Chase Unveils First-Quarter Bonus Categories for Freedom Cards

A person pays for groceries at a grocery store check out stand.

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Chase announced its 5% cash-back spending categories for the first quarter of 2022 on Wednesday—grocery stores and eBay purchases.

Consumers carrying the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom cards can now activate these categories to earn increased rewards on their spending in the new year.

From Jan. 1 to March 31, 2022, cardholders can earn 5% back on their first $1,500 in combined purchases across the two categories. If that spending threshold is met, cardholders will earn $75 in cash back in those categories, plus unlimited rewards on each card’s ongoing cash-back categories. For Freedom Flex, those include 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% and dining and drugstores, and 1% cash back on everything else.  

Unlike its competitors, who announce their rotating spending categories for the entire year, Chase releases its cash-back categories periodically throughout the year. That makes it somewhat difficult to compare next year’s full programs at this point. However, a quick look at both Chase and Discover’s 5% cash-back calendar shows some similarities for first-quarter rewards-earning possibilities:

5% Cash-Back Categories Chase Discover
Quarter 1: January 1 to March 31 eBay, grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) Grocery stores, gym and fitness club memberships 

This isn’t the first time either Chase or Discover has offered a 5% return on grocery stores; both featured this category in last year’s cash-back calendar, too.

New Chase Freedom Flex cardholders can almost double their grocery store earnings by stacking this offer with the card’s sign-up offer.  The sign-up offer lets you earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to the first $12,000 spent in the first year. Combined with this quarterly promotion, cardmembers can earn a total of 9% back on their grocery store purchases. Each promotion counts as an additional 4% bonus on top of the unlimited 1% cash-back cardholders always earn.

In its statement, Chase described the inclusion of eBay purchases as a “great reward after the high spending done during the holiday season.” Unfortunately, cardholders may have to do some moderately high spending on eBay to max out the cash-back earnings potential with these two categories. Consider that the average U.S. household spent $412 per month on groceries in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To reach the $1,500 quarterly threshold (or $500 per month), cardholders would need to spend an additional $88 per month—either at the grocery store or on eBay.  

Cardholders must activate their offers by March 14 in order to qualify.

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  1. Chase. "Chase Freedom Announces eBay and Grocery Stores as Quarterly Categories in Q1 2022."

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Consumer Expenditures--2020.”

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