With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, it's time for those with rewards credit cards to take full advantage of their cash back, points and miles. Many Chase, Citi and Discover customers have plastic that comes with bonus spending categories that change each quarter. If you're one of them, you can earn 5-percent cash back on spending in current categories, but you have to remember two things:
- You must register anew each quarter in order to be eligible.
- You only stand to earn the bonus 5 percent (as opposed to your standard earning rate) on an amount that's capped by your card issuer. The caps quoted below are correct at the time of writing, but companies may reserve the right to amend them, and you should check their websites before relying on information provided here.
Chase cash back credit cards and bonus categories
Chase currently caps the amount you can spend in bonus categories at $1,500 in any one quarter. Anything over that -- along with purchases outside the categories -- attracts a more modest 1 percent. During the 2012 holiday season (Oct.1 - Dec. 31), the categories are:
- Airline tickets purchased directly from the airline.
- Hotel accommodation purchased directly from the hotel.
- Purchases made in Best Buy and Kohl's.
Interestingly, Chase says in an email sent to IndexCreditCards.com: "...unlike other 5 percent cash back rewards programs, Chase Freedom cardholders can earn cash back retroactively -- so those who enroll late in the quarter will still earn 5 percent cash back on the purchases they've already made." However, the company's relevant web page says "Activate by December 14th, 2012," so it might be safer to get in before that apparent deadline.
The bonus categories slated for 2013 are:
- January - March: gas stations, drug stores and Starbucks
- April - June: restaurants and movie theaters
- July - September: gas stations, theme parks and Kohl's
- October - December: Amazon.com and select department stores