Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom 5% categories (2021)

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The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom (no longer available for new sign-ups) 5% back bonus categories for the first quarter of 2021 have been released. From Jan. 1 through Mar. 31, 2021, you’ll get 5% cash back (5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) with Wholesale clubs, select streaming services, and phone, cable and internet services when you activate the bonus. If you spend the $1,500 maximum in this quarter’s bonus categories, you’ll earn 7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (a $75 value).

One nice feature of this bonus is that even if you forget to activate your bonus immediately, you can still receive the bonus for your spending in these categories. As long as you activate the bonus by Mar. 14, 2021, any qualifying purchases you’ve made since Jan. 1 will earn 5% back.

Promotion periodActivate byBonus categories
January – MarchActivate by March 14, 2021– Wholesale clubs
– Select streaming services
– Phone, cable and internet services
April – June(Activation period closed)– TBA
July – September(Activation period closed)– TBA
October – December(Activation period closed)-TBA

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

How to register your card for the bonus category

You can activate the Q1 bonuses categories here. Again, as long as you activate the bonus categories no later than Mar. 14, 2020, you’ll still earn the 5% back on all the qualifying purchases you’ve made in the first quarter.

How to maximize the 5% cash back categories

Bonus categories for this quarter are simple enough to use. Between these three categories, it should be easy for lots of cardholders to max out the bonus with $500 in spending per month.

Wholesale clubs 

To start, many families do nearly all of their grocery shopping at wholesale clubs. Whether you shop at Costco, Sams Club, or another qualifying wholesale club (including BJ’s and Texas Jasmine), spending $500 during Q1 will be easy. Throw one weeks worth of groceries in your cart and you’ll be all set!

Select streaming services’ category 

Secondly, almost all households subscribe to at least one streaming service. Eligible streaming services include:

  • Disney+
  • Hulu
  • ESPN+
  • Netflix
  • Sling
  • Vudu
  • Fubo TV
  • Apple Music
  • SiriusXM
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • YouTube TV

And only subscription services paid for with the listed select merchants will qualify for this offer.

Phone, cable, and internet services 

Finally, yet more incredibly useful bonus categories. Nearly everyone reading this post likely has cell phone or internet service. So again, meeting the $500 spending threshold should be a no brainer for most. 

To make sure you reach the full payout from these rotating categories, be sure you keep the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom at the top of your wallet, literally and figuratively. Some cardholders put a sticky note on the cards they don’t want to forget to use. If you’re an online shopper, switch your Freedom Flex or Freedom to your default payment method.

These quarterly bonus categories are a terrific way to earn cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem in fantastic ways if you have one of the following cards:

You can pool your chase points onto one of the above Chase credit cards, which enables you to use your points with Chase transfer partners. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can pool your points on that card, which are then worth 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal or using Pay Yourself Back. That extra $300 in cash back you can earn each year (if you max out all the bonus categories) could be used to pay for $450 in flights, rental cars, hotels, and more.

How to track Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex bonus category spending 

To track your bonus category spending you’ll need to login into your Chase account. From there you’ll be able to see the exact amount you’ve earned toward the $75/7,500 points quarterly earning cap.

On the homepage, you’ll see how many Ultimate Rewards points you’ve earned for the quarter. In the example below, you can see that I haven’t earned any bonus points for my Q1 spending.

Click “Details >” and you’ll be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards portal where you’ll see a breakdown of any spending and points earned in the current quarter. Again, in this example, you can’t see that I haven’t spent anything toward the Q1 bonus categories. 

If you have spent toward the bonus categories and want to calculate how much 5x spending you have left, subtract what you’ve earned so far from $75 and then multiply that by 20.

So, for example, if you’ve spent $20, you have $1,100 of spending left to maximize the spending this quarter ($75 – $20 = $55 and $55 X 20 = $1,100).

Chase vs Discover: 5% rotating bonus calendar 2021

The Discover it® Cash Back offers a similar 5% quarterly promotion to the Chase Freedom and Freedom Flex. It even brings similar categories to the table. The same rules apply — you’ll earn 5% in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending after activating your card each quarter.

Promotion periodActivate byChase Freedom Flex℠ / Chase FreedomDiscover it® Cash Back
January – MarchActivate by March 14, 2021– Wholesale clubs
– Select streaming services
– Phone, cable and internet services
– Grocery stores
– Walgreens
– CVS
April – June(Activation period closed)– TBA– Gas stations
– Wholesale clubs
– Select streaming services
July – September(Activation period closed)– TBA– Restaurants
– Paypal
October – December(Activation period closed)– TBA– Amazon website
– Walmart website
– Target website

Sometimes the same bonus categories are offered in the same quarter, and sometimes they’re not.

The information for the Discover it Cash Back has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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