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.