Share

Our top picks of timely offers from our partners

More details
Blue Cash Preferred® Card
Learn More
Terms Apply
$300 welcome offer and save big on groceries at U.S. supermarkets
Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card
Learn More
Terms Apply
Great for those with fair or average credit plus, no fees
Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Learn More
Terms Apply
60K bonus points and up to $50 statement credit on grocery store purchases
Blue Cash Everyday® Card
Learn More
Terms Apply
Save big at U.S. supermarkets with a $200 welcome offer and no annual fee
IdentityForce®
Learn More
Terms Apply
For a limited time, get 3 months free on all annual plans - offer expires 03/12/2021
CNBC Select may receive an affiliate commission when you click on the links for products from our partners. Click here to read our full advertiser disclosure.
Reviews

Chase Freedom review: Maximize 5% cash back now at Amazon and Whole Foods Market

The Chase Freedom card lets you earn 5% cash back on a revolving roster of bonus categories offered each quarter. CNBC Select reviews all the benefits of the card so you can decide if it's right for you.

Share
Source: Netflix

Editor's Note: Effective September 15, 2020, the Chase Freedom credit card is closed to new applicants.

Chase Freedom®'s bonus categories are revealed each quarter so there's always new opportunities to earn extra rewards. If you don't plan out your monthly spending in advance and are looking to maximize rewards without paying an annual fee, this card can be a great asset for your wallet.

Cardholders who use the Chase Freedom® credit card earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending across its revolving roster of bonus categories offered each quarter (then 1%). Plus with newly added benefits, cardholders can take advantage of 5% cash back on Lyft purchases through March 2022, making this a competitive card for rideshares.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the Chase Freedom® credit card's rewards, benefits and fees to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Chase Freedom review

Chase Freedom®

Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable on purchases

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Long intro 0% APR period for purchases
  • Rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Opportunity to earn up to 5% cash back in select categories upon activation

Cons

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • Cash-back program limits 5% cash-back earnings to $1,500 a quarter
  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $539
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,894

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Chase Freedom rewards

Like the Discover it® Cash Back, the Chase Freedom® offers 5% cash back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 in combined purchases after you activate the bonus every quarter. After you reach the limit, it's 1% on all purchases. If you maximize your spending in these categories, you could earn $75 cash back each quarter on top of the 1% cash back you earn in all the other categories. There is no minimum to redeem cash back.

For October through December 2020, cardholders earn up to 5% cash back from purchases made at Walmart and PayPal. Cardholders can activate the 5% cash-back categories for January through March 2021 starting December 15, which include wholesale clubs, cable, internet, and phone services and select streaming services.

Check out the Chase Freedom cash-back calendar.

The card also has a generous welcome bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from opening an account. That's like earning 40% back.

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Chase Freedom®. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).

Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can roughly earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: $103
  • Gas: $67
  • Dining out: $37
  • Travel: $22
  • Utilities: $49
  • General purchases: $61
  • Total: $339

Cardholders can earn an estimated $539 in cash back the first year (including the cash back from the welcome bonus) and a total of $1,894 over five years.

The rewards don't expire as long as your account is open, and they can also be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards® card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, which allows you to redeem rewards for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal and receive 25% more value.

Additional benefits

The Chase Freedom® has similar perks to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. (Check out CNBC Select's Chase Freedom Unlimited review.)

Both cards offer a 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable APR) and a three-month complimentary DashPass membership through DoorDash. Cardholders can also benefit from purchase protection and extended warranty protection.

Fees

The Chase Freedom® has no annual fee, but there is a 3% fee charged on foreign transactions. (Check out CNBC Select's best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.)

Bottom line

It's smart to use a cash-back card on a daily basis, but if you really want to maximize your rewards you should take the time to review all the different cash-back cards available to see which best matches your lifestyle and if a 5% cash-back credit card is right for you.

While a 5% cash-back card, like the Chase Freedom®, can be beneficial on its own, you can earn even more rewards by pairing it with a flat-rate cash-back card.

For example, for everyday purchases you could use the Citi® Double Cash Card, one of CNBC Select's top choices for best cash-back cards, which earns an effective 2% cash back: 1% when you buy and 1% when you pay for purchases. Then, you could use a 5% cash-back card, like the Chase Freedom®, for bonus category purchases.

Don't miss: Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which is the best card?

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Don't miss:

Information about the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Cash Back, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.