My New Work Horse Credit Card – The Chase Freedom Card

by on July 2, 2012 · 62 comments

in Chase, Credit Cards

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Update:  As of July 20, 2014, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card no longer offers the 7% annual points dividend. View the current sign up offer here.

Update: The Chase Freedom card no longer offers a bonus of 10% on all purchases plus a 10 point per transaction bonus. Instead, both of those benefits have been replaced with a 10% annual bonus at the end of the year on all purchases.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Chase Freedom card can be a great weapon in your points-earning arsenal, especially when used strategically in combination with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Bold and Chase checking accounts. However, I haven’t talked much about the Chase Freedom card on its own even though I’ve been shifting more and more of my spend to it.

One of the great things about the Freedom Card is a rotating list of quarterly spending bonus categories that earn cardholders 5 points per dollar spent up to $1,500 per quarter at various types of merchants. You can always find the list at this link, but for your information, the 2012 Q3 bonus categories for July-September will be gas stations and restaurants – two places where I spend a fair chunk of their money. After that, the October-December bonus categories will be at hotels and airlines – two more huge categories for me – as well as at Best Buy and Kohl’s, so I’m planning on raking in the Ultimate Rewards points during the remainder of the year. Unfortunately, the max spend per quarter is $1,500, but still I’m earning 5 Ultimate Rewards points (which can be transferred to United and Hyatt, for example) for every day spend. That’s pretty incredible.

This year’s 5x quarterly bonus spend categories for the Freedom card.

But the bonuses don’t end there. To further maximize Chase earning, you can get still more points by having Chase checking accounts (which are free if you have a direct deposit set up or $1,500 average daily balance) through the Chase Exclusives program. Once you have a checking account you are eligible for an additional Freedom bonus of 10% on all purchases plus a 10 point per transaction bonus. So even a $1 pack of gum will earn you 12 points, a $20 shirt you’d get 32 points, a $100 purchase would be 120 points and so on.

My Chase Exclusives welcome letter explaining the benefits I get with my Freedom card including 10% bonus points on all purchases plus a 10-point per-transaction bonus.

Though I still appreciate the annual 7% dividend on all points (including the sign-up bonus) that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gets me, the Freedom’s 10% bonus and 10-point transaction bonus has it beat. Plus, the Freedom has no annual fee, meaning I can keep it open forever with no penalty and it helps build my credit score by lengthening my credit history as long as its open.

The summary of my Chase Freedom activity so far.

Though I haven’t had my card long, I’ve already started earning valuable Freedom points (which I can then transfer to my Ultimate Rewards account) with just a few uses of my Freedom card on purchases that would have only earned me 1 point per dollar on most other cards. As you’ll see, I earned 3,374 points on purchases, plus a 10% bonus of 338 points and then 80 points from a 10-point per-purchase bonus and an additional 34 points from my 5% category spend bonuses (from April-June those were groceries and movie theaters- I ended up maxing out my spend in these categories, but not before this statement closed). So in all on this statement, I spent $3,374 but earned 452 bonus points for a total of 3,826 points, essentially earning a 13.4% point bonus on my spending-  number that increase drastically once I start maxing out spend categories. This was also my first quarter in the exclusives program, so I plan to maximize my earning this coming quarter – especially with the great 5x categories.

There are, however, several circumstances where I will still use Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card including travel and dining (except when these fall under the Freedom’s 5x quarterly bonuses) because the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card always gets me 2 points per dollar spent in these categories – though I also use my Amex Premier Rewards Gold card for airfare since I get 3x, and my Ink Bold for office expenses since that brings me 5 points per dollar (wireless/telecommunications services, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies). I’ll also use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card on purchases abroad since it does not charge foreign transaction fees whereas the Freedom card charges 3%.

The other reason to keep my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card open is that alone, points you earn on your Chase Freedom card are only good for cash back or merchandise and travel redemptions at a fixed rate of 1 cent per point, whereas the Ultimate Rewards I earn with my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are transferable to British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest and United, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz-Carlton and Amtrak. So I need to keep my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Bold card open in order to transfer my Freedom points to my Ultimate Rewards account and use those points for travel. When you have multiple accounts with Chase you should get them all under one online login and then when you log-in it will give you the option to combine points. You can also combine points with anyone else by logging into and then selecting Manage Ultimate Rewards -> Combine points.

Overall Chase has me hooked – not only do they offer great sign-up bonuses, but they keep me as a customer by offering strong spend bonuses on my every day personal and business spend.

My Chase-filled wallet.


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Peter

    Hey TPG, any idea if Chase will bring back a higher sign up bonus for the Freedom card? I’ve seen targeted offers of $300 in the past. Thanks.

  • thepointsguy

    Not sure- I got in on the 30k, but i haven’t seen one of those in a while.

  • eh1lovish

    Your article regarding “My New Work Horse Credit Card – The Chase Freedom Card” really rocks. Your articles are very much informative than any other site.

  • Ericlipkind

    Is the Sapphire 7% dividend paid on total account balance (like a dividend) or is it only a 7% bonus on points earned in the prior year?

  • Niebeendend

    If I already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, how long do I have to wait to sign up for a Freedom card?

  • PJ

    Where were you at that time? thinking about $500 (50K) bonus ? :) I have had 2 chase freedom cards ( VISA and Master Card) well before the switch over and $100 signon bonus ; they used to rebate 5% on GAS AND GROCERY with a cap of $300 per year . ~ 2 months ago, I grabbed one for my daughter for $250 bonus ( whopping 25K United miles) and we all used up the $1500 quarterly allowance for grocery ; we all bought $500 Visa Gift cards with $5.95 activation and also grocery gift cards which can be turned around to buy gas gift cards anytime. In NJ , I even got $1000 grocery gift cards for $950. $1000 grocery gift cards = $1000 BP gas cards which can be used at ARCO stations in CA where ohter major brands are normally at least 5 % or even 10 % over Arco AM PM

    I can not over agree with Brian : Chase freedom or any 5 % rebate card with no fees , be it Discover or Citi Dividend should be a no brainer. I do have Sapphire preferred. Last I used my Sapphire Preferred was late April in SOuthamerica to avoid the foreign exchange fees.. Discover rebates 5 % on r.estaurant last quarter and Chase freedom this quarter CIti forward card ( i dont have) 5 % all year in Thankyou points.. Citi Divident is now rebating 5 % onAirline tickets and car rental… However Sapphire Preferred is the gateway to ship Ultimate Rewards into United miles. My family got more than a few Sapphire Preferred for signon bonus..however in the long run it will be only one card I will pay $95 a year. all other members can be carrying the Sapphire PReferred as an Authorized User.

  • Pkerr

    But why? When you can get 5x points on EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME, using the Chase Ink? (if you know how) ;-)

  • thepointsguy

    There’s really no set rule as it depends mostly on your relationship with chase and how much credit they’ve already extended to you. Even if you get denied you can call the reconsideration line at 1 (888) 245-0625 and work with them to get approved

  • thepointsguy

    7% bonus on all points earned (even if you’ve used them). It also includes the sign-up bonus

  • Sean Buchanan

    I’ve got the combo too and love it, however does the Sapphire offer the 7% bonus on transferred points? I’m thinking maybe get the 10% on Freedom via Chase Exclusives then transfer them over to Sapphire for the 7%. Would it work?

  • thepointsguy

    Buying gift cards with the bold is an easy way to rack up points, but it requires time and coordination – of which I don’t have for all of my spending needs

  • Geosn00p


    You say you still use CSP for dining purchases, but wouldn’t you want to use CF for dining purchases when the purchase price is less than $10? For example, a $9 purchase on CSP would net you 19.26 points after the 7 percent dividend while that same purchase on CF would net you 10 (swipe) + 9 + (19 x 1.1) = 20.9 points?

    Or is that logic flawed? Also, I’d be interested in your take on also getting a discover card to take advantage of their 5% program, as I assume the categories will not overlap with CFs program.

  • the hustle blog

    Only on points earned. Points transferred into your account by other means definitely won’t count.

  • Brian

    Let’s say I earn 20,000 points with the Freedom card. Then I open a Sapphire card. Are those 20,000 points eligible to be transferred to travel partners?

  • thepointsguy

    Doubtful that transfers count but there have been reports in the past. If so it would be a fluke though so I wouldn’t count on it

  • thepointsguy

    Correct- for under $10 dining Freedom w Exclusives is the way to go

  • thepointsguy

    Yes- you’ll be able to combine all points into your Sapphire Preferred account and then transfer to partners

  • Raj B

    Did you clean your Sapphire Preferred card? The color looks a little light, at least compared to mine.

  • thepointsguy

    No it’s just seen a lot of usage!

  • Raj B

    I got in on the $350 (35k) offer a couple of months ago.

  • PJ


    I took a close look at your statement print. It seems you did not use much of the $1500 allowance in second quarter. As I said a few times and I did it : a cool saving to use up the $1500 allowance either by buying frocery gift cards or large denominated Visa Gift card in the supermarket.

    also I saw” points transferred in” why :) ? every month I sweep all points OUT into Sapphire Preferred it is the other way around :)

    I wish I could “show off” my statement as you did:) : I spent $ 790 and got 3836 points . my confession is : all grocery purchases go to freedom CARDS all 1 % rebate items go towrd the 5K spend on a NEW SPG card for collecing 15K additional bonus

  • thepointsguy

    I mentioned that this statement closed before the end of the quarter and I was able to max out my 5x spend. I just wanted to show an example of what the Chase Exclusives bonus looks like and that it goes into effect shortly after getting the feedom card.

    As for transferred in points..not exactly sure since all of my Freedom points get funneled to Sapphire or Bold and then onto United or Hyatt

  • atxtravel

    Sapphire isn’t as good of a deal now with the new Ink Bold.

    Unless you dine over $1500/quarter, the Freedom dining bonus is about the same. You get 5x one quarter and 1x otherwise, for an average of 2x, without the annual fee.

    Ink Bold gives 2x points on Hotels and Gas all the time, and if you buy airfare through the UR mall you can still get 2x on it.

    It’s the 5x office bonus that really makes InkBold my main spend card. Those prepaid cards let you get 5x anywhere, and I don’t understand how it’s too much hassle to buy a few $1k worth and load it up on the AMEX card. You’re willing to carry two cards and do all this analysis but can’t go to OfficeDepot once a month?

  • Stormy

    Hi TPG,
    If you open a checking account to get the additional points
    on the freedom card, do you know how long you
    have to wait to see the bonus to take effect? Thanks!

  • thepointsguy

    It takes about a month for it to kick in after getting the card

  • Gpapadop

    I think it takes a little longer than a month for the Freedom card to be enrolled in Chase Exclusives. And when it does don’t bother reconciling your account to make sure you get all the points you earned…the way they get calculated is quite ….loopy!

    And now Brian, to show us your expertise, tell us here buried in the comments how we can get the CSP bonus for the Mastercard version? Wife cancelled the Visa and laying low for a while before she goes for it. But first need to get the FairmontVisa out of the way:-)

  • thepointsguy

    Yep- it’s possible to get both cards- just be prepared to explain why you need the MasterCard- lots of different benefits, specifically auto insurance abroad

  • Josh_brooks

    Anyway to sign up for a bank account without having to drive to a Chase state?

  • Jaws24

    I received the 7% bonus on all points transferred from Freedom to Sapphire last year.

  • guest

    Josh said Anyway to sign up for a bank account without having to drive to a Chase state?

    in PA, there are no Chase branches – over the phone the CSR said NO to me signing up on line

    TPG – I would be interested to know of a workaround , too??

  • Kirby A

    Just remember–if you lose your wallet, the gift cards (and their thousands in value) go with it.

  • PJ

    that is odd, since you can open checking account on line and they do send you the signature card for you to send back.
    my experience is : I opened a Total checking for my daughter who lives away and works in CA ; there was an invitation with $150 bonus code which came into my residence in NJ.
    Now Chase is promoting their account with $125 sign on bonus however with DIRECT DEPOSIT . I do think you can sign up online anywhere.
    Service Reps did not tell you that you could get $200 new account open bonus code on ebay for less than $200 WITHOUT Direct Deposit Requirment.

  • PJ

    what is about auto insirance abroad? I do have Visa and Master cards BOTH under my name .

  • PJ

    Sapphire Preferred but NOT the regular card

  • AceTracer

    It was a couple billing cycles for me.

    Sidenote: I called Chase asking when it’d take effect, and that I’d been switching my spending on the assumption it already had, and they gave me 5000 points as a courtesy.

  • Trev

    Are there any coupon codes floating around to sign-up for the Chase Total Checking account? I want to fill out an application now.

  • atxtravel

    No they don’t, AMEX reloadable card has the same protection on it as regular credit cards.

  • PJ

    this is how a late comer caught us with our points game after my tips:

    Both husband and wife got Sapphire Preferred for 2X 50K sign on bonus Freedom for 25K( $250) and 30K ($300) and completed the Chase Excluvise 10/10 by opening 2 TOTAL checking with 2 @$200 sign on bonus and waiting for ANOTHER potential incentive to link up direct deposit which is normally $150 for each account . The husband is the top elite class with United so all UR points are transferred over to Husband’s United Mileage account and all booking changes are free of charges no qucik ticketing fees etc..

  • thepointsguy

    Not that I’m aware of, though if someone has one, please chime in

  • Sargentpoints

    Shhhh..don’t tell! I transferred a bunch to the hubby this year from my Freedom and I am keeping my fingers crossed they will count!!

  • Milezjunkie

    I received the 7% bonus on points that I transferred Ink Old to the CSP. I had just over 110K and got a little over 7K bonus points on the annual bonus.

  • smitty06

    I made the mistake of cancelling my freedom card. I didnt really understand credit cards at that time. I dont even know how I originally got it. I think it was when I signed up for my chase checking account. I am thinking of applying again. Would you recommend trying to apply online or calling? I am wondering if I can save a credit pull if I just try to have my old account reactivated (cancelled 6 mo ago).

  • AceTracer

    If you’ve already got some Chase cards you should be getting bombarded with direct mail and phone call offers of $150-200 from Chase branches. If not, you can always check eBay for offers.

  • Keith

    My Freedom card shows my points earn as being Ultimate Reward points. Why wouldn’t yours show the same thing?

  • thepointsguy

    If you only have the freedom card then those points can only be used for Cash Back. Not all ultimate rewards points are transferable to partners

  • thepointsguy

    Doubt they can reactivate without a pull, but it can’t hurt to call and ask

  • thepointsguy

    Have you tried doing it online?

  • Charles Clarke

    You might also get more bonus points if you open a new account…

  • Charles Clarke

    Or you may be looking at the Freedom card. The cards he shows are from top to bottom:
    Chase Freedom
    Ink Bold
    Sapphire Preferred

  • scoot

    Nope, in the same boat. Stupid Virginia. Apparently it was part of the Patriot Act. Must sign up for new checking accounts face to face at a branch (so I was told by multiple CSR)

  • Raj B

    Thanks, Charles, but I have all 3 of these cards plus the old Ink card from a few years ago — and that color is more like dark charcoal.

  • Raj B

    I got my Chase coupons from the post office’s change-of-address kits.

  • DealsSeeker

    I just got charged the annual fee for the sapphire preferred. I’m going to try to get it waived, but if I can’t, I’m thinking of getting rid of it. I’m doing much better with the Ink Bold, being able to get 5x points. The only major advantage as I see of having the Sapphire is for their online portal because you will earn 7% more on most retailers. I have the Freedom Card too, btw.
    Do you all agree or not?

  • PointzDreamer

    Hi PointsGuy, I’m new to your site and love it! Thanks for posting. I had a Freedom and upgraded to a Sapphire Preferred because the Chase rep told me I get $1.25 for every 1 point toward booking travel. It’s true…I have 76,360 points and it’s good toward $954.40 worth of travel if you book directly with with Chase. This does not work when transferring to a partner….it’s still a 1:1 transfer ratio.
    How do you figure this in to this whole Chase post? I wonder if I should go back and apply for a Chase Freedom, gather the points, and since they go to my combined Ultimate Rewards account tied to the Sapphire Preferred, I get that 25% bonus?? Or do those customers with both the Freedom and the Sapphire Preferred not get the 25% bonus? Thanks!

  • Ryan

    I can attest to this; played the buy-lots-of-gift-cards from retails providing 5x point bonus’ and later that day had my car broken in to and lost ~$400. Not cool.

  • Ben

    Even after opening the Sapphire Preferred later?

  • Lillycoolwhite2

    Well I have a Chase Freedom card and i bought shopped at WalMart at the Ultimate Rewards Mall. I was credited with the points from WalMart quicker than 6 to 8 weeks. However, I apparently am not allowed to get my points for the gas I had purchased until 8 weeks. It is kind of rediculous that I can not get all my money back at once.

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  • Sjtravel1

    Hi TPG,
    Based on your articles, I signed up for a Chase Savings and Checking account so that I could avail of the 10% + 10 points/transaction on my Chase Freedom card through the Chase Exclusives program. It has been about 6 months, 5 phone calls to my Chase bank branch, 6-10 calls to Chase customer service, and yet I am not getting the 10% + 10 points/transaction on my Chase Freedom card. Basic summary of all the calls is that NO ONE in Chase (banking or card) appears to know what Chase exclusives is about and how to activate it. I wonder if the term TOO BIG TO FAIL should be replaced with TOO BIG TO SUCCEED.

  • Dannyrudd38

    So I had a chase cash back cc that was automatically converted to the freedom visa a couple years back. Since I technically never received a signup bonus, would I be eligible for the bonus if I applied for a freedom mc?

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