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Rotating bonus category cards are an easy way to earn points or cashback, even despite requiring some effort since you have to remember new categories every quarter. However, for those that love earning points and cashback, it’s worth moving your spending onto these cards to maximize the bonus categories. Below, I’ll review the new Chase Freedom bonus categories for quarter 1, as well as updates for the US Bank Cash+ and Citi Dividend card.
Chase Freedom Card
For the Chase Freedom card, we’re ending the fourth quarter bonus categories of Department stores, PayPal, and Chase Pay. From January to March 2020, you’ll earn 5% on gas stations, select streaming services, and internet, cable, and phone services. The 5% bonus applies on up to $1,500 of qualified spending per quarter.
Chase defines gas stations 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 places like Costco and Sam’s Club. This quarter, they specifically list places that are included and excluded, with warehouse stores being on the excluded list. However, I’ve noticed that Costco Gas does earn a bonus on my Ink Business Cash card, and it coded as fuel the last time we had gas stations as a bonus category on the Freedom card. If you drive frequently, getting the extra bonus on fuel is always useful and something to consider.
Select streaming services
The streaming services bonus includes Disney+, Netflix, Huliu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, and ESPN+.
The internet, cable, and phone services bonus should be useful for a lot of folks. Keep in mind that it doesn’t cover equipment charges, so you’ll earn a bonus on your monthly service bill, but you won’t earn a bonus if you go into the store to get a new phone or cable modem. And if you try to pay your bill in-store, it likely won’t code correctly either.
Earning a bonus all-year-round with the Chase Ink Business Cash
I actually earn 5% or 5X points all-year-round with my Chase Ink Business Cash. The Ink Business Cash is one of my favorite cards and I highly recommend it. It has no annual fee but includes a lucrative welcome offer. The card has several 5% or 5X categories like office supplies, internet, streaming service, cable, and phone services. It also earns 2% or 2X points per dollar for fuel and dining out charges.
Thoughts on the Chase Freedom
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, but if you value Chase Ultimate Reward points at more than one cent, you’ll be earning a lot of value with this card. In fact, 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.
US Bank Cash+ Card
For the US Bank Cash+ card, there are no new categories or changes 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. They even let you earn the 5% bonus on up to $2,000 of your spending 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. I also like that I can put my gym membership on it and earn 5%. For this quarter, I’ve selected gyms and home utilities. 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.
Citi Dividend Card
Lastly, Citi Dividend users are ending the fourth quarter bonus category on purchases from Best Buy and Department stores. For the first quarter of 2020, cardmembers will earn 5% at fitness clubs and supermarkets.
Keep in mind that the Citi Dividend 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. You just need to track how much bonus you earn over the entire calendar year. It is possible to earn all $300 in one quarter if you like.
How to get a Citi Dividend card
While the Citi Dividend is not available for new applicants, it is available through a product change from another Citi card. This is important to note since Citi has a more open policy when it comes to downgrading cards. For example, I’ve seen people report online that they’ve product-changed from co-branded Citi cards like those associated with American Airlines and Citi’s ThankYou Rewards program. This means that if you have a Citi card that you want to cancel, it might be worthwhile seeing if you can 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. Additionally, you’ll eliminate the credit score impact that would occur if you cancel the card.
I converted my Citi Double Cash to it in 2018 since I prefer to put my non-bonus spending on my Freedom Unlimited or Ink Business Unlimited. Again, you might be wondering why I would prefer to do that when those cards only earn 1.5% instead of 2% on the Double Cash. However, my adjusted earning rate is higher using my Chase cards since I’m able to redeem at a greater 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.
As a reminder, make sure you log-in and activate the bonus for these cards. You can wait until March 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.
As of December 2019, the Chase Freedom and US Bank Cash+ are offering a $150-$200 welcome bonus after spending $500 within three months of opening an account.
What do you all think of the new quarterly bonus categories? Are you excited or disappointed by them?