Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
April 1, 2016, was the beginning of a new quarter. And that means it’s time to look over your cards to see which to use in the new 5% cash back bonus categories!
Be sure to activate these bonuses if you haven’t already.
I’ll remind you of this quarter’s categories and how to register for these bonuses!
Earn More This Quarter From These Cards
1. Chase Freedom
Link: Chase Freedom
Through June 30, 2016, you’ll earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) on up to $1,500 in spending at grocery stores and wholesale clubs with the Chase Freedom card.
Unfortunately, this does NOT include Walmart, Target, and other discount stores. And at wholesale clubs it doesn’t include gas, fuel, or wholesale club specialty service purchases like travel, insurance, cell phone, and home improvement.
That said, 5X points at places like Sam’s Club can be a great deal! And remember, beginning June 20, 2016, Costco begins accepting Visa cards like Chase Freedom in-store.
You must activate the Freedom 5X bonus categories by June 14, 2016.
Chase Freedom is my favorite no-annual-fee card because it helps me earn a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points on things I have to buy anyway.
You can currently 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150 in cash back) when you sign-up for the Chase Freedom card and spend $500 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.
When you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold (no longer available), or the Chase Ink Plus, you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like United Airlines and Hyatt for Big Travel!
2. Discover it
Link: Discover it
Through June 30, 2016, you’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases at restaurants and movie theaters. The category also includes online movie ticket services. But purchases made at warehouse clubs and discount stores do NOT count.
Remember, you must activate the bonus.
The best part is that folks who sign-up for a new Discover it card will have all their cash back doubled at the end of their 1st 12 billing cycles. So you’ll get 10% back! With the money you save, you may not feel as bad for sacrificing your child’s college tuition to buy popcorn at the theater. 😉
I like that the Discover card has no foreign transaction fees. So it’s a good card to use when you’re trying new restaurants while traveling outside the US. In addition to the Discover logo, look for Diner’s Club or JCB stickers on restaurant window.
3. Citi Dividend
The Citi Dividend card is no longer open to new applicants. But if you already have this card, you can earn 5% cash back at drug stores and fitness clubs through June 30, 2016.
You can earn a total of $300 cash back each year with the Citi Dividend card. So you can earn it all in 1 quarter or throughout the year.
4. US Bank Cash+
Link: US Bank Cash+
Link: US Bank Cash+ Categories
You can choose new bonus spending categories each quarter with the US Bank Cash+ card,
You can pick two 5% cash back categories and one 2% cash back category (gas stations, groceries, or restaurants).
There are a lot of 5% cash back categories! Here are a few ideas, but check the merchant examples for more details:
- Bookstores – Barnes & Noble, Amazon Kindle Books, and some University Bookstores. Note: Some folks say they’ve received 5% back on many Amazon purchases besides books with this category.
- Car Rental – Avis, Budget, National Car Rental
- Cell Phone – AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon
- Charity – American Cancer Society, Kiva, The Salvation Army
- Department Stores – Bloomingdales, JCPenney, Nordstrom Rack
- Electronics Stores – Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, TigerDirect
- Fast Food – Chipotle, Panera Bread, Starbucks, and Cold Stone Creamery!
- Furniture Stores – American Furniture, Ethan Allen, IKEA
- Gyms – 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, LA Fitness
- Movie Theaters – AMC Theatres, Fandango.com, Regal Cinemas
- Select Clothing Stores – Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, Old Navy
- Sporting Good Stores – Big 5 Sporting Goods, REI, Sports Authority
If you don’t pick your categories, you’ll only earn 1% cash back on all spending until next quarter!
Don’t Want to Shuffle Your Cards?
Some folks don’t like tracking which card to use. So instead, you can focus on cards with terrific cash back bonuses all the time.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – 6% cash back at US grocery stores (up to $6,000 in purchases per year); then 1%. Terms apply.
- AMEX SimplyCash – 5% cash back at US office supply stores (up to $25,000 in purchases per year). Terms apply.
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express currently has a special offer where you can get up to $350 back. The offer ends June 15, 2016. For those of y’all with big grocery bills, here’s my review of the card.
Or consider cards which offer bonus miles, points, or cash back on all spending, like:
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard – 2X Arrival miles on everything, worth 2.1% back when redeemed for $100+ travel expenses
- Discover it Miles – 1.5 miles per $1 you spend (worth 1.5% back), doubled at the end of the 1st year, for an effective 3% back on everything
Each quarter I get a little (too) excited about the new 5% bonus categories! This quarter (ending June 30, 2016) has particularly good categories such as grocery stores and warehouse clubs with Chase Freedom. And restaurants with Discover it.
I especially like earning points for Big Travel with the Freedom card on things I’m going to buy anyway. Because I move the Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my Chase Sapphire Preferred. And that allows me to transfer to partners like Hyatt and United Airlines.
Just remember to activate the new bonus categories to earn the extra points or cash back!
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 20,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!