

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 Flex is simple. Pick the Freedom Flex card when spending in its 3% and 5% bonus categories, 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 APR13.99%–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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 rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

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 Flex

The Freedom Flex Card’s rewards 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.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

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

Got any Chase Freedom Flex 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 Flex card.
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At a glance

Some of the Chase Freedom Flex’s 5% cash back categories rotate quarterly. The categories for Q4 2020 are Walmart and PayPal.

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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