It’s now possible to activate/enroll all 5% category credit cards for the first quarter of 2021, including the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Flex, Discover IT, Citi Dividend, and US Bank Cash+ and a few others. In this post we’ll provide the activation link for each card and links to track your spend, along with strategies to help increase spend in these categories.
Dates: January 1st – March 3, 2021. Store purchases can usually be done until the last minute. Online purchases should be given a buffer zone of a day or two.
Chase Freedom – Wholesale, Phone/Internet, Streaming
With your Freedom and Freedom Flex cards, earn 5% back this quarter on up to $1,500 in spend at Wholesale Clubs; Phone, Cable, Internet; Streaming services.
- Wholesale Clubs – This includes Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Texas Jasminei. There’s a huge omission in the terms as to whether this category works for online purchases or only in-club purchases. We’ve reached out to Chase for clarification.
- Costco stores only accept Visa cards, and won’t work with Mastercard Freedom cards (e.g. Freedom Flex), though you can buy Costco Cash cards online with a Mastercard and use those in-club. Again, this will depend whether buying online works for the category. A reader mentions that buying Costco Cash cards did NOT work in a previous wholesale category deal.
- Sam’s Club and BJ’s both sell various gift cards, including Visa, which could be an option for those who won’t use this up organically.
- Official list of exclusions: Gas/fuel (this might work in practice), wholesale specialty service purchases such as travel, insurance, cell phone and home improvement
- Internet, Cable, Phone services – You can see a long list of sample eligible merchants at this link.
- This category isn’t very useful for many of us given that those with the 5x INK Cash/Plus cards already earn 5x on internet, phone and cable.
- Official Exclusions: Purchases of equipment, Purchases or payment for internet, cable and satellite television, phone or related services in a merchant’s store that is not classified by the merchant in the applicable services category
- Streaming Services – Official Terms: Only subscription services paid for with the listed select merchants will qualify for this offer: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube TV. Official Exclusions: Purchases other than subscription services, e.g., music or video downloads, equipment, gift cards, etc.
- We have lots of data points on what has coded as Streaming in the past. It’s not known if these things (e.g. Amazon Audible, Apple ID load, Google Play load, etc.) will work for the Freedom category. The wording of the terms implies that it will only work at the designated merchants listed above, but let us know if you try.
Tip: Click this link (login required) to check how far you are along the $1,500.
Discover – Grocery, Walgreens, CVS
With your Discover card, earn 5% back this quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases at Grocery Stores, Walgreens, and CVS.
- Grocery Stores – grocery stores is always a favorite due as it’s a widely used category. Plus, you can buy gift cards to max out any amount you can’t use organically.
- Walgreens, CVS – these drugstores sell a wide variety of gift cards making them easy to max out the category as well
Activate to earn 5% Cashback Bonus at Grocery Stores (stand-alone), Walgreens (stand-alone) and CVS (stand-alone) from 1/1/21 (or the date on which you activate 5%, whichever is later) through 3/31/21, on up to $1,500 in purchases. Grocery Store purchases now also includes Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery purchases only; other purchases at Walmart are not eligible. Purchases made at convenience stores, gas stations, warehouse clubs, discount stores, supercenters (or at grocery stores associated with supercenters or discount stores) are not eligible. Target purchases are not eligible. Walgreens and CVS purchases include only purchases made in-store at Walgreens or CVS, online at Walgreens.com or CVS.com, or through the Walgreens or CVS app. Individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical Walgreens or CVS locations (including health centers), or on Walgreens.com or CVS.com, may not be eligible in this category. Listed merchants are in no way sponsoring or affiliated with this program.
Citi Dividend – Amazon, Streaming
With your Dividend card, earn 5% back this quarter at Amazon and on Streaming Services. Citi is different than the other cards in that you have a $6,000 annual cap rather than a $1,500 quarterly cap. Thus, you can get 5% back on up to $6,000 in this quarter, you can save the entire amount for a different quarter, or you can use part up each quarter. So, if you don’t like the Amazon & Streaming categories, you might want to wait for a later quarter with the hopes that they release something better.
- Amazon – Could be useful for some, though if you have the Amazon Prime credit card you’ll already be getting 5% on all Amazon purchases.
- Select streaming services – Includes only the following: Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, CBS All Access, Disney+, AT&T TV NOW, ESPN+, fuboTV, HBO Max, NBA League Pass, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, SiriusXM, Vudu, YouTube Red, YouTube TV, and Tidal.
- We have lots of data points on what has coded as Streaming in the past. It’s not known if these things (e.g. Amazon Audible, Apple ID load, Google Play load, etc.) will work for the Dividend category. The wording of the terms implies that it will only work at the designated merchants listed above, but let us know if you try.
US Bank Cash+ – Select your Categories
U.S. Bank Cash+ offers 5% cash back in two categories, up to $2,000 combined total per quarter. Keep in mind that Car Rentals was recently replaced with TV, Internet, and Streaming Services.
Here are the current options:
- TV, Internet, and Streaming Services
- Home utilities
- Select clothing stores
- Cell phone providers
- Electronic Stores
- Fast food
- Ground Transportation
- Sporting goods
- Department Stores
- Furniture Stores
- Movie theaters
Tip: Login here, then scroll down and click on the red “View Your Cash+ History” button.
Bank of America Cash Rewards
The Cash Rewards card from Bank of America offers 3% back on one selected category, up to $2,500 per quarter. If you don’t select anything it defaults to gas. Once you selected a category for one quarter, that remains your category in the future unless you change it. Each calendar month you can change it if you’d like, but you’re always limited to $2,500 for the entire quarter.
- Gas (default)
- Online Shopping
- Drug Stores
- Home Improvement/Furnishings
This category is especially lucrative for those who have Preferred Rewards status with Bank of America which can get you 5.25% back on one of these categories at the higher relationship level.
Lots of useful categories here. Important note: the Cash Rewards card also offers 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 per quarter, and that $2,500 limit combines with the Category Selection limit. After spending $2,500, you’ll earn 1% back on everything.
Other Cards with 5% Category
ABOC – Add me
- Earn 5x points on up to $1,500 in purchases at (add me)
Nusenda FCU – Groceries, Gas
- (Based on prior years, not yet showing:) Earn 5% this quarter on Groceries and Gas Expenses on up to $1,500 in purchases.
Affinity FCU – Add me
- Earn 5% this quarter on purchases at (add me)
The 5x is on top of regular earn for a total of 6x or 7x, depending on the card. There also does not appear to be any limit.
Vantage West [AZ] – Select your Category
Get 5x points on the category of your choice, up to $1,500 per quarter. Eligible categories:
- Utilities [water, cell, electric, etc.]
- In-Store Wholesale Purchases [Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.]
- Department Stores
- Hardware & Home Improvement Stores
- Charitable Organizations
- Pharmacies & Drug Stores