Chase Freedom Credit Card Review

The Chase Freedom credit card is a cash-back card with bonus spending categories that change each quarter to help maximize your cash rewards. If you’re looking for a card that syncs with your regular spending and offers the potential to earn extra cash through bonus categories and friend referrals, this Visa card may be a good fit. If you’re looking for something that requires less maintenance to ensure maximum returns, you may want to consider other Chase options or credit cards from other issuers.

The Essentials of the Chase Freedom Credit Card

  • APR:16.49%–25.24% variable, based on your creditworthiness
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Primary feature: Enroll every quarter to earn %5 cash back in various categories on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%
  • Introductory bonus offer: $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months

What’s Interesting about the Chase Freedom Credit Card

The Chase Freedom Credit Card comes with no annual fee and 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after the opening of the account. After that, there is a variable APR of 16.49% – 25.24%. Its primary feature is a cash-back structure that lets you enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back in various categories on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%. Each quarter offers a different spending category such as gas stations, grocery stores and department stores.

Your earned cash back can be redeemed for statement credit or as a direct deposit into the bank account of your choice, or used to purchase items directly from Amazon if you link your Amazon.com and Chase Freedom card accounts. Cash back can also be redeemed for gift cards or travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

There is no minimum amount of cash-back balance required to redeem, and your rewards never expire so long as your Chase Freedom account is open. In addition, you can earn extra cash back for referring friends; every friend approved for a Chase Freedom card earns you $50 cash back, up to 10 friends referred or $500.

Things to Consider

While the Chase Freedom Credit Card focuses on earning maximum cash back each quarter, the 5% bonus cash in specific spending categories doesn’t activate automatically — cardholders must call the company directly or activate their bonus categories online through their Chase Freedom account. Each category has a closing date which is typically halfway through the final month it offers bonus cash; if cardholders don’t activate the category before this date, they don’t get to participate in this deal.

It’s also worth noting that some specific stores in general categories are not part of the cash-back bonus deal. Since Chase is not affiliated with any of the merchants listed, cardholders must ensure that they check the current cash-back calendar to identify their best spending options.

This card does carry a foreign transaction fee — 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars — along with a penalty for late payments of up to $39. In addition, interest rates after the initial 15-month, 0% APR period are slightly higher at 16.49% – 25.24% variable than average when compared to other cash-back cards.

How to Get the Most from this Card

Getting the most from this card requires careful management of spending to align with the bonus categories. Cardholders must check the cash-back calendar each quarter to determine where they can earn the most rewards, and must ensure that they’ve activated this deal online or over the phone. Once they reach the combined $1,500 threshold from all associated category merchants for that quarter, cardholders are best served by returning to their normal spending pattern. The result is a card that offers significant cash-back potential if you’re willing to put in the work, but that will underperform compared to similar cards if you’re not willing to monitor bonus categories and align your spending.

Choosing your reward focus also helps boost the impact of this card: if you regularly shop on Amazon, connecting your Chase Freedom and Amazon.com accounts may deliver the biggest benefit. If you’d prefer to reduce the cost of yearly vacations and quick getaways, booking your travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards can help you get more from your cash-back earnings.

Other Card Options that Might Interest You

If you’re not convinced that the Chase Freedom Credit Card is for you, consider other options such as:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card

If cash back is your priority but you prefer not to manage categories every quarter, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card may offer a better fit. This card comes with a $150 initial cash-back offer when you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months along with 1.5% unlimited cash back on every purchase. This card also includes no annual fee as well as a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months. After that, there is a variable APR of 16.49% – 25.24%. The card also offers a tap-to-pay functionality.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

For more travel-minded cardholders, the Capital One Venture Reward Card offers unlimited 2x miles earned per dollar on every purchase along with 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 or more during the first 3 months your account is open. This card offers no fee for the first year and is then $95 annually; Venture miles earned can be redeemed for flights and hotel stays or transferred directly to any of Capital One’s travel partners.

The Final Word

The Chase Freedom credit card is a cash-back card that offers great potential for earning — if you’re willing to manage quarterly categories and ensure that you always activate the company’s current offer. Combined with 1% cash back on all purchases, no annual fee and rewards that don’t expire as long as the account remains active/open, this card can help you earn cash at a steady pace and get the most from every dollar spent.

If you’re looking for a card that offers great cash-back options and don’t mind tracking and managing your spending across multiple categories, the Chase Freedom credit card is a solid choice. If you want cash back with less hassle or prefer travel miles to pure cash rewards, consider other options.