Chase Freedom Review: A Great Bonus and 5% Cash Back on Popular Categories
The Chase Freedom credit card offers an easy way to dive into Chase’s Ultimate Rewards ecosystem. Even if you never get another Chase card, 5% cash back on popular categories is hard to beat. And with no annual fee, this card gives plenty of reasons to sign up. Even better, if you combine the Chase Freedom with another Ultimate Rewards card, you can turn the cash back you earn in 5% rotating bonus categories into 5 Ultimate Rewards points. That unlocks a whole world of lucrative travel redemptions. Read our full review to see if the Chase Freedom is the right card for you.
Chase Freedom Card Quick Review
Here are the highlights of the Chase Freedom Credit Card:
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 16.49% - 25.24% Variable
Sign-Up Bonus: $150
- 5% cash back on rotating categories
- 1% cash back everywhere else
- Convert cash back into valuable Ultimate Rewards points
- Rewards never expire
- 0% intro APR
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
- If you owe less than $25, the full statement balance
- If you owe at least $25, the minimum payment will be the larger of:
- 1% of the new balance plus interest charges and late fees
- Up to $39 for late payments
- Up to $39 for returned payments
Why Apply for the Chase Freedom Card
There are a few reasons to consider applying for the Chase Freedom card
You want a high cash-back rate and don’t mind tracking categories
The Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back on purchases in specific categories that change every three months. If you try to optimize your spending to earn as much cash back as possible, the Chase Freedom is valuable too. So long as you remember to activate the 5% categories every quarter and use the card in those categories, the Chase Freedom is hard to beat.
You have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card and want to stack earnings
The Chase Freedom bills itself as a cash-back card, but it earns Ultimate Rewards points. The trick is, if you just have a Chase Freedom, you can only redeem for cash back. If you also have a premium Chase card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards points earned by your Chase Freedom to your premium card. That can increase the value of your points by 25% or 50%, giving the Chase Freedom an effective earning rate as high as 7.5%, so long as you redeem your points towards travel.
Chase Freedom Card: Drawbacks and Downsides
There are some drawbacks to applying for the Chase Freedom credit card.
Only 1% cash back on non-bonus purchases
If you keep only the Chase Freedom in your wallet, you’ll be passing up on a lot of cash back. It earns only a meager 1% on spending outside its quarterly bonus categories. You’ll also be stuck in this scenario if you forget to activate the bonus categories. To get the most out of this card, you should carry another card that earns a higher rate of rewards on generic purchases, and use the Chase Freedom solely for purchases that earn 5% cash back.
Fewer perks than other cards
While the Chase Freedom does offer standard perks like purchase protection and extended warranty, it doesn’t offer many of the perks found on more premium credit cards. In particular, you won’t receive trip delay or cancellation coverage or high-end rental car insurance. You’ll also have to pay a foreign transaction fee if you use the card overseas, which can really add up.
Chase Freedom Card Alternatives
If you’re considering the Chase Freedom card, you might want to consider these alternatives.
Citi® Double Cash Card
If you want a credit card that offers the same rewards regardless of where you shop, consider the Citi® Double Cash Card. It offers a flat 2% cash back on every purchase, regardless of where you shop. You earn 1% cash back at the time of purchase, and an additional 1% when you pay the balance off. It also has no annual fee.
American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card
If you want a credit card with fixed bonus categories, apply for the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card. This card offers 3% cash back on groceries, 2% cash back at gas stations and certain department stores, and 1% cash back on everything else. If you drive or buy groceries for your household, this card can net you lots of cash back in a short amount of time. It also doesn’t charge an annual fee.
Chase Freedom Card FAQs
Here are some other things to know about the Chase Freedom Card.
What’s the difference between the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
These cards have similar names, but they earn rewards differently. The Chase Freedom offers 1% cash back on most purchases, but 5% cash back in bonus categories that change quarterly. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a flat-rate cash-back card that offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Can you use the Chase Freedom Card internationally?
Yes, you can use the Chase Freedom Card overseas, but it’s not a great idea. You’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on every purchase, which can add up quickly.
Does the Chase Freedom Card have a referral program?
Yes. You can earn up to $500 each year by referring friends to the card. You’ll earn $100 for each person you refer who’s approved.
Bottom Line: Should You Apply for the Chase Freedom Card?
The Chase Freedom Card is a great tool for maximizing your cash back earnings by carrying multiple cards. If you don’t want to deal with rotating categories, or just want one all-purpose card, other cards will suit you better. But for all the rewards you can rack up, and its ability to pool points with other Chase credit cards, the Chase Freedom is a great choice.