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Chase Freedom® Credit Card – Review

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At a Glance
Chase Freedom Credit Card
3.9 / 5
Rating

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Chase Freedom®

  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Rewards: 5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases); Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 16.99% to 25.74% variable (purchases and balance transfers); 26.99% (cash advances)
  • Fees: Balance transfer fee 3% of the amount transferred ($5 minimum) during the first 60 days; 5% or $5 minimum thereafter
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Chase Freedom® was among the first true cash back credit cards. Imitators have come and gone, but its promise of unlimited 1% cash back and up to 5% cash back (up to $1,500 per quarter) in select quarterly spending categories remains – though you do have to manually activate your 5% cash back categories, which is often an annoying extra step to take. Chase Freedom® has long had an attractive sign-up bonus – currently $150 cash for $500 in qualifying purchases within 3 months of account opening – and it has never charged an annual fee.

Chase Freedom® has plenty of other perks too, including a 15-month purchase and balance transfer promotion and no penalty APR. Though Chase doesn’t specify the precise credit score you need to qualify, Freedom is openly marketed to more inexperienced credit card users with less-than-perfect credit scores and moderate incomes. Comparable cash back credit cards include Discover it (which comes in several versions) and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

Spend $500 within three months of account opening and get a $150 bonus cash back credit.

Earning Cash Back Rewards

Chase Freedom® pays 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in total purchases ($75 in total cash back rewards) in certain quarterly rotating spending categories. These categories vary widely, so check Chase’s website for an up-to-date list.

After you hit the quarterly spending cap, additional purchases in the 5% cash back categories earn an unlimited 1% cash back. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1% cash back, as well.

Keep in mind that you have to manually activate your 5% cash back spending categories before the middle of the last month of the applicable quarter. Once you activate, your cash back earnings are retroactive throughout the quarter.

Chase occasionally offers promotions that can boost your point-earning or -redeeming power. For instance, through April 2019, the Ultimate Rewards marketplace ran a sale on gift cards, offering 10% off popular retailers like Express, iTunes, and Whole Foods.

Redeeming Cash Back Rewards

You can redeem for a statement credit, bank account deposit, gift card, or purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. There’s no minimum to redeem and your cash back earnings never expire.

Introductory APR

Enjoy 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from account opening. Balance transfers can be made at any time during the 15-month window to qualify for the promo rate.

Regular APR

Following the end of the introductory APR period, Chase Freedom’s regular APR rises to range between 16.99% to 25.74% variable, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 26.99% variable from day one. There is no penalty APR.

Important Fees

Freedom doesn’t have an annual fee. Foreign transactions cost a flat 3% of the transaction amount. When you transfer a balance within the first 60 days, the balance transfer fee is the greater of 3% or $5. Thereafter, the balance transfer fee is the greater of 5% or $5. Cash advances always cost the greater of $10 or 5%.

Purchase Protection

Chase’s Purchase Protection plan provides up to 4 months of complimentary protection for all purchases made in full with your Chase Freedom® card. The benefit is good up to $500 per covered item and $50,000 total per account. Coverage includes potential perils such as theft, damage, and loss.

Complimentary Rental Car Insurance

When you decline the rental company’s insurance option and charge the entire rental to your Chase Freedom® card, you’re automatically covered for theft and collision expenses in the U.S. and most international markets (secondary to your own personal auto insurance).

Free Credit Score

You get a free credit score, updated weekly, with Chase Credit Journey.

Credit Required

This card requires very good credit. Some minor blemishes may be acceptable, but major dings are likely to disqualify your application.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. Chase Freedom® has no annual fee, a big perk relative to similar cards such as Capital One QuicksilverOne ($39 annual fee) and Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee).
  2. 0% Intro and Balance Transfer APR for 15 Months. Chase Freedom® comes with a 15-month 0% purchase and balance transfer APR promotion. Even better, transfers made at any time during the promotional window qualify. The Discover it card only offers a 12-month balance transfer and purchase APR promotion, while the promotions of Capital One’s cash back cards last for a limited time.
  3. Easily Attainable Sign-up Bonus. Freedom’s $150 sign-up bonus is bigger than average and is pretty easy to snag: Just spend $500 within 3 months of opening your account, or roughly $166 per month. The $150 sign-up bonus on the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express requires you to spend at least $1,000 within 3 months.
  4. No Penalty APR. Though Freedom has late fees, it never charges a penalty APR. That’s welcome news for cardholders of Citi Double Cash and American Express cash back cards who are in search of a reprieve.
  5. Flexible Cash Back Redemption. Chase lets you redeem your Freedom card’s accumulated cash back pretty much any way you want: statement credits, bank account deposits, good-as-cash gift cards, and a vast array of merchandise through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Some competing cards, such as Barclaycard CashForward (no merchandise purchases) and Capital One’s cash back cards (statement credits or bank account deposits only), aren’t so flexible.
  6. No Minimum to Redeem. You can redeem your accumulated cash back in any amount, at any time. This is great news for frugal cardholders who take a while to accumulate rewards.

Disadvantages

  1. Baseline 1% Cash Back Is Lower Than Some Competitors. Chase Freedom’s 1% baseline cash back rate is lower than the rate of some competing cards. If you’re a moderate to heavy spender, you’re likely to exceed the $1,500 quarterly spending threshold for Freedom’s 5% categories. By contrast, Capital One Quicksilver, Capital One QuicksilverOne, Barclaycard CashForward, and BankAmericard Cash Rewards all earn unlimited 1.5% cash back, while Citi Double Cash effectively has a 2% baseline cash back rate. These cards are better for people who spend more and are thus more likely to exceed the quarterly 5% spending cap.
  2. Manual Activation Required for 5% Cash Back. Chase requires you to manually activate your 5% cash back categories each quarter. If you don’t do so by the middle of the last month of the quarter, you miss out on any potential earnings for that quarter. While it takes just a few minutes at most to activate, it’s still annoying to have to take time out of your routine and remember to do so. Most other cash back cards, even those with special categories, such as Discover it Chrome and American Express Blue Cash Preferred, don’t require manual category activation.
  3. Expensive Cash Advances. It’s expensive to use your Chase Freedom card for cash advances: $10 or 5%, whichever is greater, a higher APR. That’s more than both BankAmericard Cash Rewards and Capital One Quicksilver.

Final Word

When you apply for and use Chase Freedom®, you know what you’re getting. It’s a classic cash back card that’s been around for years – longer than many online banks, in fact.

While its baseline 1% unlimited cash back is no longer the gold standard for cash back credit cards, the lack of an annual fee and the promise of additional earnings for purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards portal certainly sweeten the deal. That said, you want to avoid this card if you prefer the simplicity of a flat-rate cash back rewards card or if you travel frequently, since the foreign transaction fee and limited travel rewards are problematic.

Verdict
Chase Freedom Credit Card
3.9 / 5
Rating

Apply Now

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom® is an ideal card for frugal to moderate spenders who don’t anticipate regularly exceeding the $1,500 spending cap for the 5% categories, want to transfer high-interest balances from existing credit cards, and occasionally make a late payment. It’s not as useful for heavy spenders, nor for cardholders with excellent credit who are likely to qualify for more generous rewards cards.

The big benefits of this card include the potential to earn 5% cash back in select categories and the lack of an annual fee. Drawbacks include manual activation, somewhat low baseline cash back, and limited fringe benefits.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Greekalphabets readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below 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.

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