Last updated on September 15th, 2021
Cash back credit cards are a popular option for consumers who want to save money on everyday purchases. Certain cards, however, offer higher rates of cash back than others, with the Chase Freedom Flex and Discover It being two of the most popular options available. These cards offer 5% back on select categories each quarter. Here are the 2021 5% cash back calendars for three leading card issuers: Chase, Discover, and Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (ABOC).
What Are the Chase Freedom Flex 5% Cash Back Calendar Categories for 2021?
The Chase Freedom Flex Card is fast becoming one of the most popular cash back credit cards on the market. The card offers 5% back on select categories each quarter, with 1% back on all other purchases. Here are the 5% cash back categories for 2021:
Wholesale clubs, select streaming services, and phone, internet, & cable service providers.
Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at standalone wholesale clubs, such as Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, or select streaming services (including Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, Spotify, Apple Music, and more), internet, cable, and phone services.
Official terms: Merchants who accept Visa/Mastercard credit cards are assigned a merchant code, which is determined by the merchant or its processor in accordance with Visa/Mastercard procedures based on the kinds of products and services they primarily sell. We group similar merchant codes into categories for purposes of making rewards offers to you. Please note: We make every effort to include all relevant merchant codes in our rewards categories. However, even though a merchant or some of the items that it sells may appear to fit within a rewards category, the merchant may not have a merchant code in that category. When this occurs, purchases with that merchant won’t qualify for rewards offers on purchases in that category. Purchases submitted by you, an authorized user, or the merchant through third-party payment accounts, mobile or wireless card readers, online or mobile digital wallets, or similar technology will not qualify in a rewards category if the technology is not set up to process the purchase in that rewards category.
How Does the Chase 5% Cash Back Calendar for 2021 Compare to 2020?
While the previous year’s cash back calendar usually provides insights into future categories in 2021, that may not be the case this year. Here’s a quick rundown of the 2020 Chase Cash Back Calendar:
- January to March: Gas stations, and select streaming services
- April to June: Gym memberships, fitness clubs, groceries, and streaming services
- July to September: Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market
- October to December: Walmart and PayPal
Streaming services are the sole holdover from the 2020 5% Cash Back Calendar. That category includes a wide selection of streaming providers – which is made up of both video and on-demand music. Select streaming services include Pandora, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, Spotify, Apple Music, and more.
The internet, cable, and phone services category is fairly straightforward. Freedom and Freedom Flex cardholders can offset their monthly mobile phone bills, cable bills, or internet provider charges at 5% back for the first $1,500 in spending (across all categories).
Related Article: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards for 2020
What Are the Discover It 5% Cash Back Calendar Categories for 2021?
Discover is another card issuer that offers a 5% cash back credit card. The issuer’s Discover It Cash Back is an excellent cash back card with no annual fees. It also features Discover’s Cashback Match for the first year (only for new cardholders).
Unlike Chase, Discover announces its Cashback Calendar in full. Here is the full list of 2021’s 5% cash back categories:
Grocery Stores, Walgreens, and CVS
Applies to the first $1,500 in purchases at stand-alone grocery stores, Walgreens, or CVS locations.
Official terms: Grocery Store purchases made at convenience stores, gas stations, warehouse clubs, discount stores, supercenters (or at grocery stores associated with supercenters or discount stores), including Walmart and Target are not eligible. Walgreens and CVS purchases include only purchases made in-store at Walgreens or CVS, online at Walgreens.com or CVS.com, or through the Walgreens or CVS app. Individual merchants and stand-alone stores within physical Walgreens or CVS locations (including health centers), or on Walgreens.com or CVS.com, may not be eligible in this category.
How Does the 2021 Discover 5% Calendar Compare to 2020?
Beyond streaming services in Q2, the Discover 5% Cashback Calendar is the same as 2020’s. For reference, here’s the 2020 Discover Calendar:
- January to March: Grocery stores, Walgreens, and CVS
- April to June: Home Depot (June only), gas stations, Uber, Lyft, and wholesale clubs
- July to September: Restaurants and PayPal
- October to December: Amazon.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com
The biggest news with the new Cashback Calendar from Discover is the change from Uber/Lyft to streaming services.
While Uber/Lyft was a great category (especially since the 5% back also applied towards Uber Eats food delivery), the addition of streaming services potentially adds greater value. With services such as Apple TV+, Hulu, Sling, and Netflix (as well as music services like Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify, Q2 looks to be a very lucrative one for cardholders.
Related Article: Discover Announces 2021 5% Cashback Calendar
ABOC Platinum Rewards 5X Calendar for 2021
While much of the focus on 2021 5% cash back calendars goes to Chase and Discover, they aren’t the only issuers that feature a 5% cash back calendar.
Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (ABOC) also offers a 5% card (or 5X points, to be more accurate): the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard.
The ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard earns 5X points on select purchases, with a full calendar for 2020 already available. ABOC Rewards categories for 2021 break down as follows:
Health and wellness
Earn 5X points on qualifying groceries, fitness clubs, hospitals, and pharmacies.
- 5411 – Groceries
- 5451 – Dairy product stores
- 5462 – Bakeries
- 5499 – Misc. food/convenience
- 5441 – Candy/nut
- 5422 – Freezer/locker meat
- 7997 – Fitness clubs
- 8062 – Hospitals
- 8041 – Chiropractors
- 8042, 8043, 8044 – Vision services
- 7298 – Beauty/health spas
- 5912 – Pharmacy
- 5499 – Vitamins
- 8011, 8021, 5047, 8099 – Medical providers & medical supply
- 0742 – Veterinary services
How Does the 2021 ABOC 5X Calendar Compare to 2020?
Amalgamated Bank’s 2021 5X calendar has little in common with 2020. The only category that remains the same from 2020 is from Q3, which offers 5X points on travel. Last year’s calendar offered 5X points on the following categories:
- January to March: Monthly bills
- April to June: Dining and transportation
- July to September: Travel
- October to December: Department stores
The Chase Freedom, Discover It, and ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard are three excellent cash back cards. The 5% cash back (or 5X, in the case of ABOC) calendars offer significant value for those who either like to shop online or prefer to plan their major spending ahead of time. The bonus categories are incredibly useful around the holidays, as department stores, online shopping, and other major retailers are the focus.
Those who don’t spend heavily in bonus categories, however, don’t have to settle for 1% cash back. There are plenty of excellent credit cards that offer accelerated cash back on all purchases.
Not sure which card is best for you? Check out some of our “Best Of” lists to discover the top credit cards in each category: