EDITOR’S NOTE: The Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers mentioned in this article have expired and are no longer available
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
|Foreign transaction fee||3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars|
|Rewards program||Earn 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.|
|Bonus||Earn 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
|Additional Notes:||Terms apply|
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 the 5% rewards rate is limited up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate with new 5% categories each quarter. 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 eligible 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:
- You earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose from select qualifying merchants
- You earn 2% cash back on purchases from your choice of one everyday category from select qualifying merchants
- 1% cash back on all your other everyday eligible net purchases
- No annual fee
The 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 5% cash back on purchases 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. Cardmembers will need to choose the categories each quarter and enroll each quarter to earn at the higher cash back rate.
You also earn 2% cash back on purchases on your choice of one everyday category. And earn 1% cash back on your other eligible everyday net purchases. This card has no annual fee.
Discover it® – Cashback Match™
Card highlights we want to feature:
- Cash rewards program – earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate
- Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically
- There is an intro offer: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically, only for new cardmembers
- There is no annual fee
- There are no foreign transaction fees
Discover it® – Cashback Match™ offers a tiered cash back rewards structure – cardmembers earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Discover sweetens the deal with this intro offer: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically, for new cardmembers only. This card has no annual fee.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Card highlights we want to feature:
- Cash rewards program – earn 1% cash back on your purchases made with this card
- Earn another 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases
- This card has no annual fee*
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Citi is a CreditSesame.com advertiser) pays you cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you 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. This card has no annual fee.
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
- There is no annual fee
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a streamlined version of the regular Chase Freedom® credit card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® 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.
You may be wondering if you qualify for any of these offers
We can’t tell you that, but what we can say is generally speaking to be considered for one of these offers you would need to have good to excellent credit. Each credit card issuer may have somewhat different guidelines as to what would make an applicant viewed as being creditworthy.
Having excellent credit is definitely a step in the right direction however having a credit score in a particular range is not a guarantee that you will be approved for a credit card or if you’re approved what the terms that may be extended to you will be. There are many variables in the decision making process to extend credit, your credit score included.
To give you an idea of credit scores and ranges (credit scores and ranges vary based on the credit bureau, below chart is based on the TransUnion scoring model), this is a chart that shows the average credit scores, taken from a subset of Credit Sesame’s 7 million members collected October 2015.
If you’re unsure of where you stand, check out your credit score before you apply for a card. You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. You may find more information in this article [Credit Bureau Guide: What the Differences are Between Equifax, TransUnion, & Experian].
Chase Freedom® credit card rewards
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. Receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts, link your Chase Freedom® card to your Amazon.com account and redeem your cash back to pay for all or part of your eligible Amazon.com orders.
You can also redeem rewards for gift cards and certificates to select retailers for shopping, dining, entertainment and more.
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, along with your credit score.
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.
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. 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 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
This 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 you meet your other plan requirements). 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 recommendation of good to excellent credit, consider taking a look at your free credit report card from Credit Sesame before you apply. And as we mentioned above, having a credit score in a particular range is not a guarantee that you will be approved for a credit card or, if you’re approved, what the terms that may be extended to you will be. There are many variables in the decision making process to extend credit, including your credit score.
Disclaimer: The information about Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has been collected by creditsesame.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card.
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