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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 fixed-value rewards card featuring 5% cash back on quarterly revolving bonus categories, and 1% on all other purchases.
- 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
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
- 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
- No annual fee
- 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 Journey℠
- 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.
The Freedom Card offers a welcome bonus of $150 after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.. While $150 may appear to be a modest welcome bonus when compared to its Ultimate Rewards stablemates, the minimum spend is comparatively low, and the bonus holds up well against other rewards cards that don’t charge an annual fee.
Earning Potential and Category Bonuses
The Freedom Card earns 5% cash back 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 cap each quarter, you’ll bag 30,000 points (7,500 * 4) each year from the card.
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 spend from the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which doesn’t provide the 5% bonus categories, but offers a higher 1.5% cash back return on all 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 shoot for even greater redemption value by transferring your combined points to airline and hotel partners.
Current Chase Freedom 5% Bonus Categories
The current 5% bonus categories for the Freedom Card for October to December 2019, are Department Stores, PayPal, and Chase Pay. The PayPal and Chase Pay categories don't require much in the way of clarification, but the Department Store category can trip some folks up. Thankfully, Chase supplies a handy list of stores included in the Department Store category, alongside specific exclusions which include big-name brands Walmart and Target.
Brands included in the Department Store category:
- Beall’s of Florida
- Bergdorf Goodman
- Boscov’s Department Store
- Boston Store
- JC Penney
- Lord & Taylor
- Neiman Marcus
- Nordstrom & Nordstrom Rack
- Peebles Dept Store
- Saks Fifth Ave & Off Fifth
- Stage Stores
- Stein Mart
- The Bon Ton
- Von Maur
Brands excluded from the Department Store category:
- Discount stores such as TJ Maxx
- Electronics Stores
- General merchandise and Variety stores
- Gift cards purchased at any locations other than department stores on the inclusion list
The Ultimate Rewards family of cards:
|Card||Value Per Point when Booking travel through UltimateRewards.com||Points Transferrable to Travel Partners||Earning on Everyday Spend||Earning on Dining||Earning on Tavel|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||1.25¢||Yes||1x||2x||2x|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||1.50¢||Yes||1x||3x||3x|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||1.00¢||No||1.5x||1.5x||1.5x|
|Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card||1.00¢||No||1.5x||1.5x||1.5x|
|Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card||1.00¢||No||1x||2x (up to $25k/year*)||1x|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||1.25¢||Yes||1x||1x||3x (up to $150k/year*)|
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 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 16.74 - 25.49%.
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 been approved for 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 1x personal and 1x business credit card every 90 days, so space any card applications accordingly.
If you’re a cash back 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 longterm, and taking 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 receiving 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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