Chase Freedom Credit Card Review

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UPDATE: The Chase Freedom® recently closed to new applications and has been replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex℠. This new card combines some of the best features of the Chase Freedom® and the revamped Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Check out our full review here.

The Chase Freedom® is one of a handful of rewards cards straddling fixed-value and transferable rewards. As a standalone card, the Chase Freedom® is a cashback rewards card featuring 5% cashback on quarterly revolving bonus categories and 1% on all other purchases.

Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom®
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
This no-annual-fee card earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined bonus category purchases each quarter, with the bonus categories rotating 4X per year. Plus, you can get up to $150 cash back after meeting the minimum spend.
  • 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.

When combined with points from one of the Ultimate Rewards cards that charge an annual fee, you can redeem those points for a higher fixed rate via the Chase Travel Portal, or transfer them to Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline partners to achieve much higher returns.

Earning Potential and Category Bonuses

The Freedom Card earns 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter, awarded as Cash Back Rewards Points. Bonus categories change every three months, and you need to activate the new categories each quarter for purchases to qualify. If you max out the $1,500 spending cap each quarter, you'll score 30,000 points (7,500 x 4) each year.

All purchases outside of bonus categories and purchases that exceed the $1,500 quarterly cap earn a flat rate of 1%. If you can't capitalize on the bonus categories, you'll achieve a better return on spending from the Chase Freedom Unlimited®‎, which earns 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

If you also hold an Ultimate Rewards earning card allowing transfers to travel partners, you can combine points from the Freedom Card and redeem them for higher fixed-values via the Chase Travel Portal. Or, you can shoot for even greater redemption value by transferring your combined points to airline and hotel partners.

Current Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories

Chase Freedom 5% 2021 calendar

The current 5% bonus categories for the Freedom Card for October to December 2021 are Walmart and PayPal. Chase supplies a handy list of qualifying purchase categories and merchants alongside specific exclusions.

The Ultimate Rewards family of cards:

CardValue Per Point when Booking travel through UltimateRewards.comPoints Transferrable to Travel PartnersEarning on Everyday SpendEarning on DiningEarning on Travel
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card1.25¢Yes1x3x• 5x (purchased through Chase)
• 2x (on all other travel)
Chase Sapphire Reserve®1.50¢Yes1x• 10x (purchased through Chase Dining)
• 3x (on all other dining)
• 10x on hotels and car rentals (purchased through Chase)
• 5x on airfare (purchased through Chase)
• 3x (on all other travel)
Chase Freedom Flex℠1.00¢No1x3x5x (purchased through Chase)
Chase Freedom Unlimited®1.00¢No1.5x3x5x (purchased through Chase)
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card1.00¢No1.5x1.5x1.5x
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card1.00¢No1x2x (up to $25k/year*)1x
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card1.25¢Yes1x1x3x (up to $150k/year*)

Feature Benefits

The Freedom Card doesn't pack the same stellar features as a premium travel rewards card, but for a card charging no annual fee, you can extract plenty of value. Highlights include:

  • Ability to combine points with other cards in the Ultimate Rewards stable and redeem for a higher value. See our post on building the ultimate travel rewards combo for more details
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $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.
  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months from account opening followed by a Variable APR of 16.49% - 25.24%.

Application Restrictions

Something to take into account before applying for the Freedom Card card is that it's subject to Chase's rigid application restrictions, including the 5/24 policy. If you've opened five or more new credit cards in the previous 24 months, it is highly likely you won't be approved for the Freedom Card—more details in the linked post. Chase also restricts applicants to 1 personal credit card and 1 business credit card every 90 days. So, space any card applications accordingly.

Final Thoughts

If you're a cashback fan and can max out the bonus categories each quarter, or you hold an Ultimate Rewards card that allows transfers to travel partners, you can extract a great deal of value from the Freedom Card.

As the card charges no annual fee, there is no cost to holding the Freedom Card long term. So, take advantage of the revolving bonus categories when and where you can.

The $150 welcome bonus is excellent for a no annual fee card. But, before applying, ensure you calculate the opportunity cost of acquiring this card against some of Chase's premium offerings and using a valuable 5/24 slot in the process. You can achieve huge returns from premium Ultimate Rewards earning cards like the Sapphire Reserve, and Sapphire Preferred, provided you take advantage of the full benefits available.

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