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Chase Freedom Review: No Annual Fee and Terrific Rotating Bonus Categories

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Chase Freedom Review: No Annual Fee and Terrific Rotating Bonus Categories

Andrew RChase Freedom Review: No Annual Fee and Terrific Rotating Bonus CategoriesMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

INSIDER SECRET: The Chase Freedom® is one of the most powerful tools for racking up Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but it’s one of the worst cards to bring on a trip, because it incurs foreign transaction fees. Use it at home but put it in a sock drawer when you go overseas.

The Chase Freedom® is a no-annual-fee card which currently comes with a $150 cash bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

With the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn 5% cash back (5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in categories which rotate each quarter when you activate the bonus.

The Chase Freedom is perfect for folks who already have cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points or for people looking to get into our hobby and start earning points they can use for free travel.

You can apply for the Chase Freedom here.

Wake up to this view on Oahu by using your Chase Freedom bonus to offset your travel costs. (Photo by Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock)

Here’s everything you’ll want to know about the Chase Freedom to decide if it’s a good fit for your wallet.

Who Is This Card For?

First, this is a great card for anyone looking for a no-annual-fee keeper. That’s one reason I’ve had this card in my wallet for years.

It’s also one of the easier cards to qualify for. According to reports online, you’ll want to have a credit score in the 680+ range before applying. Just note that if you’ve had the card before, you won’t qualify for the bonus unless it’s been at least 24 months since you earned the previous bonus.

And if you’ve opened five or more credit cards from ANY bank in the past 24 months (excluding certain small business cards and Chase business cards), you’re not likely to be approved.

If this describes you, wait until you are back under the limit of five cards opened in the past 24 months before applying for the Chase Freedom.

Further Reading: Chase 5/24 Rule

Sign-Up Bonus Worth At Least $150

With the Chase Freedom card, you’ll earn a $150 cash bonus (or 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

However, your sign-up bonus can easily be worth more. Depending on other Chase cards that you have in your wallet, you might be able to move the rewards you earn on the Chase Freedom to those cards and pool your points:

Plus, if you have any of the cards mentioned above, you can combine your points and then transfer them to Chase’s excellent travel partners, like Hyatt and United Airlines, and potentially get much more value.

For example, you could transfer 8,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for a one-night stay at the Hyatt Place Las Vegas. This stay could otherwise cost you ~$158. After meeting minimum spending requirements, you’ve got almost enough points for two nights.

Transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for a stay at the Hyatt Place Las Vegas will more than double the value of your points. (Photo by Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock)

Another great option is transferring them to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. You only need 15,000 points for a round-trip between Washington, DC, and Chicago, which could save you $300.

Further Reading: Chase Points Value

Main Benefits and Perks

Extended Warranty

When you use the Chase Freedom to purchase an item, the card will extend the time period of a US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less. That lets you avoid purchasing additional warranties when making big-ticket purchases.

Purchase Protection

The Chase Freedom offers protection against damage or theft for up to 120 days on new purchases up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Credit Journey

This is a great benefit because Chase will provide unlimited free access to your credit score as well as automatically enrolling you in alerts that can help you identify fraud.

Rental Car Insurance

You’ll get secondary rental insurance when you pay for the rental using your Chase Freedom.

Take advantage of Chase’s Purchase Protection in the first 120 days from your initial purchase. (Photo by ohmmzz/Shutterstock)

How to Earn Points

The Chase Freedom card earns 1% cash back (or 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent) on every single purchase you make. However, what makes this card so powerful is the ability to earn 5% cash back (or 5 points per dollar) in rotating categories every quarter on up to $1,500 in combined spending when you activate the bonus.

For example, this spring Chase offered 5% cash back on grocery store and home improvement store purchases. Once I chose, I was able to earn 5% cash back on the first $1,500 I spent at my local grocery store from April to June. If you make the most of your spending every quarter, you can earn $300 per year (30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) in bonus-category spending alone (4 quarters X $75 per quarter)!

Ideally, you’ll want to pair your Chase Freedom with at least one annual-fee Chase card so that you can earn the 5% bonus in bonus categories and then use your other cards to make the most of your earning. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns you 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all dining and travel purchases (excluding the card’s $300 travel credit).

Further Reading: How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

How to Redeem Points

You can redeem points you earn with the Chase Freedom at a rate of 1 cent each for cash back, paid travel, or gift cards. However, as mentioned earlier, to really get the most value out of your Chase Freedom you’ll want to pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred Card. Then you’ll be able to book paid travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a better rate.

You can earn even more travel when you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to one of Chase’s travel partners, airlines like United Airlines and Southwest, and hotel chains like Marriott and Hyatt. If you have one of the cards mentioned above, you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners at a 1:1 ratio.

That means if you have Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer them to United Airlines and book flights at United.com within minutes. By transferring your points to partners, you can really increase the value of your points exponentially.

For example, you can turn 24,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points into a round-trip flight to Hawaii from the West Coast by transferring your points to Singapore Airlines for United Airlines award flights. That’s a potential savings of hundreds and hundreds, as opposed to the $240 cash back you would have earned with the Chase Freedom alone.

Further Reading: How to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Credit Cards Similar to the Chase Freedom

I think the 5% cash back (5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) on rotating categories is a great way to boost your Chase points balance, but the activation and tracking of bonus categories might be too much for some to keep track of.

Luckily, Chase has a similar card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns a flat 1.5% cash back (1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on purchases. I personally have both cards, in addition to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, in order to make the most points every purchase.

If you have a small business, you might want to consider the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card which is also a no-annual-fee card that has a sign-up bonus of $500 (50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases, but the $500 sign-up bonus is where this card really stands out.

Further Reading: Chase Ink Business Unlimited review

Bottom Line

The Chase Freedom is perfect for folks who already have cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points because you can combine points from multiple Chase cards. This card is also great for for people looking to get their feet wet with a no-annual-fee card that can help you earn free travel.

Remember, the Chase Freedom currently comes with a $150 cash bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, which is a great way to start building your points balance.

You can earn 5% cash back (5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) every quarter on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories, which translates into up to an additional $300 cash back or 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points each year. You can turn those points into travel memories when you pool your points with annual-fee Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, then transfer them to Chase’s travel partners like British Airways and Southwest.

Let me know your thoughts on the Chase Freedom! And subscribe to our newsletter for more info on how to travel for practically free with credit card tricks.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I love what the Chase Freedom card offers but at some point how many credit cards can I use. I don’t want to collect them. It’s so much easier to use just one, maybe two cards to track spending.The 0% intro APR is extremely attractive, and the case bonus is a nice perk. I need to analyze what I am carrying and what that card affords me

I transferred 30,000 points to Hyatt and stayed for a weekend at a resort during peak season saving me $1,200…Score!

transferring points to my CSR card for redemption

Transferring points for flights to Florida to scuba dive with my partner and best friend!

Nikolay Aleksandrov

I took 55,000 Chase points and transferred them to Virgin Atlantic, then booked 2 tickets from NYC to London on Premium Economy, a $4K+ Value for next to nothing!

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