Chase Freedom Q1 2017 bonus categories — time to activate

chase freedom q1 2017The Chase Freedom card just officially announced its 5 percent cash-back categories for Q1 2017 — and it’s ending its three-quarter streak on wholesale clubs.

Activate by March 14, 2017, to receive 5 percent (on up to $1,5000 incombined spending) on the following:

  • Gas stations
  • Local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls and Amtrak purchases)

So, if you were enjoying getting 5 percent back at wholesale club stores (like Sam’s Club and Costco) the past three quarters, that is coming to an end.

Remember, you have to enroll in these categories to get 5 percent back. As long as you activate by March 14, 2017, Chase will reward anything you earned in the bonus categories retroactively. However, since it takes only a moment to enroll, take care of it now via online banking, or Chase’s app.

How valuable the Q1 2017 bonus categories will be to you (and whether you can max the categories out by spending $1,500) depends on your habits — and the quarter’s categories are definitely aimed at commuters. If you drive a long way by car or frequently take the local metro system or bus, you’ll be rewarded.

For many, though, these categories may be disappointing. Gas prices are relatively low right now, and if you have a short commute (or don’t live in a city with mass transit), you may have to sit this quarter out.

If that describes you, another Chase product may be a better fit. Its Freedom Unlimited card allows you to earn 1.5 percent cash back on all spending.

And, if you don’t mind an annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns a constant 2X rewards on dining and travel (and Chase has a broad travel category that includes commuter transit).

In other news, Chase previewed its Q2 5 percent categories for 2017 as well: Grocery stores (not including Wal-Mart and Target) and drugstores. You can start enrolling in those categories March 15, 2017.

Updated Dec. 15, 2017

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