Posted by Chuck on January 1, 2020
Credit Cards

Published on January 1st, 2020 | by Chuck

47

Q1 2020 5% Quarterly Categories: Activate, Offers & Suggestions (Freedom, Discover, Dividend, Cash+)

It’s now possible to activate/enroll all 5% category credit cards for the first quarter of 2020, including the Chase Freedom, Discover IT, Citi Dividend, and US Bank Cash+ and a few more. In this post we’ll provide the activation link for each card and links to track your spend, along with strategies to help increase spend in these categories.

Dates: January 1st – March 31st, 2020. 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, Streaming, Internet & Phone 

Activation Link / FAQ / Sample Stores & Exclusions / Our original post

Earn 5% back at Gas Stations, Select Streaming Services, and Internet, Cable, and Phone Services this quarter, 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. 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.”
    • Some have had success with convenience stores like 7-11 coding as gas too, though technically it’s probably only going to include pumped gas.
  • Select streaming services
    • Eligible streaming services include: Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and ESPN+.
    • Streaming services gets 6% on Blue Cash Preferred, but some will prefer 5x Ultimate Rewards instead.
  • Internet, cable and phone services “Only purchases for internet, cable, satellite television and radio, cellular, wireless data, and landline services will qualify. Purchases of equipment are not included. If you purchase or pay for your internet, cable and satellite television, phone or related services in a merchant’s store that is not classified by the merchant in the applicable services category, the purchase or payment will not qualify; for example, phone bill payments in a merchant’s store that is classified as a telephone equipment store.”
    • Internet and phone isn’t very interesting for those with the INK 5x card, but still could be useful for those without one of those cards.

Tip: Click this link (login required) to check how far you are along the $1,500.

Discover – Grocery, CVS, Walgreen’s

Activation Link / Our original post

Earn 5% back at Grocery Stores, Walgreen’s, and CVS this quarter, up to $1,500 maximum. Excludes purchases made at Walmart and Target.
  • “Activate to earn 5% Cashback Bonus at Grocery Stores (stand-alone), Walgreens (stand-alone) and CVS (stand-alone) from 1/1/20 (or the date on which you activate 5%, whichever is later) through 3/31/20, on up to $1,500 in purchases. Grocery Store purchases made at convenience stores, gas stations, warehouse clubs, discount stores, supercenters (or at grocery stores associated with supercenters or discount stores), including Walmart and Target are not eligible. Walgreens and CVS purchases include only purchases made in-store at Walgreens or CVS, online at Walgreens.com or CVS.com, or through the Walgreens or CVS app. Individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical Walgreens or CVS locations (including health centers), or on Walgreens.com or CVS.com, may not be eligible in this category. Listed merchants are in no way sponsoring or affiliated with this program.”

Grocery Stores can be interesting for organic use. Walgreen’s and CVS would be interesting to some as they sell a wide variety of gift cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Amazon, etc.

Tip: Login, then click this link to see you how far along the $1,500 you are.

Citi Dividend – Supermarkets, Fitness

Landing Page | Our Original Post

Earn 5% back at Supermarkets and Fitness Clubs this quarter. Citi is different than the other cards in that you have a $6,000 annual cap rather than a $1,500 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. (Some people may prefer the Drug Store and Amazon options available next quarter, in April through June.)

US Bank Cash+ – Select your Categories

Activation link | Our Original Post

U.S. Bank Cash+ offers 5% cash back in two categories, up to $2,000 combined total per quarter. Keep in mind that Car Rentals was recently replaced with TV, Internet, and Streaming Services.

Here are the current options:

  • TV, Internet, and Streaming Services
  • Home utilities
  • Select clothing stores
  • Cell phone providers
  • Electronic Stores
  • Gyms/Fitness
  • 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.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Our Original Post

The Cash Rewards card from Bank of America offers 3% back on one selected category, up to $2,500 per quarter. If you don’t select anything it defaults to gas. Once you selected a category for one quarter, that remains your category in the future unless you change it. Each calendar month you can change it if you’d like, but you’re always limited to $2,500 for the entire quarter.

  • Gas (default)
  • Online Shopping
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drug Stores
  • Home Improvement/Furnishings

This category is especially lucrative for those who have Preferred Rewards status with Bank of America which can get you 5.25% back on one of these categories at the higher relationship level.

Lots of useful categories here. Important note: the Cash Rewards card also offers 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 per quarter, and that $2,500 limit combines with the Category Selection limit. After spending $2,500, you’ll earn 1% back on everything.

Other Cards with 5% Category

ABOC – Monthly Bills

Registration Link | Our Original Post

  • Earn 5% this quarter in the utilities, cell, cable, Amazon Prime and streaming subscription services purchases, up to $1,500 in purchases. Offer activation required.

Nusenda FCU – Groceries, Gas

Landing Page | Our Original Post

  • Earn 5% this quarter on Groceries and Gas Expenses on up to $1,500 in purchases.

Affinity FCU – Restaurants

Landing Page | Our Original Post

  • Earn 5% this quarter on purchases at Restaurants.

The 5x is on top of regular earn for a total of 6x or 7x, depending on the card. There also does not appear to be any limit.

Vantage West [AZ] – Select your Category

Landing Page | Our Original Post

Get 5x points on the category of your choice, up to $1,500 per quarter. Eligible categories:

  • Travel
  • Restaurants
  • Utilities [water, cell, electric, etc.]
  • In-Store Wholesale Purchases [Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.]
  • Department Stores
  • Hardware & Home Improvement Stores
  • Charitable Organizations
  • Pharmacies & Drug Stores
  • Amazon.com



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Best offer
Best offer

I am currently getting ten 10 times points on US Bank hotel credit card. I do not use any of the above credit cards.

MisterBill
MisterBill

What does that have to do with this topic?

Heronva
Heronva

I agree.

Steve
Steve

For gas, it looks like Costco Gas is in the exclusions list. I believe I have used my Chase Freedom card in the past on gas and received 5%, but I cannot say for sure. I took the time to review the list and noticed the call out to Warehouse stores. Can anyone provide confirmation?

Chris
Chris

I confirmed that I did receive the 5% back at Costco Gas during the 2019 Q3 Gas Station Freedom category. I don’t think they have ever enforced the exclusion when it comes to Costco Gas.

aubergine
aubergine

I’ve used my Freedom for Costco gas in the recent past and gotten 5x.

However it takes so long to buy gas at Costco, that I have now shifted toward buying ARCO gift cards at grocery stores and just filling up at their locations, even if they are fully of sketchy characters.

ARCO gas is only a few cents more than Costco in my area, at least at one underutilized station.

Celia
Celia

It’s a hit or miss with Costco gas, Sam’s too. Meijer started coding their gas stations as fuel I think. I used to buy a bunch of Costco Cash cards to bypass that when warehouses are on the quarterly list. Then I decided to just get the Citi Costco card for 4% all the time on gas, not only at Costco.

Jik
Jik

It worked for my both quarters of the year that it was offered so hopefully they didn’t change anything.

Hoang
Hoang

Hi,
I got 5x earnings at Costco gas pumps during 2019, and I checked the VISA merchant code for the local Costco where I get gas. It showed up as an Automatic Fuel Dispenser (5542). There was also a nearby 7-11 with the same code, but they don’t sell gas. Maybe you can use the VISA merchant code search to verify your Costco location. I used this to earned 5x under Grocery at local bakeries with merchant codes for “grocery.”

https://www.visa.com/supplierlocator-app/app/#/home/supplier-locator Steve Steve Steve Steve Steve Steve

Dave
Dave

Langley federal credit union is 5% cash back December only for restaurants

amexneveragain
amexneveragain

Looks like spectrum or spectrum mobile not included, that’s sad. Thought I would be maxing out this quarter for sure but looks doubtful now.

Jim
Jim

I have Spectrum for my internet and it earns 5x on the Ink Cash, should work for Q1 Freedom.

Electroman

“technically it’s probably only going to include pumped gas.”

No – I don’t think that’s the case. If it included *gas* at the pump. it includes *everything* that is sold at the pump. Almost any gas station with a car was sells car washes at the pump as well, and if so, they are included.

René
René

phew, and I was concerned I couldn’t max it out. I am going to pre-wash my car for 2 years.

bax
bax

Citi’s sign up page is redirecting to null, no surprise.

Alfred
Alfred

Just login thru the landing page provided by Doc and it should be good.

bullfrog23414
bullfrog23414

Anyone have experience with the fitness club category and YMCA memberships? I believe our YMCA payments code as charitable giving, so I presume not, but just wanted to see if anyone knew.

rxgeek
rxgeek

Google Project Fi often is excluded on Chase 5x, probably because it is a re-seller. Has it worked for the quarter bonus in the past?

W.C
W.C

I didn’t get the bonus for January.

Jay - ⒿⒶⓨ 🙈 🙉 🙊
Jay - ⒿⒶⓨ 🙈 🙉 🙊

If anyone doesn’t mind sharing, are there any gas station brands that still sell >$200 GC’s (Visa/MC)?

Am aware that it’s all very ymmv:
– if they even would accept CC as a payment option
– probably other regional restrictions too
but would love some kind of starting point to do my own scouting… 🙂

I’ll even start with a ‘stolen’ DP for ExxonMobil:
https://www.doctorofcredit.com/amex-offers-10-back-at-exxonmobile-up-to-100-statement-credit-expires-12-31-19/#comment-853237
(sadly though no GC’s in my nearby Mobil gas stations)

Superman
Superman

Yes, I find $25-$500 at Circle K and 7-Eleven. The shift on my drive home says cash register won’t allow CC, but shift on my drive to work accepts CC no problem. Go figure. I’m on a roadtrip right now and finding up to $500 at Loves, Pilot, and TA which let me try CC but with hard-coded error that it’s debit only.

MisterBill
MisterBill

I discovered the hard way that the Bank of America Cash Rewards counts purchases in the quarter in which they post. I used it for a $1700 charge on September 28th. It did not post to my account until October 1st and as a result I only had $800 more to use in that category for the quarter. It caught me off guard and I missed out on the 5.25% for a few hundred in charges. I’ve been meaning to call since you cannot email or chat with them. I was hoping that since I am a top tier Preferred Rewards customer maybe they would do something for me.

BlissfulApathy
BlissfulApathy

WUH WUH WAHHHH

MisterBill
MisterBill

Not sure why you’re giving me the attitude. I carefully planned my 3q charges on the Cash Rewards card so I would max out the 3% category. Then i went to use it in 4q and noticed that I did not get the full rebate amount on some purchases and it claimed that I had maxed out the category. That isn’t the way it’s supposed to work — it should be based on the date of the charge not when it posts. Fortunately I did not max out the category again or I would have lost a lot more.

AceTen

Some people are just nasty. I appreciated your post.

BlissfulApathy
BlissfulApathy

lol sorry, that was a (bad) attempt at onomatopoeia of the “sad trombone sound”. No malice intended.

It doesn’t surprise me that BoA would pull that kind of shit. Hope you got a break but at least now you know. It’s generally good practice to avoid large reward purchases near the end of the quarter, as it’s easy to give banks an excuse not to pay out.

Fred
Fred

It can be useful to go into the Rewards tab and look at the rewards for individual transactions. It is pretty transparent, other than not having the meter for the quarterly cap like Chase Freedom.

MisterBill
MisterBill

I did that, and it’s how I discovered that I wasn’t getting the 5.25% rebate on a few items, and fortunately I noticed it before the end of the quarter so I could stop using it early. Sadly, BofA shows “Bonus” whether you are getting the Premium Rewards bonus or category bonus, so you need to expand details to see that the category bonus is missing and/or notice that the reward amount isn’t what it should be.

MisterBill
MisterBill

BTW the meter on the Chase site is not live. I just finished maxing out one card with a tax payment via Paypal and the charge posted but the meter still shows I’m nowhere near 100%. It may only get updated when a statement closes.

Intead, what I’ve been doing for Chase is downloading my YTD activity spreadsheet, deleting the lines prior to this quarter, clearly the payments and other items that do not qualify for the 5%, and summing the column. That’s the only way I have been able to figure out exactly where I stand with Chase.

Celia
Celia

I’ve run into that before, stinks. Had to be careful this past week to make sure the charges posted before the 31st for the quarter, especially since I was working on the double cash back. Harder to keep track when buying online since charges go through when shipping.

Flea
Flea

That happened to me once with Discover and purchasing Costco Cash cards towards the end of September. Seemed to be completely unavoidable as Costco itself said they were out of cards that quarter (lol).

Pj
Pj

I know it’s ymmv, but the 7-11 by me coded as gas last year, and they don’t sell gas

Jon
Jon

My local 7-11 (several of them) code as gas as well, and none of them sell gas.

Feng
Feng

Does 711 still count as Gas for Chase?

Tay
Tay

Does anyone have experience to confirm whether Xfinity counts as a cell phone service bonus with Chase? I’m thinking of paying off my phone but couldn’t find this anywhere

Mj
Mj

Would CVS prescriptions qualify for the 5% on discover ?

Alben
Alben

I have tried at a Target CVS, and did not get 5% by using any card that offered 5% back at CVS. However the workaround is if it is a Target CVS, buy Target gift cards when they are on sale for 10% off (beginning of December) and use a credit card that gives 5% back on that. So you basically have Target gift cards that are 14.5% off. Use those gift cards to buy your prescriptions at Target CVS.

Brian
Brian

We have tracfones. Would adding service count toward 5% on CF?

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