At a Glance
The Chase Freedom Card is a great addition to most people’s credit portfolio. While you may not use this card consistently throughout the year, its rotating 5% cash back categories make it a hard hitting go-to card for certain times of the year. The Chase Freedom is basic with no extra frills or annual fee but packs solid cash back opportunities when used correctly.
|Card||Chase Freedom Card|
|Rewards||5% cash back on bonus categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter)
1% on all other purchases
|Sign-up Bonus||$100 when you spend $500 in the first 90 days+ $25 when you add an additional user within the first 90 days|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||3%|
|Interest Rate||13.99% -22.99%|
|Miscellaneous||0% APR for 15 months for purchases and balance transfers|
|Credit Portfolio Role||Niche Card|
|Credit Score Needed||Medium – High|
Unlike many cards that give a modest steady cash back rate all year for all purchases, the Chase Freedom gives a very high 5% cash back on select purchases depending on what time of year it is. Each quarter has a different category of spending which will give you 5% cash back. A couple things to note about this card is that you are at the mercy of Chase when they decide on the categories at the beginning of each year and you are capped at $1,500 per quarter for the 5% cash back eligible purchases. You also have to manually “activate” the bonus online at the start of each quarter before the 5% will kick in. However, there normally is always at least one or two quarters that most people would use. For example this year (2015) has groceries, movie theaters, restaurants, gas stations, Amazon.com, and a few other specific stores spread throughout the four quarters.
Another advantage to this card is that it is fairly easy to apply for and has a few nice perks for people new to or rebuilding their credit. From what I have seen, you can have a medium to high credit score (mid 600s and above) with a stable reportable income to get approved. There is no annual fee so you don’t have to worry about doing the math to ensure your rewards are outweighing that fee. In addition, there is a $100 sign-up bonus when you spend $500 within the first 90 days and an additional $25 bonus if you add an authorized user within those same 90 days. Spending $500 should be easy to reach over the course of three months and if you have a spouse or someone to add as an authorized user, the extra $25 doesn’t hurt either. One other perk that this card has is 0% interest on all purchases and balance transfers (transfers have a 3% fee though) for the first 15 months. This is nice, but just remember you should only spend what you can pay back before any interest kicks in or you will get buried very quickly in debt.
The key with the Chase Freedom is to try to only use it when you can get the 5% cash back since you should use other cards to get higher than the alternative of only 1%. What this means is that you could go three or even 6 months without even using the card depending on what the bonus quarters are. As a “niche card” it is fine to go a short period of time without using the card, as this is what these types of cards should be used for. Since there is no annual fee you won’t have to worry about reaching a certain level of spending to break even either.
The Chase Freedom Card is a great way to boost your yearly cash back average by using it at strategic times to utilize the 5% bonus categories. The card is attainable for a wider selection of people compared to some of the higher end cards and it saves you more money by not having an annual fee. It offers a nice sign-up offer too (up to $125) that does not require a very high amount of spending ($500 in the first 90 days). As long as you primarily use the Chase Freedom for the bonus categories, this card will significantly elevate your overall cash back average each year. It is the perfect choice for anyone looking to revitalize their credit portfolio.
Last updated 30 June 2015