The Chase Freedom® Card is a no annual fee cash back credit card offering bonus cash back in rotating categories. New applicants can earn a $150 bonus if you spend $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This card offer stands out, as many competitors offer cash back rewards cards without a bonus.
The Chase Freedom® earns 5% cash back in popular categories, such as grocery stores and gas stations. Bonus categories rotate every 3 months. For all other purchases, you’ll earn 1% cash back.
You must activate your bonus category each quarter, which is a slight hassle. Nonetheless, this card is a favorite among those who aim to maximize their cash back.
If the bonus categories and period when you can earn your 5% cash back correlate with your spending habits, the Chase Freedom® Card can be of good value to you.
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Chase Freedom Card Summary
With the Chase Freedom® Card:
• 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
• 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
• Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
• Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
• Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit JourneySM
• No annual fee
Earn 5% Cash Back Each Quarter
Each quarter, Chase designates specific categories or retail brands that are eligible for 5% cash back. Any purchases made under these categories will be qualified to receive 5% cash back for up to the first $1,500 spent. This means, you can earn $75 in bonus cash back each quarter. Then, you’ll earn a standard 1% back until the next quarter. The 1% is uncapped.
To earn the 5% bonus, you must activate cash back categories each quarter by visiting the Chase Freedom® website. It’s best to do this on the first day of every quarter to ensure all your bonus spending is tracked accurately. Your cash back rewards are delivered as points which can then be converted to cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point.
Opt Into Bonus Categories
Bonus categories generally include common household expenses. That means, the 5% bonus cash back is available on broad categories that most people spend a lot of money on. Categories in the past have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, drugstores, and wholesale clubs. For many cardholders, earning these rewards are easy.
However, you must opt into the bonus category each quarter by activating it online. If you forget to do this, you’ll be stuck with 1% rewards even in the bonus category. You have until the 14th day of the third month in the quarter to sign up and earn retroactive rewards for that quarter. This is plenty of time for most people, but don’t forget!
You can keep up with each Chase Freedom® 5% quarterly cash back categories here:
- First Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
- Second Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
- Third Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
- Fourth Quarter 5% Cash Back Categories
Chase Freedom® rewards are accumulated as points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Points can be redeemed for many options, including gift cards, Amazon purchases, travel, and cash back. Points are generally worth 1 cent per point in this manner.
Earn More Point Value
If you have or are planning to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and/or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can earn even more Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Generally, points are worth 1 cent apiece with both cards. However, if you redeem them for travel booked through Chase, the point value increases to 1.25 center per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The Chase Freedom® isn’t eligible for these increased point values, but if you have either Sapphire-branded cards, you can transfer your Chase Freedom® points to it. Then, you can redeem for travel to increase your rewards rate.
Points on the Sapphire-branded cards can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to other loyalty travel programs. Some include United Airlines, British Airways or SPG/Marriott. You can potentially get an even higher rewards rate.
To apply for this card, you don’t need excellent credit and a long credit history like many top rewards cards need. Just make sure your credit score is good. Overall, this is a great card if you’re just starting out.
Because this card has rotating categories to earn rewards, the benefits of having the Chase Freedom® Card is all about taking advantage of the 5% cash back calendar. To get the most value out of your card, you must be sure the bonus categories fit your lifestyle. Then, you must stay on top of the calendar. Very few credit cards can match the high 5% rewards rate. If the Chase Freedom® Card aligns with your spending habits, then go for it. If not, you can check out other credit card promotions and what they offer, here on BCS.
Since the Chase Freedom® doesn’t have an annual fee, it’s also great as a secondary card. To maximize rewards, we recommend using the Chase Freedom® when the bonuses apply, and use another card with better flat-rate rewards for other purchase that fall into the non-bonus categories. Consumers also use the Chase Freedom® card in conjunction with the more premiere Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to maximize points and bonuses.
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.