Chase Freedom® Credit Card Review

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Chase Freedom® snapshot

 

 If you want to get a little more juice out of your rewards credit card, the Chase Freedom® credit card could be the answer for you. In our opinion it’s one of the best cash back credit cards around for maxing out the amount of rewards you can earn without having to pay an annual fee. This card offers multiple ways to rack up cash back, making it a great fit for everyday spenders who use credit regularly. Keep reading to learn what makes the Chase Freedom® cash back card a winner and see how it compares to similar cards on the market.

Chase Freedom® credit card highlights

 

Annual fee$0
Foreign transaction fee3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Rewards programEarn 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.
BonusEarn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
We think it's great for:- People who don’t mind a tiered rewards structure

- People who don’t want to pay an annual fee

- People who want to take advantage of an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers
We think these folks should do more research:- People who prefer to keep their rewards structure simple

- People who want to earn rewards specifically for travel

Verdict: Best for spenders who want to squeeze the most cash back value out of every day purchases

Chase Freedom® credit card basics

With the Chase Freedom® card you can enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores. The 5% rewards rate is limited up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back.

Chase Freedom® credit card perks

As part of the cash back program, the Chase Freedom® card also offers qualifying new cardmembers a way to earn a $150 Bonus. To earn this $150 Bonus you must spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. That breaks down to approximately $167 a month in spending on the card, and purchases still earn the corresponding cash back rewards rate.

This card has no annual fee, which is a big plus. There is, however, a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

[Also Read: 5 Best Chase Bank Credit Cards]

Chase Freedom® Comparison

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card

Card highlights we want to feature:

  • Limited time offer: You can earn 5.5% cash back on purchases made in the first year of account opening on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose from select qualifying merchants. Thereafter, earn 5%.
  • Limited time offer: You can earn 2.5% cash back on purchases made in the first year of account opening on your choice of one everyday category. Thereafter, earn 2%.
  • Limited time offer: 1.5% cash back on purchases made in the first year of account opening on your other everyday eligible net purchases. Thereafter, earn 1%.
  • No annual fee

usbankcashbackplusThe U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card puts a new spin on cash back by giving members more flexibility as to where they earn the most rewards. This card allows you to earn, for a limited time, 5.5% cash back on purchases made in the first year of account opening in two categories you choose each quarter (from a selection of categories provided by U.S. Bank), up to the first $2,000 in combined net purchases. Thereafter, earn 5%. Cardmembers will need to choose the categories each quarter and enroll each quarter to earn at the higher cash back rate.

You can also earn, for a limited time, 2.5% cash back on purchases made in the first year of account opening on your choice of one everyday category (thereafter, earn 2%). And for a limited time earn 1.5% cash back on purchases made in the first year of account opening on your other eligible everyday net purchases (thereafter, earn 1%). This card has no annual fee.

The limited time offer can expire at any time, so if you are interested in this offer check out U.S. Bank’s application page/website for the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Credit Card to see rates, fees, rewards program details and other information.

Discover it® – Cashback Match™

Card highlights we want to feature:

  • Cash rewards program – earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate
  • Cash rewards program – earn 1% cash back on all your other purchases
  • With the Cashback Match™  promotional offer you can get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, only for new cardmembers
  • 0% Introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months; after the introductory APR period ends the Standard Variable Purchase APR applies for purchases and balance transfers, currently 11.99% -23.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • There is no annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

Discover it® – Cashback Match™ offers a tiered cash back rewards structure that’s similar to the Chase Freedom® card. Members earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
Discoverit-cashbackmatch
The card also offers 1% cash back on all your other purchases outside the rotating categories. Discover sweetens the deal, for new cardmembers only, by automatically matching all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, so you can get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year with Cashback Match™. This card has no annual fee.

Check out Discover’s application page/website for the Discover it® – Cashback Match™ card to see rates, fees, rewards program details and other information.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Card highlights we want to feature:

  • Cash rewards program – earn 1% cash back on purchases
  • Earn another 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
  • 0% Introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After the introductory APR period ends, the variable APR will be 14.49% – 24.49% based on your creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee of either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.
  • This card has no annual fee

citidoublecashThe Citi® Double Cash Card (Citi is a CreditSesame.com advertiser) pays you cash back two different ways, once when you make purchases and again when you pay for those purchases. In other words, this card offers unlimited 1% cash back on every $1 in net purchases, then another 1% cash back as pay for those purchases.

That’s less than the 5% cash back the Chase Freedom® card pays but it’s appealing if you don’t want to keep track of rotating categories, or the categories don’t tend to favor your typical spending. Best of all, you can take advantage of the 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months. This card has no annual fee.

Check out Citi’s application page/website for the Citi® Double Cash Card to see rates, fees, rewards program details and other information.

Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

Card highlights we want to feature:

  • Cash rewards program – earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
  • Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No annual fee

chasefreedomunlimitedThe Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is a streamlined version of the regular Chase Freedom® credit card. This card offers you unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, with no need to juggle quarterly changing bonus categories.

This card has a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Check out Chase’s application page/website for the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ card to see rates, fees, rewards program details and other information.

To give you an idea, this is a chart that shows the average credit scores, taken from a subset of Credit Sesame’s 7 million members collected October 2015.

Chart7

[Credit Bureau Guide: What the Differences are Between Equifax, TransUnion, & Experian]

Chase Freedom® credit card rewards

ChaseFreedomrewards

As mentioned earlier, the Chase Freedom® rewards program is tiered, meaning there are two different levels at which rewards can be earned. Every quarter, the 5% cash back bonus categories change and you have to remember to opt-in each time they do so in order to earn rewards at that rate (you’ll get a reminder from Chase). Otherwise, you’ll earn the same 1% cash back that applies to all purchases that don’t qualify for the 5% bonus.

Once you’re ready to use the cash back rewards you’ve earned, Chase gives you several redemption options. With the Chase Freedom® Mobile app, you can use your rewards to pay in-store when you shop at participating merchants. You just log in, select the retailer, restaurant or movie theater where you want to pay, redeem rewards for an e-gift certificate and scan your phone at checkout.

You can also redeem rewards for cash, gift cards to selected retailers, purchases made at Amazon.com. To use your cash back rewards for travel, you’d also need to have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or another Ultimate Rewards® points earning card. You can then transfer rewards earned with the Chase Freedom® card to your account and redeem through for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. In doing so, you could be eligible for 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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The cash back rewards program is the Chase Freedom® card’s best feature and it’s especially attractive for people who use credit to cover day to day spending.

The credit needed to be considered for this card is good to excellent credit. However keep in mind that the card issuers use a variety of criteria to determine if you are eligible for a credit card.

The lack of an annual fee means you can charge as little or as much as you like without fear of an annual fee eating into your rewards.

Being able to use your cash back for travel by transferring rewards to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is also an advantage if you take the occasional trip which may save you some money on flights or hotel stays.

In terms of downsides, this isn’t the card to have if in your wallet if most of your credit card purchases center on travel. While rewards can be transferred, it does necessitate having another credit card account to do so. The Chase Freedom® foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars adds another $30 on to every $1,000 you spend while using your card for purchases outside the U.S., which is also a drawback.

Keeping up with changing rewards bonus categories can also be a hassle and forgetting to opt-in can cost you the 5% cash back bonus. Choosing a card that pays one flat cash back percentage on everything might make more sense if you want a less complicated rewards structure.

Chase’s Blueprint Program

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 10.09.13 AMThis card is eligible for a really nice money management program that you might not know about. It’s Chase’s Blueprint program, available on the Chase Freedom® card and several other cards issued by Chase. The Blueprint program shows you how to save money on interest charges and pay down balances in a variety of ways.

If you are paying down a balance and you want to maximize bonus cash back opportunities without the risk of adding to your debt, Chase’s full-pay feature could be just what you need.

It’ll help you pay off all of the month’s new charges while also making payments toward the debt you brought along from the previous month.

Here are Chase’s Blueprint program features:

  • Full-pay spending categories: your payment will go toward these purchases first so that they won’t incur interest charges even if you carry a balance for other purchases.
  • Split: choose any recent purchase and you can pay it down while also paying down your other debt. You decide how much or how fast you want to pay off on the purchase and Chase customizes your payment plan based on your goals.
  • Finish it: set a goal for paying off your existing debt, choose any amount you’d like to pay down and Chase helps you with a customized payment plan.
  • Track it: see spending trends and choose categories you want to track closely, and set spending goals if desired.

None of these programs costs a dime, and there’s no penalty if you are unable to keep up with your goals. And if you miss a Blueprint payment, your account will not be in default as long as you pay your minimum payment due and the payment is posted as on time (and meet your other plan requirement).  But if you do follow the plan, you stand to save money in interest charges.

Should you get the Chase Freedom® card?

Chase Freedom® is suited to people whose spending patterns are a good match for the card’s bonus categories. Assuming you hit the spending limit on purchases for the 5% cash back bonus each quarter, you’d earn a minimum of $300 cash back annually and there are no restraints on how much cash back you can earn on purchases at the 1% cash back rewards level. If you’re not sure whether you meet the Chase Freedom® credit score requirements, consider taking a look at your free credit report card from Credit Sesame before you apply.


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Published July 20, 2016
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