Chase Freedom Review: Get 7.5% of Your Money Back!

First Things First…

The Chase Freedom is consistently a card I tell everyone to get when starting out in the travel hacking hobby.

Why? The card has no annual fee. You can get approved even without an excellent credit score. And best of all, you can get 5% cash back for bonus categories which rotate every 3 months.

Chase Freedom Calendar 2018

Chase Freedom Calendar 2018

In the picture above, you can see the Chase Freedom categories from 2018. You earn 5% cash back on any spend put on the Freedom card in the listed bonus categories. So for January to March, for example, I earned 5% back on gas stations, internet/cell phone bills, and Apple Pay purchases.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the 5% cash back is capped at $1,500 every three months. If you spend over $1,500, then you only get 1% back. At that point, I would use a different credit card.

Since my wife and I spend about $700 in groceries a month, we used Apple Pay from January to March to pay for all our groceries. We hit the $1,500 limit pretty easily. Of course, we could have used Apply Pay to pay for anything else as well, and we would still have earned 5% cash back.

From April to June, the bonus category was grocery stores again (sweet!), so we just repeated the same credit card spending pattern.

So in the first six months of 2018, we bought groceries like we normally would, but made sure to use the Chase Freedom card for payment. We reached the $3,000 spending limit with the card over that six month period. Doing the math, we earned 5% cash back on $3,000, which is $150 back in our pockets.

This is amazing for a card that has no annual fee!

Save lots of money on your tomato purchases (Barcelona, Spain, 2017  ©  JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Save lots of money on your tomato purchases (Barcelona, Spain, 2017 © JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Maximizing Spending

Right now you are probably wondering, ok that was great for grocery stores. But what about the other categories? For the months of July to September, for example, surely no “normal” person spends $1,500 in three months at gas stations, Lyft, or Walgreens.

And, for the most part, you would be right.

However, there are ways to work with the categories. For instance, Walgreens sells a lot of gift cards. Specifically, they sell a lot of Amazon gift cards. I don’t know about you, but somehow I end up spending a lot of money on Amazon. Books, cleaning supplies, toilet paper. You name it, I pretty much buy it online nowadays.

So to me, Amazon cash is just like real cash. Therefore, from July to September 2018, I reached my $1,500 limit by going to Walgreens and buying Amazon gift cards. This meant that I would earn 5% back on all my Amazon purchases, which I think is a pretty good deal.

Dolla Dolla Bills

Dolla Dolla Bills

$900 Every Year

If you can maximize spending in each category throughout the year, you can earn $300 without paying a single cent.

If you are married, each person can get a Chase Freedom card, and you can earn $600 a year! (Admittedly sometimes my wife forgets and uses a different credit card on the bonus categories… so I have to gently remind her not to do that.)

But wait!

You can do better than $600 a year.

While Chase advertises the Freedom card as a cash back card, in reality you earn Chase Ultimate Reward points. (See my previous post about this.) If you just have the Freedom card, then your points are worth 1 cent a piece. 30,000 points would be equivalent to $300.

But if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are really worth 1.5 cents a piece. I wrote about how this is the case in a previous blog post. Therefore, 30,000 points would be equivalent to $450!

So since my wife and I both have the Freedom card, we earn 60,000 points a year, which is worth $900!

Sometimes the Freedom even has 5% back at restaurants! (Singapore 2019  ©  JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Sometimes the Freedom even has 5% back at restaurants! (Singapore 2019 © JOEL ANG PHOTOGRAPHY)

Signing Up

You can now see why the Chase Freedom will always be a staple on my best credit card list.

Currently, the Freedom card also has a sign-up bonus, where you earn $150 back after spending $500 in the first 3 months with the card. The sign-up bonus is in addition to the regular category spend bonuses.

In full disclosure, I do get a referral bonus for anyone that signs up, but seriously I cannot recommend this card enough. It does not cost you anything, and it gives you free cash! What more could you want?

As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the card and my credit card spending strategies.