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The right cash back credit card can help you save on your most frequent purchases and put more money back in your pocket each month. And while we generally like cash back cards for their simplicity over other types of credit card rewards, some of the best cash back value can come from cards that require a bit of extra work.
Unlike flat cash back cards that offer a single percentage on every purchase or cards with tiered rewards categories that don’t change, cash back cards with rotating bonus categories require you to keep up with the categories in which you’ll earn bonus rewards each quarter. In exchange, you’ll earn a higher cash back rate than many other cards offer.
Cards with rotating bonus categories generally earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases each quarter. Categories are chosen by the issuer and may include anything from select streaming services to groceries and even individual retailers like Walmart or Costco. If you don’t mind planning your budget in advance to score the best savings, these cards can help you earn hundreds of dollars back each year.
Here’s more about how rotating cash back cards work, and how to choose the right one for you:
Rotating Bonus Categories, Explained
Cash back cards with rotating bonus categories earn bonus rewards in new categories each quarter, or every four months. When a new quarter comes around, you are responsible for logging into your account and activating the new categories to begin earning the 5% rewards (specific activation requirements vary by card).
Your card issuer will inform you of upcoming categories before they go into effect. These categories are often geared toward everyday spending. As an example, here is an overview of every category the two most common rotating bonus cash back cards — Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back — offered in 2021:
|Chase Freedom Flex||Discover it Cash Back|
|Q1: January – March||Select streaming services, wholesale clubs, phone, cable, and internet services||Grocery stores, Walgreens, and CVS|
|Q2: April – June||Gas stations, home improvement stores||Gas stations, wholesale clubs, and select streaming services|
|Q3: July – September||Grocery stores (…….