Over the years many reward credit cards have come and gone, but the Freedom by Chase has been going strong for a decade. During that time it has undergone changes, some better than others -- but it remains the king of cash back cards in 2014 for three reasons:
Reason #1: Best program for 5 percent cash back
Freedom gives you a full 5 percent rebate on multiple categories that change each quarter. Unlike other cards, the amount of spending that qualifies for the 5 percent is quite high (up to $1,500 in category spending per quarter when you enroll). That means you can earn 5 percent on up to $6,000 of your spending every year!
And, what are the spending categories on the calendar for the four quarters of 2014? The Chase Freedom 5 percent cash back categories are expansive and reward cardmembers for some very useful and fun spend categories:
It's great to see Chase is doing gas stations again for two quarters - that's half the year!
- Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31, 2014): Gas stations, Starbucks® stores, and movie theaters
- Q2 (April 1 – June 30, 2014): Restaurants and Lowe's® home improvement stores
- Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30, 2014): Gas stations and Kohl's®
- Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2014): Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores
Reason #2: You get high cash back on your other purchases, too
One of the biggest drawbacks with many credit cards is that they give you great rewards for a couple categories, but a below-average payout on everything else you buy... which is not very helpful.
However the Chase Freedom offers you an unlimited 1 percent on all other purchases. This makes it the perfect "all-in-one" choice since you won't have to juggle multiple cards.
Reason #3: There's no annual fee, no inactivity fee, and no expiration of your rewards
The rewards you earn on this card will never expire. Nor do you ever have to worry about annual fees or inactivity fees.
Rewards redemption without the BS
Some cards come with high redemption thresholds -- you have to redeem a certain (often large) amount of rewards to get the cash. Fortunately, the Chase Freedom doesn't. Once you rack up $20 worth of cash back, you can start redeeming for statement credits or direct deposits. And you always get a full 1 cent-per-point value.
But the rewards program is not just for cash back. You also can redeem your points for:
- Travel - You can use your points for flights, hotels, and car rentals.
- Merchandise - I've never seen a credit card that offers so many choices for merchandise. There are thousands of options.
- Experiences - There are all sorts of unique opportunities for concerts, culinary events, the hottest games, safaris/tours and much more.
- Gift Cards - Sometimes you can get even more value out of your rewards when redeeming this way. That's because you can get a gift card at a discount:
(This screenshot was taken last year to show you some of the examples, the current selection may vary.)
You also get a number of unique benefits...
What many people don't realize (probably because most credit card reviews fail to mention these things) is that the Chase Freedom card's benefits go above and beyond just rewards. You get purchase and travel benefits, some you won't even find on high-end cards that cost hundreds per year. For example...
Participation in Chase Ultimate RewardsVerdict for 2014?
What is that you ask? Well, in a nutshell, it's a program that gives you a ton of additional ways to save money and earn even more points on your spending.
- Shop at over 400 popular online stores and earn more rewards for every dollar spent. For example, you get 2x at Walmart.com and Target.com, 7x at Drugstore.com, 8x at TurboTax, and 10x at Kohls.com just to name a few.
- Book your air travel through Ultimate Rewards and get double points on every dollar spent.
- You can transfer/combine points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This makes your Freedom rewards even more valuable if you transfer them. Why? Because if you transfer and then spend them through your Sapphire Preferred account, you can get 20 percent off travel with Ultimate Rewards. For example, a $500 flight is just 40,000 points. Think about it... that means your 5 percent (5x point) categories can be worth up to 6.25 percent if you transfer the points to Sapphire Preferred before spending them!
Price Protection (aka Lowest Price Guarantee)
Don't you hate it when you buy something and it goes on sale after? If that happens with qualified purchases made with the card, you can use Chase Freedom's Price Protection and get refunded for the difference! This coverage is offered for 90 days from date of purchase, up to $500 per claim/$3,500 annually. Now here's a shocker... none of the American Express cards offer this benefit but the Freedom does. And with no annual fee to boot!
As you have seen in my review, Chase packs a lot of punch into the Freedom. You get top-notch rewards, valuable benefits for free, and of course there's never an annual fee. This is a very solid rewards card. If you are a regular reader of our card forum you will quickly realize it is a crowd favorite.