What credit score do you need to get the Chase Freedom cards?

Apr 2, 2020

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Your credit score plays a big role in your overall financial life. But at TPG, we place a big emphasis on maintaining a high score, in part so that you can be approved for the best credit cards. Generally speaking, a credit score of 750+ will grant you approval to almost any credit card on the market. However, you don’t have to have excellent credit to be approved for a good rewards credit card.

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Two common cards for beginners (who may not have excellent credit built up just yet) are the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both are no-annual-fee credit cards that earn cash back — but that cash back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points when you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. For that reason, these two Freedom cards are both potential members of the Chase Trifecta, which can help you maximize card spend across categories for maximum redemption value.

(Information about the Chase Freedom have been collected independently by The Points Guy. Card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)

Related reading: What is a good credit score?

In This Post

Scores required for the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by The Points Guy)
The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are two no-annual-fee Chase cards that can provide a lot of value to both beginners and points-and-miles veterans. (Photo by The Points Guy)

Unlike some issuers, Chase doesn’t publish recommended credit scores on its website. Despite the fact that these two cards charge no annual fee and are considered entry-level cards, you’ll still want to have good credit to apply. However, this doesn’t mean you need to have a score of 750+ to apply.

In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of scores in the low- to mid-600s being accepted for both cards. Chase uses a number of factors to make an approval decision — your income level, age of your credit accounts and even your current relationship with the bank. If you have other Chase cards that are in good standing and/or have been a longtime customer of Chase with large banking balances, your approval odds may rise regardless of a less-than-stellar credit score.

Your credit score is definitely important, and you should strive to improve it whenever possible by practicing responsible credit habits. But you shouldn’t let a score in the mid-to-high 600s stop you from applying for a card you really want, especially if you have proven yourself to be a trustworthy customer in other ways.

Related reading: Travel rewards strategies for people with low credit scores

How to check your credit score

Now that you know a broad sense of what credit score you should have when applying for the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited, how do you check to see how your score measures up?

There are three credit reporting agencies that compile a credit score, but all three scores may not be the same. The two most common metrics for credit card approvals are Experian’s FICO score and TransUnion’s VantageScore. You can request your full credit report for free once per year from each of the three bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), but if you have other credit cards already, you can also generally check your score through your mobile app.

American Express, Discover, USAA and Wells Fargo all allow you to check your Experian FICO score. Amex, Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Chase and U.S. Bank all allow you to check your TransUnion VantageScore as well. There are also a few third-party sites you can use, such as Credit Karma.

The point is, you should never pay to check for your credit score. There are plenty of options to check it reliably for free.

(Photo by Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash)
Most credit card issuers allow cardholders to check their score for free. (Photo by Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash)

Factors that go into your credit score

Your credit score may be the most important "score" of your adult life. Image courtesy of Experian.
Your credit score may be the most important “score” of your adult life. (Image courtesy of Experian)

While each consumer credit bureau calculates your score a little differently (which is why you may have varying scores from each), there a few general factors that influence your score no matter the agency:

  • Payment history — For FICO scores, this actually makes up the largest portion of your score, but all three bureaus will look at your payment history. Creditors want to know that you are a low-risk borrower, which means proving you will pay your bills on time.
  • Debt-to-credit ratio — This is another top factor in determining your score. Essentially, this reflects how much of your credit line you are using across accounts. A good rule of thumb is to try and keep this ratio at below 30% for a high credit score.
  • Age of accounts — This takes into consideration the average length of accounts. The longer your credit history, the better — which is why we generally encourage downgrading cards you no longer use to no-annual-fee versions rather than canceling.
  • New credit — If you’ve recently opened multiple credit accounts, it could negatively impact your score because it can indicate potential financial distress to creditors. This doesn’t mean you should be wary of opening new accounts altogether, but timing is something to consider.
  • Credit mix — Your credit score isn’t just about having credit cards. Creditors want to see that you have a mix of credit accounts, including mortgages, car loans and more. Now, I’m not suggesting taking out loans you don’t need just to give yourself a more varied mix, but keep in mind that a well-managed car loan or mortgage could mean a higher credit score.

Related: 8 biggest factors that impact your credit score 

What happens if you get rejected?

It can be a bummer when you get rejected for a credit card, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, many TPGers have been rejected for at least one credit card in their lifetime. TPG contributor Ethan Steinberg has actually been rejected for 12 different credit cards and still has a score of about 780.

Overall, being rejected for a credit card shouldn’t do any long-term damage to your account. While the “hard inquiry” of the application may ding your credit score a few points, your score should bounce back after a while. You won’t want to try and reapply for the same card immediately, but you can try again after three to six months.

(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images.)
It can be a bummer to be rejected for a credit card, but don’t let it convince you to give up on getting a rewards credit card. (Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images.)

If you do get rejected,  there is a possibility to get the decision reversed. You can call the bank’s reconsideration line to ask for an appeal (just make sure you know what reason the bank gave for the rejection before you call). If you explain why you want/need the card and how you plan to use it, an agent may decide to approve you. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful, it doesn’t hurt to (nicely) ask.

Related reading: How bad is it to get denied for a credit card? 

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are both excellent credit cards, whether you’re a beginner or points-and-miles veteran. Hopefully, this guide has given you a baseline for what credit score you should strive for when applying for these cards, but remember that there is no hard-and-fast rule for what score is required to be approved.

Featured image by The Points Guy staff. 

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