Just a quick reminder that today is the first day of the 3rd quarter of 2017, so if you have a card with rotating quarterly bonus categories, it’s time to move those cards to the front of your wallet.
For the Discover Cards, you’ll earn 5% cash back at restaurants.
For US Bank, you’ll have the categories you’ve chosen as most valuable to you.
For the Chase Freedom card, restaurants and movie theaters will earn you 5 Ultimate Rewards (URs) points for each dollar. You can choose to redeem those URs as cash back on your credit card statement at the rate of 1 cent per point. However, if you have another Chase card that earns URs and that card has an annual fee, you can pool your points and transfer them to various airline and hotel programs where it’s possible to get more than 2 cents per point in value.
So plan your purchases carefully for the next quarter!
As we are just past the middle of the 2nd quarter of 2017, a couple of cash-back cards have already announced their categories for the 3rd quarter (and even beyond). As a US Bank Cash+ customer I received an email letting me know I could make my selections now. Here are the choices for Q3:
I originally got this card because charitable donations were one of the 5% categories but that option went away in mid-February. I’ve kept this card both because it’s free and because it gives me a 5% discount on my gym membership (which I need to use more often!).
Discover has also announced their categories for both Q3 and Q4, though it looks like the Q4 category list may expand once we get closer to it.
Restaurants is a category where I can certainly do a lot of damage as I eat out a lot. My only dilemma comes when Chase decides to offer 5 Ultimate Rewards points via their Freedom card during the same quarter. Since Chase has not yet announced their Q3 categories we’ll have to wait to see what card I will choose.
(h/t: Rapid Travel Chai)
Three credit cards have quarterly bonus categories where you can earn bonus points or cash back for purchases in those categories. Registration for Q1 bonuses for US Bank Cash+ and Discover is now open. Registration for the Chase Freedom card should open on December 1.
US Bank Cash+
The US Bank Cash+ card allows you to choose one category where you’ll earn unlimited 2% back and 2 categories that will earn 5% back for up to $2000 in purchases. To activate those categories, see the email you should have received from US Bank.
These are the bonus category selections for the first quarter of 2017:
Discover Card bonus categories for Q1 2017 are Gas Stations, Ground Transportation and Wholesale Clubs. Click on this link to be taken to the activation page.
As a reminder, Q4 bonus categories may still be activated if you haven’t done so already and any purchases in the bonus categories will be retroactively applied. Bonus categories for Q4 2016 are Amazon.com, Department Stores and Sam’s Club. So don’t forget to activate your bonus categories today!
Yesterday was the first day of the last quarter of 2016. With it comes a new opportunity to earn 5% back when using your Discover card. This quarter’s bonus categories are Amazon.com, Department Stores and Sam’s Club – all places that can be useful for holiday shopping. You may earn 5% cash back in these categories for the first $1500 in purchases through the end of the year.
Some Sam’s Club locations also sell Visa and/or MasterCard gift cards so that’s an easy way to max out your bonuses.
Registering for the bonus
I received an email from Discover that looks like this:
Or you can log into your account at Discover.com to register for the bonus. Either way, it’s a very simple process.
And if you haven’t already registered for the Freedom 5% bonus categories, now’s the time to do that too!
The Discover family of cards have rotating bonus categories each quarter. During a given 3-month span purchases in these categories will earn 5% cash back, for up to $1500 in purchases during the quarter.
Registration is now open for the fourth quarter of 2016. The bonus categories are amazon.com, department stores and Sam’s Club. These are terrific categories for holiday shopping and if you play the manufactured spending game, some Sam’s Clubs sell Visa and MasterCard gift cards.
Go ahead and register your card today so that you don’t forget to do so next month. You can find the registration link HERE.
There are two great no-annual-fee credit cards that offer quarterly bonus categories. When you buy products from stores in those categories during the specified time frame, instead of the usual 1% cash back or 1 point per dollar, you’ll earn 5% or 5x points. Each of these cards offers the bonuses for up to $1500 in purchases each quarter. You’ll need to be sure to activate these category bonuses before mid-September, so why not go ahead and do it now?
First up, the Discover family of cards. My Discover card is the oldest one I own and over the years has transitioned to a Discover More card. But the Discover It card is also eligible to receive the quarterly bonuses. To register for Q3, either log into your account and look on the right side of the screen where you’ll see a link or go straight to the activation page and sign in there. This quarter’s bonus categories are home improvement stores (like Ace, Home Depot, Lowe’s and even specialty stores like Benjamin Moore) and Amazon.com, so you can start your holiday shopping early! (And Amazon is a category for Q4 too!)
Next, the Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back – or 5x Freedom points, which can be worth more than 1 penny per point – on spending at Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs. That comes just in time for those who use Costco as they now only accept Visa. You can activate your Freedom bonus here.
Quarterly bonuses are a great way to increase the amount of points or cash back you earn – just remember to use these cards beginning on July 1!
Both the Discover Card and Chase Freedom card have rotating bonus categories each quarter. Registration is now available for both cards for the first quarter of 2016.
Chase Freedom will give 5x points (or 5% cash back) on purchases made at gas stations and for local commuter transportation (taxis, subways, local buses, etc. but not parking, tolls or Amtrak). I haven’t heard if this includes Uber purchases or not. To register, enter your information HERE on the Chase website.
The Discover More and Discover It cards are also offering the 5% bonus at gas stations and on ground transportation. They specifically INCLUDE Uber and Lyft as well as:
- Charter & Tour Bus Lines
- Local & Suburban Public Transportation – Buses, Trains
- Taxis, Limos
- Bike Share Programs
- Rental Cars
Note that purchases made via travel agencies will be excluded. Register for this bonus HERE at the Discover website.
Both programs are valid on bonuses up to $1500 in purchases.
This is one of the quarters where I generally don’t max out the bonus. I have trouble finding gas stations that sell gift cards and of course I don’t spend enough in the other categories to reach the max. But I will register anyway because 5x/5% is better than any other bonus I’ll receive for this category for the rest of the year.
Now on my Christmas wish list: that Freedom and Discover will each do different categories for the rest of the year so they don’t overlap!
We’re over halfway through September and that means it’s time to register/activate the bonus categories for the 4th quarter of 2015.
Discover offers 5% cash back in the following categories:
- Department Stores
- Clothing Stores
Those are great categories for holiday shopping. Some department stores also carry gift cards, which means that 5% can last much longer than just the three month period!
You can earn the bonus cash back for up to $1500 in spend throughout the quarter.
Sign up for the Discover cash back bonus HERE. If you don’t sign up, you will NOT get the bonus.
Chase’s Freedom card also offers 5% back for Q4. There’s an overlap with Discover:
The Freedom card actually earns Ultimate Rewards points and you’ll earn 5 points per dollar spent at one of these retailers. If you want to cash those points in, they’re worth a penny apiece. But if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or one of the Chase Ink business cards, you can transfer these points to several airlines and hotel programs where you may very well get a value of 2-3 cents per point.
To register for the Freedom Q4 bonus, look for the email sent by Chase (I received mine on 18 SEP) or log into your account on Chase.com and look for the activation link.
I recently received an email from Discover notifying me that my card’s benefits would be reduced on August 1. Here’s the text of the email:
At Discover, we want you to be happy. That’s why periodically review the valuable benefits that are built in to your Discover card. We have decided to retain some benefits – like purchase protection and price protection – and discontinue others.
What this means for you:
Effective August 1, 2015 Discover card will discontinue the following benefits: 24/7 Travel Assistance, Baggage Delay Insurance, and Emergency Roadside Assistance. If you have a loss or incident that occurs on or after August 1, 2015, it will not be covered by these benefits.
I confess I didn’t even realize my card had these benefits that are being taken away. And really, it won’t impact me because I don’t use my Discover Card for travel. I have other cards that give me greater benefits for travel-related purchases.
Still, it’s never good for benefits to disappear but Discover has probably decided people aren’t using them enough to continue to offer them.
My Discover Card is the second-oldest card I own so I’m definitely not getting rid of it. It has some very good quarterly bonuses and their shopping portal often offers terrific deals. And no-annual-fee cards are always keepers.
Did you even realize Discover offered these benefits?
Once again it’s the first Friday of the month and that means 3x points on dining when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay. But really, if you don’t have the Chase Freedom card that’s been earning 5x points on dining since April 1st, what are you waiting for? The Freedom is a no-annual-fee card that’s a terrific complement to the Sapphire Preferred. And if you don’t have either of these, the Discover cards are offering a 5% bonus on dining for the April-June time frame so that’s a better choice.
Rewards-earning cards are great…but only if you take advantage of them!