The Chase Freedom MasterCard advertises a “great introductory rate,” 5% cash back when using the card within certain merchant categories, 1% cash back on all other purchases, no annual fee, and a number of other features that have made it a very competitive card within the extremely busy credit card industry. This is a card that is designed for those with great credit and contains a number of rewards to encourage cardholders to use the card.
When looking at the specifics, the Chase Freedom MasterCard does appear to be rather straightforward in its cash back rewards and incentives. In fact, Chase is known for offering bonus cash back after making a certain amount of purchases with the card within a specific amount of time. For example, make $500 in purchases in 3 months and get $100 cash back. While Chase offers great incentives, it is also good to look at the specifics of the card to make sure the incentives are worth it.
A Look at APR
What concerns many people when shopping for a credit card is the APR. The “great introductory rate” that Chase advertises is 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. This is a bump up from the usual 6 to 12 month 0% introductory rate that credit cards offer. After the 15 month period has ended, the APR is variable, which means it could be as low as 12.99% or as high as 22.99%. The rate that is received depends upon creditworthiness and/or the market, which is based upon the Prime Rate.
As far as balance transfers after the 15 month introductory period has ended, the rate is 3% of the transfer amount or $5. It is whichever is the greater of the two. This is a typical percentage for a card that allows balance transfers.
What are The Fees?
Fees are another area that potential cardholders want to know about. This is because, aside from the possibility of a high interest rate based on an individual’s credit, fees can add up. For instance, this is a card that allows cash advances. The fee for a cash advance is at least $10 or 3% of the amount that is advanced. Just like with balance transfers, the charge is whichever is greater. At the same time, the cash advance APR can be higher than the purchase APR. Whether or not your transaction is assessed the extra interest depends upon creditworthiness.
Foreign transactions also assess an extra fee, which is a percentage of each transaction amount. For instance, the fee may be 3% of every foreign transaction that is made. That can add up.
And while the aforementioned fees concern some, penalty fees affect nearly everyone. The most common of these fees is the late fee. The way Chase assesses this fee is different than most cards in that the fee amount is based upon the balance. For example, a late payment fee may be as low as $15 if the balance is under $100. Between $100 and $250, the fee may increase to $25. A balance over $250 may increase the fee to $35. It should be noted that fees are always subject to change.
There are also over-the-credit-limit, return payment, and return check fees that are as high as $35 each. These penalty fee amounts are typical within the credit card market and fees are always subject to change.
What is a major seller with this card, however, is the absence of an annual fee. There are also no maintenance fees, making the fee schedule for this card very straightforward.
An Overview of the Cash Back Reward
Fees can be easy to understand, but cash back can be a little more confusing. The way the 5% cash back works is this: Chase rotates categories every few months. When the card is used at a merchant that resides in these categories during the qualification period, the result is 5% cash back. As an example of how this works, here is a list of 2012’s rotating categories for the 5% cash back incentive:
- January 1st to March 31st – Amazon.com and gas stations
- April 1st to June 30th – Movie theaters and grocery stores
- July 1st to September 30th – Gas stations and restaurants
- October 1st to December 31st – Airlines, hotels, Best Buy, and Kohl’s
Everywhere else the card is used results in the usual 1% cash back. This 1% does apply to all of the spending on the card. There are no spending tiers and there is no minimum or cash back limit. This is something that sets the card apart from other cash back credit cards with no fee. Upon comparing with other cards, most have limits on how much cash back a cardholder can receive or the cardholder must meet a minimum amount of spending before they start to receive cash back on purchases.
If cardholders shop online through Chase, it is possible to receive up to 10% cash back when shopping online with selected merchants.
Free Chase Blueprint Feature
It is obvious at this point that the Chase Freedom MasterCard has an above average number of rewards, incentives, and features. As far as fees and APR, it conforms to the credit card industry for the most part. There is a program, however, that cardholders can use if they need it. This program is the Blueprint program, which is completely free.
What the Blueprint program does is help cardholders pay their balances faster, which saves money in interest. For instance, the Blueprint program will allow cardholders to pay for certain types of purchases in full each month. If a cardholder buys groceries on their card, they can choose to pay for their grocery purchases in full so they do not have to pay any interest on a food purchase. The same can be done with gas transactions. It doesn’t matter if there is already an outstanding balance on the card.
When factoring in the Blueprint program with the other key features on the card, the Chase Freedom MasterCard becomes even more unique within the market. It does, in fact, give cardholders the freedom to make certain decisions and allows for some control over how much using the card costs them. The different cash back options and various incentives also make the card more affordable to have. In other words, it stacks up quite well when compared to similar cards.
Have you had any personal experience with Chase Freedom Master Credit Card?