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Chase Freedom Credit Card Review (2016)

chase-freedom-credit-card-review

A Quick Word

Welcome to our Chase Freedom Credit Card Review. This card benefits two kinds of people. First – Anyone looking to build their credit. This is an easier card to get approved for, and the benefits are excellent given the lack of an annual fee. Second – If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and/or the Chase Ink, you will be able to get into some awesome Ultimate-Rewards-double-dippage. This is why travel hacking with the Chase Freedom is easy.

Current Ranking

#14 in Aaron’s Credit Card Power Rankings

Signup Bonus

Earn $150 credit after spending $500 in 90 days

Annual Fee

None

Minimum Credit Score

620+

cc - free


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Specs

  • 5x rotating categories!
  • 1x everything else
  • Access to Ultimate Rewards
  • 0% APR for first 15 months
  • $25 bonus for adding authorized user… It’s $25, right?

The Good

    1) 5x Rotating Categories

Here’s the best thing about these categories. They aren’t obscure shops, or places people never spend money.  Quite contrary. The 5x’s categories are in places we spend money, sometimes every day. Where? Thought you’d never ask.

Ok, so the way the rotating categories works is this – every three months, Chase bank designates a new category. For example, the category January-March of 2016 was gas stations. Moreover less it’s fairly straightforward – if a business sells gas to automobiles, you’re within the rotating quarter, and you use your Freedom to purchase said gasoline… you’re getting 5x.

Gas stations is a huge category that many people can take advantage of. And once gasoline ends, what’s next? Grocery Stores. Restaurants. Holiday Shopping.

Chase does a great job of setting categories that are accessible to the average person. Yea, there’s a bit of gray area (no Walmart or Target for groceries, etc.) but more over less it’s extremely straightforward, and it’s straightforwardness is an enormous contributing perk to this card.

    2) Access to Ultimate Rewards

This is probably the most important. 5x is awesome. But access to the world’s most valuable point currency is much more important. Ultimate Rewards are The King. The ability to redeem points for an additional 10% for travel purchases is awesome enough – but the real value is the ability to transfer to Ultimate Rewards to participating airlines and hotels at a 1:1 ratio, instantaneously. Combining Freedom points with the Ink or Sapphire is instantaneous.

    3) Easy Approval

Often overlooked, even at NomdasNation. The majority of the credit cards in our Power Rankings require a good-ish to excellent-ish credit score to get approved. The Freedom is the exception. Chase considers the Freedom as somewhat of a starter card, and is the perfect solution for someone looking to build (or rebuild) their credit.

    4) 0% APR for 15 Months

Here again, the Freedom is unique in the Power Rankings. No other cards offer 0% APR, and because of that it’s usually a topic we don’t really get into. Every credit card on the Power Rankings has an APR around the 15%-20% mark (depending on personal credit) and that s**t kicks in right away. If needed, no interest for over a year can be a godsend. Not to be taken lightly.

    5) $150 Credit

Spend $500 on the card in 90 days and get $150 back. Nice and easy. Obviously compared to the other cards on the list, it’s a fairly dismal signup bonus, but as mentioned, this card doesn’t place highly because of the signup bonus. It’s meant to aid the newbie Hacker, or be a great double-dipper for the more experienced Hacker. That’s what the Freedom does best.

  6) No Annual Fee

Yet again, the Freedom being the rebel in the group, the only credit card in the Power Rankings without an annual fee! What does this mean? No dates on the calendar to worry about, no crunching numbers to see if this card is worth keeping around. Just keep it! Keep it forever and ever, enjoy the beautiful rotating categories, and never worry about it. It’s nice to have a card with no fee – it makes life easier.

The Bad

    1) No Large Signup Bonus

Honestly, if this card kept all it’s current pros and cons and threw a nice signup bonus on top of it, it’d rank much higher in the Power Rankings. At one point they had a 20,000 point signup bonus. If that returns, expect to see the Freedom get a bit more lovin’.

Until then the $150 is nice, but we’d rather Ultimate Rewards than cash credit. We can do a lot more with 15,000 Ultimate Rewards than we can with $150 cash.

    2) $1500 Limit on Rotating Categories

It’s not that this is necessarily bad, it’s just not great. The 5x categories are obviously kick-ass, but there’s a limit to their love. $1500 in each category per quarter – then you’re cut off! Meaning the most points one can accumulate on the 5x categories in the three month span is 7,500.

But it’s hard to complain about. Does the limit suck? Sure. But it’s thousands more points than you would’ve normally accumulated.

    3) 1x Everything Else

But, it’s standard. This card isn’t an everyday spender – it’s a rotating category spender. More on this on the “Strategy” below.

Strategy

If you’re interested in travel hacking with the Chase Freedom, get excited. In an ideal world, one would have the Ultimate Rewards Trifecta – The Sapphire, The Ink, and the Freedom. Between the three there’s enough categories for extra Ultimate Rewards (2x-5x) to drown in. The Freedom is an essential aspect of this trio.

If not, fret not! Get the Freedom anyway! Out of all the cards on the PR’s, this is the one that is easiest to get approved for. Use it for the rotating categories, or an everyday spender if you are looking to start racking up Ultimate Rewards. Then, if you get the Ink or Sapphire in the future, you can combine your points!

Conclusion

Because of the amazing rotating categories and access to Ultimate Rewards, this card is a must have. But the lack of any annual fee is what makes it a no brainer – there is literally no excuse not to have this card. Travel hacking with the Chase Freedom is easy, and the card needs to be in everyone’s arsenal.

Do you have the Chase Freedom? Any thoughts? Should it be ranked lower in the Power Rankings? Higher? Comment below!

Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -