Published on January 1st, 2019 | by Chuck67
Q1 2019 5% Quarterly Categories: Activate, Offers & Suggestions (Freedom, Discover, Dividend, Cash+)
Dates: January 1st – March 31st, 2019. Store purchases can usually be done until the last minute. Online purchases should be given a buffer zone of a day or two.
Chase Freedom – Gas Stations, Drugstores, and Tolls
Earn 5% back at drugstores, gas stations, and tolls during the months of January, February, and March, up to $1,500 maximum.
- Gas stations – “Merchants in the Gas Stations category sell automotive gasoline that can be paid for either at the pump or inside the station, and may or may not sell other goods or services at their location. Please note that some merchants that do not specialize in selling automotive gasoline are not included in this category, for example, truck stops, boat marinas, oil and propane distributors, and home heating companies.”
- Long list of specific eligible gas stations can be found here. Includes all the big ones like Exxon, Shell, etc.
- Check our Payments Workshop for many data points on whether gas stations attached to superstores/groceries count as gas for Freedom category or not.
- Some people are able to buy gift cards at the convenience store attached to a gas station and get 5x on that. YMMV, do small test first.
- Drugstores – “Merchants in the Drugstores category specialize in selling prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, supplements and various health-related items. These merchants may also sell cosmetics, toiletries, greeting cards, and various household items such as cleaning supplies and packaged foods and drinks. Please note that some merchants that sell a wide variety of goods including these items, and which may contain an onsite pharmacy, for example, warehouse clubs, discount stores, or grocery stores, are not included in this category.”
- Specific examples mentioned by Chase as eligible: Walgreens, CVS, Duane Read, Discount Drug Mart, Long’s Drugs, Bartell Drugs, Rite Aid. Other drugstores should work as well if coded properly.
- A lot of people don’t spend much organically at drugstores, but you can also buy gift cards to places like Amazon or iTunes, or you can buy a Visa/MC gift card and use it anywhere.
- Tolls – “Merchants in the Tolls category collect fees associated with toll roads, highways, and bridges. Note that purchases made during the quarter to replenish your electronic toll collection account will qualify.”
- Specific examples mentioned by Chase as eligible: EZPass, Sunpass, Illinois Tollway, North TX Tollway, TCA Fastrak. Other toll providers should work as well if coded properly.
- Change your EZpass or other toll service payment to Freedom. You should also be able to load up your EZpass account with a prepayment. I don’t think I spend more than a few hundred a year on tolls, so this won’t be very helpful for me, but some people drive a lot and can max it out easily with tolls and gas.
Tip: Click this link (login required) to check how far you are along the $1,500.
Discover – Grocery Stores
Earn 5% back at grocery stores during the months of January, February, and March, up to $1,500 maximum.
- Grocery stores – “Grocery purchases made at convenience stores, gas stations, warehouse clubs, discount stores, and supercenters (or at grocery stores associated with supercenters or discount stores) are not eligible. Purchases made at Walmart and Target are not eligible for 5% Cashback Bonus. Certain digital wallet transactions qualify for 5%, for more information see Discover.com/digitalwallets. Purchases made using tap-and-pay, mobile or wireless card readers, virtual wallets or similar technology will not be eligible if the technology does not provide sufficient transaction details for rewards qualification.”
- In practice, I believe mobile wallets like Apple, Samsung, and Google Pay do qualify, despite Discover’s caution on this front.
- Grocery stores is a category almost everyone can use well. If you can’t max out organically, consider buying gift cards. Either load up on gift cards from your local grocery or buy up Amazon, Netflix, Visa/MC, etc, gift cards to max this out.
- Keep in mind, there are other cards which earn a category bonus at grocery stores year-round. The Amex Everyday Preferred and Blue Cash Preferred are examples, though they do have yearly limits so this Discover category can give you some more category bandwidth if you need that.
Citi Dividend – Gas Stations & Home Depot
Earn 5% back at gas stations and Home Depot stores during the months of January, February, and March.
- Gas Stations – see discussion above in the Freedom category; should be pretty similar for Citi Dividend.
- Home Depot – Based on prior experience, I believe online purchases at Homedepot.com will also work for this category, but no clear guidance is stated on this point.
Citi is different than the other cards in that you have a $6,000 annual cap rather than a quarterly cap. So you can get 5% back on up to $6,000 in this quarter, you can save the entire amount for a different quarter, or you can use part up each quarter. A lot of people will use their entire $6,000 during the Q2 drugstore category. Others buy lots of gas or who shop at Home Depot, may opt to use it up this quarter.
US Bank Cash+ – Select your Categories
U.S. Bank Cash+ offers 5% cash back in two categories, up to $2,000 combined total per quarter. Keep in mind that the Bookstores category has been replaced with Home Utilities. Prepaying your gas and electric can help max this out.
Here are the current options:
- Home utilities
- Select clothing stores
- Cell phone providers
- Electronic Stores
- Car rentals
- Fast food
- Ground Transportation
- Sporting goods
- Department Stores
- Furniture Stores
- Movie theaters
Tip: Login here, then scroll down and click on the red “View Your Cash+ History” button.