I’ve been reviewing credit cards for a good number of years now. Through it all I’ve found it very difficult to pick the best all around card. The difficulty is that the best credit cards typically excel at one feature, like having a low interest rate, the longest 0% offer, or the best rewards. But if I had to pick the best card, the Chase Freedom card (which I’ve used for several years) would make the short list. This detailed Chase Freedom review explains why.
Chase Freedom at a Glance
0% Introductory Rate: No interest for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases.
Cash Back: Five percent cash back on categories that change each quarter up to a set limit. One percent cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Cash: $150 cash bonus when $500 is charged to the card in the first three months. A $25 cash bonus is awarded after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within your first 3 months from account opening.
Fees: No annual fee.
Chase Freedom Review in Detail
0% Introductory Interest Rate
Until recently, the Chase Freedom offered a 0% rate on balance transfers for 12 months. Now the card has extended the introductory rate to 15 months. As with most balance transfer offers, there is a transfer fee of 5% of the amount transferred (minimum $5).
The card also offers 0% on purchases for 15 months. This too is an improvement, as the card use to offer this introductory rate for just six months. Unlike a balance transfer, there is no fee to take advantage of the no interest on purchases.
The card offers two different cash back rewards. First, every purchase earns at least 1% cash back. That’s the standard reward in the credit card industry.
Second, the Chase Freedom is one of a few 5% cash back credit cards. Here’s how it works. Every year, Chase puts together a calendar of categories in which consumers will earn 5% cash back. Each quarter the maximum cash back that can be earned with the 5% categories is $75 (5% of $1,500). Once you’ve exhausted this amount, additional purchase in these categories receive 1% cash back.
It’s important to remember that you must log into your account and signup for these quarterly categories to get the 5% cash back. It just takes a few seconds, but you don’t want to forget.
$150 and $25 Cash Bonus
Chase Freedom offers a $150 cash bonus (up from $100) after you spend $500 on the card in the first three months. Chase will also pay a $25 bonus when you add an authorized user and make your first purchase within the first three months of account opening.
Fees & Rates
There is no annual fee. As for the interest rates, they range based on the applicant’s creditworthiness.
The card requires excellent credit.
Chase Freedom Credit Card–Pros and Cons
- 5% Cash Back: This is one of the highest cash back rewards available.
- 0% Introductory Rate: The 0% on balance transfers and purchases is excellent for a rewards card.
- Fees: There’s no annual fee. Cards that offer richer rewards typically come with more fees.
- Cash Bonus: The $150 + $25 cash bonuses are a nice touch.
There’s really not any “bad” aspects to the Chase Freedom card. That being said, here are a few things to consider:
- 5% Rotating Categories: You do have to stay on top of the rotating categories and sign up for them each quarter. Chase does have an easy way to do this with the Chase Rewards Calendar.
- 1% Cash Back: If a purchase doesn’t qualify for the 5% cash back, the rewards drop to 1%.
To address this last issue, many consumers pair the Chase Freedom credit card with another card that pays higher rewards on everyday purchases. They then use the Chase Freedom when they can get 5% cash back, and the other card for other purchases.
For those interest in this 2-card approach, an excellent choice for the second card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Finally, a nice benefit with this card is access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards online portal. You can use the portal to shop online with the rewards you’ve accumulated using the Chase Freedom card. You can also book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.