Chase’s Freedom card is a great all-around card and its appeal is at an all-time high right now due to an incredible 10X promotion at Amazon and a few other retailers. If you want to maximize value though you have to act quickly.
The Freedom is a simple-to-use credit card with a greater payoff than most straight cash-back cards and for a limited time you can get a $150 cash back bonus when you apply, receive approval and spend $500 within the first 3 months after account approval.
There are 9 main reasons to jump on this offer:
1. The $150 signup bonus for the Freedom card is the best it’s been recently.
Oftentimes there is no signup bonus for the Chase Freedom card, so if you’re interested in the card in general, it makes sense to apply now while this strong bonus is offered.
2. For the remainder of 2015, you can earn 10% cash back (on up to $1,500 in purchases combined) at Amazon, Zappos, Audible and Diapers.com.
Many Americans buy dozens of Christmas and holiday gifts at Amazon.com by habit and now those purchases through the end of the year will earn a whopping 10 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. That equates to 10% cash back or even more value if you have a premium Ultimate Rewards card (see below). It’s unprecedented to get that sort of discount site-wide at Amazon. Note that if you shop at any of these retailers a lot throughout the year, you can buy a gift card to one or more of them now to maximize value and then use the gift card in the future at your convenience.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for yourself or another traveler, check out my recent post: 11 Key Items, Large and Small for Your Long Honeymoon or Vacation.
3. You must register for the 10% Amazon/Zappos/Audible/Diapers.com promotion by December 14th.
If you get approved for the Chase Freedom card within the next day or two you’ll likely receive the card in the mail by December 14th (though realize that’s not guaranteed), enabling you to register for this promotion. If you wait any longer than that, you’ll likely miss out on this unprecedented promo.
Chase is being especially generous in this case and resetting the spending tabulation partway through the quarter. Even if you made purchases in the bonus categories earlier in this quarter, you’ll still get the 10% back on up to another $1,500 in purchases made between November 23rd and December 31st, inclusive.
4. The spending requirement for the signup bonus is low.
For many cards the spending requirement for a signup bonus is $2,000 or more. This signup bonus only requires $500 in spending. That means meeting the spend requirement will likely not involve any spending you wouldn’t have otherwise performed. As an example, you could buy a $500 Amazon gift card the day you activate the card and the special promotion and you would then have met the spending requirement, triggering the $150 cash back bonus, and you would receive another $50 back with the 10% Amazon promotion.
5. The Chase Freedom card is often regarded as a simple cash back card but it can provide much greater value and flexibility than apparent at first.
The Freedom’s rewards are often advertised as straight cash back but the card actually earns you Ultimate Rewards points. If the Freedom card is the only Ultimate Rewards card you hold then your Ultimate Rewards points are essentially redeemable only for cash back.
However, if you get another card of the Ultimate Rewards type (e.g. Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus) you can actually transfer the Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Freedom card to the other account. That is key because with those other accounts you can use Ultimate Rewards points in other valuable ways, such as transferring them to travel partners such as Southwest, United, Hyatt, British Airways, Amtrak, Singapore Airlines and more, or redeeming for travel directly at 1.25 cents per point. Patty and I do this all the time. The point transfer options are great for couples planning a honeymoon or major trip!
With a valuation of 2 cents per point for the fully-flexible Ultimate Rewards points, you’re getting an astounding 20% back on your combined $1,500 in purchases in the bonus categories through the end of this year.
If you want to keep it simple, you can just stick with the Freedom card and get cash back. If in the future you get a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card, then you also have the option to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to your other account to reap the greater value described here.
6. The Chase Freedom card has no annual fee.
This is a card you can get and keep without worrying about renewal/annual fee date.
7. The card has great rotating quarterly 5% bonus categories.
The current bonus promo is unusual and incredible. When it ends though, the value of this card certainly isn’t gone completely. Every quarter there are bonus categories for which the return is 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. For purchases in these categories you’re getting 5% back in cash or an even greater return if you supplement this card with another Ultimate Rewards card from Chase (see above).
Early word is that the bonus categories for the first quarter of 2016 will be gas stations and local commuter transport. Getting 5% cash back on an essential item like gas is great. The bonus categories for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2016 will be announced shortly. This quarterly rotating bonus category approach is similar to Discover’s approach but the Chase Freedom is a Visa card so it’s more widely-accepted than Discover.
8. You can get another $25 bonus easily.
When you add a friend or family member as an authorized user to your account and he/she makes a purchase within three months of card approval, you get another $25 cash back.
9. Approval for the Chase Freedom card usually requires only a moderate credit score.
Some other high-value cards will only be approved for applicants with very good credit but approval for the Freedom card is often granted to applicants with limited credit history.
Patty and I each have had a Chase Freedom card for years and have been very pleased with the returns it offers. We’ve been using it this quarter for Amazon purchases and for the first quarter of 2016 it will be our go-to card for all of gas purchases. As long as the card carries no annual fee, we’ll happily keep it.
As always, feel free to use The Honeymoon Guy’s Credit Card Tracking Spreadsheet to keep track of your credit card applications.
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