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Chase Freedom® Card Review – 5% Cash Back, 0% APR, $100 Bonus

By Christina Majaski

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On February 25, 2014
Last modified:May 6, 2014

chase freedom visaThere are a number of reasons why the Chase Freedom® Card is commonly referred to as “the king of cash back cards.” It’s the first card to give consumers control over the rewards they earn and the spending that brings those rewards. For this reason alone, the Chase Freedom card has become not only the leader of the pack, but the trendsetter in cash back rewards credit cards.

To maintain its reputation and remain competitive, Chase strives to introduce new and better benefits for its Freedom cash back card – but is it still king?

Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus. Earn a bonus of $100 after spending $500 with the card within three months.
  • Fees. The Chase Freedom card has no annual fee. There is a foreign transaction fee of 3%, however.
  • APR. There is an introductory APR of 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR for the Chase Freedom card can range from 13.99% to 22.99%, depending on credit history and the prime rate.
  • Up to 5% Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Chase Freedom card rewards up to 5% cash back, based on a cash back rewards calendar that rotates every quarter. The current category offered (between January 1 and March 31, 2014) includes purchases made at gas stations, movie theaters, and Starbucks stores. You are able to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in different categories each quarter. All other purchases made outside of these quarterly “specials” earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Points can be redeemed for cash, merchandise, travel, or gift cards. If you choose to redeem your points for cash, one point equals $0.01, or 2,000 points can be redeemed for a $20 check.
  • Chase Blueprint. One feature that is specific to Chase credit cards is the Blueprint plan, which is free and designed to help you save money and manage your account. This plan is available for Chase Freedom, Chase Slate, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Ink cards, and allows you the option of separating your statement and setting up plans for payment. The Track It function of Blueprint also allows you to track spending and create budgets.

Advantages

  1. $100 Introductory Bonus. When you open a Chase Freedom card account, you simply need to spend at least $500 during the first three months to receive 10,000 points, which can be redeemed for a $100 check. This is a nice bonus, especially when similar no-annual-fee cash back cards do not currently offer a cash back bonus for new cardholders. The American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card offers 100 reward dollars, but this is only after spending $1,000 within the first three months, as opposed to the requirement with Chase Freedom to spend $500 in the first three months.
  2. 0% Introductory APR. The Chase Freedom card provides a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles that the account is opened, and is applied to both purchases and balance transfers. This introductory offer is one of the best that any credit card is currently offering its members. For example, the Discover it Card provides a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 14 months, and the Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa card is currently offering the 0% introductory rate for the first 12 months. The American Express Blue Cash Preferred card offers a 0% APR to new cardholders for 12 months as well, but only on purchases.
  3. 5% Cash Back Reward Rate. The Chase Freedom rewards program is based on a points system in which each dollar spent earns at least one point, and can earn up to five points in rotating categories. As long as you can keep up with the rotating categories, 5% rewards are competitive with other offers.
  4. Redeem Rewards Easily. Rewards are easily redeemed with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. You can choose to redeem a minimum of $20 (or 2,000 points) for direct deposit, a statement credit, or a check by mail. You also have the option to redeem the rewards for merchandise, gift cards, and travel, also for the equivalent of $20 – except when purchasing merchandise or travel through Ultimate Rewards. In that case, you are able to earn more points on purchases and take advantage of sales or deals available to members. In many instances, you can earn more by redeeming your points for gift cards and merchandise than if you just choose the straight cash back option.
  5. Earn Bonus Points. If you have multiple Chase accounts, you can combine the points you earn and take advantage of opportunities to earn even more of them. You are eligible for special offers to earn up to ten extra points per dollar by shopping with more than 400 top retailers such as Macy’s, Lowe’s, and Best Buy – a $1,000 purchase at such a retailer would receive 10,000 points, which is equal to $100 cash back. Furthermore, if you have a Chase checking account, you earn a 10% bonus on points earned during billing cycles within the previous year. For example, if you have a Chase checking account and a Chase Freedom card account, any points you earn this year receive a bonus of 10% at the end of the year. These bonus points are awarded in January or February of next year.
  6. Chase Blueprint. With Chase Blueprint, you can pay down balances, manage your account, and decide which purchases are paid off first. It’s a free option that’s not offered by any other credit card issuer. It is simple to use and may help you save money on purchases as a result of better budgeting. Your bill can be separated so that you can specifically pay off a large purchase in full, for example, rather than applying your payment to the entire balance. There is no other card issuer at the moment that allows cardholders this option.

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Disadvantages

  1. Rotating Categories. Many rewards programs use rotating categories. When compared to cards with general across-the-board rewards options, the benefit of rotating categories really depends on your preference. You need to enroll in these categories each quarter, and if you forget to sign up or are not vigilant in planning shopping trips, the rotating category offer can end up being a hassle. If you do not sign up for the quarterly category, you only earn 1% on your purchases instead of the 5% that is offered.
  2. Foreign Transaction Fee. Foreign transaction fees on credit cards generally range from 1% to 3% on transactions outside of the United States. At 3%, the Chase Freedom card charges one of the highest in the industry. Similar cards, such as the Discover it card and Capital One Cash card, have eliminated it entirely.
  3. Penalty APR. Many credit cards, including the Chase Freedom card, apply a penalty APR if a payment is not made or is made late. The penalty APR of 29.99% on this card is applied if a payment is made late, if it is returned unpaid, or if the credit limit is exceeded. This also applies to any other accounts or loans you have with Chase.

Final Word

Chase Freedom is a great cash back card if you have a “good” to “excellent” credit rating, and if you do not travel internationally. It offers a great sign-up bonus and introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers, and allows multiple opportunities to earn and redeem points.

If you are unable to keep track of your spending in rotating categories, however, you might prefer a rewards card that earns a flat rate on all spending. Additionally, if you do not intend to pay your balances in full, or there is any possibility of late payments, you should consider a card with a lower APR.

Verdict

The Chase Freedom® Card is great for earning cash back on purchases simply and quickly if you are able to manage spending categories. A fairly high credit score is required to qualify – it is not a card that someone with credit issues or problems making payments wants to take a gamble on.

Score

4.5 stars out of 5: Very few drawbacks regarding the cash back features except for rotating categories. Easy to earn and redeem rewards, and excellent introductory offers for new cardholders.

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Christina Majaski
Christina Majaski has written for online and print publications since 2003 on topics related to personal finance, legal matters, parenting, and careers. She lives in the Minnesota tundra, where in her free time she enjoys reading, writing, interacting via social media, and hanging out with her daughter.

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  • Karmella

    That’s interesting, the split transaction option. It solves some of the problems I’ve heard people mention about credit cards and everyday vs big ticket purchases.

    I had always had the impression that there was an annual fee, it’s good to hear there’s not. I would get one, but I have heard too many negative comments about Chase cards and I don’t see any need to dip into those waters.

  • http://www.yourfinances101.com/blog David/yourfinances101

    I heard that Fidelity offers a card that pays a straight 2% cash back.

    I guess you just have to figure which one would net you more.

    Either one is a good deal as long as you pay your balances in full every month

  • http://inoutcash.com Jamar

    I have just signed up to use this card. I hope their are some real benefits.

  • http://collegesuitcase.wordpress.com Miss Lissy

    This is not a comment about the specific credit card, but a comment about Chase in general. I bank with them right now and even without having a credit card their customer service is very poor. Good luck if you ever have trouble with your credit card – they most likely won’t be able to help you.

  • http://thereviewhub.com RoTimi Waddy

    As much as I want to try to like this card, I hate Chase bank! They are dirty. I closed a credit card account I had with them after Washington Mutual was sold to Chase! I LOVED WAMU but as soon as my account was transferred over to them, they raised my interest rate by almost 10% APR more per month & cut my available line of credit in 1/2! Mind you, I had never ever had a late payment, and usually paid my balance off in full every month. Unbelievable! Also, like others have mentioned, the customer service at Chase is horrid. I think I’ll probably stick with AMEX & possibly add Discover instead, cuz this 1 is almost too good to be true!

    • RoTimi Waddy

      I must say that this review I wrote about this card was written a while ago and since then I have actually applied for the card (the Chase Freedom of course) and was approved. I am actually quite happy with the card up to this point but want to warn others that I will NEVER EVER FORGET the prior ruthlessness that was unnecesarily afflicted on me and many other loyal WAMU account holders who loved WAMU. The key piece of advice in general that I would like others to take away from my experience is that, if you work hard and build a decent to great credit score, IMO 700′s-800+, then you have viable negotiating your terms & conditions with these banks and you have a WAYYYYY higher chance of being approved for the best deals available from them or you have the marketability to be able to simply walk away and find a bank that will give you the respect & admonition needed.

  • Ru

    I can only WARN you against Chase. Simply google for Chase horror stories and site after site, blog after blog, will stream across your screen with horrible stories about Chase. They raised my interest rate out of fear of the new government laws. When I inquired about the reason they simply said if I didnt like it I should pay off the entire amount and leave! So I did. I will never use Chase or any of their affiliates – ever!

    • Erik Folgate

      Ru, I am not a fan of Chase either. It seems like all of the big banks have sold their soul to you know who. Their credit card practices are the worst, and even their banking practices aren’t great. We do these types of reviews because there are some people who use credit cards without carrying over a balance at the end of the month and they are looking for building up rewards. This still does not make them prone to having problems with credit cards, but we review them for purely informational purposes, and less for recommending them.

      • Andrew (Admin)

        I hear ya guys. As Erik said (and as we included at the end of this post), we only support you getting a credit card if you are using it only as means of simplifying your finances and will always pay off the full amount and will not rack up any debt. Don’t use it as a way to get around the fact that you don’t have enough money. This way, if any bank ever tries to change the interest rates, you won’t be affected anyways because you don’t have any debt for that interest rate to collect on!

        Credit cards are great for their cash back rewards and other incentives (frequent flyer miles, free shipping, discounts, etc.), but don’t let this fool you into thinking debt is OK. Be smart when it comes to credit cards. Chase (outside of customer service and other stories) has some of the best rewards for their credit cards. If you’re smart and stay disciplined, all the other stuff won’t affect you anyways.

        • Joey

          I just signed up for the Chase Freedom card. The customer service was extremely friendly and helpful. This will be my first Credit Card, so I made sure to pick the one with the best options available. Chase has been working on its customer service over the past couple of months, maybe you should try and give it a try again.

  • michael

    I just signed up for the Chase card- and will use it carefully – only to maximize use of their incentives- and I pay off credit cards in full every month. My primary card currently is the Fidelity card which provides a 2% rebate on everything- but it is American Express and is not accepted everywhere.

  • Mel

    I’ve have a Chase Freedom card since the WaMu buyout. I’m getting hit with about $20 of mystery ‘fees’ per month – both an identity protection that I was automatically signed up for, and ‘finance charges’. I pay my card off, in full, every month. They apparently are charging interest on whatever my highest balance was for the month.

    I had an older card with them that I closed. I called their services, confirmed that the balance was $0.00, and they told me it was shut down. Next month, ding, $5.00 worth of finance charges and it’s back open again! Guess they didn’t want to let go of a customer that easily.

    I find it all unethical in the extreme. It’s becoming rather like a cell phone bill – they sell you a $60 a month plan, and then you actually get billed $80 a month by the time they finish with all the extras. (And no, we’re not going over the plan or using features we haven’t paid for. Don’t even get me started on this one.) I’m very unhappy with the whole credit game (and Chase Bank) and am on my way out.

  • David Chase

    I would caution anyone considering doing online work with a Chase card account to be aware that through some very amateur and sloppy design work, you will be required to remember up to 6 (six) of your last passwords attempts you might have used to access your account – should you forget or confuse any of the 4 (4) required “userid”, “identification”,”password” , identification CODE” and “password” ‘s !!

    ” I am just saying……..”

  • Geoff

    If you are applying for the card going to your local branch may be a better idea. I applied online a few months ago and was denied. I went to the local branch to close an old Wamu account and the customer representative informed me that I was eligible for the Chase Freedom card and I was approved on the spot.

  • Marty Woldt

    Re; Chase Freedom Card

    Don’t count on Chase being a reliable credit card company, if you really wanted to take advantage of their 1 year 0% APR to transfer existing debt to them and pay it off faster.

    I was out of the country for 3 years, teaching English as a Foreign Language. My credit was fine untl I decided to come back. Wow! What a shock — the economy now stinks. I got into credit card trouble only after I arrived back in this country. Couldn’t find a job quickly and couldn’t rent an apartment without a job. I absolutely HATE being in debt, and have never been before, but Chases’s Freedom Card offer sent to me was turned down because of my debt at the moment. After over 20 years of work in this country and no problems with debt, all of a sudden I am a credit risk!

    I am living on a shoe string and tryng to pay off my debt, but the Case Freedom card would have made it a whole lot easier and quicker, if they had looked beyond my present circumstances as of April, 2010. It doesn’t matter that I once made over $100,000/yr. and owned a house and had a spoirts car, and lived a life of ease. Because of the last 8 months of credit problems, they turned me down!

    I’m beginning, for the first time in my life, to stop believing in this country and its current value system and morals. Look at the problems Chase has had recently with poor, if not illegal dealings, and the fact that they fired the wistle-blower who came forward to testify to the Congress about Chase’s underhanded dealings.

    Oh, but though that wrangle is still going on, it is not the current news, so no one pays any attention to it. Chase is just trying to get its customers back, but they don’t care about honest dealings or their customers.

    I will NEVER apply for a Chase card again. All this is just swept under the rug. So now I’m thinking I should keep my money under my mattress like people used to do around the depression era. Who can be trusted in this spend now, pay later era? I guess I’ve got an old-fashioned value system. I’m old enough not to have “Mom or Dad” help me out anymore, which seems to be the norm these days. “Hey, Mom, can I move back into your house and stay there indefinitely even though I’m 25 years old? I can’t live without my ipad.”.

    M. E. Woldt

  • Brian

    This is the worst card I have ever had & will NEVER use a chase card again for as long as I may live…

    As soon as this card is paid off I am closing it & removing both of my Chase bank accounts.

    I was in college & did not recieve the warning they were raising my rate to 29.99% for “reasons undefined” basically because they could… I have been paying an extra $130 a month because I did not disagree with the ONE letter they sent to me telling me they were going to do this.

    I have never been late & have never missed a payment… I have gone over my limit 1 time & this is what happens, they keep telling me there is nothing they can do & that they are not currently lowering any interest rates… AND that in February 2011 they will review my account & evaluate if I am elegible for a rate reduction (THEY NOW LEGALLY HAVE TO DO THIS) but then they dont have to lower the rate but if they do they will send me out a 45 day notification at least 3 weeks after they are finished reviewing the account.

    This is not fair & very upsetting… they have basically stolen $1500 right out of my already empty pockets!!!!!!!

  • MELANIE

    I agree, worst credit card I ever had. I inherited this cc from my divorce 20 months ago. At the time it had a $14,000 balance on it. I have never been late on a payment and have been paying more then the minimum. After paying over $7,000. my balance is still $10,100. They now have sent me a letter reducing my credit from $20,000. to $10,400. If this is how they reward there customers….Please don’t ever become one.

  • Tom S.

    I want to warn everybody who has or is considering a Continental/ Chase Presidential Mastercard. After making a large payment so that I would have enough available limit to make a large purchase and get the frequent flyer miles, Chase without any warning lowered my credit limit by the same amount! Now I don’t have the money to make the purchase nor the space on the credit card to charge it! Customer service would not reinstate the original credit limit. I have never been late on a payment to this or any other credit card. I have had this card since it was first offered but I will be canceling it as soon as practicable. I don’t need a $400 a year card that pulls the rug out from under me. I can pay my Presidents club dues on a free credit card. AVOID Chase like the plague!

  • Martin

    I also has a strange experience with Chase. After my WAMU Visa because Chase card, my rate was doubled. When I asked them to lower my rate I received an e-mail response that they simply would not because “the lower APR was not available.” Their handling of my request to lower the APR was short, patronizing and unpleasant.
    I e-mailed back asking to close my account and in minutes I received a reply that the account has been closed.
    It was a good decision since Chase has raised my APR without a reason to the levels that would make mafia’s loan sharks proud. Stay away from Chase: ruthless and they don’t want your business. I will do my best never to do any business with Chase or business affiliated with Chase.

  • Victoria Vargas

    I turned 18 and got this card as my first credit card I have had a account with them since I was 16 and go to the same banker everytime I always find it helpful if you see the same person instead of calling He is always nice and ive never had a problem he even waived my activation fee for my checking account which is usually 50 dollars also if you dont have enough money to account for future apr increases DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD every bank does increases every once in a while if you cant afford it maybe prepaid is best for you…..

  • Tinan

    I don’t have a super perfect credit score, but it is decent and I am working hard to improve it 5 years after a difficult period when I was unemployed. I was happy to get a chase card with a $1500 limit. Yes I ran it up to the limit due to some moving expenses, but I always made my payments on time and had it paid off within 5 months. As soon as it was paid off they reduced my credit limit to $200 without even giving me any warning this was going to happen. I felt so screwed over by chase that I immediately canceled my account. I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do, but what is a person supposed to do with a useless $200 credit limit? It was a big FU from chase, they might as well have just canceled my account because they clearly don’t care about the hard working customers who pay their bills on time. Avoid these feckers at all cost.

  • Brendau

    mi nombre es brenda y no tengo tarjeta de credito abese me es dificil. pork tengo k esperar asta k me pagan .y me retraso en mis pagos no tengo credito y me gustaria tener una tarjeta k puedo hacer m podrian dar ideas

  • Anonymous

    Listen to this…Brother’s neighbor makes 68 hourly on the Laptop. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was 7958 USD just working on the PC for a few hours. Read about it on this web site…. C a s h M a n y . c 0 m

  • Anonymous

    Listen to this…Brother’s neighbor makes 68 hourly on the Laptop. She has been fired from work for 11 months but last month her paycheck was 7958 USD just working on the PC for a few hours. Read about it on this web site…. C a s h M a n y . c 0 m

  • Ben

    Hello, i have a slate and Freedom card, am thinking of linking my external account to it so i can transfer my balance into it, do you guys think its possible to work that way.

  • Ben

    Hello, i have a slate and Freedom card, am thinking of linking my external account to it so i can transfer my balance into it, do you guys think its possible to work that way.

  • Grrrrr

    I have this card. I’ve had fraudulent charges on this account twice in the last sixth months. In the most recent instance I called a week ago when I received a notification that there had been questionable activity. I was told there was no issue with my account. Someone proceeded to charge my account from all over the country all week long. The last time this happened Chase sent me three different letters telling me they were reversing fraudulent charges that were not fraudulent. Terrible customer service. Terrible security. The good cash awards don’t make it worth it.

  • LowFlo

    I’ve had a much different experience than most commenter’s. I’ve had a Chase account for years and couldn’t be happier. Great customer service, great cash back, great website. Sends me an email whenever card is used online or when a charge exceeds a limit I’ve preset. Overall, one of the best banking experiences I’ve had. Highly recommended if you’ve got good credit history and good credit management habits.

  • Tom M

    I hate my Chase Card. I got this thing because we like to ski in Europe and Chase didn’t charge transaction fees. Shortly after I got it, they started charging fees. Then, they came out with the 5% discount in some months. Since I had only a $2000 limit, I called to raise my limit to $4000. Was I amazed when they said I could only have a $1000 raise. This was in a letter that showed my Trans Union Credit score at 786. Of course, I pay the balance each month by auto withdrawal and have never paid credit card interest in my 70 years, but remember that they tag the merchant 1 to 3% for use of the card. Maybe, we should reconsider cash? I do realize that my discounts are paid by the poorest of the poor who can’t get credit card discounts.

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  • Julia

    Does anyone know exact date when Chase Freedom began to offer $100 bonus for $500 spent in the first 3 months and $25 bonus offer for adding an authorized user in the first 3 months??? I don’t remember seeing these offers when I applied for the card at the end of July, 2014. And it is nowhere mentioned in papers that came with the card. Thank you.

  • cwe

    If anyone is planning to apply for the Chase Freedom card and would like to earn 20,000 points ($200) through getting a referral email, please email me at [email protected] and I will forward you a link.

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