Everyone Reading This Should Get The Chase Freedom

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Note from Ben: This is a quick reminder that the increased 20,000 point sign-up bonus on the Chase Freedom® ends tomorrow. So if you haven’t yet applied for this card, you really should consider doing so, as the sign-up bonus will likely go down to 10,000 points again. Why is this card awesome?

I always assume most people already have this card, though when I meet fellow frequent flyers I’m surprised by how many don’t. This isn’t a card you get because there’s a huge sign-up bonus, but rather because it’s actually valuable long term. It earns you tons of points and is a no annual fee card you can keep long term, and that makes it a keeper.

As I was talking with my friend Tiffany (whom you’ve heard from before) about the card this afternoon, I was quite surprised by how strong her feelings are towards it (and in particular towards CapitalOne), so she agreed to share her thoughts on the card below as well.


No, really.

And maybe this is because all I do in life nowadays is tell people not to get CapitalOne cards, but the Chase Freedom® is really the much better option if you’re looking for a no-annual fee card that you can actually use on travel you want to take.

A bit of background and a personal vendetta

I don’t know how y’all spend the holiday season, but if you visit family like I do, you may also be watching a lot of football. Which is great.

I love football.

What I don’t love is Samuel L. Jackson coming on TV every seven minutes and asking my aunts, uncles, and grandparents what’s in their wallet.

I mean, Samuel L. Jackson is fine and all, but the problem (as you may have experienced yourself), is that when your family knows you travel using miles and points that you primarily earn from credit cards, they turn and look at you to see if whatever card that was just advertised is worthwhile.

Every. Seven. Minutes.

**Questioning stares**

“Is that more than a 2% return? Then it’s a bad deal.”

“What about — ?”

“Seriously. He just said 1.5%. Is that more or less than 2%?”

“Well, less, but…”

“BAD DEAL!”

CapitalOne

And I don’t have anything against the CapitalOne portfolio necessarily. But I do spend a lot of time telling potential clients that unfortunately, their million plus CapitalOne points aren’t going to get them two business class seats to Asia, so I have a bit of “history” with the program. We won’t even get into how they pull your credit from all three bureaus, which just adds insult to injury, as far as I’m concerned.

Full disclosure, my in-laws have a CapitalOne something or other and couldn’t be happier. But an aspirational redemption for them is to fly economy to Ontario, California, so keep that in mind.

The main thing is that even if you want to redeem for domestic economy travel, until you’re crossing that 2% threshold, you’re potentially better off with a cash-back card, and there are lots of options that will give you 2%.

5x points is even better than 2x points

To me, this is a no-brainer. You get 5x points on whatever the bonus category is for the quarter. And the categories actually make sense.

If the 4th quarter bonus category included things like Home Improvement, Swimming Lessons, and School Supplies, I can see how people would think it’s not worth their time.

But conveniently, the Chase Freedom® offers bonuses at department stores and online retailers in the last three months of the year. And guess where I’m doing the bulk of my December spending?

So yes, you have to remember to register every quarter, and yes, you have to pay attention to the categories. But I happen to know someone who will remind you approximately 47 times during the quarter, so that shouldn’t be too much of a hardship. 😉

You can still redeem points for nearly any flight

The big selling point of certain other “rewards” cards seems to be that you can redeem your points for travel on any airline, with no blackout dates, and no hassle, etc.

And you can do that with the Chase Freedom as well. Redeeming through the Ultimate Rewards mall is very straightforward, and offers more options for revenue travel than similar portals. The Citi ThankYou network, for example, will often only show two or three flights. Some bank rewards programs require you to hit certain “tiers” of pricing, so it can be a struggle to ensure you’re staying within those rather arbitrary limits.

Whereas the Ultimate Rewards portal will generally show similar results to what I’ll see on Google Flights, and the ratios make sense.

Of course, the better value for those with travel know-how is to pool your points with a “premium” Ultimate Rewards card, but y’all likely know that already.

Is this the best-est card ever?

No. Of course not.

But it doesn’t cost you anything to keep, which is great for your credit score.

It gives you the opportunity to earn 5x points in categories that otherwise often take a serious amount of finagling to get any value out of.

Because you’re earning points at a faster rate, the redemption values make more sense. Even if you just choose to earn cash back or statement credits you’re likely going to come out ahead.

And the commercials aren’t nearly as annoying.

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Comments

  1. I literally applied and was approved this morning. Now I’ll refer my wife for a CSP, add myself as an AU, collect 5k UR and close my CSP after I get the 7% bonus. Thanks JP Morgan!

  2. God forbid someone wants to redeem travel expenses that don’t have an associated loyalty program using any form of points earning cards. Your argument for booking flights isn’t wrong, just myopic. Pretty sure Mr. Jackson isn’t pitching that particular product for travel, too. You have confused your commercials and are unlikely the target market….but most of our aunts probably are.

  3. @ Seriously — I mean, there were a lot of commercials, so it’s possible. But I’m not going to recommend that my aunts earn less than 2% regardless.

  4. @ Tiffany – It isn’t a travel product, so I don’t know why we are discussing why someone shouldn’t wear a suit to a pool party. Obviously Capital One does have a 2% travel card (so that fits right after your “Lots of options that give you 2% comment”). I can’t get my aunt to deal with spending caps and categories. Absolutely, for those wanting to manage spend complexity for aspirational travel (including me) this isn’t a comparable product. I really think we should take issue with the number of FarmersOnly.Com commercials.

  5. Wish me luck. Chase says I was accepted for this deal. My husband did this deal in the mid 2000s so maybe it’s past time to give them another try. Their site used to be hard to use, and they seem to have fixed that nicely.

  6. I really don’t think this card is worth it. Of course if someone has very specific use of these UR points it makes sense, but besides that 5x capped at $1500? 20k sign on? Doesn’t interest me.

    Cap One is horrible but they when they had a 100k sign on, I gladly took it.

  7. @ Sam — Hmmm, well the way I look at it is 50k points (the 20k bonus plus 30k per year if you max out the bonus categories). Which I don’t think is bad at all for something without an annual fee.

  8. If you received a bonus from any other new Chase card within the last 24 months, you can’t apply.

  9. I assume that the title of this post is assuming that “everybody reading this” is a US resident and that it is not possible for us non-US residents to access this interweb thingy?!?

  10. I seriously doubt many people max out the bonus categories, proportionately speaking.

    Right now, my favorite cc commercial is for the AmEx Everyday card (w/ Tina Fey). It is also one of my favorite cards for spend (that doesn’t fit into the Freedom quarterly cats, obviously). Total coincidence, but nice.

  11. I believe the 24 months is for the SAME product. For example, Sapphire is a different product from Freedom. In fact, I needed to call to move some credit around and confirmed I was still eligible for the bonus…

  12. One consideration is that for those of us with “bruised” credit (it was a nasty recession), especially if the bruising process involved Chase, Citibank, and/or American Express, the Capital One cards are significantly easier to get. I haven’t heard of anyone being happy with the Venture card, but even those of us of more modest FICO ratings have a shot at Quicksilver, and for the Barclaycard cash back card, which although only 1% on most purchases has 2% on three fixed categories that are very useful for just about everyone (utility bills, petrol, and grocery stores).

    And although the commercials are on entirely too much during certain programs, Samuel L. Jackson is awesomeness.

  13. Unless and until I can transfer UR points to Alaska Mileage Plan, this would be over-diversifying my family’s ability to earn points for all 4 of us go biz class or better to places around the world. A no-go for me, even at 5x points.

    However Tiffany – I’m really enjoying your posts a great dea! Keep ’em coming and keep it up! I’d love for you and Ben to pull your magic strings to get the folks at UR to get Alaska as a partner. Then, just then, I might soil myself. Or pass out from euphoria.

  14. My husband got the Sapphire 2 months ago and tried to apply for the Freedom yesterday, a notice popped up (recognized the computer?), and said he wasn’t eligible since he received a bonus within 24 months.
    I’m not sure if he should call instead since it would be nice to have both cards.

  15. I will say I am happy with my Venture card as they allow me to put a photo of my pet bird on it. How cool is that? Also Alec Baldwin & Samuel Jackson are always fun…

    Holly, you can apply and you can be accepted. I just did. Now whether or not I get the bonus is quite another matter…I will try to remember to report back.

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