There's a reason why Chase Freedom has managed to stay one of the most popular rewards cards year after year. With a $100 sign up bonus after $500 in spending, Chase Freedom currently has the highest sign-up bonus of any cash rewards card out there. Put in the research and you’ll find that the benefits offered by Chase Freedom are why it’s such a crowd favorite. Here are the basics:
|Sign up bonus
- $100 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in first 3 months (a very low requirement considering the bonus you get)
- $25 Bonus after adding first authorized user and making a purchase within first 3 months
- 5% Cash back on up to $1,500 worth of combined purchases from certain categories per quarter
- Unlimited 1% back on all other purchases
- No expiration date on rewards
||None (this makes it easy to keep the card year after year)
||0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers; 13.99-22.99% thereafter
||Good to Excellent
|Foreign transaction fee
|Balance transfer fee
||3% of amount, with minimum of $5
A more detailed look reveals that:
- Earning 5% cash back on up to $1,500 worth of purchases in specific quarterly categories means you can max out your 5% cash back earnings on $6,000 per year for a total of $300 back to your pocket.
- Each quarterly category requires signing up to receive cash back, with deadlines generally about 15 days before the next quarter starts.
- Unlike other cards, Chase has a low threshold of $20 worth in cash back credits for you to begin redeeming your points. And there is no point dilution with this card—you always get your full 1 cent per reward point.
- Chase is shifting over to EMV technology, which will forgo the less secure and outdated magnetic stripe, in favor of a new "chip and signature" system. (Consumers in the U.S. will have the option of using EMV or mag strip during the transitional period). This will have the benefit of providing consumers with better acceptance outside of the United States, as well as improved security.
- Chase Freedom points can be combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to maximize benefits, with Chase Sapphire having a slight leg up on their rewards program. By transferring points from your Freedom card and redeeming them for travel through your Chase Sapphire card, you may actually earn up to 6.25% points back on those special categories (a 25% boost on top of the 5x), since they are all redeemable under the Chase Ultimate Rewards umbrella.
Areas of limitation:
- If you're someone who doesn't fit into the quarterly categories offered. Maybe you only use public transportation; maybe you have an electric car. If you don't frequent the types of stores offering the 5x rewards, you are not going to be able to maximize the rewards potential of the card.
- Having to remember and sign up quarterly for the 5% cash back bonus categories can result in missed opportunities for points. Stay on top of it—set reminders, pay attention to those emails, and you should be good to go. The process can take less than a minute. (for a peek at the activation page, see here).
- There is a 3% charge on foreign transactions, so this would not be the card you would want to take on that trip abroad.
The Final Word:
Chase Freedom continues to be a crowd favorite cash back card for good reason. Earning 5x back on up to $6,000 in purchases a year is no small potatoes if you are someone who is able to take advantage of the categories offered by Chase. With its current $100 bonus for spending $500 in your first 3 months as a cardholder, that is like getting 20% off your first $500 in spend—not too shabby. Moreover, using the Chase Freedom card in conjunction with a Chase Sapphire card is a great way to enhance its already considerable benefits and accessible rewards program.