Review: Chase Freedom Credit Cards

Chase offers two credit cards under the “Freedom” brand. While both are cash back credit cards, they offer very different rebate formulas. Below we offer a review of the Freedom credit cards and our take on which is better…

chase-freedom-unlimitedThe Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card offers cash back at a flat 1.5% rebate on every purchase, with no limits on earnings. It has no annual fee. New cardholders can get an upfront bonus of $150 if you use the card for at least $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of having it. We like this card for its easy-to-understand and generous rebate amount, and a nice bonus for new cardholders. At the same time, we would mention that there are other cash back credit cards that offer a flat rebate higher than the 1.5% offered by the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

chase-freedom-smallThe Chase Freedom credit card also offers cash back, but it offers a 1% rebate on all purchases with the opportunity to earn 5% cash back in certain spending categories that change each quarter. It has no annual fee, and has the same $150 signup bonus if you spend $500 on the card in the first 90 days. While it is possible to use this card in such a way that you earn more than the 1.5% offered by the Chase Freedom Unlimited, it is unlikely you will do so. There are multiple reasons why:

  • The 5% cash back categories are only good on up to $1500 in purchases in those categories each quarter.
  • The categories change each quarter, so there is no reason to believe that the bonus categories are always going to categories that you want to make purchases in.
  • You must “activate” each quarter in order to get the 5% rebate in the bonus categories, otherwise you only get the 1% rebate in those categories. This is easy to forget to do, and there is no reason for Chase to force you to do this other than the reason that they hope you will forget and they won’t have to give you as big of a rebate.

As you can probably tell, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is our clear favorite here. It gives you a simple, generous cash back formula, while the standard Chase Freedom card makes you jump through hoops and then limits your rewards. As mentioned above, there are other cash back cards we like better than either of these two, so be sure to check out our Best Cash Back Credit Cards section.