Chase Freedom Review: Closed to New Applicants, but 5% Bonus Remains

This card is no longer accepting applications. Existing cardholders still earn 5% back in rotating bonus categories they activate each quarter, on up to $1,500 in combined quarterly spending, plus 1% back on everything else.
Melissa Lambarena
Claire Tsosie
By Claire Tsosie and  Melissa Lambarena 
Edited by Kenley Young

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NerdWallet rating 
The bottom line:

This card has been effectively replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex, which offers similar benefits, including 5% rotating bonus categories — like gas stations, Amazon and more — that tend to sync up well with household budgets.


  • No annual fee

  • 5% rewards on rotating categories

  • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site to earn more cash back


  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

  • A foreign transaction fee

Jump to: Detailed review
Chase Freedom Credit Card
Chase Freedom®
Annual fee
Regular APR
14.99%-23.74% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% intro on Purchases for 15 months
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
  • Annual fee


  • Rewards rate


  • Bonus offer

    Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Intro APR

    0% intro on Purchases for 15 months

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 14.99%-23.74% Variable

    Cash Advance APR: 24.99%, Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

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

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

More details from Chase
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases. After the intro period, a variable APR of 14.99%–23.74%.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee


Annual fee


Regular APR

19.24%-29.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

17.24%-28.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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Detailed review: Chase Freedom®

The venerable, long-serving Chase Freedom® credit card stopped accepting applications in September 2020.

However, existing cardholders can continue to use the $0-annual-fee card and earn rewards as before. And those rewards are generous. The card still offers bonus cash back in categories that change every three months and 1% back on all other purchases.

If you’re looking for a similar card, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a close match and was released essentially as the Freedom's replacement.

Both Freedom cards require you to track bonus categories throughout the year and activate them. If that’s too much maintenance for you, consider a flat-rate cash-back card that earns a solid rate on all purchases.

Chase Freedom®: Basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: $0.


  • 5% cash back in quarterly bonus categories, on up to $1,500 per quarter in combined quarterly spending (you must opt in to the categories quarterly).

  • 1% cash back on other spending.

Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ bonus rewards categories for 2023

Q1 (Jan. 1-March 31)

  • Target.

  • Grocery stores.

  • Fitness clubs and gym memberships.

Q2 (April 1-June 30)


  • Lowe's.

Q3 (July 1-Sept. 30)

  • Gas stations and electric vehicle charging.

  • Select live entertainment.

Q4 (Oct. 1-Dec. 31)

  • PayPal.

  • Wholesale clubs.

  • Select charities.

Interest rate: A variable APR applies.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Rewards redemption options

Rewards earned on this card come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed as cash back. You can get that cash back in the form of a statement credit or a direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Points can also be redeemed for things like:

  • Gift cards (1 cent per point).

  • Travel booked through Chase (1 cent per point).

  • Amazon purchases (0.8 cents per point).

You can also transfer your points to other Chase cards that offer higher-value redemption options. More on that later.

Chase Freedom® vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠

The Chase Freedom® has been replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex℠, and the two cards share similar features, including the same yearly 5% bonus-category calendar and the same terms for earning those rewards.

But the Chase Freedom Flex℠ goes a lot further, also earning 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% back at restaurants (including takeout and eligible deliveries); 3% back on drugstore purchases; and 1% back on everything else.

Current Chase Freedom® cardholders who prefer the rewards structure of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ may request a product change to that card.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® runs on the Visa payment network, while the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a Mastercard. In terms of acceptance, it doesn't matter much if you carry a Visa or a Mastercard. But Visa and Mastercard do offer some differing side perks, and if your card changes from one network to another, your account number also will change.

The table in the dropdown below highlights the differences in rewards between the discontinued Freedom and the new Freedom Flex, as well as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which is still available but does not offer 5% rotating bonus categories.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom®

Offer for new cardholders:

Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

None — card is no longer accepting applications

Rotating bonus categories:


• 5% back on quarterly bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending.

Ongoing bonus categories:

• 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

• 3% cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

• 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.


Rewards on other purchases:

1.5% cash back

1% cash back

1% cash back

Benefits and perks

There are multiple reasons why you might want to hold onto your Chase Freedom®:

Bonus categories include common expenses

This card's 5% bonus cash back is available on broad and frequently used spending categories. Categories in the past have included gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, drugstores, department stores and wholesale clubs. (See categories from the past several years here.)

One caveat: You must opt in to the bonus category each quarter by "activating" it online. Forget to do so, and you'll be stuck with 1% rewards even in the bonus category. Generally, though, you'll have until the 14th day of the third month in the quarter to sign up and earn retroactive rewards for that quarter, which is plenty of time for most people.

Transferring points amps up your value

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are typically worth 1 cent apiece, but several Chase cards give you a way to redeem them for 25% to 50% more value. By transferring your points from the Chase Freedom® to one of these other cards, you can supercharge your rewards:

  • With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, each point is worth 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. That makes your effective rewards rate 6.25% in the bonus categories and 1.25% everywhere else.

  • With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, each point is worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel booked through Chase. That makes your effective rewards rate 7.5% in the bonus categories and 1.5% everywhere else.

Points on these cards can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to about a dozen hotel and airline loyalty programs, including United, Southwest, JetBlue, British Airways, Marriott and Hyatt. Depending on how you use transferred points, that could get you even higher value.

Keep in mind that these other Chase cards have annual fees, so the extra value at redemption comes with its own costs.

Drawbacks and considerations

Rotating categories can be a hassle

The Chase Freedom® bonus categories change every three months, and tracking and activating them can be tedious — especially if your spending habits don't always align with the new categories. Other cards require less effort. Some examples:

  • The aforementioned Chase Freedom Unlimited® has fixed bonus categories, as opposed to ones that change quarterly. It earns 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% back at restaurants; 3% back on drugstore purchases; and 1.5% on all other non-bonus-category purchases. It also comes with a large bonus: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

  • The Citi Double Cash® Card offers an excellent rewards rate for a $0-annual-fee card. You earn 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy something, plus 1% when you pay it off.

It's not good for traveling abroad

If you're traveling internationally, the 3% foreign transaction fees on the Chase Freedom® can get expensive. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the few cash-back cards that don't charge these fees. It earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Bonus categories might not match your spending

The Chase Freedom®'s bonus categories will be right for many people, but not for all.

The Discover it® Cash Back offers a similar rewards program to the Chase Freedom®, but with different categories. You earn 5% cash back in quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending. (You must activate the categories.) All other spending earns 1% cash back. Bonus categories in the past have included things like restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and more. There's a unique bonus for newcomers: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.

If you're looking for more customizable rewards, try the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card. It offers 5% cash back on two bonus categories you choose from a list of several options (see them below), on up to $2,000 combined spending each quarter; an unlimited 2% back on an everyday category you choose (such as gas or groceries); and 1% elsewhere.

  • Fast food.

  • Home utilities.

  • TV, internet and streaming.

  • Department stores.

  • Cell phone providers.

  • Electronics stores.

  • Sporting goods stores.

  • Movie theaters.

  • Gyms/fitness centers.

  • Furniture stores.

  • Ground transportation.

  • Select clothing stores.

For more information on choosing a cash-back credit card, browse our list of the best credit card deals.

Alternate Pick: Simple rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card
NerdWallet rating 
Citi Double Cash® Card
2% cash back, no categories to track

Some people carry a wallet full of credit cards and enjoy squeezing the maximum rewards out of every purchase. Others prefer to use a single card that pays a great rate on everything. This card gives you 2% back on everything — 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off.

Read our review

How to decide if it's right for you

As discussed, the original Chase Freedom® card is no longer available for new cardholders. If you have it and love it, hold onto it. If you don't have it and like the sound of it, check out the Chase Freedom Flex℠. And if those rotating categories just sound like too much work, consider a different cash back credit card.

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


NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions

The original Chase Freedom® was closed to new applicants in September 2020. A revamped version with richer rewards, the Chase Freedom Flex℠, has taken its place and is accepting applications. If you have the original Chase Freedom®, you can continue to use it as before, or you can request a change to the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

Both earn 5% cash back in rotating categories, on up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter. The Chase Freedom Flex℠, however, also earns 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases. Both cards pay 1% on purchases outside their bonus categories. Both have a $0 annual fee. Also, the Chase Freedom® is a Visa, while the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a Mastercard.

Freedom-branded cards technically earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which you can redeem for 1 cent apiece as cash back. You can get cash back as a credit on your statement or a direct deposit into most U.S. bank accounts. Other options include redeeming points for travel, gift cards and shopping at Amazon.

Points earned on the Chase Freedom® are generally worth 1 cent apiece. If you also hold one of Chase's Sapphire-branded travel cards, however, you can combine your points and redeem them for travel at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece (with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®) or 1.5 cents apiece (with the Chase Freedom®).

The Chase Freedom® earns 5% cash back in the rotating categories, and 1% on all other purchases. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstores and 1.5% back on all other purchases. If you don't mind keeping track of bonus categories and can maximize them, the Chase Freedom® can be more rewarding. If you prefer simplicity, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the better choice.