How to Optimize Chase Freedom, Discover it Cash Back for Q4 2021

This quarter, these cards will be valuable for staying stocked up on essentials right in time for the holiday season.
Funto OmojolaOct 20, 2021

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It’s never too early to get started on your holiday shopping. And this quarter, the $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the older Chase Freedom® feature bonus categories that can make it cheaper to fill up your cart — at home and in person.

The same is true for eligible Discover cards like the popular $0-annual-fee Discover it® Cash Back.

From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, eligible cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined quarterly spending in the below categories (once you activate them):

Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom®:

Discover it® Cash Back
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Chase Freedom Flex
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  • Walmart.

  • PayPal.

Discover it® Cash Back and select Discover cards:

  • Amazon.com.

  • Target.com.

  • Walmart.com.

For both cards, all non-bonus category spending earns 1% back.

Chase cardholders will have to activate their categories online or in the Chase app by Dec. 14 to be eligible for bonus cash back, which can be earned retroactively. For select Discover cards, holders will earn elevated rewards starting from the date cash-back categories are activated online.

Here’s how to get the most out of your rewards this quarter.

Nerdy tip: In addition, for Q4 2021, holders of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ who activate their 5% quarterly bonus categories will be able to earn 5% back in their top spending category (from a list of several options), also up to $1,500 for the quarter. See our story on this offer for more details.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom®

Stock up on all the essentials

Whether you’re in the market for some clothes and gadgets ahead of the gift-giving season, or just looking to do your weekly grocery run, Walmart has got you covered. The retailer’s massive breadth of inventory makes it a good place to get everything on your list. And when you use your Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom® there this quarter, you’ll be rewarded.

The cards' 5% cash back applies to purchases made at physical Walmart locations, as well as on Walmart.com and at Walmart-branded gas stations. If the retail giant is your go-to store for essentials, it likely won’t be difficult for you to hit the $1,500 quarterly bonus rewards maximum with whichever card you have.

Earn across multiple categories

Additionally, when you add the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom® as your primary PayPal payment method, you’ll earn 5% back every time you use your card for qualifying purchases through the payment service.

A wide variety of popular merchants accept PayPal, including Target.com, Walgreens.com and Apple, as well as streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. But you can also shop at independent sellers and small businesses that accept PayPal — say, for Small Business Saturday — and get rewarded just the same.

It's important to note that although Walmart and PayPal are two separately featured Chase bonus categories this quarter, purchases made at Walmart using PayPal will only earn a total of 5% cash back.

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)

• Gas stations. • Home improvement stores.

Q3 (July 1–Sept. 30)

• Grocery stores. • Select streaming services.

Q4 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31)

• Walmart. • PayPal.

Discover it® Cash Back and select eligible Discover cards

Fill up your cart from the comfort of your home

Starting from the date of activation, eligible Discover cardholders can earn 5% back for online purchases made at three major retailers this quarter: Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com. All three sellers offer a wide range of merchandise, including groceries, home appliances and clothing, making them useful places to get much of your shopping bases covered. Enrollment required.

Note that only purchases made online — with the exception of some Amazon-affiliated stores listed below — will qualify for bonus rewards.

Nerdy tip: Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com all sell gift cards — both to their own stores and to various external retailers — which also qualify for Discover’s bonus rewards this quarter. This means that if your budget allows it, you can pile up on gift cards to use this holiday season and earn elevated rewards for doing so.

Amazon.com: Amazon loyalists will be rewarded for all purchases made with their eligible Discover cards, through the online retailer. This includes digital downloads, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Prime subscriptions, as well as third-party merchants that sell through Amazon.com. Additionally, in-person purchases made at Amazon Go stores, Amazon Bookstores and Amazon 4-Star will qualify for 5% back as well.

Target.com: Unlike Amazon, only purchases made online through Target.com or through the Target app will qualify for the Discover card’s 5% cash back.

Walmart.com: Shoppers will get rewarded for any spending they do at Walmart.com and through the Walmart app. This includes grocery delivery and pickup as well.

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.

If you're an avid Walmart shopper and you have both an eligible Discover card and Chase Freedom card, you could very well max out both cards' $1,500 spending caps by shopping at the retailer. If you do most of your shopping elsewhere, however, the overlap of Walmart and Walmart.com as bonus categories probably won't prove useful.

The information related to the Chase Freedom® credit card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. The Chase Freedom® is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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