Chase Freedom credit card review

Published: November 17, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
2.8 rating
2.8 rating
2.8 / 5
Introductory Offer: 2.5
Net Value: 3.9
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

A great cash back card for motivated rewards seekers, the Chase Freedom card is a good choice for everyday spending, but its hefty APR and inflated balance transfer fee limit its appeal as a balance transfer card.

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0% Introductory Period
15 billing cycles

Transfer Fee
$5 or 5% (whichever is higher)

Introductory Purchase APR
0%

Regular APR
15.99-24.74% (variable)

Annual Fee
$0

Other Notable Features: Purchase protection, extended warranty, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance

Cash Back Rating:
2.4 rating
2.4 rating
2.4 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.3
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.1
Rewards Flexibility: 3.0
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The Chase Freedom credit card is a well-rounded cash back card, and a great card to have in conjunction with other Chase cards from the Ultimate Rewards family.

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Rewards Rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus

  • $150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • $25 if you add authorized user and make a purchase in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$239

APR
15.99-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • 5% rotating categories
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Better travel options in conjunction with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as you keep the card

Cons

  • $1,500 limit on 5% cash back
  • Must activate categories by deadline in order to use them

Other Notable Features: Purchase protection, extended warranty, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance

No Annual Fee Rating:
2.6 rating
2.6 rating
2.6 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.8
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.3
Rewards Flexibility: 3.4
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

As a stand-alone card, the Chase Freedom delivers an overall low rewards rate, though the 5 percent rotating bonus categories make it a great companion to other rewards cards.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus

  • $150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • $25 if you add authorized user and make a purchase in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$239

APR
15.99-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • 5% rotating categories
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Better travel options in conjunction with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as you keep the card

Cons

  • $1,500 limit on 5% cash back
  • Must activate categories by deadline in order to use them

Other Notable Features: Purchase protection, extended warranty, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance

Rewards Rating:
2.5 rating
2.5 rating
2.5 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.7
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.7
Rewards Flexibility: 3.4
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

If you don’t mind tracking a rotating group of bonus categories every quarter and tailoring your spending, you could potentially get a substantial amount of value out of this everyday cash back card; but if you don’t regularly spend on the categories that earn 5 percent cash back, you won’t earn much of a return.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus

  • $150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • $25 if you add authorized user and make a purchase in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$239

APR
15.99-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • 5% rotating categories
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Better travel options in conjunction with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as you keep the card

Cons

  • $1,500 limit on 5% cash back
  • Must activate categories by deadline in order to use them

Other Notable Features: Purchase protection, extended warranty, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance

The Chase Freedom card is a good 1 percent cash back card that offers no annual fee, as well as paying 5 percent cash back on purchases in categories that rotate quarterly throughout the year. You can use the points in a variety of ways, including cashing them out, buying merchandise, redeeming for gift cards or booking travel.

There is, however, a $1,500 cap on purchases in bonus categories each quarter that makes this card less valuable. After you spend $1,500, your cash back rate drops down to 1 percent for all categories.

Solid cash back card with bonus categories

As cash back cards go, Chase Freedom is a solid choice. One percent cash back might not feel like anything special, but the 5 percent categories help make up for the low regular rate. The bonus categories, which rotate every three months, are usually defined quite broadly – this year promises 5 percent bonuses for purchases made at select grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more. The 5 percent bonus cash is limited to $1,500 per quarter.

Decent sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus is $150 after spending $500 in the first three months from the date of the account opening.

Good for cash back or debt consolidation, but not both

The Chase Freedom credit card comes with a zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. You can take advantage of this offer to consolidate your debt from a high-APR card. If you do use the Chase Freedom card as a consolidating tool, however, do not treat it as your go-to card. The best way to repay your balance is to use this card only for balance payments and forget that it exists for any other purpose.

A good tool for people interested in travel rewards

The Freedom card belongs to the Chase Ultimate Rewards family. But as an entry-level card, it can’t do what other premium Chase cards – such as Sapphire Preferred or Ink Cash – can do; namely, transfer points to airline and hotel partner programs. Premium Chase cards enable you to transfer points to a wide number of travel partners, including United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Hyatt, to name a few. These transfers can get you a much better value in travel than 1 percent cash back.

On the other hand, none of Chase’s premium cards has 5 percent rotating categories. Since Chase does allow you to transfer points from your Chase Freedom card to other Chase cards, you can use the Chase Freedom card to accumulate extra points on 5 percent bonus categories, and then transfer all those points to a premium card. This is why using the Freedom card in tandem with a Chase premium card makes good sense if you’re interested in maximizing travel awards. And even if you don’t want to transfer points to an outside program, you can still book travel using the points on your premium card at 1.25 cents per point.

Why get the Chase Freedom card?

  • You hate annual fees and love sign-up bonuses.
  • You want a simple cash back card that gives you a little extra return through rotating categories.
  • You are planning to buy a big-ticket item and want a zero percent intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
  • You are a travel lover who already holds (or plans to apply for) a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card.

How to use the Chase Freedom card:

  • Do not forget to charge at least $500 and add an authorized user in the first three months to receive the $175 bonus.
  • Find a balance between charging as much as possible in the rotating categories (up to $1,500) and buying things that you don’t need. As a compromise, a lot of retail establishments carry gift cards that you can use at a later date.
  • Avoid carrying a balance if you want to maximize your rewards.
  • If you love travel, consider getting one of the premium Chase Ultimate Rewards cards in addition to Freedom.

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