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Rotating bonus category cards are a great way to earn points or cashback. Though they do require 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 new Chase Freedom bonus categories for quarter 4, as well as updates for the US Bank Cash+ and Citi Dividend card.
New Chase Freedom bonus categories
For the Chase Freedom card, we’re ending the third quarter bonus categories of gas stations and streaming services. Starting this quarter, you’ll earn 5% on Department stores, PayPal, and Chase Pay. The 5% bonus applies to $1,500 of qualified spending.
While I was hoping for an Amazon.com bonus category this quarter, I’m pleased with the PayPal bonus. It’s easy to maximize since many online retailers allow checkout through PayPal. Also, if you look at the fine print, it doesn’t exclude PayPal transfers to family and friends. While you’ll pay around 3% to do a peer-to-peer transfer via PayPal, you’ll still be ahead since you’re earning 5% back.
Also, for those of you that pay monthly or quarterly taxes, you might consider using your Chase Freedom to make the payments. Like peer-to-peer transfers, you’ll pay a processing fee, but you should come out ahead with the 5% bonus.
To be honest, I’m a little surprised that Chase is still trying to promote Chase Pay, especially since they announced that it is going to be discontinued in early 2020. As many of you know, I’ve never been a fan of Chase Pay. It’s always felt clunky and confusing to use. I’m not surprised that Chase is moving away from it. Though I wish they would include mobile payments as a bonus category instead.
Thoughts on the Chase Freedom
Despite my minor gripes, the Chase Freedom remains one of my favorite cards. I’ve had this card since 2012, and it’s 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 Plus card, there are no new categories or changes this quarter.
The US Bank Cash+ is a versatile cashback card since it lets you pick you rotating 5% and 2% categories every 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. They even let you earn the 5% bonus on up to $2,000 of spend per quarter on the combined selected bonus categories, which is even better than the Chase Freedom. The card also includes some unique and rare bonus categories like home utilities and gym memberships.
Thoughts on the US Bank Cash+
I got this card late last year, and I’ve used it as a backup for spending categories that aren’t covered by my other credit cards. For example, I like that I can put my gym membership on it and earn 5%. Since I try to capture a bonus category on as much of my spending as possible, this card helps me to get closer to that goal.
New Citi Dividend bonus categories
Citi Dividend users are ending the third quarter bonus category on airlines and car rental purchases, and for the fourth quarter of 2019, are earning 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. 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.
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., ThankYou 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 to earn a bonus. Plus, you’ll eliminate the credit score impact that would occur if you cancel 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, please 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 December 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?