Chase Freedom Review: 5% Cash Back + $150 Bonus


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.

Cash Back

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.

Credit Needed

The card requires excellent credit.

Chase Freedom Credit Card–Pros and Cons

The Good

  • 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.

The Bad

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.

16 Responses to “Chase Freedom Review: 5% Cash Back + $150 Bonus”

      • Debbie M

        Weird. I had a Chase Freedom card and two other Chase cards and both of the other ones turned into Chase Freedom cards. I canceled one (which still shows up on the home page every day), I use one, and my boyfriend uses the other. So, they don’t mind sticking you with another Chase Freedom card themselves when you already have one (or two).

  1. Innovative change in credit card industry! Will this be a catalyst for the shift towards plastic currency? Time will tell. But it will be interesting to look at what credit rates and other benefits / penalties are associated with Chase Freedom card. Generally, for lucrative offers like this, the penalties for late payment and default would also be very high.

  2. I just recd a mailingr from Chase for a Freedom Card offering a $300.00 bonus which would be available to me after my 1st purchase with the card. The offer doesn’t mention anything about having to purchase $500. worth of goods in order to get this bonus. I actually called them to clarify that this was legit since it sounded to good to be true. Why would they give me a ck for $300. if I make only a small purchase with the card? Also they have no hope of making any money on interest from me since I pay in full every month. The CS rep I spoke to confirmed that my understanding was correct and I had no further obligation to use the card again but it was their hope with this offer that I would use the card in the future for the 1%-5% cash back privilege that came with it. Guess I’ll just add this card to my collection after I get the $300. bonus!

  3. Kevin Nies

    The old bait and switch – don’t fall for it. There are too many rules when trying to get you cash back. Go with the Penfed card. Straight talk and no gimmicks.

    • Rob Berger

      Kevin, the Penfed card is a good one, although it can be hard to qualify for. Curious though why you say that there are too many rules to get your cash back. I’ve used the Chase Freedom for years without any issues.

  4. Sharon Pichai

    I find it very easy to use the Chase Freedom card. As soon as my billing cycle closes for the month, my Ultimate Rewards points appear. I can, if I choose, immediately request a statement credit for some or all of my points.

  5. Because I also have a Chase checking account, I get an extra 10% cash back on every purchase (1.1%/5.5%) plus $.10 on every transaction.

    I also love Chase’s auto pay feature, which is set to pay my balance in full on the due date, but will reduce that payment by any returns or other payments I’ve made. That way I know whatever I do, it will automatically pay the smallest payment to avoid every paying interest.

  6. I want to apply for this card, but am afraid to because of all the reviews on this company. Charging people late fees, not helping them get rid of charges that were not theirs, cutting people’s credit limit. I was so excited to get this card. Do you think I should get this card because I don’t want to be one of the people who get robbed by these people.

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