5% Cash Back Cards: Gas Stations, Restaurants, Amazon – July to September 2018

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5percentback3rd Quarter 2018 registration is now open. The credit cards below offer up to 5% cash back on specific categories that often rotate each quarter. It takes a little extra attention, but I also rack up over a hundred dollars in additional rewards per year without changing my spending habits. You can also buy gift cards with the 5% back now but spend the gift cards later.

None of these have an annual fee, so it costs me nothing to keep them around. New cardmembers may also get an upfront sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom VisaChase Freedom – $150 Bonus

From July 1st through September 30th, 2018 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Gas Stations
  • Lyft
  • Walgreens

Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com. As long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive. All other purchases earn 1% back, with no tiers or expiration of rewards. Technically, you earn Ultimate Rewards points which can also be converted to frequent flier miles instead of cash. Currently, the Chase Freedom card is offering $150 bonus cash back if you sign up and make $500 in purchases in your first three months.

Discover it 14 ImageDiscover it – Cashback Match

From July 1st through September 30th, 2018 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:

  • Restaurants


Enroll after logging into your online account (look on the right-hand side). 5% rewards won’t apply until after you activate your rewards, so it is best to activate now before you forget.

New cardmember bonus. If you are a new applicant and sign up via my Discover Card referral link, you will get a $50 Cashback Bonus after your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. You will also get Cashback Match for an entire year – a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. During those 12 months, your $50 Cashback Bonus becomes $100, your 5% cash back rewards becomes 10% cash back, and your 1% cash back rewards become 2% cash back. You can verify this on the application by clicking on “See rates, rewards and other info” and searching for this text:

Cashback MatchTM: : No purchase minimums. After the first 12 consecutive billing periods that your new account is open, we will match all of the cash back rewards you’ve earned and apply them to your account in the following one or two billing periods. If your account is closed or no longer in the cash back reward program at the time we calculate your potential award, your cash back will not be matched. You’ve earned cash back rewards when they have posted to your account by the end of the 12th consecutive billing period. This promotional offer may not be offered in the future. This exclusive offer is available only to new cardmembers.

TERMS OF CASHBACK BONUS OFFER: Get a $50 Cashback Bonus after you make your first purchase within 3 months of being approved. Promotional award will be applied within 8 weeks. The promotional award is in addition to the Cashback Bonus earned on all purchases.

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card. Earn 5% back at Amazon.com and Whole Foods all year long. Prime membership required.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card. You get to choose the two 5% cash back categories every quarter, out of a preset selection of niche categories like “Fast Food” or “Department Stores”. You have to manually choose your categories each quarter, even if you want it to stay the same. If you do not choose your categories, all purchases revert to only earning 1% cash back for that quarter.

Citi Dividend Card. This card is no longer available to new applicants, but if you still have the grandfathered card you can activate to get 5% cash back at airlines and movie theaters from 7/1 to 9/30. You are capped at $300 cash back for the calendar year.

Don’t settle for the “1% on everything else” that these cards offer. Get 2% cash back or higher. The following cards currently have the ability to offer cash back rewards as high as 2% or even greater. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. The PenFed Platinum Cashback Rewards Card is changing on 01FEB2012 in that while it is still 5% cash back from gas purchases, other purchases drop from 1% to just 0.25%. They are pushing you to switch over to their points card which maintains the old rewards structure, but in points. Not a big fan of the points thing, as I like the auto-pilot of getting the statement credit each month. Chase Freedom Visa is looking good!

  2. I like the old card.
    But signup for new card will offer 5000 points on first purchase and 20,000 point on $1000 purchase in first 3 month starting Feb 1. Its equivalent to $250 bonus which is hard to let go. They have also claimed in FAQ that each 1 point will be valued $0.01.
    You can cash out as Visa Gift Card. One thing which is unknown, what will be minimum value for gift card.

  3. Discover More 5% cashback will only work on stand-alone stations, not warehouse clubs or any other supermarket-attached ones. Just a word of warning.

  4. Jonathan,

    Ever though about putting together an article for readers with a high credit score (readers who could open several cards at a time) to compound on free offers? What are the best offers out there and by combining them what sort of trip could be put together. I am thinking that a Thank you card, A Starwood card and a Southwest Rapid Reward card could be combined for at least a week long vacation? Any ideas or thoughts on the best combination of 3-4 cards to compile and what the total spending would be- ($1k in first 3 mons. or $5k in first 3 months?

  5. Jonathan,
    PenFed is now offering customers the option to convert its 5% gas/1% everything else card to a points-based rewards card. It will earn 5 pts for gas, 3 at supermarkets, 1 for everything else. Converting is optional. They are also offering 25,000 bonus pts (limited time offer) for spending $1,000 within 3 months. Might be worth a quick review. Thanks.

  6. Currently I’m using Citibank Cash Back. Once the accumulated cash back reach $50, it will be credited into my credit card’s account. Based on my monthly credit card expenses, I’m constantly received $50 in every 2 months. Definitely I will not go back to bonus or rewards type credit card.

  7. Jonathan – I think you made a clerical error. For Freedom, you talk about the second quarter (April 1 to June 30) but for the other two, the first quarter (January 1 to March 31). It’s not 100% clear that you are talking about second quarter rewards for Citi and Discover. (I’m guessing that you cut and pasted an earlier post, but missed these edits/update?)

    @PenFed users: I can’t say about your program, but Chase is basically a points system (with a cash-back option) that is better than, say, Costco Amex’s cash back. It’s better because you can (but don’t need to) get a better return if used for airfare, and because you can take cash-back as a statement credit at any time, where Amex makes you wait for an annual check.

  8. Penfed points system is a knock-off of Chase Ultimate Rewards with 2 differences:

    1. Bonus category: Does not change – it’s always 5% off gas purchases (and 3% off supermarket purchases).
    2. No option to withdraw cash into checking account. One can order Visa giftcards ($50 minimum). Not clear if the giftcard will charge some monthly ‘maintenance’ charge.

  9. @Jason – You’re right, fixed!

  10. Can anyone confirm that buying gas at Sam’s Club during the 5% gas rewards quarter qualifies for the Discover 5% cashback? Thx.

  11. Newlyfrugal says:

    Phil, I asked the same question of a Discover CSR in 2011. The first one told me that as long as it is Murphy’s station at Sam’s, I get 5% cashback, so “look for the Murphy’s sign.” Months later, I asked again and was told, “No, Sam’s Club gas does not count for 5%, but if a CSR told you that, we will credit your account.”

    So it depends on which CSR answers your call. I wish they would train their people better. I don’t chance it and no longer use Discover card at any Sam’s gas station. If they don’t give you 5%, you get only .25% at Sam’s.

    If you call Discover and learn something different, please post here.

  12. Green Jacket says:

    I have had the Chase Freedom card for several years and back when I signed up, there was no sign up bonus. Has anyone had any luck calling Chase to see if they will give the $200 credit to existing card holders? I put a decent amount of money on it each month.

  13. CardResearch says:

    Apply for the Discover More, Chase Freedom, Citi Dividend Platinum for the different 5% cash back rotating category and select one card for 3% at gas station.

  14. I hate having to signup every quarter. I wish they would just offer 2% cash back year round and stop playing these games.

  15. I calculated that last year I made $695 in bonuses, cash backs, etc from tips on your website. This year I’m at $485 plus another $165 pending. At sub 1% interest rates this free money is a welcome boost to the average yield on my everyday cash accounts.

  16. I am so with Steve on this one. I don’t have any of these cards – what a pain!!

  17. For Steve and other that also find quarterly sign up annoying. I use the American Express Blue to get 6% Grocery, 3% Gas in combination with the Citi Forward Card to get 5% on all Amazon and Restaurants and Movies. It a simple good all around system and gets maximum rewards most of the year anyway.

    Signup for Discover/Chase only if it’s something special and/or have the option to buy gift cards from Grocery stores to earn 6% on other purchases.

  18. Jonathan: It seems that clerical points are all I’m good for – you have the comments from your last (2nd quarter) post on this (third quarter) update post. Some of them are still good points but not sure if you intended it!

  19. Charlotte @ Richly Reasonable says:

    I like the cards that get us travel rewards. We haven’t used a cash back card in a long time. I may have to check them out again.

  20. personal finance says:

    This list of cash back credit cards is really useful. I was just about to get one and was doing some research about it and here I am. I found what I was looking for. Thanks for such a valuable information. Now I know which card to pick!

  21. I think the U.S. Bank Cash+ visa is the best I’ve seen. You get to pick two 5% categories, one 2% category every quarter. You get 1% on everything else. Lots of categories to choose from including Bill Payments, Groceries etc. If you redeem after accumulating $100, you get a $25 bonus, making your effective cash back on those categories even higher. I’ve had it for couple months now and love it.

  22. I hate the stupid rotating rewards game. It’s just a gimick to get you to apply for their card because they fool you into thinking that 5% cash back on your $100 worth of gas you spend in a month is a good deal. Like another commenter said, just give me 2% back on everything (Capital One Venture), and then I don’t have to think about it.

  23. @Pete – I respect your opinion. Everyone has their own preferences. But your Venture card has a $59 annual fee and is only 2% cash back when redeemed towards travel, and it has to be of the same size of your rewards. If you have $175 in rewards saved up and book a $200 plane ticket, you can’t cash out. So it has its own hurdles

    Compare with an AmEx that gives 2% cash back automatically into any Fidelity account, or the Capital One cash card that gives flat 1.5% cash back (better than 2% with $59 annual fee if you charge less than $11,800 per year since it has no annual fee):


  24. I just applied for the Capital One Venture card with no fees though, what $59 dollar are you talking about? Whatever the case these cards requires a lot of purchases to even get a nice vacation

  25. I think rotating categories are great!

    I use them in addition to websites that offer cash back. For example one credit card may offer 5% back at Best Buy for one quarter. I use websites like ebates to get an additional 5% back so that i actually get 10% back.

    I’ve saved a ton doing it that way.

  26. Anyone come across a better bonus sign up link for the Chase Freedom card? I remember they used to have bonus offers for $200, $300 and $350.

  27. Has anyone ever used rewards2cash.com? You can sell Amex, chase, united points etc… Their pay rates seem very good, but I know nothing about them. I figure this would be a good place to ask.

  28. DollarBill says:

    Better watch those Discover cash back bonus calculations on your bill. I had 3 on-line purchases during my last billing period but only received a cash back bonus of 0.25%. I called Discover and they were able to verify my purchases as being on-line, and they cheerfully added 4.75% to my cash back balance which in my case amounted to over $25.

  29. I think its worth noting, if you shop online through the discover “every day rewards” website, you get that bonus PLUS the 5%. For example, I bought my father a TV through the discover website at sears which was offering 10%. So I got 10% off for going through the discover website plus another 5% for making an online purchase with the discover card. It was $40 cheaper than buying on amazon even when factoring in sales tax paid at sears.

  30. A bit off topic…. but don’t forget the SouthWest Chase Credit Card posted here about a month ago. Charge $2000 within the first 3 months and get 50000 pts in a Southwest Mileage account. You can use the points for airline tickets, but I’ll be redeeming mine for $500 in Gift Cards (Amazon/Walmart —- $50 for 5000 points).

  31. Maybe Im just out of the loop but I just like having two cards. One I use the other just for emergency. I dont even know if I get cash back on these cards. Travel rewards would be nice to things I am already spending money on though.

  32. “Enroll each quarter at ChaseBonus.com, it’s quick and as long as you activate by the end of the quarter the rewards are retroactive.”

    Actually, the activation deadline isn’t at the END of the quarter. It’s the 14th day of the third month; for this upcoming period, the deadline to activate is September 14.


    A couple of quarters back, I missed that deadline by procrastinating until the 15th, and lost out on the extra cash back.

  33. The rotating categories are such a pain. I use one card that gets 6% back for groceries and 3% on gas. Then the other card gets 2% on everything else. I don’t think I am able to stay on top of all the rotating changes.

  34. I can’t believe Discover only has gas this quarter. Ridiculous.

  35. The Chase, Citi and Discover cards are the grand-daddies of quarterly 5% cashback cards promotions. However, the Citi Diamond Preferred Mastercard has also been offering 5% cashback on quarterly rotating categories (since October 2012 if I recall correctly) – however, the maximum purchase amount eligible for this promotion is limited to $500 for each quarter. Also, they send you snail mail in the first month of the quarter in order for you to sign up for the promotion (haven’t they heard of email or the internet???!)

    As another posted put it, in the current ultra-low rate environment, I’ll take any incentives my credit cards offer! As with most credit card rewards hounds, I never carry a balance =).

  36. “Sometimes this involves buying Amazon gift cards at stores offering 5% back.”

    Can you please explain the details of this? IT would seem to me that youre changing spending habits just to get points….wondering why you would lock yourself into having to use Amazon

    • I already shop at Amazon quite regularly, certain baby food pouches coupled and some ethnic foods with Subscribe & Save discount is significantly cheaper than buying locally + cost of time/gas. So I’m not changing my buying habits, just getting another 5% off.

  37. Oh and diapers and wipes! More info here:


  38. Hey Jonathan, Great article, but maybe I missed something: Where can one “buy Amazon gift cards at stores offering 5% back?”

    thx, -JR

    • Many stores sell Amazon gift cards. If one of these stores happens to be eligible for 5% back, then you can essentially get 5% at Amazon by purchasing gift cards. I’ve bought Amazon gift cards at grocery stores (Safeway), office supply stores (Staples), home improvement stores (Home Depot), and so on. With Discover and Online Shopping, you could just straight-up purchase up to $1,500 in Amazon gift cards from Amazon itself and use it for future purchases. Hope that helps!

      • I’ve just never seen 5% discount offered for gift cards, but then I haven’t been looking. Is this a 5% promotion that some retail stores offer from time to time, or is it a discount/rebate you are getting some other way? Thx again.

  39. An important addendum to the information about Discover’s 5% on online purchases is that it includes those made using PayPal. They’ve done this for the past several years and I checked with their customer service again this year just to make sure that purchases made with Discover using PayPal qualify for the 5% cashback bonus.

  40. It might be useful information that you must have a minimum of 2000 points before you can collect cash back with Chase Freedom Card. That means spending a minimum of $2000 in any one quarter in the given categories. That might be easier said than done, particularly if Chase is not your primary credit card.

    • I think you do need 2,000 points to redeem $20, but you get 5x points with these special categories meaning you only have to spend $400 in these rotating categories to get 2,000 points or $20.

  41. High Yield Consultant says:

    Hello Jonathon … good to see you have an active blog on the cash back credit card subject. Everyone is different and I realize it is just not in every person’s attention span to deal with rotating cards. But I do, as we spend enough via credit cards to really make it worth while. The card companies send you an email reminder to set your new categories every quarter and you just take a card out of your wallet you don’t anticipate using much and replace it with one you anticipate using.

    I am checking around today since we spend a great deal on eating out and I just found that Discover won’t have 5% cash back for the restaurant category in the 1st quarter. I was using them for the 1st quarter, Chase Freedom for the 2nd quarter and US Bank Cash+ for the 3rd and 4th quarters for restaurants. Fidelity AE for everything else.

    If anyone has a 5% cash back card for restaurants in the 1st quarter please advise.

    OH … I am also an active investor and can live off my “high yields” … 🙂 … good luck to all!

  42. I have a Citibank card which has 5% cashback at BestBuy this quarter, if I make the purchase at Ebay from BestBuy (they have a store front there, you can even do in store pickup for purchases made on Ebay), and pay with PayPal using that credit card, will I be eligible for the 5% cashback?

    If you are wondering why I just don’t purchase directly from BestBuy, Ebay has a coupon and cashback program (ebay bucks) which make it a better deal.

  43. @mymoneyblog
    any suggestion for buying GCs at gas stations please?

    -no paypal… received warning letter.
    -VRs are discontinued.
    -greendots are discontinued.
    -OVs not accepted at WM?


  44. Jonathan, I had a couple of questions that I wanted to throw out to you and other readers. I am thinking about buying a Mac Book at Best Buy. I was going to go through Shop Discover to get the 5% rewards (and another 5% at end od year because of Discover It promo). I see in the fine print that one of the exceptions (disallowing the 5%) is for laptops. Has anyone ever bought anything on the exception list through Shop Discover and did you get the 5% or did they catch it?
    Also, is there a way to go through Shop Discover portal and through the Ebates portal?

  45. John Smith says:

    Are there any other cashback cards with rotating categories? Why no love for Cash+ U.S. Bank Visa Signature card?

  46. I recall that one can only apply for a U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa card at their branches, and because there wasn’t one in my area, I couldn’t get it. Does anyone know if that policy has changed?

    • Yes, that was the case in the past that you had to apply in a brick-and-mortar US Bank branch. But as I was updating this post yesterday I found that I could reach an online version of the application (see link in post). I didn’t actually apply though, so perhaps US Bank will restrict approvals to zip codes in which they have physical branches. I’m not sure.

  47. I’m curious – since I’m already enrolled in the 4Q offer and it already shows active in my account, if I spend on Amazon today (9/27), will I get a 5% bonus? Obviously the start date is listed as Oct 1 everywhere, but everything I can find online in regards to my ‘current’ bonus shows the 4Q stuff.

    • I assume you’re talking about Chase Freedom for Q3 2015, since Discover has Amazon for both Q3 and Q4 2015. I would not expect 5% cash back from Chase Freedom on 9/27/15. Their computers are pretty exact about these things.

  48. SanDance says:

    If I purchase a prescription at a pharmacy inside a grocery store, will that merchant transaction be classified as a Drug Store or Grocery? Thanks

  49. The Citi Dividend is not limited to $1500 per quarter, just $6000 per year, you can spend all $6000 in one quarter if you want. Most people wait till the drugstore category each year and will do all $6k then for $300 cashback.

  50. Joshua Katt says:

    Regarding Discover’s 5% cash back, does anyone know if the $1500 limit is PER entity listed below or a $1500 combined from all 3 sources? It’s not clear anywhere but assume it’s the unfavorable combined.

    What I did notice is that Amazon gift cards are included! So if your spend didn’t hit the max by year end, you can buy an Amazon gift card for the remainder and “push” your 5% spend forward.

    From October 1st through December 31st, 2016 you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the following categories:
    Sam’s Club
    Department Stores

  51. I just hate rotating categories. You see the 3 months of your year go great because you’re getting 5% at your regular places, but then it switches to places you never go.

    Even if the 5% was at places I regularly go 3 months out of the year, it didn’t perform any better than the popular 2% cashback credit card for EVERY purchase. The popular 2% cashback card ended up making me way more back in the long run and I don’t even have to consider if my favorite store has been magically chosen by the credit card company.

    Honestly, the freedom of not worrying about a rotating category is really nice, but if you like to meticulously check your credit card’s website to see what can you save a bit more on in the next 3 months, then definitely go with a card like this.

  52. whatsthepoint says:

    Too much hassle. I have a citizen that gives me flat 2% on everything. No need to log in to register every quarter. What is the point is they give 5 % on restaurant. I don’t want to waste money to get rewards

  53. My credit score dropped 80 points when i closed The USBANK Cash+ card a while ago. It affected my credit badly and i advice not to simply closed any accounts if you want a maintain a good credit score/history. Afterwards I saw on my report that i had 3 late payments with the same card, How do i sort out this mess?

  54. Chase Freedom ais also offering 5% back on mobile payments ( made through Apple Pay, Chase Pay, etc) during Q1 2018. This greatly expands the number of categories you can get 5% back as long as the merchant accepts mobile payments!

  55. Copy/paste fail on Discover It card. Image is correct (wholesale clubs); text is not (internet/cable/phone).

  56. The Chase/Apple pay option on the freedom card seems very useful. A lot of merchants across different categories like grocery, restaurants etc get covered in it.

    For discover, wholesale clubs like costco do not take anything but VISA, but costco.com allows discover as a payment option – though i am not sure if that would count toward the 5% cashback. It will be nice to know if someone has tried and knows. If it does, it could be worthwhile to buy costco cash cards online with discover and use them to pay in store for purchases and gas.

  57. Joshua Katt says:

    I just placed an online Costco order for a $100 card and will see if it triggers the 5% then possibly buy the rest of the 1500$. Although this defeats the 2% back from the Costco Visa card. A smarter strategy might be to use this exclusively for gas then buy gift cards at the end of the quarter for the balance.

  58. Joshua Katt says:

    FWIW, I emailed Discover and they confirmed the 5% works at costco & bj’s online – so no fee, no shipping gift cards from either should work. Got my $100 costco card. Easily will blow 1500 per Q between the 2 so a no hassle way to max out without keeping track of purchases.

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