- I originally signed up for the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom to take advantage of its introductory APR offer and sign-up bonus ahead of a cross-country move.
- These offers were helpful, and I was able to pay my balance off without interest.
- I didn’t think I’d continue to use the Freedom card after my move, but it’s ended up being a great way for me to earn 1% cash back on everyday spending, as well as bonus cash back on rotating quarterly categories.
- The Freedom’s purchase protections and travel coverage perks are great, too.
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A little over two years ago, I signed up for a Chase Freedom card because I had a cross-country move approaching and I wanted to use a card with a 0% introductory APR offer. The Chase Freedom met this criteria – it has a 0% APR introductory offer for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then a variable APR of 16.74% to 25.49%). It also has no annual fee and offered a $US150 welcome bonus after I spent $US500 in the first three months. I knew I’d spend $US500 on the moving company alone, so signing up for this card was a no-brainer.
After I moved, I paid off my balance with my first paycheck from my new job. I was able to absorb my moving expenses easily without paying any interest, due to the fact that I’d negotiated a nice salary increase for myself and had money set aside in savings.
I thought I’d put the Freedom in my desk drawer and forget about it, but it’s actually become my preferred card for everyday use – here’s why.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
The best cash-back credit cards
The rewards structure works for me
For starters, the most obvious benefit of my Chase Freedom card is the unlimited 1% cash back on all spending. While I used to pay for only major purchases with a credit card, my Chase Freedom card has been the best card for learning about zero-sum budgeting with a credit card to maximise cash-back rewards.
Because I know I’m earning 1% back on everything I buy, I pretty much use my card for everything and track my spending to make sure I stay within my monthly budget. Since my credit limit is well above my monthly budget, I also have wiggle room in the event of an emergency. I breathe easy knowing I earn 1% back on my spending, and I can pay off my balance every month.
Aside from my unlimited 1% cash back, the Chase Freedom card also offers 5% back on up to $US1,500 spent each quarter on rotating categories once you activate. This feature is great for people like me, who have inconsistent behaviour when it comes to spending. For example, since I work from home, I don’t need to buy gas that much anymore, so a card that earns bonus rewards on gas year-round would not cut it for me.
I’ve found the rotating rewards categories come at perfect times in the year. For example, in the fourth quarter of the year, Chase usually offers 5% cash back on categories that align perfectly with holiday spending, such as department stores (which is the case this quarter).
This year, the quarterly categories during summer months happened to include gas, which was perfect for my summer road trips to the beach. Since I like variety and rarely stick to one routine, I use the quarterly rewards categories to help give structure my non-essential purchases; if I know a category is coming up in the second quarter, for example, I hold off on making the purchase until then to maximise my rewards.
It offers purchase protection
Speaking of purchases, there are other benefits to my Chase Freedom card that I didn’t even know about when I signed up, but now give me peace of mind. Perhaps one of the best lesser-known features is the damage and theft protection in the first 120 days after a new purchase up to $US500. For travellers, this is a great security feature for those times you want to buy a collectible and transport it back on the plane. If something valuable is stolen or damaged within three months of purchasing it, Chase Freedom cardholders are covered up to $US500 per incident.
And, for purchases like my new couch, I’m automatically eligible for a one-year extended warranty of up to $US10,000. This applies to any new purchase when the item comes with a US manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less. There are some exceptions, like for boats and automobiles, or for pre-owned items. But generally, this is a nice perk that I may have to rely on one day.
There’s trip protection, too
My Chase Freedom card also comes with substantial trip interruption and cancellation insurance. Because of this, I’ll never purchase airfare or hotels with a debit card again. When I use my Freedom card to book flights, I can be reimbursed up to $US1,500 per person and $US6,000 total per trip for all of my non-refundable passenger fares if I ever need to cancel plans for severe weather, sickness, or injury. This definitely takes the stress out of clicking “buy” on those expensive tickets.
For a credit card with no annual fee, my everyday Chase Freedom card has been a solid choice for my lifestyle over the past two years, and I don’t plan on closing my account any time soon since my points never expire.
That said, I am starting to research credit cards with primary car rental insurance, since my Chase Freedom card only offers secondary insurance for car rentals – which means I still need to go through my personal insurance first. But all in all, even though it’s not the most robust card out there, it’s given me a lot of value plus awesome fraud protection, while asking for little in return.