Credit Cards Featuring Rotating Quarterly Bonus Categories Credit Cards Featuring Rotating Quarterly Bonus Categories

Credit Cards Featuring Rotating Quarterly Bonus Categories

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Having a rewards-earning credit card is neat and all, but what can make your points and miles earning strategy downright awesome is including rewards cards with rotating category bonuses in your lineup.

This type of rewards-earning card isn't great for everyday spending. For great everyday spending cards, check out this article. However, utilizing bonus category cards along with the best cards for everyday spending can really help you stack your savings and earnings.

What Are Rotating Category Bonus Cards?

Credit cards with a rotating category bonus offer elevated earnings when you use your card for the current bonus category. These categories usually only last for a quarter and then they are updated to a new category.

There are lots of types of credit cards floating around on the market. Some cards are great for everyday spending. Other cards are geared more towards specific niches and allow you to earn more when spending there. For example, some cards earn bonus points at supermarkets while others will earn bonus points at office supply stores.

Another aspect of rotating category bonus cards is that they are generally capped each quarter. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ allows you to earn 5% cashback in predetermined bonus categories each quarter. However, cardholders are capped to only earning 5% cashback on the first $1,500 of purchases. After that, you go back to the normal earning amounts (1x or 3x, depending on what you're buying).

These caps and categories vary by bank and sometimes from card to card. We'll delve into this in detail below.

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Chase Freedom Flex℠ (and Chase Freedom®)

The Freedom Flex is a favorite in the points and miles sphere for earning 5% cashback in rotating categories.

Although the card is advertised as earning cash back, if you hold a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card), you can actually turn your cash back from the Freedom Flex into Ultimate Rewards.

The Freedom Card is another rotating category card, but it is no longer available to new applicants. However, it is an option for product changing an existing Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card. The Freedom Card offers the same 5% rotating categories each quarter as the Freedom Flex.

Enrollment

Make sure to enroll your card. You should be able to enroll for the following quarter's offers on the 15th of the last month of the previous quarter. For example, enrollment to earn 5% from April to June 2022 opened on March 15, 2022. Enrollment goes through the quarter and ends the day before enrollment for the next quarter opens up. That means enrollment for Q2 2022 ends on June 14, 2022.

The nice thing is that enrolling at any point in the quarter makes you eligible for the bonus categories of that quarter — even purchases you made previously.

Limits

Cardmembers can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 each quarter when using an eligible card at select merchants. This means you can earn a total of $75 cash back each quarter on 5% purchases — then unlimited cash back at 1% earnings.

5% Categories

From April 1 to June 30, 2022, the Freedom Flex card earns 5% at the following merchants:

  • Amazon.com
  • Select streaming services

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Related Content: Should You Get the Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card?

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

The Citi Custom Cash card is Citi's newest addition to rotating category cards. Although it has replaced the Citi® Dividend Card, it is quite different from its predecessor. First, the card actually goes by month — rather than by quarter.

Enrollment

To enroll in the rotating categories for the Citi Custom Cash, you need to do…nothing! That's right. No enrollment required. Citi will automatically take your top spending category and do all the work from there.

Limits

With the Citi Custom Cash, you can earn 5% cash back each quarter on your top eligible spend category. This 5% cash back is limited to $500 spent in your top bonus category each billing cycle.

5% Categories

  • Drugstores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Live entertainment
  • Restaurants
  • Select streaming services
  • Select transit
  • Select travel

Discover it® Cash Back

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At first glance, the Discover it® Cash Back card seems like your average cash back card, but it has one feature that really sets is apart: Cashback Match. Discover will match all the cash back you earn in the first year, and that includes both the 1% and 5% categories! If you max out the $1,500 in bonus spending each quarter, you’ll receive $75 cash back per quarter / $300 per year. With Cashback Match, Discover will double that amount, leaving you with $600 and essentially making this 10% back on your bonus category spending in the first year.

Enrollment

To activate the quarterly categories for the Discover it® Cash Back card, you can go here. Enrollment opens up on the first day of the month which is two months before the offer begins. Here's an example: for Q2 2022 (begins April 1, 2022), enrollment opened on February 1, 2022.

Limits

This card works much like the Freedom Flex card. You'll get 5% cash back on quarterly rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 per quarter.

5% Categories

From April 1 until June 30, 2022, the categories are:

  • Gas stations
  • Target

U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card card is a lesser-known card, but it can be a great addition to your cash back strategy. In some aspects, this is one of the better rotating category cards, due to the higher quarterly limit. You'll receive 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases — instead of the more typical $1,500.

Enrollment

Enroll in the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa categories by visiting your account here and navigating to the “Choose Your Categories” option. Additionally, you can call 1-800-285-8585 to activate your categories.

You can enroll up to 45 days prior to the start of the upcoming quarter. Enrollment ends five days before the end of the current quarter.

Limits

5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter on two categories you choose.

5% Categories

  • Cell phone providers
  • Department stores
  • Electronics stores
  • Fast food
  • Furniture stores
  • Ground transportation
  • Gym/fitness centers
  • Home utilities
  • Movie theaters
  • Select clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • TV internet and streaming services

Related Content: U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card Q1 2022 Category Choices

Citi® Dividend Card

Just like the Freedom Card, this is another card that is no longer open to new applicants. Unfortunately, you can no longer product change to this card either. For those of you still holding onto the Citi® Dividend Card, here's what you need to know about its rotating category bonuses.

Enrollment

You'll need to enroll each quarter in order to be eligible for the 5% bonus. To enroll your Citi® Dividend Card, visit here. Registration begins on the 15th of the last month of the previous quarter. This means that enrolling for Q3 of 2022 opened on June 15, 2022.

Limits

The Citi® Dividend Card limits cash back earnings to $300 per year. That's not just the cap on the 5% earning, but a total cap on cashback earnings for the year. So, any 1% cashback earning you have on the card counts toward this cap. But, unlike other rotating category cards, you can max out the spend all in one quarter if you'd like.

5% Categories

From April 1, 2022 until June 30, 2022, the Citi® Dividend Card card earns 5% in the following categories.

  • Drugstores
  • Grocery stores

Then, from July 1, 2022 until September 30, 2022, Citi® Dividend Card cardholders can earn 5% in the following categories.

  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores

Related Content: Citi® Dividend Card 5% Cashback: How to Activate and Eligible Categories.

Voice® 3X Rewards Credit Card

While virtually unheard of in the points and miles world, the Voice® 3X Rewards Credit Card card is essentially a mix of the cards discussed above. This card gives you 3x points per dollar spent in a category of your choosing. There are 10 different categories to choose from, and you can change your chosen category each quarter.

With Huntington National Bank, each point is worth 1¢. Earning 3x points means this is essentially a 3% cash back card in your chosen category.

Enrollment

You must enroll your card in the select category in order to be eligible for bonus earnings. To do so, sign into your account and select your category here.

After the first 30 days from account opening, you can change your 3X Rewards category up until 11:59 pm EST on the last day of the current quarter. Changes will only take effect once the next quarter begins. You do not have to change your categories if you don't want to. If you choose to keep the same category, then you do not need to do anything.

The start dates of each quarter are as follows:

  • 1st Quarter – January 1st
  • 2nd Quarter – April 1st
  • 3rd Quarter – July 1st
  • 4th Quarter – October 1st

Limits

Cardholders of the Huntington Voice 3X Rewards can earn 3x points per dollar spent on the first $2,000 spent in the relevant category each quarter.

3x Categories

Here are the categories that can earn 3x points with the Huntington Voice 3X Rewards card:

  • Auto Part and service stores
  • Department, apparel, and sporting goods stores
  • Discount and warehouse stores
  • Electronics, computer, and camera stores
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Restaurants
  • Travel and entertainment
  • Utilities and office supply stores

Final Thoughts

Cards featuring rotating bonus categories are an easy way to supercharge your points and miles earning capabilities. This ultimately helps you to form a rewards strategy that maximizes your return on spending.

Each card offers its own unique benefits and has its pros and cons. Both the Freedom Flex and Freedom Card — as well the Discover it® Cash Back card — offer huge value by giving you returns that can be as high as 10% on every dollar spent in bonus categories.

If we had to choose a ‘best in class’ rotating category credit card, we’d have to give the grand prize to the Freedom Flex card. The ability to combine points earned on the Freedom Flex card with Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve — and then redeem them through the Chase Travel Portal or transfer to travel partners — provides not only flexibility but the potential for huge returns.

Which rotating category bonus card do you think offers the greatest overall value?

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Comments

  • The BoA cash rewards card is also a 3% back on category of your choosing. I believe you can change categories once a month (or maybe billing cycle).

    • Correct, you can choose the category on that card. You don’t have to change it if you don’t want to–it can be the same category all year, so it’s not quite the same as the cards where the categories do change throughout the year. However, this is a very good card for daily spending in the chosen category, I agree!

  • FrancesFlyer says:

    I find it frustrating when multiple cards have the same categories during the same quarter (e.g., Chase Freedom and DiscoverIt are both 5% on groceries this quarter)? Is there some advantage on their end?

  • I have freedom and Discover cards. So I can make good use of these categories.

  • I miss the Discover Card 5% cash back quarter on online purchases that they had for a couple of years.

  • @Howie Yes, Meijer is a grocery store for Freedom and Discover and it is listed as a grocery on the Visa Supplier locator but one could argue it’s also a mass merchant like a Target or Walmart. Fred Meyer is like a Meijer, but it’s NOT listed as a grocery store here:

    https://creditcards.chase.com/freedom/merchants

    Another tip, don’t wait until the last moment to max out your category spend. Example, I tried to buy Costco GC’s a week before the quarter end, only to be told two days later they were out of stock due to demand (everyone waited until the last minute too) and it would ship 2 weeks later.

  • They draw you in with the 5% with the expectation that most people are way too lazy to max these out. Now, on the hand, if you spend just a little time – you get a lot out of it

  • My husband also likes the just pay cash for everything and not worry about points and miles. I just can’t. I use coupons when I shop and therefore, why not use “coupons” when I shop for flights, etc? I have the time to worry about it all so we can get more for less and have those trips we want with our kids.

  • I just recently got the Freedom card, I didn’t even know 2 of these cards you mentioned in the article existed! New cc goals!!!! I like these kind of cards a lot! Thank you for such a concise explanation.

  • deerseason says:

    Alright I gotta remember to actually activate these.

  • @Crawford says: “I have friends who insist they just don’t want “to fool with” operating within a points or miles collecting world. While I respect their choices, I continue to shake my head because from my point of view it can’t be that hard to know when to move your Freedom credit card to the front of your wallet and to remember the reasons for doing that.”

    I value simplicity, which is what they’re opting for here. But, I also value the rewards from work, which is what you’re opting for here.

  • Great info, thanks.

  • Thanks for picking up Huntington card, been wondering about it.

  • Thank you for the reminders!

  • Have Chase Freedom and have to agree, that when the category is right (like gas, phone, groceries) its well worth it.
    I am hoping they will bring the 5% for hotel stays and airlines purchases back!

  • 2x freedoms, 1 FU, and 1 CSR. I’m quite content with my system!

  • Does Meijer count as a grocery store for Discover card?

  • Thank you for reminding me about the Freedom quarterly changes.

  • Love maxing out the quartely bonus on Discover. Adds up nicely.

  • I have friends who insist they just don’t want “to fool with” operating within a points or miles collecting world. While I respect their choices, I continue to shake my head because from my point of view it can’t be that hard to know when to move your Freedom credit card to the front of your wallet and to remember the reasons for doing that.

  • Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! I plan on filling up my freezer this quarter!

  • deerseason says:

    If this works (use the portal and then pay with paypal), that’d be pretty brilliant. Any good merchant combos?

  • Wow I didn’t know there were other cards with rotating bonuses other than the Freedom card.
    Great post!

  • 5% cash back is better than miles

  • Meredith S. says:

    Thanks for the synopsis on the quarterly bonuses! I have two of the above mentioned cards.

  • I’ve always found this model somewhat confusing, tbh.

  • Thanks for the summary. I wasn’t aware of US Bank and Huntington Voice. Looks like I have to jump on that US Bank card.

  • Using the Chase Freedom this quarter at a store that you can also access through the Chase shopping portal lets you stack UR points. Although the discover card sounds great, I don’t spend enough that I could max out the bonus categories for multiple cards so I have to focus on one or two types of points.