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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

Meghan HunterChase 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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The Chase Freedom® is a no-annual-fee card which currently comes with a $150 cash bonus (or 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. It consistently makes our list of the top cash-back credit cards.

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

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

Who is the Chase Freedom 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 need 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. Also, the Freedom card is affected by the Chase 5/24 rule — if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (not counting certain business credit cards) in the past 24 months, you won’t 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.

Current offer

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.

Benefits and perks

Extended warranty

When you use the Chase Freedom to purchase an item, the card will extend the time period of a U.S. 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 Chase service is a great benefit. The bank 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.

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, last spring Chase offered 5% cash back on grocery store and home improvement store purchases. 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).

(Photo by Wyatt Smith.)

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® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. Then you’ll be able to book paid travel through the Chase Travel Portal at a better rate.

Insider tips

You can earn even more travel when you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to one of Chase’s transfer 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 of dollars, as opposed to the $240 cash back you would have earned with the Chase Freedom alone.

Or, 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.

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 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 it really stands out.

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 as much as 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.

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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.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

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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you have 3 chase cards. I wonder how much debt you are in; something not to brag about.

The key is to spend what you can pay off every month and not carry a balance. The number of credit cards you have does not equate to the amount of debt.

I have close to 20 credit cards, and pay them off every month based on my regular budget. The key is to use the cards responsibly.

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!

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