- Chase Freedom® Review
- Rewards & Features
- How the Chase Freedom® Credit Card works
- Chase Freedom® Credit Card Comparisons
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® card 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.
The features we like best about the Chase Freedom®
- 5% bonus cash back in rotating categories on up to 1,500 in purchases each quarter (up to $75 dollars)
- Great welcome bonus
- No annual fee
Where we think the Chase Freedom® falls short compared to other cards
- Getting good rewards is really dependent upon the bonus categories. The basic 1% cash back is inferior to the best flat rate cash back cards
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. Last year, the card was much more focused around gas station purchases, making it an ideal choice for anyone who is a big driver. Beginning in 2015, however, 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 Quicksilver® or Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer 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 - 18 month BT offer, 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 - 18 month BT offer, 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 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.
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.
|Purchase APR||15.74%-24.49% Variable|
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. You'll need a minimum of 2,000 accumulated points to be able to redeem them for cash back. This equates to a minimum spending of $400 on the 5% bonus categories or $2,000 in non-bonus categories before you can get cash back redemptions.
|1||Jan 1 - Mar 31||Gas Stations, Local Commuter Transportation|
|2||Apr 1 - Jun 30||Grocery Stores & Wholesale Clubs such as BJ's and Sam's Club|
|3||Jul 1 - Sep 30||Restaurants|
|4||Oct 1 - Dec 31||Holiday Shopping|
Currently, new Chase Freedom card members will receive a signing 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® credit card and received a new cardmember bonus within the last two years you will not be eligible for this offer.
What is the range of signing bonuses for the Chase Freedom®? The current bonus on the card is $150, though we have seen it go as high as $200 in the past. Credit card companies like to change bonuses and offers around quite frequently. So, if you don't mind waiting, there might be better times to apply for the card.
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. The cash back mechanism requires a minimum 2,000 points in exchange for $20 in cash back.
There are disadvantages to the Chase Freedom® being structured around the Ultimate Rewards point system. Chase Freedom® cardholders need a minimum of 2,000 Ultimate Rewards points in order to redeem those points for cash back. This means you will not receive any benefits from the card until a minimum spending threshold is met. We calculate what the exact minimum spending is below.
You earn 5 points per $1 spent on the Chase Freedom® in its bonus categories. Therefore, earning 2,000 points will require: 2,000 / 5 = $400 in category spending. If you are making purchases outside of the bonus category, and earning just 1 point per $1, the minimum spending required will be 2,000/ / 1 = $2,000. Ultimate rewards points never expire, therefore there is no urgency about meeting that minimum. However, if you are a low to moderate spender, and it takes a while to accumulate 2,000 points, it may be frustrating not seeing the cash back rewards kick in.
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, and anytime you pay shop with the participating retailers.
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.
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.
As one of the three 5% cash back cards available, how does the Freedom stack up against other options? The other cards that have a similar structure are the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ and the Citi Dividend Platinum Select.
|Card||Qtr. 1||Qtr. 2||Qtr. 3||Qtr. 4|
|Chase Freedom®||Gas Stations, Local Commuter Transportation||Grocery Stores and Wholesale Clubs||Restaurants||Holiday Shopping|
|Discover it® - Cashback Match™||Gas, Ground Transportation & Wholesale Clubs||Home Improvement Stores & Wholesale Clubs||TBD||TBD|
|Citi Dividend||Macy's, Home Furnishing STores||Home Improvement||Hilton Hotels, Car Rentals, Theme Parks, Movies||Best Buy, Department tores|
An important difference that you may consider is the way rewards are capped between the three cards. While the Freedom and Discovier It® are capped to $1,500 in spending for $75 in the bonus categories each quarter, the Citi Dividend's cap is capped yearly at $300 in total bonus cash back. While the total amounts will end up being the same, the difference can be important if your spending is more skewed or episodic and would like to take advanatge of one quarter more than the rest.
We almost always prefer the Chase Freedom® card to the Discover it® - Cashback Match™. While both cards have an almost identical rewards structure and limits, the Chase Freedom® holds the advantage on two fronts: a signing 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® - Cashback Match™ users are not given any bonuses of this kind. Instead, Discover it® - Cashback Match™ rewards new cardmembers at the end of the first year, by doubling the amount of cash back they earned that year. When it comes to introductory 0% APR periods, The Chase Freedom® has the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ card beaten by 3 months.
When is the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ 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 $37. Finally, the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ 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. However, we have observed growing trends of more and more financial institutions implementing the same feature. Chase also recently unveiled it will offer FICO scores, free of charge, to its Chase Slate cardholders. We believe it is only a matter of time until similar benefits come around for the Chase Freedom.
We think it's hard to make a direct comparison between the Freedom and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because they have very different purposes and serve two different kinds of consumers. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® 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. It has a introductory annual fee of $0, and then costs $95 to maintain. 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 $625, 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® 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.
We believe the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer is a superior credit card, when ease of use and value are both factored in. The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer gives cardmembers 1% back on all purchases, then another 1% back when those purchases are paid off. There are no points, no bonus calendars, and no minimum spending required for redemption. Individuals who choose the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer 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 - 18 month BT offer? 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 - 18 month BT offer 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 - 18 month BT offer. When it comes to bonuses, the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer outshines the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer. 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 - 18 month BT offer.
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.
|Card||Annual Fee||2-yr Net Rewards Rate||Bonus Value||2-yr Rewards Value|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|$0 Intro for the First Year. Then $95||2.86%||
|Graph Card||Read Review||More Details|
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
|Graph Card||Read Review||More Details|
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
|Graph Card||Read Review||More Details|
Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months
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.
I heard Chase Freedom® benefits are being reduced.
It’s true. Starting in 2016, among other things, cardmembers will no longer earn bonus points for using the Ultimate Rewards portal. Here is our news article on that: http://www.valuepenguin.com/2014/08/chase-reducing-freedom-credit-card-benefits-2016.
What is the phone number to Chase Freedom® customer Service?
To speak to a representative about the Chase Freedom® credit card, dial: 1-877-242-7372
Comments and Questions
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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.