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Cashback cards with rotating bonus categories are a great way to easily earn points and cash, especially on things you would normally purchase in your daily life. They do require a bit more work to remember the categories every quarter. However, the rewards are worth the effort. Below, I’ll review the new Chase Freedom bonus categories for quarter 3, as well as updates for the US Bank Cash+ and Citi Dividend card.
For the Chase Freedom card, we’re ending the second quarter bonus categories of gym memberships, fitness clubs, grocery stores, and streaming services. Starting this quarter, you’ll earn 5% on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases.
Amazon is my favorite bonus category
I’m very excited about getting 5% of Amazon purchases. With the pandemic, we’ve been purchasing a lot more online, especially on Amazon. Also, since I had the Amazon bonus category on my Citi Dividend card this past quarter, I found that I was still earning a bonus on Amazon Pay purchases on other sites. For example, I purchased a baby bassinet and some other items outside of Amazon, but using the Amazon Pay option. These purchases all earned the bonus.
It’s possible that Chase might treat these purchases differently, so I’ll have to do some testing to find out. However, my guess is that they will earn the bonus.
Don’t limit your groceries to Whole Foods
The Whole Foods category should be useful for many of you as well. Though keep in mind that Amazon offers multiple grocery services outside of Whole Foods, like Amazon Fresh. We’ve used both Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh the past few months, and they have been a great way to get groceries delivered to our door.
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, as I do, 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+
For the US Bank Cash Plus card, there are no new categories or changes this quarter. The only thing that is new is the card has a new look and design.
Unique and selectable bonus categories
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.
Thoughts on the US Bank Cash+
I got this card in 2018, and I’ve used it as a backup for spending categories that aren’t covered by my other credit cards. I typically select gyms and home utilities as my two 5% categories every quarter. For this quarter, I’ll probably select home utilities and department stores.
In my opinion, the Cash+ is an underrated credit card. It’s a card can help you capture more bonuses with your everyday spend. 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.
Lastly, Citi Dividend users are ending the second quarter bonus category of drugstores and Amazon.com. For the third quarter of 2020, cardmembers will earn 5% at home improvement stores and on popular streaming services.
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.
Hardware improvement purchases
For home improvement stores, just be aware that florist supply stores, nursery stock, and flower stores are not eligible for the bonus. However, lawn and garden stores and nurseries do qualify.
“Popular streaming services” is defined by Citi
For streaming services, Citi defines “popular streaming services” as Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, FuboTV, Netflix, Pandora, Showtime, Sling TV, Spotify, Starz, Vudu, YouTube Premium, and YouTubeTV. Unfortunately, Hulu, HBO, and Apple TV seem to be missing from the list.
Can you still get a Citi Dividend card?
The Citi Dividend card is not available for new applicants. It used to be available through a product change from another Citi card, but that no longer seems to be the case since late 2019. That may change in the future, but for now, there is no way to get the card.
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 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.
What do you all think of the new quarterly bonus categories? Are you excited or disappointed by them?