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      Chase Freedom Flex 5% Quarterly Bonus Categories (Q4 2021) – Dates, Activation, & More

      Phil Dengler
      Chase Freedom Flex Quarterly Bonus Categories

      The Chase Freedom Flex℠‘s main benefit is its quarterly rotating 5% cash back (or 5x points per dollar spent) bonus categories. On its own, maximizing the 5% cash back is worth $300 per year ($75 per quarter) since it is only valid on the first $1,500 spent per quarter. When transferred to another business or travel-focused Chase card, the points can be worth much more.

      Here is everything you need to know about activating and maximizing the Chase Freedom Flex’s quarterly rotating bonus categories. Please note, these bonus categories are also available to Chase Freedom cardholders, which is no longer open to new applicants.

      Chase Freedom Flex 2021 Q4 Bonus Category Calendar

      Photo: chase.com

      Cardholders will earn 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 spent) at Walmart and PayPal for Q4 2021. After spending a combined $1,500 at Walmart and PayPal, cardholders then earn 1%. Those are the same categories as last year for Q4. Here are two important dates you need to know.

      • Activate now through December 14, 2021, to earn 5% cash back at Walmart and PayPal.
      • Earn 5% cash back at Walmart and PayPal between October 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021.

      Please note you must activate this benefit to receive the 5% cash back at Walmart and PayPal. Otherwise, you will earn the standard 1% (or 1x points per dollar spent). Activation for a quarter begins in the middle of the month before the start date. For example, Q1’s activation time starts in the middle of December.

      How to Activate The 5% Quarterly Chase Freedom Flex Bonus Categories

      There are a few ways to activate your bonus categories.

      ChaseBonus.com

      Chase Freedom Flex Bonus Activation

      Screenshot: chasebonus.com

      As long as you have your Freedom Flex card on hand, this is the easiest way to activate your bonus. Simply go to ChaseBonus.com and enter the primary cardholder’s last name, the last four digits of the card, and the zip code. Click the big green button that says “activate your 5%”, and you will be registered.

      The Chase Website

      Chase Freedom Flex Activate Category Bonus Main Screen

      Screenshot: chase.com

      Activating the Chase Freedom Flex’s quarterly bonus through chase.com is easy. After logging into your account, find your Chase Freedom Flex card under the Accounts list. You will find a 5% cash back link along with dates. Next to it, you will see an Activate link. Click the link, and you can activate the bonus on the next page. This can be done on a desktop computer, tablet, or with a mobile phone.

      The Chase Mobile App

      Chase Freedom Flex Bonus Categories Activate Mobile App

      Screenshot: chase mobile app

      You can also activate the bonus on the Chase app. After logging into the app, select your Chase Freedom Flex card. Scroll down to the section below your transactions to find the 5% cash back section. You will find the current quarter’s bonus information as well as the chance to activate next quarter’s. Click the activate button and follow the prompts.

      Other Ways to Activate

      Here are a few other ways to activate the bonus.

      • In-Person at a Chase Branch: You can activate the 5% bonus by visiting your nearest Chase branch. While this may be more time-consuming than the other methods, it may make sense if you need personal assistance.
      • Email Alert: Set an email alert within your Chase account. Chase will send you an email when the next quarter’s activation begins.
      • Calendar Alert: You can set a calendar alert by clicking here.
      • ATM: Use an ATM when withdrawing money to activate the 5% bonus.
      • Phone: Call the number on the back of your card.

      Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is you activate the bonus with enough time to max out the category.

      How Do I Check to See if I Successfully Activated the Bonus?

      Chase Freedom Flex Activated Bonus Evidence

      Screenshot: chase.com

      Checking to see if you successfully activated your Freedom Flex bonus is easy. Log in to your Chase account and find your Freedom Flex card in your account list. Click the Details link next to the 5% cash back area. That will take you to a section within Ultimate Rewards that tells you whether or not you have activated the bonus yet for the current and upcoming quarter. If you have not, simply click the big green button to activate.

      How Do I Check to See How Much of the Quarterly Bonus I Have Earned?

      Chase Freedom Flex Category Bonus Balance Earned

      Screenshot: chase.com

      You can check to see how much of the quarterly bonus you have earned within the Ultimate Rewards section of your Chase account. After logging into your account, navigate to your Freedom Flex card. Click the Details link next to the 5% cash back area. This will take you to a section that shows you how much of the current 5% quarterly bonus you have earned.

      Maximizing the Current Quarterly 5% Bonus Categories

      Ideally, you max out the bonus categories every single quarter. Remember, you earn 5% on a combined $1,500 in purchases, which comes out to $75 in cash back per quarter.

      Walmart: Starting October 1, 2021, set your Chase Freedom Flex as your primary payment method for Walmart.com purchases. You should also use your Freedom Flex card for all purchases made at Walmart stores. Please note, only Walmart branded purchases count. Third-party restaurants, gas stations, and other merchants operating at Walmart are not eligible for the 5% bonus. The good news is groceries purchased at Walmart stores are eligible for the bonus. Walmart grocery purchases are exempt from the bonus when groceries are the main bonus category.

      PayPal: Starting October 1, 2021, set your Chase Freedom Flex as your primary payment method for PayPal. When shopping online, you should use the PayPal option whenever possible if a merchant accepts it. You may be surprised how many large merchants accept PayPal, so it should be fairly easy to rack up bonus cash back. Xoom transfer service purchases do not count.

      Q4 is the best time of the year for Walmart and PayPal to be the bonus categories. Holiday shopping begins in November, so you should have plenty of time to meet the $1,500 bonus spending cap.

      Redeeming the 5% Bonus for Maximum Value

      While the Chase Freedom Flex is billed as a cash back card, you actually earn points for every purchase. You have the option to redeem points for cash or a statement credit. You can also transfer the points to another Chase credit card for higher redemption values.

      Cash or Statement Credit

      Redeeming your bonus points for cash or a statement credit is the most straightforward method. Points are worth 1 cent per point. That means you earn $75 (7,500 points) per quarter when maxing out a bonus category; that equates to $300 (30,000 points) per year. There is nothing wrong with redeeming for cash, but there are more lucrative methods.

      Transfer the Points to Another Chase Business or Travel Card

      You can redeem points for 2 cents per point or more when transferring them to another Chase card. Here are the current redemption values for other popular Chase cards when booking travel through Chase.

      Per quarter, the 7,500 point (worth $75 redeemed for cash) maximum bonus is worth $112.5 when redeemed for travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It is worth $93.75 when redeemed for travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Business Preferred.

      The Vacationer Tip

      Transferring the points to one of the three above cards also unlocks airline and hotel partner transfer access. Depending on the transfer offer, your points may be worth 2 cents per point or more. That means the 7,500 point bonus may be worth $150 or more. Transfer partners include Marriott, Hilton, Delta Airlines, and more.

      Previous Quarterly Rotating Bonus Categories

      While the order may change, bonus categories tend to be fairly predictable year-to-year. Here are a few of the popular ones and some tips on maximizing value. You should expect to see these in 2022.

      Amazon: Amazon usually pops up every few years. Most recently, it was combined with Whole Foods. Set your Freedom Flex card as your default Amazon payment method for the quarter. Since Whole Foods is more expensive than most grocery stores, it may not make sense to start making all of your grocery purchases there just for the bonus.

      Gas Stations: This is usually one of the tougher categories to max out. The good news is it is usually combined with another category. In addition to purchasing all of your gas with the Freedom Flex card, consider purchasing other necessary products the gas station may sell. Please note, only businesses that specialize in selling gas will qualify.

      Grocery Stores: This does not include Target, Walmart, and other stores that sell groceries but do not specialize in them. Regardless, it should be fairly easy to meet the $1,500 max spend.

      Home Improvement Stores: Think hardware stores and merchants like Home Depot and Lowes. There are a lot of exclusions with this category, however. While grocery stores and warehouses may sell home improvement items, they do not qualify for the bonus.

      Internet, Cable, & Phone Services: Unless you have a huge phone or cable bill, this one is difficult to max out on its own. Ensure your Freedom Flex card is set as your payment method for your internet, cable, and phone bill for the quarter. Please note, equipment is not eligible.

      Wholesale Clubs: Think stores like Costco and BJ’s.

      Historical Quarterly Bonus Categories by Date

      Here are previous bonus categories dating back to the beginning of 2020.

      • Walmart and PayPal – Q4 2021
      • Grocery Stores & Select Streaming Services – Q3 2021
      • Gas Stations & Home Improvement Stores – Q2 2021
      • Internet, Cable, and Phone Services; Select Streaming Services and Wholesale Clubs – Q1 2021
      • Walmart and PayPal – Q4 2020
      • Amazon and Whole Foods – Q3 2020
      • Grocery stores, Fitness Club Memberships, and Select Streaming Services – Q2 2020
      • Internet, Cable, and Phone Services; Gas Stations and Select Streaming Services – Q1 2020

      FAQ

      Do I need to register to earn the 5% cash back on the quarterly rotating bonus categories?

      Yes, you need to register. This can be done at chasebonus.com, when logged into chase.com, by calling the number on the back of your card, at an ATM, and via email alerts.

      When does registration begin for the 5% cash back quarterly rotating bonus categories?

      Registration starts in the middle of the month before the start of the quarter.

      Is there a limit to how much cash back I can earn every quarter?

      The 5% cash back is available on the first combined $1,500 spent for all of the quarter’s categories. That comes out to $75 per quarter and $300 per year.

      Is the original Chase Freedom Card eligible for the bonus categories?

      While the original Freedom Card is closed to new applicants, current cardholders can earn the same bonuses as the Freedom Flex.

      Do I earn points or cash back for the 5% bonus categories?

      Technically you earn points. Maxing out the category each quarter gives you 7,500 points (or $75 cash).

      What kind of quarterly bonus categories can I expect to see throughout the year?

      Common categories include gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, PayPal, select streaming services, and Walmart.

      How can I check to see how many bonus points I have earned in a quarter?

      This can easily be done by logging into your online Chase account. Click your Freedom Flex card and navigate to the Ultimate Rewards section. You will see a 5% tab which shows how much of the quarter’s bonus you have earned.

      Do I actually earn 5% cash back for quarterly bonus categories?

      Technically, the bonus is 4% cash back since you already earn 1% cash back per purchase. Either way, it adds up to 5%.

      Can the 5% quarterly cash back grocery bonus be combined with the 5% new account grocery bonus (for the first year on a max of $12,000)?

      Yes, but not for a total of 10%. Technically, each bonus is an additional 4% in addition to the 1% flat rate per purchase. That comes out to a total of 9%.

      What is the current Chase Freedom Flex bonus category?

      The current category is grocery stores and select streaming services. It ends September 30, 2021.

      What is the upcoming Chase Freedom Flex bonus category?

      The upcoming category is Walmart and PayPal. It begins October 1, 2021.

      Is bonus eligibility judged by a transaction’s purchase date or statement posting date?

      The statement posting date. For example, you will not receive bonus points if you make a purchase on the last date of a quarter and it posts the next quarter.

      The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts

      I use my Chase Freedom Flex often and highly recommend it. Because it earns up to 5% and has no annual fee, it is a great addition for anyone looking to maximize Chase points and redemptions. After maxing out a particular quarter, I transfer the points to my Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeem the points at 50% more value. Remember to register for the quarterly bonus and keep track of your spending. That will prevent you from continuing to spend in a bonus category after you have maxed them out.

      Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. 

      Phil Dengler The Vacationer Bio

      By Phil Dengler

      In addition to being a co-founder of The Vacationer, Phil Dengler is also the head of editorial and marketing. Previously, he ran a popular holiday deals website where he was a trusted source for all things Black Friday. With The Vacationer, Phil combines his knowledge of deals with his love of travel to help you plan the perfect vacation.