About Chase Freedom Card
Looking to get more benefits out of your credit card?
If so, the Chase Freedom Card helps you automatically earn cash back when shopping for essentials at many of your favorite merchants, including unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase you make, and an additional 4% for bonus categories.
Sounds great, right? Hold on, because the truth is that there are hundreds of rewards credit cards out there, and finding one that meets all your needs can be a challenge.
Compared to all these other options, is there anything that sets the Chase Freedom Card apart? Is it worth your time, or should you look elsewhere?
You’ve got a lot of questions about the Freedom Card, and we’ve got the information that can help you figure things out. To start, let’s take a look at Chase Freedom’s details.
How Does the Chase Freedom Card Work?
Regardless of the time of year or the retailer you’re shopping with, the Chase Freedom Card always provides 1% cash back.
However, every three months, Chase designates specific categories and retailers that can help you earn an additional 4%. From 2015, some of these past and current options include (for more details, be sure to visit their Merchants List):
- January – March: Grocery Rewards, in addition to movie theaters and Starbucks.
- April – June: Restaurants, in addition to Bed Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Overstock.com.
- July – September: Gas stations, in addition to Kohl’s.
- October – December: Amazon, Zappos, Audible, and Diapers.com.
As these categories change every three months, you’ll be required to activate your enrollment in order for your purchases to qualify, which can be processed online, via text message, phone, or email, by visiting a Chase personal banker, or at an ATM location.
You can also activate your savings using the Chase Freedom mobile app (iOS only), which will send you activation reminders and updates on the latest cash back categories and merchants, as well as allowing you to view your cash back balance.
The Freedom app also lets you redeem your cash back on the go, and use this redemption to pay at 30 of your favorite merchants. Inside the app, all you have to do is choose your merchant and it will instantly create a custom e-gift card, which can be presented during checkout.
How much will all these rewards cost you?
Chase Freedom Rates & Fees
Applying for the Chase Freedom Card is completely free, as is activating your cash back rewards every three months. There’s also no annual fee, and you’ll continue earning rewards for as long as your account is open and not in default.
Chase appears to run various promotional offers for new Freedom Card members, which included a $100 bonus (after spending $500 within three months of activation) at the time of our research.
Based on Chase Freedom’s FAQ, here’s an example of how it works:
Each $1 in Cash Back rewards earned is equal to 100 points. Your points can be redeemed for cash back or any of the other redemption opportunities provided through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Redemption items may require a minimum number of points to redeem. For example, 2,000 points is needed to redeem for $20 in cash.
However, for 1% purchases, there’s a limit of up to $75 cash back per quarter. Bonus categories also come with limits, although these can change as new categories are rolled out (for example, you could earn 5% cash back up to $1,500 in combined purchases at Amazon.com at the time of our research).
According to Chase Freedom’s Pricing & Terms page, you’ll receive a 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles that your account is open. Thereafter, your interest rate will increase to between 13.99% and 22.99%, which is based on your creditworthiness. Cash advances and balance transfers come with a maximum APR of 29.99%.
If your payment is late, Chase will charge you between $15 and $35, depending on your current balance.
Chase Freedom Protection Benefits
Outside of cash back, the Chase Freedom Card also comes with a variety of protection benefits, including chip-enabled security, zero liability protection, price protection, and auto rental collision damage waiver.
The card’s purchase protection also covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim, or $50,000 per account.
How do these rewards and protection benefits compare to other rewards credit cards?
How the Chase Freedom Card Stacks Up
If the Chase Freedom Card is the first cash back card you’ve explored, keep in mind that there are literally hundreds of nearly identical cards out there from a variety of different banks—some of which will be better suited to your spending habits than others.
For more, read: How To Pick a Travel Credit Card that Will Take You Places
To see for yourself, just type the phrase “1% cash back card” or “cash back credit card” into your favorite search engine and watch how many results pull up.
But is there anything meaningfully different about Chase Freedom? Are customers pleased with the program?
NerdWallet gave Chase Freedom a 4.6-star rating, who appreciated the card’s $0 annual fee and generous cash back rewards, although they noted that its rotating rewards might be a hassle for some (including the mandatory opt-in every three months), and that it’s not ideal for traveling abroad.
Overall, they felt the Chase Freedom Card is “a good fit for rewards rookies and cash-back connoisseurs alike.”
TheSimpleDollar claimed that Chase Freedom “is a versatile cash back card good for establishing credit or for use as a balance transfer card,” and they appreciated that its flexible points can be redeemed for different rewards.
On the other hand, they claimed that Chase Freedom might not be your best option if you’re a big spender looking to maximize your points, or if you don’t want to hassle with tracking bonus categories and activating your rewards every three months.
On CreditKarma, nearly 100 Chase Freedom cardholders gave their feedback and rated the card an average of 3.6 stars. Common compliments included ease of application, fast (sometimes immediate) approvals, and relatively high limits (even for those with less-than-stellar credit).
Several customers didn’t appreciate the mandatory activation every three months though, and also claimed to have experience poor customer service and failure to properly communicate with cardholders.
Is Chase Freedom the Best Cash Back Card for You?
Whether we’re talking about Chase Freedom or a card from another bank, cash back credit cards are extraordinarily popular. In fact, 55% of all credit cardholders own a rewards credit card.
So, the good news is that you have hundreds of options to choose from. But it’s important to remember that not every one of these cards will meet your needs.
To help you figure out what your needs are, here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Am I most interested in points, cash back, airline miles, or other types of rewards? Chase Freedom doesn’t offer airline miles or points redeemable at hotels, so if you’re a travel junkie, it might not be your best option.
- Even if you are interested in cash back, at 1%, the Chase Freedom Card seems to be on the lower end of the spectrum compared to the competition.
- Will you be transferring balances from other cards? Are you looking for the lowest possible interest rate? In either of these instances, Chase Freedom probably isn’t your best option, since interest rates begin at about 14% and can go well into the upper-twenties for transfers.
- On the other hand, if you’re looking to boost your credit score and earn cash back in the process, many online customers with low-600 credit ratings claimed to have received quick approvals. So if this sounds like you, Chase Freedom might be a good option.
Bottom line? At 1%, the Chase Freedom Card seems to offer middle-of-the-road cash back opportunities, although certain purchases during different times of the year will qualify for up to 5% back.
Yes, there are certainly options that offer higher percentages, but they might come with unforeseen drawbacks, such as annual fees, more stringent eligibility requirements, and more.
Ultimately, only you can decide which cash back card is right for you, which will require some research (you’re already off to a great start!), although Chase Freedom seems to be a solid offering with mostly positive online feedback.
More on Credit Cards:
- 4 Types of Credit Cards Responsible Consumers Use for Big Rewards
- Good Credit Scores and How to Get There: A Detailed Guide For Moving From Average to All-Star