How to Get the Most from the Chase Freedom Card

Keeping track of rotating bonus categories and getting a complementary travel credit card can maximize the rewards.

Eric RosenbergSeptember 18, 2020
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How to get the most from the Chase Freedom card

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The Chase Freedom® is a cash-back credit card with no annual fee. With up to 5% cash back on some purchases, it works as both a primary spending card and a complementary card that you use alongside other cash-back or Chase Ultimate Rewards® cards. Chase is no longer accepting new applications for this card with the launch of the new Chase Freedom Flex℠, but if you have this card already, keep reading to learn how to maximize your value from the Chase Freedom®.

Maximize the bonus categories

The Chase Freedom® was recently updated with a new bonus category that’s perfect during the COVID-19 era on top of the cash-back bonus typically offered.

The card’s new offer for 5% cash back on up to $12,000 in purchases at grocery stores (not including Target or Walmart) in the first year is a potentially huge value. Particularly now, when people are more likely to be cooking at home and less likely to be dining out, earning a higher cash-back rate on groceries is an extremely valuable feature.

While most families won’t spend anywhere near $1,000 per month on groceries, the maximum benefit here is worth up to $600 in cash back. Here’s the rundown of bonus categories:

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories throughout the year (new categories each quarter).

  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) up to $12,000 in the first year.

  • 1% cash back everywhere else.

Activate the quarterly rotating bonuses

The main cash-back reward feature of this card is the previously mentioned 5% back on bonus categories that rotate every three months. You’ll get a notification from Chase that it’s time to click a link to activate your bonus cash back. Once you do, you can earn the 5% cash-back rate on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. That’s worth up to $75 in cash back per quarter or $300 per year.

To earn the maximum here, it’s best to activate the 5% bonus cash-back rate before the calendar quarter starts. Then remember to use the card for every eligible purchase. Once you reach the $1,500 limit, you’ll go back to the card’s default 1% cash-back rate you get everywhere else.

Use the purchase benefits

The Chase Freedom® comes with a shortlist of benefits that can come in handy if a purchase doesn’t work out as expected. Keep track of receipts and purchases you make with the card for the easiest claims experience. Benefits include:

  • Purchase protection: New purchases are covered for up to 120 days against accidental damage or theft. You can receive up to $500 per claim and $50,000 over the account lifetime. If you drop a brand new phone the week after you bought it and need a new screen, for example, this benefit would be very valuable.

  • Extended warranty protection: This benefit gives you an extra year of warranty protection on top of the manufacturer’s warranties on eligible warranties of three years or less.

Pair it with a premium Chase card for higher redemption rates

With most cash-back cards, 1 cent of cash back is worth 1 cent. But if you have the Chase Freedom® and any premium Chase Ultimate Rewards® card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can turn cash back into travel rewards that are worth more than the cash back alone.

With the Chase Freedom®, you can convert cash back rewards into Chase Ultimate Rewards® at a rate of 1 cent to 1 point. That means 1 dollar in cash back is worth 100 points. You are then allowed to transfer those points from your Chase Freedom® to your premium Chase Ultimate Rewards® card.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, points are worth at least 1.25 cents each when booking travel through the Chase travel portal. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you get 1.5 cents per point. This immediately makes your Chase Freedom® worth more than the standard 1 cent per point.

But it’s possible to do even better. Chase allows premium Chase Ultimate Rewards® cardmembers to transfer points to a list of airline and hotel travel rewards partners where you may be able to book a premium reward worth quite a bit more. Here are some pro tips to get the best value from your points at Chase.

The bottom line

Even on its own, the Chase Freedom® is a solid card for anyone willing to put in a little time to activate bonus categories and spend accordingly. If you missed out on getting it, check out the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ instead.

It makes even more sense if you also have one of the premium Chase Ultimate Rewards® cards and can pair your bonus category spending with points transfers and the Chase travel portal.

If keeping track of rotating bonus categories isn’t your thing, check out the Chase Freedom Unlimited® instead.

The information related to the Chase Freedom® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:

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