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Chase Freedom Credit Card Review: The Card I Use Most

I've used the Chase Freedom Credit Card for two years now and highly recommend it for cash rewards if you do NOT carry a balance.For about two years now, my wife and I have used the Chase Freedom credit card for nearly everything we buy. (I have another credit card for business expenses, but everything else goes on the Freedom card.)

Long story, short, we’ve been pretty happy with this card and its rewards, although it’s slowly being outpaced by some newer competitors in terms of the value of its rewards. That said, it’s still a good card if you know you’ll pay off the balance each month, as we do.

The Chase Freedom Credit Card looks like your everyday no-annual-fee-Visa or MasterCard. What sets the Freedom Credit Card apart from other credit cards — even other cash rewards credit cards — are its cash rewards structure.

Chase Freedom rewards

For starters, every purchase earns 1 percent cash back. There are no restrictions or caps on this. (If you look at some other cash rewards credit cards, you actually earn less than 1 percent cash back until you reach a certain spending level).

The Chase Freedom Credit Card also pays up to 5 percent cash back in certain categories that change every quarter. One quarter it might be groceries and gas, the next it might be home improvement and dining. The point is, there’s always a category that will earn more than 1 percent cash back. There are, however, limits to the bonus cash back you can earn.

To be honest, I find the whole rotating category thing kind of gimmicky, and I’m not going to use different cards for different purchases just to earn different rewards rates. Still, I’m going to gamble I’ll spend some money in those categories whether I pay attention to them or not, and that will bump my rewards earnings up a bit.

Chase Freedom interest rates and fees

Which brings us to the regular APR. Chase Freedom’s interest rates aren’t the lowest. Right now they are between 12.99 and 22.99 percent, depending on credit. A higher APR isn’t common for a rewards card, which is why you should look elsewhere if you think you’ll ever carry a balance on this card. But if you’re going to pay your card off every month in full—which goes without saying for me—then who cares about the APR?

That said, the APR isn’t the only thing about the Chase Freedom credit card to look out for; other fees are on the pricier side. For example, the Chase Freedom credit card charges a 5 percent balance transfer fee and a 3 percent foreign exchange transaction fee. These are both higher than many other cards.

Why I switched

Prior to using this card, my primary credit card has been an American Express® charge card. It had so-so rewards and a big annual fee, but it always provided me with the peace of mind that I couldn’t charge more than I could pay off in the month. With a charge card, the balance is due in full every month.

Although I love some Amex features like their customers service and online interface, there are problems. Once a month or so, I run into a local restaurant or store that doesn’t take AMEX. Plus, there’s the whole no-preset spending limit thing. If I’m going to make a big purchase, I sure as heck want to get rewards points for it, but with an Amex charge card, you always worry you might not be approved.

So I decided I want to go back to a primary credit card that is Visa/Mastercard with a regular old preset credit limit, that has no annual fee and good cash rewards.

Enter Chase Freedom.

I’ve decided that the Chase Freedom credit card is the rewards card for me, now. The $100 cash bonus for signing up sweetened the deal. Since I started using it a couple years ago, I’ve redeemed over $1,000 in cash back rewards.

Learn more about the Chase Freedom card and other Chase credit cards here on ArriveFinancial, another site I run specifically about credit cards.

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. I love the Chase freedom card. I have it and earn lots of points on my purchases. Like you I enjoy the fact that it is not a charge card (like Amex, which anyone collecting points knows is great for doing so) but still provides a fair amount of points.

    • Hi. What do you mean it’s not a credit card?

      • Sorry….. I meant charge card :).

        • David Weliver says:

          Kikki, I switched to the Chase Freedom Card from an American Express Gold Card. The Amex card was a charge card. Chase freedom is a credit card.

          They work more of less the same, except with a charge card you cannot pay off over time–you must pay the balance in full every month or the account will be closed. With a credit card, if you pay over time, you pay finance charges, but you can continue to make new charges up to your credit limit.

          I’m still going to pay the balance in full every month, but there are some advantages to a credit card. (For example, it’s better for building credit and you always know the maximum you can charge because you have a defined credit limit.)

  2. So are you going to choose cash back or points? Why?

  3. I have this card as well. I use it for points (I usually get an Amazon gift card, or something) and it is my daily spender – I pay off in full every month. My APR is 8.99% fixed, though…

  4. David Weliver says:

    As I understand it, the Chase Freedom card being offered today is strictly cash rewards. They’ve gone through several iterations of this card since the original which let you choose “cash or points”, I believe. Obviously anybody who has the card is grandfathered into the old terms for better or worse…although that’s pretty sweet, Honey, that you have it with such a low regular APR.

  5. Scott Goldman says:

    I switched from Amex to Chase Freedom two years ago. The cashback is great, particularly if you choose to have them credit your current balance. The trick for me is striking the right balance between charging it and paying it off weeks later vs using cash/debit.

    -S

  6. This is also my primary card and I have used it for 4-5 years. They used to offer 3% cash back in the categories you used most (e.g. gas, restaurants, and grocery stores). The change to rotating categories was a letdown, but I haven’t found a better cash-back program.

  7. I have had this card for a while. I let the cash accumulate over the year and then cash in at Christmas time to help pay for gifts. It’s almost like a savings account. Of course, I pay off the balance every month.

    Also, if you shop online, they offer extra cash back for many merchants if you go to their website from the chase Ultimate rewards portal.

  8. I am currently debating whether to get a Chase Freedom card or a Discover card based solely on rewards and benefits. Any additional arguments as to why you think Chase Freedom is better? Also, I’m having trouble finding info about if/what benefits Chase Freedom offers, such as rental car and baggage insurance, etc. Do you know if they have any and where I can find that? Thanks!

    • Erin-

      I have both cards and have used both for a couple of years, and here’s what I’ve found:

      1. Discover offers better cashback for online purchases at their “Select” retailers- for me Best Buy is a huge one, I get 5% cashback as long as I purchase online, and choose “Pickup in store” whereas Chase pays and extra 1% for it. It’s basically like getting 5% off, which can be huge when making a large purchase like a computer, or TV.

      2. Discover requires $3,000 spent each year before you begin to qualify for their 1% cash back on everything (boo!)

      3. Chase is accepted in more places. It amazes me that there are still retailers that do not accept Discover, so maybe 10% of the time I do have to use a Visa/MC. (Darn interchange fees!)

      4. I prefer Discover’s customer service (and many others do too!) You’ll find with a search that their customer service is very highly rated, and they have a high retention rate for card holders. You’ll be happy to know that their call centers are located in the US! I’ve called them a number of times and been very pleased with the ease of their problem solving and frendliness.

      5. Chase offered a better interest rate initially for me. It could have just been a fluke, but they are a couple points lower than Discover. I was able to renegotiate each after a year to lower rates, though.

      So that’s what I’ve found. I almost exclusively use my Discover card for the reasons listed above, but honestly I still carry my credit union Visa card just in case I have a random retailer that doesn’t take Discover. This way I know I’m covered.

      Good luck and choose wisely!

    • Also, one last thing…I find Discover’s website and app’s (android, iphone/ipad) to offer a richer experience. I would consider their tools to add more value than what the more basic Chase website offers.

  9. I believe everything said was very logical. But, what about this?
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  10. Another point: If you have a Chase checking account, you get a 10% bonus when you cash in those points.
    This is a great card. Not my hands-down favorite, but definitely top 5.