It’s now possible to activate/enroll all 5% category credit cards for the third quarter of 2021, including the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Flex, Discover IT, Citi Dividend, 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: July 1st – September 30, 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 – Grocery, Streaming
With your Freedom and Freedom Flex cards, earn 5% back this quarter on up to $1,500 in spend at Grocery Stores and Select Streaming Services.
- Grocery Stores (excluding Walmart and Target)
- Grocery stores are always a favorite and easy-to-use category. You can buy gift cards at many grocery stores as well, such as Visa or Amazon. Or buy a gift card to the grocery store itself to spend down slowly.
- Select Streaming Services
- Only subscription services paid for with the following select merchants will qualify for this offer: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube TV.
Tip: Click this link (login required) to check how far you are along the $1,500.
Discover – Restaurants, PayPal
With your Discover card, earn 5% back this quarter on up to $1,500 in purchases at Restaurants and PayPal.
- PayPal – This is easily my favorite category since there are tons of major retailers that accept PayPal, such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy and more. You can also use it for tax payments via PayUSATax, charity donations, P2P payments and more.
- Restaurants – Useful category as well, though restaurants is often a bonuses category on other cards too.
Activate to earn 5% Cashback Bonus at Restaurants and PayPal from 7/1/21 (or the date on which you activate 5%, whichever is later) through 9/30/21, on up to $1,500 in purchases. Restaurant purchases include only those made at merchants classified as full-service restaurants, cafes, cafeterias and fast food locations. PayPal qualifying purchases are those made through the PayPal wallet online, when you send money to Friends and Family via PayPal using your Discover Card, and point-of-sale transactions using PayPal Here. Payments made through the Xoom transfer service are not eligible for 5%. Any restaurant purchase made using PayPal will only be awarded a total of 5% Cashback Bonus. PayPal, the PayPal logo are trademarks of PayPal or its Affiliates. Listed merchants are in no way sponsoring or affiliated with this program.
Citi Dividend – Gas, Home Improvement
With your Dividend card, earn 5% back this quarter at Gas Stations and Home Improvement Stores. 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. A lot of people may have already maxed this out in Q2 2021 on grocery stores and drugstores.
- Gas Stations – some convenience stores like 7-Eleven might qualify. All regular pumped gas should qualify. (“Qualifying gas station purchases excludes gasoline purchases at warehouse clubs, discount stores, convenience stores or other merchants that do not use the gas station merchant category code.”)
- Home Improvement Stores – useful summer category. Should include Lowe’s, Home Depot, and the like. (“Qualifying home improvement store purchases include home supply warehouse stores, lumber and building materials stores, paint and wallpaper stores, hardware stores, nurseries – lawn and garden supply stores and paints, varnishes and supplies stores. Excludes florists and florists’ supply stores; nursery stock; wholesale construction stores; and glass stores.”)
US Bank Cash+/Elan – Select your Categories
U.S. Bank Cash+ and Elan Max offer 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 – Gas, Travel, Tolls, Rideshare
- Earn 5x points on qualifying airline, cruise, car rental, hotel, travel agency purchases, gas, tolls, and ride share. Must have a registered account at abocrewards.com.
Nusenda FCU – Gas, Education
- Earn 5% this quarter on gas and education expenses, up to $1,500 in purchases.
Affinity FCU – Add Me
- Earn 5% this quarter on purchases at ADD ME on up to $3,500 in purchases.
The 5x is on top of regular earn for a total of 6x or 7x, depending on the card.
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