Chase Freedom review

Published: December 3, 2019

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Published: December 3, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Introductory Offer: 3.9
Net Value: 3.2
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 3.6

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 limits its appeal as a balance transfer card.

See if you’re matched for the Chase Freedom® with CardMatch™

Learn more about this card

0% Introductory Period
15 months

Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% (whichever is higher) for the first 60 days, $5 or 5% (whichever is higher) thereafter

Introductory Purchase APR
0% for 15 months

Regular APR
16.49-25.24% (variable)

Annual Fee
$0

Customer Experience

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:
3.1 rating
3.1 rating
3.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.0
Rewards Flexibility: 3.5
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 3.6

In a Nutshell:

If you don’t mind enrolling in and 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.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

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

Sign-up Bonus
$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$304

APR
16.49-25.24% (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

Customer Experience

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

Chase Freedom Review: More Details

For cardholders who don’t mind putting a bit more effort into earning cash back, the Chase Freedom is a great option. It offers a generous 5 percent cash back on rotating bonus categories that you enroll in each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter) and 1 percent on all other purchases. Even with a spend cap, this is a great rewards card for users who stay on top of the current categories.

As an added bonus, cardholders of another Chase Ultimate Rewards card can transfer points earned with the Freedom to potentially boost their value.

Earning rate

The earning rate on the Chase Freedom can be very generous, but you’ll have to put a bit of effort in to make the most of it. Each quarter, you can enroll in rotating bonus categories to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases, then you’ll earn 1 percent. You’ll also earn an unlimited 1 percent cash back on every other purchase. Luckily, categories tend to be easy to match spending to. For Q3 2019, cardholders can earn bonus cash back at gas stations and on select streaming services (runs July 1 to Sept. 30, 2019, must enroll by Sept. 15, 2019).

Chase 5 percent cash back calendar 2019

Winter Spring Summer Holiday
January – March (Activation closed) April – June (Activate by June 15, 2019) July – September (Activate starting June 15, 2019) October – December (Activate starting Sept. 15, 2019)
  • Gas stations
  • Drugstores
  • Tolls
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay
  • Department stores

Though the 5 percent category can be very lucrative if you stay on top of rotating categories, the relatively low spend cap limits the overall earning potential with the Chase Freedom. Compared to other cash back cards, it can’t bring in quite as much on rewards on its own.

See Related: Chase Freedom’s rotating categories: Are they worth it?

However, the Chase Freedom does have a few tricks up its sleeve that boost its value – including a good sign-up bonus and the ability to pair the card with other Ultimate Rewards cards.

Sign-up bonus

The current sign-up bonus on the Chase Freedom is not the highest among cash back cards, but it is a top-tier offer for a card with no annual fee. Users who spend $500 in the first three months receive $150.

Redeeming cash back

The Chase Freedom card is very flexible in how you redeem your rewards.  Rewards don’t expire and  you have plenty of redemption options. You can opt for cash back in the form of a statement credit or a direct deposit into your bank account using any number of points, or you can use your points to pay for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Just keep in mind that the value of your points can shift depending on how you choose to redeem them.

Chase Freedom redemption options

Redemption option Point value (cents)
Travel redemption 1
Statement credit 1
Direct deposit 1
Gift cards 1
Apple purchases 1
Amazon.com purchases 0.8

No matter which of these options you prefer, Chase makes it simple to use your rewards – you just log in to your Ultimate Rewards dashboard and choose a redemption option to start redeeming:

See Related: Best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Balance transfer offer

In addition to a good rewards rate, the Chase Freedom offers cardholders a 15-month, 0 percent APR introductory period on both new purchases and balance transfers (with a 16.49 -25.24 variable APR thereafter). If you need time to pay down some debt or finance a larger purchase without racking up interest – but don’t want to sacrifice a good rewards program – this can be a great option.

However, you’ll have to pay a balance transfer fee of 3 percent or $5 (whichever is higher) for balances transferred in 60 days, and an even higher 5 percent fee (minimum of $5) for balances transferred after 60 days. This can add up to quite a bit on larger balances and might make a significant dent in your interest savings.

See Related: How to transfer a balance to a Chase credit card

Other benefits

For a card with no annual fee, the Chase Freedom has a decent list of additional perks that can add up to savings on shopping and travel.

  • Purchase protection – For eligible purchases made on your Chase Freedom card, you can be covered against theft or damage for the first 120 days ($500 max per claim, $50,000 max per account).
  • Extended warranty – Extend eligible manufacturers warranties of three years or less by an additional year.
  • Car rental insurance – If you charge your rental car to your card, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft up to the cash value of the car.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – In case you have to cancel or cut a trip short due to severe weather, illness or another covered situation, you can be reimbursed for non-refundable purchases made with your Chase Freedom.

To get the most out of these benefits, make sure to charge all big purchases to your Chase Freedom.

Pairing the Chase Freedom with other Chase cards

While it is true that the Chase Freedom can be a valuable cash back card on its own, it becomes much more lucrative when you pair it with another Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card. Since points earned on any of these cards can be easily transferred to one another, you can combine earnings to maximize your rewards. Plus, some cards have a higher point value on rewards redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

By combining cards that earn bonus points in different categories of spending, you can boost your earning rate. Then, you can transfer all the points you earn to a card with a higher point value to stretch them even further.

Imagine, for example, you own both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. The Reserve earns 3 points per dollar on travel and restaurant purchases (excluding travel purchases covered by the $300 travel credit) and 1 point per dollar on general purchases. It also receives a 50 percent boost on points redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards. By using the Reserve card for all travel and restaurant purchases and the Freedom for all its current bonus categories, you’ll earn more than if you’d used one card alone. Then, you can transfer all your points to the Reserve to take them a bit further.

See Related: Earn more Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase trifecta

In addition, owning a premium Ultimate Rewards card like the Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to transfer your points to one of Chase’s travel partners. This is another way to potentially stretch your rewards value, as some travel partners offer a mile value higher than 1 cent.

Approval odds

The Chase Freedom is designed for users with good to excellent credit (above 670), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. If you are worried about your eligibility and want to try and avoid a hard pull on your credit, you can take advantage of tools like CardMatch™ to see if you’re matched for the offer.

Customer service

Among major issuers, Chase has a pretty good customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2019 customer satisfaction survey, Chase scored 807 – tied for third out of 11 major banks. Chase’s app also rates well among users, rating 4.6 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store.

How do small businesses use the Chase Freedom card?

Given its terrific rewards rate, the Chase Freedom card could be a good option for businesses that spend heavily in one or more of its rotating rewards categories. Here’s how one small business owner made the most of the card:

Small Business Credit Profiles

How Handyman Connection uses the Chase Freedom card

Handyman Connection We use the heck out of this card for home repair stores in the quarter where it applies, as well as other categories – like office supply stores.

Derek Christian of Handyman Connection, a platform that links carpenters, electricians, builders, painters and other home care professionals to customers seeking quality services, uses the Chase Freedom card to rack up rewards in areas of heavy spend. Here’s his advice to other business owners considering the card:

  • Take advantage of the card’s rotating bonus categories to get the maximum cash back.
  • Pair the card with a business credit card that offers unlimited cash back on all purchases or with a Chase Ultimate Rewards card so that you can transfer rewards and boost their value.
  • If possible, pay contractors via credit card or PayPal to finance labor costs and keep cash flow positive.
  • If you do have an Ultimate Rewards card, consider transferring points to hotel and airline partners for maximum value.
Read more of our Small Business Credit Profiles

How does the Chase Freedom compare to other cash back cards?

The Chase Freedom can be a great option for cardholders who don’t mind putting a bit of extra work into their rewards program – especially if you own another Chase Ultimate Rewards card – but it might not be the best choice for everyone. Here’s a quick look at a few popular alternatives:


Discover it® Cash Back

Citi® Double Cash Card 

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Rewards rate

  • Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in various categories throughout the year
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Rewards rate

  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • 1% additional cash back as you pay for those purchases
Rewards rate

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • Terms apply
Welcome bonus

Matches cash back at end of first year of card membership

Welcome bonus

None

Welcome bonus

$150 if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Other things to know

  • Redeem rewards for gift cards, donations, credit to your account, direct deposit and more
Other things to know

  • Redeem rewards for check, statement credit, gift card or direct deposit
Other things to know

  • Redeem rewards for statement credit, merchandise or gift cards

Discover it Cash Back

Like the Chase Freedom, the Discover it Cash Back offers 5 percent cash back in rotating bonus categories that you must enroll in each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter, then 1 percent cash back). It also offers 1 percent cash back on general purchases. What sets this card apart from the Chase Freedom is its unique introductory bonus, which matches the cash back you earn at the end of your first cardmember year. If you are a heavy spender, this can bring in significantly more rewards than the Chase Freedom’s flat cash bonus.

See Related: Chase Freedom vs. Discover it

On the downside, the Discover it Cash Back doesn’t have the same transfer options as the Chase Freedom. If you are already earning Ultimate Rewards and can pair cards, you can get more long-term value out of the Chase card.

Citi Double Cash Card

If you are looking for a cash back card that takes a little less maintenance, the Citi Double Cash Card offers one of the best flat rates of cash back available on a card with no annual fee. Users earn 1 percent cash back on everything they buy and an additional 1 percent cash back as they pay for those purchases. While you won’t get a sign-up bonus or many other extras, this card earns a solid rate over time.

See Related: Citi Double Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

The bonus categories on the Blue Cash Everyday card might seem like they offer less cash back than the Chase Freedom, but savvy spenders can often get more out of the card. The Blue Cash Everyday offers generous cash back in popular categories – including 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent), 2 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1 percent cash back on general purchases. This can be especially rewarding for families who spend a significant amount on gas and groceries.

Who should get the Chase Freedom card?

  • Cardholders who don’t mind keeping track of and enrolling in rotating categories to earn extra cash back.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders looking to pair cards to boost earning.
  • Frequent travelers who will take advantage of the card’s travel protections.
  • Cardholders who want to finance a large purchase or transfer a balance with time to pay it down interest free without sacrificing rewards.

How to use the Chase Freedom card:

  • Don’t forget to activate your bonus categories each quarter.
  • If possible, max out the spend cap on bonus category purchases each quarter to boost earning.
  • Consider pairing the Chase Freedom with another Ultimate Rewards card, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, to earn more points and potentially boost their value.
  • Take advantage of Chase Offers to earn extra rewards at participating merchants.
  • Check out other ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points – like referring a friend to the card or shopping through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.

Is the Chase Freedom worth it?

If you are the kind of cardholder who doesn’t mind keeping track of rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom can be a great no-annual-fee cash back card. For cardholders of other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, it makes a great pair to boost overall earning and get to your next trip or cash back redemption a bit faster.

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