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The Chase Freedom Flex℠ isn't necessarily the easiest credit card to manage, but it offers great rewards for those willing to put in a little work.
The card earns 5% cash back in categories that change every three months. You have to "activate" the categories each time in order to qualify for the 5% rewards rate, and you earn the 5% only on the first $1,500 spent in the category per quarter. Below is the current Chase 5% calendar.
In addition to these rotating 5% categories, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns:
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase.
3% at restaurants.
3% at drugstores.
1% on other purchases.
An earlier version of the card, the Chase Freedom®, has the same 5% quarterly categories, with the same activation requirement and the same $1,500 quarterly cap on spending eligible for the 5%. However, this version does not have the 5% and 3% rewards on travel, restaurants and drugstores. All other spending with this card earns 1%. (The original Chase Freedom® is no longer accepting applications, but existing cardholders can continue to use it.)
Chase 5% categories calendar
Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus rewards categories for 2022
Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)
• Grocery stores. • eBay.
Q2 (April 1-June 30)
• Amazon.com. • Select streaming services.
Q3 (July 1–Sept. 30)
• Gas stations. • Car rentals. • Movie theaters. • Select live entertainment.
Q4 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31)
• PayPal. • Walmart.
Chase 5% calendars from years past
Chase typically doesn't reveal its 5% categories until the month before they take effect. So you usually won't know the categories for, say, the third quarter (July, August, September) until the middle of June. (By contrast, Discover, which has a similar rewards structure on many of its cards, usually reveals the full year's calendar ahead of time.)
You can get a sense of what might be ahead by looking at categories from recent years, since Chase commonly repeats categories from one year to the next. Below are the categories going back to 2014.
The lineup has evolved over time. Restaurants used to be a 5% category every year, for example, but that hasn't happened since 2017. (And now that restaurants are a "permanent" 3% category on the Chase Freedom Flex℠, its days as a 5% quarterly category may truly be over.) Meanwhile, for a couple of years, Chase used the 5% categories to try to nudge people into adopting its (now defunct) Chase Pay digital wallet app.
How to activate Chase 5% categories
Categories become available for activation around the 15th of the month before the quarter starts — around Dec. 15 for the first quarter, March 15 for the second quarter, June 15 for the third quarter, and Sept. 15 for the fourth quarter.
To activate the category, log in to Chase on the web or go to the Chase mobile app:
On the web, after signing in, select the account for your card. Click the "5% cash back" link, and activate the category.
On the app, after signing in, tap the account for your card, scroll down to the "5% cash back" section, and activate the category.
You have until the 14th day of the last month of the quarter to activate the categories. Activation is retroactive, so as long as you activate by the deadline, you'll get the 5% for all eligible spending during the quarter.
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The information related to Chase Freedom® credit card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.