Chase Freedom Review

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Chase Freedom is a rewards credit card with popular bonus categories that rotate quarterly. You can receive money back on all your purchases, as well as a solid sign-up bonus if you meet the spending requirement. There’s no annual fee, and you can redeem your rewards for cash back, gift cards, merchandise, travel, and more. 

Chase Freedom®

overall rating
4.5
Chase Freedom®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 25.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
2.8
for Fees
4.2
for Rewards
3.7
for Credit
4.0

$200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker
  • Avatar for Savvy Saver Persona
    Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need
    Savvy Saver

The Chase Freedom works best for consumers who want to earn rewards from a credit card and can max out its 5% bonus-earning categories each quarter. For 2019, those categories have included spending at gas stations, home improvement stores, drug stores, and streaming services. If you spend a lot in those types of categories, this card may be a good fit.

The card is also great for people chasing travel rewards who have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card. You can pair the cards to maximize your earnings and redeem them for travel at a good rate.

Pros

  • Generous rewards

  • Multiple redemption options

  • Cardholder perks

Cons

  • Earning caps

  • Bonus earnings requirements

  • High ongoing APR

Pros Explained

  • Generous Rewards: The card earns a generous 5% on a limited amount of spending in rotating categories, plus an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. You also get a solid sign-up bonus if you meet the spending requirement.
  • Multiple Redemption Options: Whereas some cash-back credit cards only let you redeem for statement credits, the Chase Freedom also gives you the option to cash in your points for gift cards, travel, merchandise, and more. 
  • Cardholder Perks: The Chase Freedom offers a generous selection of consumer protections and free insurance products that you won’t find with most other cash-back credit cards. (More on that later in this review.)

Cons Explained

  • Earning Caps: This means your 5% back categories can only yield you up to $75 per quarter, or $300 per year. 
  • Bonus Earnings Requirements: The Chase Freedom requires you to “activate” your card’s bonus categories each quarter. If you fail to do so by the deadline, you won’t earn bonus rewards on your spending that quarter. 
  • High Ongoing APR: Despite the 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, there are sizable consequences for carrying a balance after this period is over. If you do wind up with long-term debt on this card, you’ll have to pay a variable rate of 16.49% to 25.24%.

Chase Freedom Sign-Up Bonus

The Chase Freedom rewards you with $200 in bonus cash after you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening, which is pretty standard among cash-back credit cards with no annual fee. This bonus should be easy to earn since you only have to spend $167 a month on your card for three months in a row to qualify.

Earning Points & Rewards

The Chase Freedom offers two tiers of rewards—5% back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter, plus an unlimited 1% back on all other spending. Your rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open or you transfer your points to another Chase credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. 

To put this in context, if you spend $1,500 in each quarter’s bonus category for an entire year, plus $1,000 on regular purchases every month, you’ll earn a total of $300 per year in bonus earnings plus $120 in cash back on your regular spending. Add in the $200 sign-up bonus and you’ll have a total of $620 in rewards at the end of year one.

Redeeming Rewards

The Chase Freedom offers many different options when it comes to redeeming rewards, and you can redeem for cash back in any increment you want. Other redemption options include:

  • Gift cards for 1 cent per point, and occasionally for less
  • Experiences such as sporting events, concerts, and special dinners (point values vary)
  • Travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a rate of 1 cent per point, including airfare, hotels, rental condos, activities, car rentals, and more
  • Purchases made through Amazon.com or Apple at a rate of 1 cent per point

If you want to get more value for your rewards when redeeming for travel, consider pairing the Chase Freedom with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards.

You can transfer points from your Chase Freedom account to your Chase Sapphire Preferred account, for instance, and then when you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you get 25% more value for your points. (With a Chase Sapphire Reserve account, you get 50% more). 

Once you transfer, you also have the option of transferring points again to airline and hotel partners. This can be the most lucrative option of all because, for instance, you can sometimes get flights that are expensive in dollars but relatively cheap when paid for with points.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Spend $500 on your card within three months to earn the sign-up bonus, then make sure you use this card for any purchases you make in the bonus categories each quarter (up to the $1,500 limit). Use your card for all other purchases to maximize the 1% back you earn as well. To maximize your redemption value, cash in your points for gift cards that give more than 1 cent per point in value or pair your card with a Chase Sapphire card and redeem for travel. 

Chase Freedom’s Excellent Perks

Cash-back cards aren’t known for having a lot of great perks, but the Chase Freedom has one that our editors have classified as “excellent” because it stands out from the standard perks that come with many cards. 

Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance: This coverage can reimburse you for prepaid travel expenses if your trip is canceled or interrupted due to a covered reason. Coverage is good for up to $1,500 per person and up to $6,000 per trip. 

Chase Freedom’s Other Features

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Extended warranty
  • Insurance for damaged or stolen purchases 
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Travel and emergency assistance 

Customer Experience

Chase earned the No. 4 spot in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, only behind Discover, American Express, and Barclays. Where the industry average was 806 out of 1,000 points, Chase earned 807 out of 1,000 points.

Beyond 24/7 customer support, Chase offers access to your FICO credit score online and on the Chase mobile app for free. You can also track your credit health via Credit Journey, a credit dashboard that summarizes your credit report and provides credit score insights. 

Security Features

Besides monitoring your account for suspicious activity, Chase lets you set up account alerts for when purchases are made, made, your payment is due, and more. You can also lock your account via the mobile app if you misplace your card or it’s stolen. 

Chase Freedom’s Fees to Watch Out For

The card’s fees are standard for the industry, but frequent travelers take note: There is a 3% foreign transaction fee on any purchases made at merchants outside the U.S.

For Chase Freedom®
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CURRENT CARD
Chase Freedom®
overall rating
4.5
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 25.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.