If you’ve ever considered signing up for a credit card with a cash-back program, the Chase Freedom® Card probably made it to the top of your short list.
It’s one of the most popular cash-back credit cards out there, offering 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter when you activate the bonus, and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
- 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter when you activate the bonus and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
- Cash Back rewards do not expire so long as the account is open.
- No annual fee.
- 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months after opening your account.
- Earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, and an additional $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within the same 3-month period.
At a glance
on Chase's website
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- 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 like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- No annual fee
1% Cash Back
Chase Freedom® deep dive
The Chase Freedom® card offers 5% cash back on rotating categories. In order to get the most value out of your Chase Freedom® card, you should make sure that the bonus categories fit the types of purchases you typically make.
Get it: If you’re looking for a cash back card and like the idea of earning extra cash back on bonus categories that change each quarter
Chase users can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus categories can include anything from grocery stores to gas stations to restaurants and entertainment—major points of expense for the average card user. But remember, you must activate the bonus category each quarter to qualify for the bonus cash back.
The Chase Freedom® program also offers additional promotional cash back rewards, on top of the regular bonus categories. Previous promotional offers have included cash back on purchases made through Amazon and purchases made at wholesale clubs, though there is no guarantee that similar offers will be made in the future.
Some of the benefits of the Chase Freedom® include:
- A moderate bonus: Earn a $150 signing bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening and an additional $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within the same 3-month period
- No annual fee
- 5X rewards on bonus categories each quarter: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter when you activate the bonus and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Cash back rewards never expire so long as your account stays open
- 0% introductory APR: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months after opening your account
- No Liability for unauthorized transactions: You won’t be held accountable for unauthorized purchases made with your card
- Purchase Protection: Purchases are protected against theft or damage for 120 days after purchase date ($500 per claim and $50,000 per account)
- Price Protection: If you make a purchase on your card in the US and it is advertised in print or online for less within 90 days of your purchase, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item ($2,500 per year)
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: If you charge the entire cost of a car rental to your Chase Freedom® Card, coverage is provided for theft and collision damage (for most cars in the US and abroad). In the US, provided coverage is secondary to your personal insurance
Skip it: If you are looking for a simple, flat rate cash back card, and don’t want the hassle of activating bonus categories
Though the quarterly bonus categories are a big selling point for many card users, it has its drawbacks. If you forget to activate when the quarter begins, you will lose out on the cash back bonus. Additionally, bonus categories are not announced until just before they are due to take effect, which can make it difficult to plan ahead. Some retailers are also excluded from various bonus categories, which can hamper cash back potential depending on your individual spending habits.
While the Chase Freedom® Card has a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months after account opening, this jumps up to a 15.99% to 24.74% variable APR once the introductory period is over, depending largely on your credit score. And when it comes to balance transfers, you will pay $5 or 5% of the amount transferred, whichever is higher. The card does not have an introductory period during which time the balance transfer fee is waived.
If you regularly use your credit card to withdraw cash advances, the Chase Freedom® Card might prove costly. You’ll be charged a cash advance fee of 5% of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater. Cash advances carry an APR of 25.99%, and when you use this card to get a cash advance, you start paying interest on that money right away.
Globetrotters may find themselves dissatisfied with the foreign transaction fees associated with card use outside the US: Foreign transactions incur a penalty of 3% of each transaction (in US dollars), which certainly adds up.
Consider these drawbacks of the Chase Freedom®:
- Restrictions apply to bonus categories: Though bonus categories earn 5% cash back, restrictions apply. Certain popular retailers may be excluded from various categories, hampering your cash back potential. For example, Walmart and Target were excluded from the Grocery Store category in the second quarter of 2017
- Difficult to plan ahead: Bonus categories are not announced ahead of schedule, making it difficult to plan large purchases or travel
- Not a simple cash back card: If you fail to activate your bonus category each quarter, you will forfeit your bonus cash back. If you are particularly busy or don’t like thinking about your cash back program, a program with a flat cash back reward may be a better fit
- Not a travel-friendly card: Travelers who frequently find themselves out of the United States may want to find a different card. Foreign transactions incur a 3% fee
- Medium to high-interest rate: With a variable APR of 15.99% to 24.74% on purchases and balance transfers after the introductory 15 months, this may not be a card that you want to carry a balance on
- Not great for withdrawing money: The Chase Freedom® Card isn’t a great card to use for withdrawing money since you’ll be charged a cash advance fee of $10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater. It also has a 25.99% variable APR for cash advances, and when you use this card to get a cash advance, you start paying interest on that money right away
If you are looking for a cash back card and like the idea of earning extra cash back on bonus categories that change each quarter, the Chase Freedom® Card is hard to beat. But if you prefer a simpler rewards program, are a frequent traveler, or regularly make use of cash advances, you might want to check out some of our partner’s other cards.