Strategic cardholders who don’t mind activating the Chase Freedom® credit card every quarter for 5% cash back in rotating categories will reap the most from this cash back card. But the Chase Freedom card offers other benefits as well.
For one thing, there’s no annual fee. And this entry-level card in the Chase Ultimate Rewards family provides an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. So right away, you can save money on interest if you make a big purchase or you transfer a high-interest balance from another credit card to the Chase Freedom card.
If you’re a big spender, though, this card limits cash back opportunities. You receive only 5% cash back for every dollar spent on rotating categories up to $1,500 in combined purchases. After that, you earn only 1% of each dollar spent until you activate a new category for the next quarter. It’s also easy to miss out on 5% cash back if you forget to activate a category every three months.
Chase Freedom is a solid entry-level card, but it’s not for everyone. Let’s take a closer look to find out whether this rewards card is right for you.
Best for: Consumers who like to earn 5% cash back on every dollar on rotating quarterly categories but don’t want to pay an annual fee. This card’s intro 0% APR also makes it a good card for consumers who want to pay off a large purchase or balance transfer without paying interest during the introductory 0% APR period.
Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
To get the most out of the Chase Freedom card, you’ll need to maximize its 5% cash back rewards, which are tracked in points. The 1% cash back on all other purchases is automatic. However, to earn 5% cash back, you must activate the card every quarter for its rotating cash back categories.
For example, one quarter you might earn 5% when you use the card for gas station purchases, road tolls and drugstore purchases. The next quarter, the 5% cash back might be for purchases at grocery stores (not including Walmart and Target) and home improvement stores. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.
There’s no minimum amount required to redeem points for cash back. Plus, you can instantly redeem Ultimate Rewards points by linking your Chase Freedom account to your Amazon.com account. You also can use points for a statement credit or a direct deposit into a Chase checking or savings account; gift cards; travel; and products and services available through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
Annual fee: None. The Chase Freedom card might appeal to those who want a cash back card that can compete with higher-level cards but don’t want to be saddled with an annual fee.
Other fees: 3% (or $5) balance transfer fee; 5% (or $10) cash advance fee; late payment or return payment fee up to $38; 3% foreign transaction fee.
Other perks: For every friend you refer who applies for and gets a Chase Freedom card, you’ll score a $50 bonus. Chase also covers new purchases made with the card for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim ($50,000 per account). In addition, the card supplies trip cancellation and interruption insurance, car rental insurance, and travel and emergency assistance. A one-year extended warranty for purchases is available as well.
Bonus: Signup bonus of $150 after you spend $500 in the first three months. That’s a good deal for a couple of reasons. One, you don’t run as much risk of running up a high balance you can’t pay off before the 0% APR ends. The other reason? Free money, as long as you pay off your balance before the higher APR kicks in.
How This Card Might Bring Joy to Your Wallet
If you stay on top of this card’s rotating categories, 5% cash back can add up quickly. The card’s $150 sign-up bonus for spending $500 in three months is a sweet deal, too.
How This Card Might Not Bring Joy to Your Wallet
If you forget to activate rotating categories, you can miss out on 5% cash back rewards.