Chase Freedom Review: The Best Cash Back Card?

Earn incredible amounts of cash back rewards in select categories each quarter.
5 minute read | 6/14/19June 14, 2019

Having a strong cash back card in your wallet can help you earn big rewards on purchases. By forgoing a rewards card, you could essentially be leaving money on the table. With so many options to choose from, however, choosing the right one that suits your needs could prove to be overwhelming.

The Chase Freedom Card is one of the most popular rewards credit cards available. Offering a high rate of rewards in certain categories each quarter, this card can help you quickly earn cashback rewards.

In this review, we’ll go over how the Chase Freedom works and the fees associated with it to help you decide if it’s right for you.

Eye-popping Cash Back

Chase Freedom Card

Chase Freedom Card

Chase Freedom Card

Benefits

  • $150 cash back welcome bonus
  • 5% rotating cash back in bonus categories
  • Cash back rewards never expire
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • Has foreign transaction fee

Who should get this card?

Bargain shoppers looking to maximizing rewards on purchases should consider the Chase Freedom Card. With rotating bonus categories that change each quarter, you can earn 5% cash back on purchases up to a combined $1,500 per quarter, and there’s no annual fee.

Because each bonus spend category has to be manually activated before you begin earning 5% rewards, it’s important to consider how active you’ll likely be in opting into categories four times per year. Doing so, however, will allow you to fully take advantage of the card’s benefits. If you’re looking for a card that doesn’t require much oversight, it may be a better idea to consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which offers a flat rewards rate on all purchases.

To qualify, you’ll need to have a good or excellent credit score. You’ll also be subject to the unofficial 5/24 rule, meaning if you’ve applied for more than five credit cards within 24 months, you won’t be eligible for another Chase card.

Card Basics

Annual Fee $0
Intro Bonus $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Intro APR 0% for 15 months
Foreign Transaction Fee 3%

Top Card Benefits

  • Big rewards in rotating categories: By activating the rotating bonus categories on your card, you may be able to earn more cash back throughout the year than if you used a general cash back card, depending on your spending habits. You can earn 5% cash back in bonus categories you activate, up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter. All other purchases automatically earn 1% cash back.
  • Generous sign-up bonus: $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening. That’s a 30% return on spend.
  • Intro APR offer: If you’re planning a big purchase or want to transfer a balance from another card, you can take advantage of the card’s introductory APR, which offers a 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Built-in protection: Enjoy peace of mind with built-in coverage. When you use your card, you’ll be covered by purchase protection, extended warranty protection, fraud protection, and more.
  • Chase Credit Journey: As a Chase cardholder, you’ll have free access to Chase Credit Journey, a credit monitoring tool. It tracks your VantageScore 3.0, based on data from your TransUnion credit report.

Earn & Redeeming

Best ways to earn

With the Chase Freedom Card, you’ll earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent per quarter in rotating bonus categories. For all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.

Each quarter (four times per year), Chase launches a new category. To earn rewards at the 5% cashback rate, be sure to monitor the calendar and activate each category as it becomes available.

Here’s a look at this year’s bonus category schedule:

Chase Freedom 2019 Bonus Categories Schedule 5% Cash Back
January 1 - March 31 (Q1) Gas stations, tolls, drugstores
April 1 - June 30 (Q2) Grocery stores (not including Walmart or Target purchases) and home improvement stores
July 1 - September 30 (Q3) Gas stations, streaming services (includes Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora, and Spotify)
October 1 - December 31 (Q4) TBD

Maximizing your redemptions

With the Chase Freedom Card, there are several options for redeeming rewards.

  • Statement credits: You can opt for a statement credit to be applied toward your credit card balance, giving you the full value of your rewards.
  • Gift cards: You can redeem your rewards for a gift card, but note that the gift card value may be worth slightly less than your rewards balance.
  • Travel: You can book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards for things like flights, cruises, and hotel stays.
  • Chase Pay: You can pay for eligible purchases with your rewards.
  • Transfer to a premium Chase card: If you have premium Chase card, you can transfer your points to it for extra value. For instance, if you were to transfer your Chase Freedom rewards to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, your points would be worth 25% more when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

To get the absolute most value, consider redeeming your rewards as statement credits or transfer them to a premium Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Common Questions

What credit score is needed for the Chase Freedom Card?

You’ll need to have a good or excellent credit score to qualify for the Chase Freedom. According to the FICO scoring model, this means you’ll likely need a credit score of 670 or higher.

What is the average credit limit for the Chase Freedom Card?

When you submit your application, Chase will determine your credit limit based on your creditworthiness. If approved, you’ll be issued a card at either the Visa Signature or Visa Platinum level. Visa Signature cards offer a minimum credit limit of $5,000, while Visa Platinum cards offer a minimum credit limit of $500.

How do I activate the 5% cashback bonus categories?

When bonus categories are announced, you’ll have a specific window of time to snag the offer. To activate a 5% cash back bonus category, log into your card account or call the number on the back of your Chase Freedom Card to ask a customer service representative to activate it for you.

Does the Chase Freedom have foreign transaction fees?

Yes, the Chase Freedom Card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you’re planning to travel internationally, you may want to use another card with no foreign transaction fees in order to save money.

Other Cards to Consider

The Chase Freedom Card does offer significant rewards, but it requires you to activate bonus categories to earn 5% cash back. If you miss the deadline to opt in, you’ll lose out on those rewards for the quarter. If you prefer a simpler credit card with flat-rate cashback rewards, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Capital One Venture Rewards Card.

Eye-popping Cash Back

Chase Freedom Card

Chase Freedom Card

Chase Freedom Card

Special Offer

$150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months of account opening

See how these cards compare:

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year (up to $20,000). After that, earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases
  • No minimum to redeem cash back rewards
  • Intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers
  • No annual fee
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • 50,000 bonus miles sign-up offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees

Advertising Policy

FinanceBuzz.com is an independent, advertising-supported website. Some of the offers that appear on this page are from third party advertisers from which FinanceBuzz.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear).

FinanceBuzz.com does not include all financial or credit offers that might be available to consumers in the marketplace. FinanceBuzz.com does not include all companies or all available products.

FinanceBuzz has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FinanceBuzz and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.