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Updated July 1, 2015 7:49 AM PT

Chase Freedom Review: Read This Before You Apply

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Want to earn cash back and score a good deal? With its $100 bonus offer, rotating 5% cash back categories, and 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, this card might be the one for you. Read this Chase Freedom review to see why it is one of the most popular cashback credit cards with no annual fee.

Chase Freedom

Overall Score

4.1

Rewards

4.5

Interest Rates

3.5

Fees

4.5

Benefits

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • $100 bonus after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months
  • 5% bonus rotating categories
  • Full 1% cash back on every purchases
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • No annual fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Bottom Line

Excellent cash back credit card for cardholders who pay in full

What You Need to Know

Before we dive into the pros and cons of Chase Freedom, let's cover the basics to make sure we're all on the same page.

It’s a fairly simple rewards setup, but it can take awhile to get the hang of this credit card if you've never had a cash back credit card with bonus categories before.

  • You’ll need to sign up to participate in the rotating categories (previous quarters have included purchases at supermarkets, gas stations, Starbucks, and Amazon) every 3 months.

    But it’s easy to sign up. Chase gives you several ways to remind yourself to do it — but you will have to have your card handy or memorize the last four digits of the card to enroll.

  • You earn cash back every time you use the Chase Freedom — either 5% total cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases if the purchases fall under one of the card’s bonus categories, which change every 3 months, or 1%.

  • The most you can get back at the 5% level is $75 a quarter as the card stops giving you that higher amount after you've spent $1,500 on purchases that fall under the bonus categories.

The cash you earn can be redeemed for cash in your bank account, statement credit, or you can make it go further by turning it into a gift card.

Want a Cash Back Credit Card?

Now here is why you'll like this card:

  • It has an attractive introductory offer: Spend $500 within the first 3 months of opening the account, and you’ll get a $100 bonus.

    Plus, the card comes with a 0% APR introductory rate for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR, currently 13.99% - 22.99%. This introductory rate can give you time to pay off a big purchase or consolidate your debt onto this one card (balance transfers are subject to a 3% fee).

  • It's rewarding: The Freedom card helps you earn cash back on virtually everything you buy. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase.

  • It's easy to redeem: You can redeem rewards for cash back ($20 or more) in your choice as a statement credit, direct deposit or a paper check. You can also redeem through Chase Ultimate rewards for gift cards.

  • Visa credit card: You’ll enjoy widespread merchant acceptance than you would with cards from American Express or Discover. This is an important differentiating factor if you frequently patronize smaller businesses.

  • No annual fee

Why You Might Look Elsewhere

But there's a few reasons why you might want to consider a different credit card.

  • You’ll need to pay attention to rotating categories: When you add this card to your credit card mix, you may want to do some thinking when you shop to make sure you’re getting the most rewards you can each time. For some people, such a prospect adds a fun dimension to shopping; for others, that may be a pain.

  • It can tempt you into buying things you don’t need: By calling your attention to the bonus categories every quarter when you sign up, the card may prompt you to buy more at certain stores than your normally would, just to get the higher percentage of cash back.

  • You have to sign up each quarter: If that sounds like something you may not want to do, you may want a card that has a more consistent rewards program, with cash back or points on purchases that don’t change every 3 months.

  • 3% foreign transaction fee. If you do a lot of international travel, you may want to opt for a card with no foreign transaction fee: the Freedom charges a 3% fee on every purchase you make while traveling outside the United States.

Who It's Best For

Chase Freedom caters to people who love to get a deal and enjoy using credit cards to get cash back, rather than trying to figure out points or miles. It also offers percentages off certain popular stores when you make a purchase through its website (Ultimate Rewards), and because you always get at least 1% off your purchases, it makes for a great everyday card.

Promotion Deal

For new cardholders, check out this deal. If you make $500 worth of purchases on your card within the first 3 months of your account, you earn a $100 bonus. This bonus is in addition to your regular cash back rewards.

Since this card has no annual fee, the introductory deal gives you an easy and cost-effective way to earn some extra cash back.

Related: 23 Ways to Help Meet $500 Minimum Spending Requirement

2015 CATEGORIES: REWARD CALENDAR

You earn bonus cash back on rotating categories throughout the year. You earn 5% total cash back in select bonus categories on up to $1,500 worth of quarterly purchases. If you spend over this limit, you go back to regular 1% rate until the three-month period ends. You earn an unlimited 1% cash back rate on all other purchases.

The bonus categories for 2015 are:

  • Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2015): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases), movie theaters and Starbucks® stores
  • Q2 (April 1 – June 30, 2015): Restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond®, H&M®, and Overstock.com®
  • Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2015): Gas stations and Kohl's®
  • Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2015): Amazon.com and more

(Additional categories or merchants will be announced before the start of each quarter.)

Remember, you need to activate the 5% cash back categories every time. You can activate the 5% cash back categories online, by text message, via email, by calling customer service, or in-person at a Chase bank.

In addition, you can earn extra cash back by shopping online through Ultimate Rewards Mall, Chase's online shopping portal.

0% Introductory APR: Balance Transfer

This card also has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR will be a variable rate, currently 13.99% - 22.99% depending on your creditworthiness. Keep in mind, you will be charged 3% of the amount transferred, with a minimum fee of $5.00. Most likely, the amount you will save on interest in those 15 months will more than make up for this fee. Make sure to read our guide on balance transfers.

Related: How to Save Money on Credit Card Debt

Foreign Transaction Fee

Remember, if you plan to frequently travel internationally, you might want to consider a credit card with no foreign transaction fee instead. The Freedom has a 3% foreign transaction fee which can quickly add up.

Pros

  • Earn a $100 bonus after your first $500 of purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earns up to 5% bonus cash back (on up to $1,500 in purchases) in new rotating bonus categories throughout the year
  • Earns 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

HOW IT COMPARES

Chase Freedom vs Discover It: If you like the concept of 5% rotating bonus categories but don't think the Chase Freedom categories line up with your spending habits, check out the Discover It.

 

Chase Freedom

Discover It

Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account openingIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Discover will double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers).
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchaseCash Back Rewards: 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Cash BackBonus Cash Back: 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter.
Bonus Categories for 2015:
Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2015): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases), movie theaters and Starbucks® stores
Q2 (April 1 – June 30, 2015): Restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond®, H&M®, and Overstock.com®
Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2015): Gas stations and Kohl's®
Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2015): Amazon.com and more
Bonus Cash Back: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in categories that change each quarter (requires free and easy sign-up for 5% Cashback Bonus)*
Bonus Categories for 2015:
January - March: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases at Gas Stations and Ground Transportation
April - June: 5% on up to $1,500 in Restaurant and Movie purchases
July - September: 5% on up to $1,500 in purchases in Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores, and Amazon.com
October - December: Holiday Shopping (Program Details TBA August 2015)
Limitations apply*. See Issuer's Website for additional program details.

Discover It: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on July 6, 2015 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Chase Freedom vs Slate: If you have an existing balance to transfer, consider the Chase Slate. While the Chase Slate does not have rewards like the Freedom, the Chase Slate has a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for balance transfers made during the first 60 days.

Chase Freedom vs Sapphire Preferred: If you love to travel and eat out, the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be right for you. While the Sapphire Preferred has a travel-friendly rewards program and no foreign transaction fees, it does have a $95 annual fee.

 

Chase Freedom

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual Fee$0 annual feeIntroductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening 
Points Deal Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $500 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchase 
Bonus Cash BackBonus Cash Back: 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter.
Bonus Categories for 2015:
Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2015): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases), movie theaters and Starbucks® stores
Q2 (April 1 – June 30, 2015): Restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond®, H&M®, and Overstock.com®
Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2015): Gas stations and Kohl's®
Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2015): Amazon.com and more
 
Airline Airline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
Hotel 
Points Point Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Travel Travel Rewards: 2X points per dollar spent on travel. 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value - that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points
Restaurant Dining Rewards: 2X points per dollar spent dining at restaurants

If you want hassle-free cash back with no rotating rewards categories and no enrollment required, American Express, a CreditDonkey advertiser, has a card with the same rewards categories year-round.

 

Chase Freedom®

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

 
  • Named a Best Card for Cash Back by MONEY® Magazine
  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99-22.99%
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchase
  • 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like Gas stations, Restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire as long as your account is open
  • Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Hassle-free cash back: no enrollment required, the same great reward categories year-round.
  • Earn Cash Back: 3% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 21.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
 

Interest Rates & Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR on Purchases for 15 months
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Purchase APR13.99% to 22.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors12.99% to 21.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR13.99% to 22.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors12.99% to 21.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Introductory Bonus Cash BackIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account openingIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit.
Cash Back RewardsCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchaseCash Back Rewards: 3% U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% U.S. gas stations & select U.S. dept stores, 1% other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
Bonus Cash BackBonus Cash Back: 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter.
Bonus Categories for 2015:
Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2015): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases), movie theaters and Starbucks® stores
Q2 (April 1 – June 30, 2015): Restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond®, H&M®, and Overstock.com®
Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2015): Gas stations and Kohl's®
Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2015): Amazon.com and more
 
Gas Rewards Gas Rewards: 2% at US gas stations. Terms and limitations apply
Grocery Rewards Grocery Rewards: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases (1% thereafter). Terms and limitations apply
Smart Chip

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Bottom Line:

If you think bonus categories that change every quarter is a hassle, this card may not be for you.

For everyone else, especially those who prefer getting cash back rather than airline miles, the Freedom card is a first-rate way to earn cash back for those with excellent/good credit. And since the Chase Freedom has no annual fee, it's a cost effective to earn those rewards (assuming you pay off the balance every month).

Next Step: View the issuer's official application, terms, and details

Follow @CreditDonkey or write to David R at davidr@creditdonkey.com
David R is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on March 14, 2012. This content may have been updated on July 1, 2015. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Chase website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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Chase Credit Card Promotions

Chase Slate Review: Balance Transfer Offer Worth It?

Chase Slate Review

Discover It Review

More Articles in Reviews

Chase Freedom
Apply for Chase Freedom
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Named a Best Card for Cash Back by MONEY® Magazine
  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99-22.99%
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchase
  • 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like Gas stations, Restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire as long as your account is open
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
13.99% - 22.99% Variable
$0

Compare Chase Freedom to:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Slate

Chase Slate®

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express


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Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a very generous point bonus and extra travel rewards to those with excellent credit. Keep in mind, the card does have a $95 annual fee. Read on to see if the Sapphire Preferred is worth it.
More Articles in Reviews







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