Review: The Chase Freedom® credit card

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Chase Freedom credit card
Image Credit: Chase
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The Chase Freedom® credit card is one of the most popular credit cards available today. This cash-back credit card comes with no annual fee.

Chase Freedom® rewards up to 5% in cash back on some purchases, and a signup bonus worth up to $175 after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months after opening a new account and adding a new authorized user in the same period. This package results in one of the best no annual fee cash back rewards credit cards you can find.

Let’s dive in and find out if Chase Freedom® makes sense for you.

Chase Freedom® review: Features

Chase Freedom® is best known for its cash back rewards, which are worth up to 5% cash back on some purchases. That is a huge benefit, and among the highest cash back rewards you can earn from any card with no annual fee. All other purchases pay a flat rate 1% cash back.

This card’s rewards can be worth even more when paired with a premium Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. When you have both Chase Freedom® and one of these premium Ultimate Rewards earning cards, you can turn your Chase Freedom® cash back into Ultimate Rewards points for free and discounted travel, among other redemption options.

The card also offers an introductory 15-month period with 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers. This lets you borrow without paying expensive interest for more than a year, but make sure you pay the balance off in full before those interest payments kick in. Also, keep in mind there is a balance transfer fee for all balance transfers.

Chase Freedom® rewards

Every calendar quarter, the bank announces a set of Chase Freedom® bonus categories that qualify for 5% cash back for the coming quarter. Recent Chase Freedom® bonus categories include gas stations, restaurants, and Amazon.com.

You can earn rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases across these categories each quarter. That is worth up to $300 per year, depending on your spending habits. All non-bonus category purchases and bonus category purchases after reaching the $1,500 limit earn unlimited 1% cash back.

This is a very high earning card overall, but keeping up with the rotating categories can be a chore. This card is best for someone who is willing to do a little work to remember which card to use for each purchase, as the categories change every three months. Users also have to click a link in an email from Chase or log in to Chase.com to activate the bonus category cash back each quarter.

Chase Freedom® review: Perks

Like all of Chase’s cards, Chase Freedom® is packed with additional benefits that go beyond the cash back rewards program. For this card, these perks include valuable purchase protections you get by default every time you use the card for a purchase.

Here’s a quick rundown of the extra benefits this card offers:

  • Purchase protection – Get up to $500 in insurance for new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days after purchase. If you just dropped a new iPhone in the toilet, this might give you some relief.
  • Extended warranty – Extends manufacturer’s warranty by up to one year.
  • Fraud and liability protection – You have zero liability for fraudulent purchases made with your account.

Purchase protection and extended warranties can be very valuable. If you buy an expensive electronic or appliance, for example, make sure to buy it with your credit card so you get both rewards and purchase protections.

Chase Freedom® review: Rates and pricing

This card charges 0% APR for the first 15 months after opening a new account for purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period, the card charges 16.24% to 24.99% variable rate APR based on your credit history and market rates. This APR can change at any time.

Cash advances on this card require a 5% fee ($10 minimum) in addition to 26.24% variable rate APR. Balance transfers also charge a 5% fee ($5 minimum). Foreign transactions on this card incur a 3% fee.

Late payments cost up to $37 depending on the card balance, and returned payments also cost up to $47.

All of these fees and costs are avoidable as long as you pay the card off in full each month and on time. Also, avoid balance transfers, cash advances, and foreign purchases to keep from being charges the respective fees.

Chase Freedom® review: Does it make sense for you?

For savvy spenders who want their credit card to pay them, Chase Freedom® certainly does the trick. With no annual fee and easily avoidable fees and interest, you can use this card to get paid without spending an extra cent in costs.

Power users can get even more value matching this card with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, but it is a great card on its own as well. If the rotating categories seem too confusing, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which offers a higher flat-rate cash back, as an alternative.

But if the rotating categories don’t scare you off, Chase Freedom® is a great way to earn cash back with no annual fees. If you can avoid interest and fees, that cash back is profit back in your pocket — and that’s what cash-back rewards are all about.

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