Trip Astute has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Trip Astute and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Rotating bonus category cards are a great way to earn points or cash back. Though they do require some work since you have to remember the new categories every quarter. However, the payoff can be lucrative. In this video/post, we’re going to review the Chase Freedom bonus categories for quarter 3, as well updates for the US Bank Cash+ and Citi Dividend card.
New Chase Freedom bonus categories
For the Chase Freedom, we’re ending the second quarter bonus categories of grocery stores and home improvement stores. Starting in July, you’ll earn 5% on gas stations and streaming services. The 5% bonus applies for up to $1,500 of qualified spending.
For gas stations, Chase defines it as places that sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station. In the past, they have excluded wholesale merchants like Costco and Sam’s Club. However, as long as it codes as gas, you should be safe. I’ve noticed that Costco Gas does earn a bonus on my Ink Business Cash card, so I’m assuming that it will work for the Freedom card too.
For streaming services, you’re limited to:
- Fubo TV
- Apple Music
That’s still a great list. Though, I was hoping that HBO Now would be included as well. Maybe next time!
Thoughts on the Chase Freedom
While I’m going to miss the grocery bonus category from the second quarter, the Chase Freedom remains one of my favorite cards. I’ve had this card since 2012, and I consider it a workhorse in my wallet. It might look like any other 5% rotating bonus card. However, if you value Chase Ultimate Reward points at more than one cent, you’ll be earning a lot of value with this card. I would argue that I earn an adjusted rate of 7.5% with this card since I value Chase UR points at 1.5 cents.
No updates for the US Bank Cash+
For the US Bank Cash+ card, there are no new categories or changes this quarter.
If you’re unfamiliar with this card, US Bank allows you to pick your rotating 5% categories every quarter. The card also has 2% categories where you can earn unlimited cashback. They even let you earn the 5% bonus on up to $2,000 of spend per quarter on the combined selected bonus categories. That’s even better than the Chase Freedom!
Thoughts on the US Bank Cash+
I got this card late last year and have used it as a backup for spending categories that aren’t covered by my other cashback cards. I also use it to earn 5% for my monthly gym membership fee. For this quarter, I’ve selected the same categories as before — gyms and department stores. I try to capture a bonus on as much of my spending as possible. This card helps me get closer to that goal.
New Citi Dividend bonus categories
Citi Dividend users are ending the second quarter bonus category on purchases at drug stores and fitness clubs. For the third quarter of 2019, cardmembers will receive 5% on airlines and car rentals purchases. Keep in mind that the Citi Dividend card has a yearly award bonus cap of $300 per calendar year. That means that you’re not restricted by a specific quarter’s bonus. You just need to track how much bonus you earn over the entire calendar year.
Why these bonus categories may NOT be worthwhile
While these are lucrative bonus categories, it might be better to charge your airline or car rental purchases to a premium travel card if you have one. That’s because you’re sacrificing some of the travel protections and coverages found in premium travel cards in order to earn the bonus. For example, I would prefer to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred to book a rental car. This’s because these cards include primary car rental coverage. The savings from opting out of the car rental insurance would likely offset the cash back I would earn from the Citi Dividend card. And if I were to get into an accident, the value proposition of the travel benefit is even higher.
How to get a Citi Dividend card
While the Citi Dividend card is not available for new applicants, it is available through a product change from another Citi card. This is important to note since Citi seems to have a more liberal policy when it comes to downgrading cards. For example, I’ve seen people report online that they’ve been able to product change from co-branded Citi cards. This includes Citi cards associated with American Airlines and their flexible points program (i.e., Thank You Rewards). If you have a Citi card that you want to cancel, it might be worthwhile asking for a product change to the Citi Dividend. It doesn’t have an annual fee, and you’ll likely find a few categories every year that can earn you a bonus. Plus, you’ll eliminate the credit score impact that would occur if you canceled the card.
For example, I converted my Citi Double Cash to it last year since I prefer to put my non-bonus spending on my Chase Freedom Unlimited or Ink Business Unlimited. You may be wondering why I prefer to use cards that earn 1.5% instead of 2%. It’s because my adjusted earning rate is higher using my Chase cards since I can redeem at a higher value.
Tools to help you remember the new bonus categories
I know that it takes me a while before the new categories sink into my brain. If you’re like me, then you might need a reminder. We’ve put together some free tools that you can download to help you remember these categories. We have our popular wallet-sized cheat sheet and our smartphone lock screens. There are a few variations of the lock screen in case you only want information for only one of the cards and not the others. Also, if you have any ideas for things that might be helpful for you to remember, let us know. We’re always looking for ways to provide extra value.
Remember to activate the bonus!
As a reminder, make sure you log-in and activate the bonus for these cards. You can wait until September 14th to activate your Chase Freedom bonus categories since Chase will award points retroactively. However, you’re better off doing it now before you forget. Unfortunately, US Bank and Citi won’t award you a bonus until you activate it.
Apply for a Chase Freedom or US Bank Cash+
If you’re interested in applying for any of these cards, we encourage you to compare credit card offers. We do get a commission if you use our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but it helps us to continue building content for our site and channel.
What do you think of the new quarterly bonus categories? Are you excited or disappointed by them?