Current bonus categories: Chase, Discover and Citi

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All cash back credit cards reward you on purchases you make by putting some money back into your account. Yet, they all reward you differently. Some of them will give you flat-rate cash back on everything you buy, and others will offer higher rewards on certain purchases.

There’s also the third group of cash back credit cards—cards with rotating bonus categories. These cards offer a higher cash back rate (typically 5 percent) in categories that rotate on a quarterly basis.

Currently, three major issuers offer cash back credit cards with bonus categories: Chase, Discover and Citi. Read on to find the full breakdown of the current bonus categories on these cards.

Chase 2021 rotating categories

Chase credit cards with rotating categories include the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom (not available for new applications). Both cards give you 5 percent on up to $1,500 in spending in bonus categories after activation, then 1 percent. The issuer announces one category at a time. Here’s what its cash back calendar looks like so far for 2021:

Quarter Categories
Winter (Jan-March)
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Select streaming services
  • Internet, cable and phone services
Spring (April-June)
  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores
Summer (July-Sep)
  • Grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target)
  • Select streaming services
Holidays (Oct-Dec)*
  • Walmart purchases
  • PayPal purchases

For Q4 2021, Chase is offering a top-spend category bonus. Cardmembers who activate their Q4 bonus categories will automatically earn 5 percent total cash back (4 percent in addition to their unlimited 1 percent cash back) on up to $1,500 in the eligible rewards category where they spend the most through Dec. 31, 2021. Eligible rewards categories include travel (including transit), dining, home improvement stores, select streaming services, select live entertainment, gas stations, drugstores, fitness clubs, grocery stores (not including Target and Walmart purchases).

Discover 2021 rotating categories

Discover offers 5 percent cash back in rotating categories on the Discover it® Cash Back and the Discover it® Student Cash Back after activation, up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1 percent. Unlike Chase, Discover releases its categories for the year in advance, so here’s its full bonus category calendar for 2021:

Quarter Categories
Winter (January-March)
  • Grocery stores (including Walmart Grocery Pickup and Delivery, but excluding Walmart, superstores and wholesale clubs)
  • CVS
  • Walgreens
Spring (April-June)
  • Gas stations
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Select streaming services
Summer (July-September)
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
Holidays (October-December)
  • Amazon.com
  • Walmart.com
  • Target.com

You can activate the next quarter’s categories anytime during the current quarter. Enrollment for each quarter closes on the last day of that quarter.

Citi 2021 rotating categories

The only Citi card that comes with rotating cash back categories is the Citi Dividend Card, which is no longer available to new applicants. The card earns 5 percent in bonus categories after activation (up to $300 in earned cash back per year), then 1 percent. Similar to Chase, Citi announces the categories one at a time. If you’re a cardholder, here’s what the card’s cash back calendar currently looks like:

Quarter Categories
Winter (January-March)
  • Amazon.com
  • Select streaming services
Spring (April-June)
  • Supermarkets
  • Drugstores
Summer (July-September)
  • Gas stations
  • Home improvement stores
Holidays (October-December)
  • Restaurants
  • Best Buy

Each new category activation opens on the 15th day of the quarter’s last month and runs through the end of the category period.

Should you get a cash back card with rotating categories?

If you’re willing to put in the work, such as enrolling in bonus categories and making sure you use the card for the right purchases, this type of credit card can yield lucrative rewards. Plus, the bonus cash back cards currently available in the market don’t charge annual fees, so there’s no pressure on you to spend enough to justify the card’s cost.

The information about the CitiDividend Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Ana Staples
Credit Cards Reporter and Young Credit Analyst
Ana Staples is a reporter for Bankrate and an expert on all things credit basics and personal finance for the younger generation.
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News