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Chase Freedom® Credit Card: Is It Right For You?

Chase Freedom® Credit Card: Is It Right For You?

One of the best rotating cashback category credit cards. The card is also a good companion to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

4.5/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The Chase Freedom® is a no annual fee cash back credit card offering bonus cash back in categories that rotate every 3 months. Customers also get a $150 signing bonus if they spend $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of their account opening. This bonus differentiates the Chase Freedom® from its competition, since a good number of cashback cards offer no bonuses. If the bonus categories and periods — during which you earn 5% cash back — make sense for your spending habits, we think the Chase Freedom® can offer you good value.

Review: Is The Chase Freedom® Worth It?

As a rotating categories rewards credit card, the benefits of having the Chase Freedom® is all about taking advantage of the 5% cash back calendar. In order to get the most value out of your Chase Freedom® card, you must make sure the bonus categories fit your lifestyle, and then stay on top of the calendar. Recently, the Chase Freedom® became more generic with no central theme appearing in its rewards program. We think the current rewards calendar creates more work for consumers – as they will have to be more mindful of purchases in order to squeeze out the most value. If you want a simpler reward structure, we recommend the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card or Citi® Double Cash Card instead. If the Chase Freedom®'s calendar works with your natural spending habits, very few cash back credit cards can match the excellent 5% rewards rate.

In comparison to flat rate cash back credit cards like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card or the Citi® Double Cash Card, the Chase Freedom® we think will require more effort on consumers' part to maximize rewards overall. The Chase Freedom®'s performance will depend upon your proportion of bonus category spending. If you can only pick one card, here's a handy guide for when we think the Chase Freedom® comes out ahead: based on our calculations, the Chase Freedom® outperforms the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card's 1.5% cash back if you spend at least 12.5% of all your spending in the bonus categories. For a better rewards rate card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, you'll need to have 25% of all your spending come in the bonus categories.

Of course since it has no annual fee, the Chase Freedom® can also work as a secondary card. To maximize rewards, we suggest that consumers simply use the Chase Freedom® when the bonuses apply, and use one of the better flat rate rewards cards otherwise for the general everyday purchases that fall into the non-bonus categories. Consumers also use the Chase Freedom® card in conjunction with the more premiere Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to maximize points and bonuses.

What are the Benefits of the Chase Freedom®?

The table below shows the major features, benefits, and rewards for the Chase Freedom®, including APR, and other miscellaneous information. We'll also discuss in detail how its rotating categories and Ultimate Rewards work below.

On Chase's Secure Website

Chase Freedom®

On Chase's Secure Website
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.74 - 25.49% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

How does the Chase Freedom® work?

Every quarter, Chase designates specific categories or retail brands that will be eligible for 5% cash back. Any purchases made that fall under these categories will be qualified to receive the bonus rewards for up to the first $1,500 in spending. This effectively means that you can earn $75 in bonus cash back each quarter, after which the rate in these categories will revert back to the standard 1% rate. This 1% is uncapped.

To receive the 5% bonus, cardholders need to activate their cash back categories each quarter by visiting the Chase Freedom® website. It is important to remember to do this on the first day of every quarter to ensure all your bonus spending is being tracked accurately. Under the Chase Freedom® program, your cash back rewards are delivered as points which can then be converted to cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point.

Chase Freedom® Sign-Up Bonus

New Chase Freedom® members will receive a sign-up bonus of $150 if they make $500 in purchases during the first 3 months - a 30% bonus rewards rate! If you previously had a Chase Freedom® and received a new cardmember bonus within the last two years you will not be eligible for this offer.

Rewards Redemption with the Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom® rewards are actually accrued as points through Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. The points can then be redeemed for a number of options including gift cards, Amazon purchases, and of course, cash back. Done in any of these ways the points are effectively worth 1 cent per point.

Chase Freedom® Mobile App

A snapshot of the Chase Freedom mobile app.

Chase has recently unveiled a new mobile application for Chase Freedom® cardholders, that allows users to redeem points directly into eGift Cards. These cards will be stored on your mobile app.

We advise consumers against using the gift cards, however, since doing so will make you miss out on earning even more Ultimate Rewards points. If you use a gift card to pay for a purchase, you will not earn any Ultimate Rewards points for the transaction - like you would if you paid using the Chase Freedom®. It is better to use your points for straight cash back or statement credits, and not as a substitute for payment.

If you have a Chase checking or savings account, you are also better off downloading the main Chase app, from a functionality standpoint. The main Chase app allows you to do things such as track your balance, pay your credit card bill (by transferring money from one of your accounts). The main Chase app also allows Chase Freedom® cardholders to manage their UR points, and redeem them as they wish. All in all, the main Chase app is the superior choice for Chase Freedom® cardholders.

How does the Chase Freedom® Compare to Other Credit Cards?

In order to draw a more direct comparison between different credit card options, we match up the Chase Freedom® against other options below. While not every card is an apples-to-apples comparison, we remind consumers that the Chase Freedom® credit card has no annual fee. As such, there is no additional cost to holding it in conjunction with another credit card in their wallet. For individuals who wish to optimize credit card combinations, or simply want to limit themselves to one particular card, the comparisons below will help shed light on how we think you should go about making the best decision.

Chase Freedom® vs Discover it® Cash Back

We almost always prefer the Chase Freedom® to the Discover it® Cash Back. The Chase Freedom® holds the advantage on two fronts: a sign-up bonus, and the fact that it earns Ultimate Reward points. The Chase Freedom® offers new cardholders a $150 welcome bonus, for spending $500 in the first three months. Discover it® Cash Back users are not given any bonuses of this kind. Instead, Discover it® Cash Back rewards new cardmembers at the end of the first year, by doubling the amount of cash back they earned that year.

When is the Discover it® Cash Back the better credit card? The card is a little more newbie friendly and credit score conscious. If you do not have much experience with a credit card, you might benefit from some of the card’s features. Most notable is the waiving of the fee on your first late payment. If you are not used to paying off a credit card balance at the end of each month, this can potentially save you up to $39. Finally, the Discover it® Cash Back card also offers a free FICO credit report to its customers. This can be good for any individual looking to micromanage their financials and maximize their credit score.

Chase Freedom® vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

We think it's hard to make a direct comparison between the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because they have very different purposes and serve two different kinds of consumers. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a travel rewards credit card, which aims to earn users more Ultimate Rewards points, which can be used towards multiple redemption options such as travel bookings and miles transfer.

Unlike the Chase Freedom®, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with an annual fee of $95. In exchange for the fee, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardholders enjoy more bonuses and features than Chase Freedom® customers. A bigger signing bonus, with a value of $750 (when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards), is just one of the added perks of the premier version. However, the high annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is only worthwhile for individuals whose spending is high enough to earn them enough rewards points to offset those costs.

While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is not for every Chase Freedom® user, we recommend that every Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card user get a Chase Freedom® card. Since rewards points go towards the same Ultimate Rewards account balance, they can be transferred between one another. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardholders earn at best 2 points per $1 spent. If they have a Chase Freedom® card, and they make purchases within bonus periods, they will be essentially earning 5 points per $1, thus maximizing their rewards rate.

Chase Freedom® vs Citi® Double Cash Card

We believe the Citi® Double Cash Card is a superior credit card, when ease of use and value are both factored in. The Citi® Double Cash Card gives cardmembers 1% back on all purchases, then another 1% back when those purchases are paid off. Individuals who choose the Citi® Double Cash Card over the Chase Freedom® simply have to use their credit card and enjoy their uncapped savings.

When is the Chase Freedom® more valuable than the Citi® Double Cash Card? If at least 25% of your total spending is in the bonus rotating categories, then you will be getting more value than the Citi® Double Cash Card has to offer. However, if your spending is high enough, and you spend more than $1,500 per quarter on those bonus categories you will start to lose value again due to the capped bonus spending. There is only a specific window of spending and timing when the Chase Freedom® can earn you more than the Citi® Double Cash Card. When it comes to bonuses, the Chase Freedom® outshines the Citi® Double Cash Card. The latter has no bonuses to speak of, unfortunately. However, over time, that difference can be made up for, since you will be receiving higher cash back returns with the Citi® Double Cash Card.

Chase Freedom® vs Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Chase Slate®
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Chase Freedom® and Chase Slate® are aimed at different consumers. The Chase Slate credit card is primarily meant for getting control of one’s credit card balance. This credit card has no outstanding benefits, outside the realm of balance transfers. While both the Chase Slate and Chase Freedom® offer a 0% intro APR period of 15 months, the Chase Slate has no balance transfer fees for the first 60 days of the account being opened. Therefore, it is clearly targeted at individuals needing to rein in an out-of-control balance from another credit card.

We think once the 15 month introductory period is over, the Chase Slate loses much of its value. However, since both cards come with no annual fee there is no maintenance fee preventing you from getting both (aside from credit score implications). However, we advise that individuals understand where the strengths of the Chase Slate lie, and not needlessly open up an account with it. If you are paying off your credit card balance at the end of each billing cycle without any issues, then the Chase Slate is not a credit card for you.

Compare The Chase Freedom® Based On Your Personal Expenditures

In order to help consumers see how the Chase Freedom® can perform for them, we built an interactive rewards calculator. Input your estimated monthly expenses, and you will see our estimates for each card’s 2-year value.

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Chase Freedom® Resources

Here are a few frequently asked questions we typically see about the Chase Freedom® credit card.

How do I apply for the Chase Freedom®?

You can apply in person at a branch, or on Chase's website.

What is the phone number to Chase Freedom® customer Service?

To speak to a representative about the Chase Freedom®, dial: 1-877-242-7372

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).