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As I first wrote about at the beginning of the month, Chase is offering a limited time increased sign-up bonus on the no annual fee Chase Freedom®. It’s worth noting that this increased sign-up bonus expires tomorrow, Wednesday, June 24, 2015.
The sign-up bonus is marketed as follows:
- For a limited time, earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening
- Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same three month period
The sign-up bonus is marketed as cash back
In reality, you earn points on the Chase Freedom®, and each point can be redeemed for one cent cash back.
In other words, the sign up bonus offers 20,000 points after making $500 of purchases in the first three months, and an additional 2,500 points after adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase within three months, for a total of 22,500 points.
However, if you have this card in addition to one of the cards that accrue “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer these points to Ultimate Rewards. Cards that accrue “premium” Ultimate Rewards Cards include the:
What makes the Chase Freedom great
So what makes this no annual fee card so rewarding even if you have other cards with annual fees that offer category bonuses?
The Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back (five points) per dollar spent on rotating quarterly categories, which can translate into a huge return. When you register your card each quarter you then earn 5x points for the first $1,500 spent in those category.
This quarter you can earn 5x points at restaurants and more, though registration has closed for that already. That’s probably my favorite bonus category, as I spend a good amount on dining, and earning 5x points on that is pretty awesome. I’ve already maxed out the 5x points category for this quarter. Now I’ll go back to putting my dining spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which also offer bonus points on dining.
Meanwhile registration is now open for the third quarter 5x points category, whereby you can earn 5x points at gas stations and Kohl’s.
Having no annual fee cards are great for your credit score
As if the huge rotating quarterly categories weren’t enough, keep in mind that one part of your credit score is the average age of your accounts. It’s good to keep some cards long term just to help increase the average age of your accounts, even if the card itself isn’t that rewarding.
In this case you’re getting a rewarding credit card which you can also keep open long term to help build your credit score.
Keeping some cards long term is how I keep my credit score so high.
This is probably the best sign-up bonus you’ll see on this card
Back in the day this card regularly had 20,000+ point sign-up bonuses. But over the past couple of years the standard sign-up bonus has been $100 cash back/10,000 points.
We’ve occasionally seen increased sign-up bonuses of $200 cash back/20,000 points. But with this bonus you can earn $225 cash back/22,500 points, which is only the second time I’ve seen this sign-up bonus. Earning 22,500 Ultimate Rewards points for a no annual fee card (in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, of course) is a fantastic bonus, if you ask me.
A word of caution about how Chase now approves cards
Anecdotally it seems like Chase has updated the way they approve their non co-brand cards, which include cards like the Chase Freedom®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and Ink Plus® Business Credit Card. They seem to not be approving people for these cards if they’ve applied for more than five cards in the past 24 months (even if they’re non-Chase cards). This is a pretty big development, and something to be aware of if you’re eying one of these cards. It’s also why it makes sense to apply for one of these cards before considering other cards.
For what it’s worth, this doesn’t seem to be impacting the cards which are part of co-brand agreements, like the cards from Hyatt, Southwest, etc.
If you don’t yet have the Chase Freedom®, I suspect this is as good as the bonus will get. I picked up the card a couple of years ago, and am really happy to have it. I know some people have been waiting for an increased sign-up bonus on the card, so this is your last chance to apply under the current offer.