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Chase has launched its cash back categories for Q3 2020. From July 1 through Sept. 30, Chase Freedom® cardholders can earn 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases, up to $1,500, once they activate the categories. While the Whole Foods category is less useful for those who do not live near a Whole Foods location, cardholders can make good use of the Amazon.com spending category.
Cardholders can activate Q2 categories as of June 15.
In this guide, we'll go over the new earning categories in greater detail. We’ll also analyze Chase’s past categories, to see which types of merchants may show up in the future.
Chase Freedom® categories 2020 calendar
Chase Bank maintains a cash back calendar for Chase Freedom® cardholders to inform users when and where they can earn 5% cash back using their card in each quarter. You Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
The list of merchant categories changes every quarter. Q3 features one particularly lucrative category — Amazon.com — which should push cardholders a good way toward hitting the quarterly spending limit.
|January - March||April - June||July - September||October - December|
|Gas stations, Internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services||Grocery stores, gym memberships, fitness clubs and select streaming services||Amazon.com and Whole Foods||"Holiday"|
Other important things to know:
- You can activate Chase Freedom® categories by visiting the Chase Freedom® categories page and clicking the “Activate now” button.
- You don’t have to activate before the quarter starts. You can activate from June 15 up until Sept. 14 — two weeks before the quarter ends.
- Don’t worry if you forgot to activate before you make a purchase. You will still earn 5% cash back as long as you activate the cash back before the deadline.
What merchants are included in the Chase Freedom® categories?
Before you make a purchase with your Chase Freedom® card to earn the 5% cash back, make sure the merchant falls under the right earning category. You can find out whether a merchant qualifies under the current quarter’s categories by looking at the merchant category code (MCC).
Chase stipulates that they have full discretion as to how MCCs are grouped. It’s entirely possible for some merchants that sell some of the items that fit one particular category to not qualify for the 5% cash back. This can work for and against cardholders.
Here’s a summary of accepted merchants in each category for Q3 2020:
What's included: Purchases made at Amazon.com including digital downloads, Amazon.com Gift Cards, Amazon.com Fresh orders, Amazon.com Prime subscriptions, and items sold by third party merchants through Amazon.com’s marketplace.
What's excluded: Merchants using Amazon Now and international Amazon sites.
Fitness clubs and gym memberships
What's included: Purchases made at Whole Foods Market including physical Whole Foods Market store locations, 365 stores, and the website accessible at wholefoodsmarket.com.
- International Whole Foods Market sites
- Purchases of Whole Foods products or services through third-party sites such as Eventbrite, Instacart, Google Express and Shipt
- Online purchases of event tickets, classes or gift cards redeemable at Whole Foods Market or Whole Foods Market 365 (including through buyatab.com)
- Purchases from certain third-party vendors operating at Whole Foods Market sites
- Purchases of massage chair services made at Whole Foods Market sites
- Purchases from [email protected]
Previous Chase Freedom® categories
Chase does not provide details about its bonus categories until a couple of weeks in advance of a quarter. This can make it difficult to decide on applying for the Chase Freedom®, especially if you are trying to forecast whether the categories will match your spending patterns. One way around this issue is to look at last year’s categories. Many of the merchants on the Chase Freedom® cash back calendar tend to repeat year-to-year, with only slight variation.
|January - March||Gas stations, tolls and drugstores||Gas stations, internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services|
|April - June||Home improvement stores and grocery stores||Grocery stores, gym memberships, fitness clubs, select streaming services|
|July - September||Gas stations and select streaming services||Amazon.com and Whole Foods|
|October - December||Department stores, PayPal and Chase Pay||TBD|
The types of merchants included in the 5% bonus calendar change every year. However, certain groups — like restaurants and grocery stores — are included almost every year, during similar time periods. Likewise, certain themes follow specific seasons. For example the fourth quarter categories are usually a holiday theme.
Chase Freedom® categories vs. Discover it® Cash Back categories
Like the Chase Freedom®, The Discover it® Cash Back offers 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories for up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter.
Discover's cashback calendar tends to cover many of the same categories as Chase — such as grocery stores, restaurants and holiday shopping in the fourth quarter. Unlike Chase, Discover releases their entire calendar at the beginning of the year, so you know ahead of time what you'll be earning through the year.
For Q3, Chase has a major advantage, since restaurants are mostly shuttered during the coronavirus quarantine.
Here's a comparison of the two cards' categories for 2020:
|Chase Freedom®||Discover it® Cash Back|
|Gas stations, Internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services||Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS|
|Grocery stores, gym memberships, fitness clubs and select streaming services||Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs|
|Amazon.com and Whole Foods||Restaurants and PayPal|
|TBA||Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com|
The information related to the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cash Back has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.