I honestly can’t believe that we’re almost done with 2018. It feels like the year has just flown by. With the final three months of the year comes times to review the credit card rotating bonus categories for some of our favorite cash back cards, including the Chase Freedom, Discover It, US Bank Cash+, and Citi Dividend Card.
For the Chase Freedom card, we are ending the third quarter bonus categories of Lyft, Walgreens, and gas stations. Starting in October, you’ll earn 5% on department stores, wholesale clubs, and Chase Pay. The 5% bonus applies for up to $1500 of qualified spending.
Chase has a list of the exact stores that qualify as a department store and wholesale club. The list also shows stores which are NOT included in these classifications, which is helpful to know.
I think the department stores and wholesale club bonus categories are useful, especially with the holiday shopping season. I would have loved to see Amazon included in the list. Though if you have a Discover It card, you’ll be covered for Amazon — we’ll discuss that next.
The Chase Pay bonus category is quirky too. There are more merchants that are accepting Chase Pay, so you might be able to take advantage of this bonus category. Check out our Chase Pay post/video for more information on the service and how it works. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Chase Pay, mostly because I can’t use it since I have my business and personal accounts connected. Though Fiona has used it several times and been able to take advantage of some local deals. Also, I’ve heard that using Chase Pay for gas purchases at Shell stations is a very seamless process.
For the Discover It card, we’re ending the third quarter with the lucrative bonus category of restaurants. Starting in October, you’ll earn 5% on Amazon.com purchases and wholesale clubs. Like the Chase Freedom card, the bonus is valid for up to $1500 of qualified spending.
I love the Amazon.com bonus category. It’ll be handy for holiday and purchases, especially with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The wholesale clubs category is valuable too. Though keep in mind that some wholesale club purchases, like travel and cell phone purchases, may not be eligible for the bonus.
US Bank Cash+
For the US Bank Cash+ card, we’re not seeing anything new this quarter. If you’re not familiar with the card, US Bank allows you to pick your rotating 5% categories every quarter and also has 2% categories where you can earn unlimited cashback. US Bank even lets you earn the 5% bonus on up to $2000 of spend per quarter on the combined selected bonus categories. This limit is higher than both the Chase Freedom and Discover It card. I don’t personally have this credit card, but it’s on my list of cards that I’m considering.
Lastly, Citi Dividend users are ending the third quarter bonus category on purchases from airlines and movie theatres, and for the fourth quarter of 2018, will be receiving 5% at Best Buy and Department Stores. Keep in mind that the Citi Dividend card has a yearly award bonus cap of $300 per calendar year, which means that you’re not as restricted by a specific quarter’s bonus. Though you’ll need to track how much bonus you’ve earned over the entire calendar year.
With all the recent changes with Chase’s Sapphire cards, I think a lot of folks are considering cashback cards as a simple and straightforward way to earn money that can be applied toward travel expenses. I know my friend Dustin at Waller’s Wallet is a big proponent of cashback cards and has several great videos on how to take advantage of a cashback strategy. While I still love my Chase “quinfecta” (i.e., Sapphire Reserve, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Business Preferred), I try to take advantage of the rotating bonus categories whenever possible.
As a reminder, make sure you log-in and activate the bonus for these cards. While you can wait until December 14th to activate your Chase Freedom bonus category since Chase will award the points retroactively, you’re better off doing it now before you forget. Unfortunately, Discover, US Bank, and Citi won’t award you a bonus until you activate it, so do it now before you forget.
How do I keep track of all these changes?
We’ve put together a wallet-sized cheat sheet that you can download for free from our website. I know that it can take a while before the new categories get set in my brain. If you’re like me and need a little reminder, I’m hoping the cheat sheet comes in handy.
Interested in applying?
I’ve included referral links to some of these cards in case you’re interested in applying. As of September 2018, the Chase Freedom is offering a $150 bonus opening and Discover is offering a cash back match for an entire year. Also, in case you’re wondering about the Citi Dividend card, it’s no longer available for new applicants. Though you can still get it through a product change from another Citi card.
What do you all think of the new quarterly bonus categories? Are you excited or disappointed by them? Let us know in the comment section below.