Because of COVID-19, household priorities and spending habits have changed dramatically. Dining out and travel are less frequent, while home-cooked meals and video streaming are in — but maximizing credit card points isn’t much of a priority.
Both cards earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined spending on bonus categories that rotate each quarter (activation required), and 1% back on everything else. And from April 1 to June 30, 2020, those bonus categories are as follows:
Chase Freedom®: Grocery stores, fitness clubs and gym memberships, select streaming services.
Discover: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs. (And, for June 2020 only, The Home Depot).
Here's how to use these cards strategically during difficult times.
Having grocery stores as a bonus category can be useful right now. Your previously quiet home is now full all day, with you and your spouse, partner or roommates working remotely. Add in a few kids (or young adults home from college) and you’re going to need a lot of food in your fridge to accommodate all the meals and mindless snacking. Stock up on everything your household needs to run as smoothly as possible. You can limit how often you come into contact with others by placing orders online for delivery, or requesting curbside pickup outside your local store. Instacart, Shipt and Peapod orders also earn 5% cash back, according to a Chase representative.
Fitness clubs and gym memberships
Fitness clubs and gym memberships are a new category for the Chase Freedom®. But in many U.S. states, gyms are closed for now. Your membership may even have been suspended until your local gym reopens again. Still, some fitness studios allow you to buy individual or multiclass passes to use in the future. Others are offering members access to home fitness classes they can stream at their convenience. Not all fitness clubs are eligible, however, and popular streaming subscriptions like Peloton aren’t, either.
For the second quarter in a row, you can earn 5% cash back on select streaming services including Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube TV, Google Play and ESPN+. With everyone staying home right now, this category is especially helpful. If you already switched your autopay feature to your Chase Freedom® last quarter, you won't need to change a thing to keep earning 5% back. If you're a new card holder, be sure to add your Chase Freedom® as your payment method for any eligible streaming services that you subscribe to.
Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus rewards categories for 2021
Q1 (Jan. 1 - March 31)
• Wholesale clubs. • Select streaming services. • Internet, cable and phone services.
Q2 (April 1 - June 30)
TBD (In 2020: grocery stores; gym memberships and fitness clubs; select streaming services.)
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)
TBD (In 2020: Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market.)
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)
TBD (In 2020: Walmart; PayPal.)
You may not be commuting like you normally do, but keeping your tank full can be helpful in an emergency. (You may wish to fill up outside at the pump rather than physically walking into a convenience store right now.) Your Discover it® Cash Back or Discover it® Student Cash Back on its own earns bonus cash back at gas stations this quarter, but you can also pair your card with a rewards program to amplify your earnings. Here are two examples of how this can work:
Save at least 5 cents per gallon by first swiping your Shell Fuel Rewards membership card at the pump (or entering your member number), and then pay with your eligible Discover card to get 5% cash back on the total cost after the discount. You can also link your Fuel Rewards account to your credit card to save money without having to swipe two different cards.
Or use Exxon Mobile Rewards+ to earn 3 points per gallon on fuel and 2 points for every $1 you spend in the convenience store and on car washes (100 earned points equals $1 in savings). You can link your Discover card directly to the Exxon Mobile Rewards app, or use Apple Pay through the app — be sure to have your Discover card as your payment method of choice in Apple Pay.
If there were ever a time to stock up on the essentials, it’s now. And shopping in bulk can help cut down on the number of times per week you’d need to venture out for supplies. While Costco accepts only Visa cards, you can use your Discover card at other wholesale clubs, including Sam’s Club and BJ’s. Both wholesalers offer ways for members to limit their exposure when they shop, like same-day in-store pickup for online orders.
As of this writing, BJ’s is offering free same-day delivery to your doorstep for orders over $35 with the code BJS20SPRING. Meanwhile, the Sam’s Club app allows you to scan items as you shop and pay through the app, so you can skip standing in long checkout lines. Be sure you add your Discover card as a payment method on the app.
Uber and Lyft
Ridesharing use may be down right now, but you can earn 5% cash back if you do need an Uber or Lyft. Unfortunately, Uber Eats purchases won’t earn 5% bonus cash back, according to a representative from Discover.
Both ridesharing services have temporarily eliminated riders’ ability to carpool with people they don’t know, which can raise the price of a ride, but helps limit drivers’ and passengers’ contact with others.
Nerd tip: In June 2020, Discover added The Home Depot as a 5% cash-back category, but only for that month. If you've been holding off on home improvement projects and you have an eligible Discover card, June might be the time to get started, especially if you've had trouble meeting the quarterly spending cap on gas, wholesale clubs or ridesharing.
Discover bonus rewards categories for 2021
Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)
• Grocery stores*. • CVS. • Walgreens.
*The grocery stores category includes Walmart Grocery Pickup & Delivery, but not grocery purchases inside Walmart or at other superstores such as Target or wholesale clubs.
Q2 (April 1 – June 30)
• Gas stations. • Wholesale clubs. • Select streaming services.
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)
• Restaurants. • PayPal.
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)
• Amazon.com. • Target.com. • Walmart.com.
Social distance and your credit cards
Digital wallets are a great way to limit contact — there’s no need to hand your credit card to a cashier or press buttons on a credit card reader. Add your Chase Freedom®, Discover it® Cash Back or Discover it® Student Cash Back to your digital wallet to use at participating retailers where you’ll earn 5% cash back.