Weekly Credit Card Lowdown: Dec. 17, 2020

Our summary of the top credit card news this week

Weekly Credit Card News Lowdown

We may be eager to put this year behind us, but the credit card industry isn’t done with 2020 quite yet. This past week brought a few noteworthy bits of card news, including the first set of 2021 Chase Freedom bonus categories, a promise of continued steady interest rates, and a new airline card teaser.

Our weekly credit card news roundup contains all the things you should know about the cards in your wallet, other available offers, and new product announcements or reports that made our ears perk up even as we’re hunkering down. 

What’s the Lowdown?

Here’s what caught our attention between Dec. 11 and Dec. 17, 2020:

Chase Flexes New 5% Cash-Back Categories 

If you have a Chase Freedom or Freedom Flex card, it’s time to enroll in the first set of 5% cash-back categories of 2021. The line-up is perfect for all you toilet paper-hoarding, bread-baking, Netflix-junkies camping out at home, too. (No judgement, we promise.)

Starting New Year’s Day, you can earn 5% back on purchases made at wholesale clubs, and on cable, internet, phone, and eligible streaming service charges. You’ll have until March 31, 2021 to rack up those 5% rewards on up to $1,500 worth of purchases across these categories. 

According to a Chase media rep, “eligible streaming services” include Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, Sling, Vudu, Fubo TV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube TV. 

To learn more about how these card offers work, see “Chase’s 2021 Cash Back Calendar.”

Good News: Credit Card APRs Shouldn’t Go Up Any Time Soon

Well, not because of the Fed, anyway. The Federal Reserve confirmed Wednesday that it still plans to hold the federal funds rate near zero through 2023 as the economy recovers from the pandemic. That rate drives the prime rate that many APRs—including those attached to credit cards—are based on. Keeping the fed funds rate steady means your card’s rate probably won’t rise without warning. 

For more on what the Fed said after  its December meeting, check out “Fed’s Powell Pledges Long-Term Support for Economy.”

A New Air Canada Credit Card, Eh?

If in normal times you frequently visit our neighbors to the north, heads up. There’s a new Air Canada-branded rewards credit card coming from Chase late next year, according to a three-way announcement from Chase, Mastercard, and Air Canada on Monday. 

The three partners are mum about details, except  to say that the card will offer rewards for Aeroplan (Air Canada's frequent flyer program), and Air Canada will become a travel transfer partner within the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. That’s good news for Chase travel card holders dreaming of using points to get their Tim Hortons fix when international travel becomes a reality again. We’ll share details ASAP when we learn more about this shiny new card. 

What Else Is Happening?

  • Sweet Chase Grocery Rewards Bonus Ends Soon: If you’ve been thinking about applying for the Chase Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited card, act fast. You only have until Jan. 13 to open either card to qualify for a bonus offer that includes 5% back on grocery store purchases (up to $12,000) during your first year with the card. Anyone who applies for one of those cards after that date won’t have such a delicious earning opportunity.
  • Amex Tweaked Blue Cash Preferred Offer, Ditched Annual Fee Deal: Just before the weekend, American Express updated the Blue Cash Preferred Card welcome offer. New cardholders who spend $1,000 within three months will earn a $250 statement credit, $50 less than before. However, the spending requirement is much lower, which makes the new offer much easier to get. Yay! However, the $95 annual fee is no longer waived the first yeah you have the card. Boo.
  • Citi Double Cash Cardholders Can’t Easily Escape Late Fees: If you make a late payment even once, you’ll probably pay for it. Citi quietly removed the first-late payment fee waiver language from the Citi Double Cash Card terms and conditions on Monday. Now the card terms just say “up to $40.” Make sure you have the payment due date correct on your calendar!
  • Capital One Venture Card Bonus Update Came Through: As expected, the Venture card bonus offer changed on Tuesday and we waved goodbye to the huge 100,000-mile bonus that wowed us a few months ago. The new offer isn’t as big, but it’s not shabby: new cardholders who spend $3,000 within three months of opening an account will earn 60,000 miles. The Balance estimates that bonus is worth about $600 when used to book travel through Capital One or more if transferred to a JetBlue frequent flyer account.