russ-love.com
progressive


Chase Freedom Plus – received first statement

I recently signed up to Chase Freedom Plus, a new credit card from Chase which seems to be a pretty good all around rewards card (at least judging from what I currently know). Last Friday I received my first statement and can now take a closer look at what this card is really worth.

First of all, the Chase Freedom Plus offer comes with 10,000 miles ($100) sign up bonus rewards which are correctly reflected in my statement. Now let’s look at the other rewards.

Bonus rewards categories

Chase doesn’t give you a lot of details as to where your rewards come from. All you can see from the statement is the total of your regular rewards (1% of your total statement balance) and your bonus earning (2% of what you spend in the top 6 categories). You also get to see what categories were used in your bonus earnings calculations. Here is my list for this month:

  • Department Stores
  • Drug Stores
  • Gas & Convenience Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Local Commuting
  • Quick Service Restaurants

Unfortunately there is no way to see how the bonus rewards are split by category, nor can you see what category your sale transactions are assigned to, which really sucks. I wish I could verify my Local Commuting expenses. I don’t recall ever using public transportation last month. (update: the transactions categories are recorded on the Current Activity page, read the discussion in the comments)

Bonus rewards cap

The old Chase Freedom card had a $12 per statement period cap on your bonus rewards. The Plus card is supposed to lift that cap. Since I just signed up, my statement period is shorter than usual and my bonus rewards came in just 92 miles (92 cents) short of the old limit, which means I can’t verify if this cap is in fact lifted. I will do so next month.

My total bill came to $1,165 which means that 48% of the total amount was used in the bonus rewards calculations. Chase distinguishes a total of 15 spending categories. 6 of these are used in bonus rewards calculations which leaves me with 9 categories that were used for the remaining 52% of my bill.

I am somewhat disappointed with this number. I expected top 6 categories to cover at least two thirds (66%) of my spending. Could it be that Chase doesn’t categorize some/many transactions?

Redeeming rewards

I still have to figure out how I can redeem my rewards. With the regular Chase Freedom card I called the customer service and changed my account from points/miles to cash back and then just received checks. I have not yet done so for Chase Freedom Plus. I did click however at the Redeem Rewards link in my account to find that the closest thing to cash that I can buy online for my miles is a $50 cash card for Starbucks, Shell, or ExxonMobil, each is priced at 50,000 miles. There are also $25 cards that go for 30,000 mies.

Another thing I want to clarify as well is if I can redeem $200 accumulated rewards for $250 in cash like I could do it with the old card effectively increasing my rewards rate. I will try to get a hold of a customer rep. this week to find it out.

Conclusion

All in all, it is too early to say if this card is really better than the old one. If Chase Freedom Plus indeed doesn’t have a rewards cap like the old card does then it might indeed be the card of choice for me, even if I can’t get the $250 for $200 deal which I suspect is the case. Also, one shouldn’t forget about the $30 annual fee that kicks in after introductory year is over, which throws in yet another variable into this equation.

Have you signed up to this offer? What is your experience? Please share in the comments.


See also:


27 Responses to “Chase Freedom Plus – received first statement”


  1. 1 user Mar 10th, 2008 at 2:51 am

    Thanks for the great article! I don’t have this yet but will probably get it. I agree that they should display which reward category applies to each transaction. But I haven’t seen any other cards that do that, either. It would be so helpful to have that info when making buying decisions.

  2. 2 Bill Levine Mar 10th, 2008 at 7:26 am

    I have had the Chase plus cards from Day 1.

    It does pay $250 for $200 in rewards and there is no cap like the old card.

    In addition, I use it to pay my utilities, phones and cable monthly. In my case that is $500 which gives me a $10 bonus on the month alone. I have been averaging $30- $35 in cash rewards monthly, which equates to a $250 check every 6 months.

    I have a second card that allows me to pick up 6 of the remaining 9 categories.
    while I don’t earn the same amount on the second card, I will at least get $250 in rewards, possibly more.

    The $60 cost is well worth it when you earn at least $1250 on two cards.

    The only card that comes close to it is the American Express Blue Cash Card, Which will pay up to 5%, in certain catagories when you have spent over $6500 on the card.

    However, I have not calculated what I would earn on this card because the Chase card is easier to me to see what you earn and pays out much faster then the Amex card which I believe pays yearly.

  3. 3 Yan Mar 10th, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Bill, thanks for your input. My effective rewards rate came to around 2% this month which will go up to 2.5% when $250 for $200 is factored in. That is uncapped. With Amex Blue Cash Card you only get 5% on your purchases in supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores, and that is after you pass the $6,000 in spending for a year. Many other cards offer very good rewards rates in these categories which to me means that the best approach is to use Chase Freedom Plus in a combination with a different card for the categories above.

  4. 4 jane Mar 12th, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I have the blue amex, and i do receive 5% rewards from the top 6, and 1% on anything else. There are no fees in joining, and it works great for me. I was wondering do you think it would be better for me to pick up one of these citi cards or stick with what already works for me?

  5. 5 Yan Mar 12th, 2008 at 8:07 am

    In Russia they say “Better is the enemy of Good”. If you think it works great then stick with it. If you are not satisfied and feel you could earn more with a different card, give Chase Freedom Plus a chance.

    One thing I want to correct – Amex Blue rewards you for 3 categories, not 6. You earn 5% in in supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores after you pass $6,500 in spending for a year and 1.5% before then.

    I will try to compare these two cards in one of my future posts, maybe after I receive my next bill from Chase.

  6. 6 dd Mar 15th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    i am using the card and its very frustrating because most of the time, the category is other, even though it is a utility or other category which is often ignored. then you have to call customer service in india and get a credit which is a total pain.
    i think they do this stuff intentionally.

  7. 7 Yan Mar 15th, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Where are you seeing the category assignment on your statement? I couldn’t find the information anywhere…

  8. 8 Bill Levine Mar 15th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Yan,

    On your Online Account Activity, every transaction has a category next to it. However,they are not related to the 15 approved categories.

    Most say, “Other”,”Services and Merchandise”or “Vehicle Expenses”.

    I just completed another month and earned $45.00 which was the correct amount for the 6 categories I used.

    They have always been very accurate on my rebates.

  9. 9 Yan Mar 18th, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I see it now. It is actually in the Account Activity, not the statement. For some reason I can see a lot of “Other” as the category. For example all my Walmart, Target, Walgreen’s, Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s (a grocery store here in Midwest) purchases are categorized that way. I wonder if “Other” is counted as a category at all…

  10. 10 Bill Levine Mar 18th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    No,as far as I can tell,”other,etc.”are not catagories…maybe they have something to do with the Year End Summary.

    I look over my statements very carefully and the top six categories I used are always correct and the cash rebates are accurate.

    However, problems can occur because the merchants choose the category in which they would like their transaction items to be listed. I have not seen any of these problems yet in my statements.

  11. 11 Danny D Mar 21st, 2008 at 5:47 am

    What exactly are the 10,000 MILES you get with first purchase?

    Can these “miles” be transferred to say Continental OnePass or American AAdvantage for example?

    10000 real miles (that i could transfer) would be useful. Thanks

  12. 12 Jay Mar 24th, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    I called to switch from my regular Freedom card to the one with 15 categories and the CSR said, “I guess you want to sign up for the Freedom Plus program then?” I asked if that’s the one where I earn cashback on 15 categories and they said yep. I asked many times in many ways making sure that there are no fees whatsoever with this program. They said, “There are no fees at all. If there are fees, we are required to inform you about it.” If I see that $30 charge, I’m going to complain and get that sucker waived.

  13. 13 Yan Mar 24th, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Jay:

    My story was similar when I spoke to the rep on the phone. The online application however clearly mentions that there is a $30 annual fee (waved for the first year).

    Danny D:

    I don’t know about the miles. In fact I called last week and switched from miles/points to cash. I was told the old trick (collect $200 in rewards and get a check for $250) works with the new card as well, which was great.

    There was just one problem. After I made the switch they sent me a new card which didn’t have “Plus” on it. I called and spoke to a rep who confirmed my “Plus” card was changed to a legacy Chase Freedom. WTF!?!

    Just 5 minutes of my screaming and shouting at them and the issue was solved. ;-)

  14. 14 Chad Mar 27th, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    This is a great forum for discussing the benefits of the Chase Freedom cards. I have used the Chase Freedom card for nearly a year and have already received 2 $250 checks. And I also use an Amex card for Costco. And after reading the articles on this site a few weeks ago, I applied for the “Plus” version of the card. I received the card just in time to purchase several appliances which I hope will apply to the department store category. This purchase alone with the 10,000 miles (which can be converted to points or the cash rewards via a phone call or even easier – the online banking site – you have to dig a little to get to it, but it is there) should give me another quick $250 check. One commenter asked how the 10,000 miles worked – they may have a system of transferring to another airline, but in essence it is $100 worth of value or $125 if you save up the cash rewards to redeem for $250. I saw that $125 as a nice way to cover the $30 membership fee for a few years.

    To answer the questions about what categories are included in the “15″ – this is the list from the Chase site: grocery stores (that are not affiliated with or departments of superstores, warehouse clubs or discount stores), gas & convenience stores, quick service payment/fast food restaurants, telecommunications, cable/satellite TV/Internet Service Providers, video rentals, department stores, dry cleaners, drugstores, movie theatres, local and suburban commuter passenger transportation (including ferries, bridges, tolls, parking garages, taxis/limos), pet supply stores and veterinary services, utilities, beauty shops (salons and spas), or gym/recreation memberships.

    In the article, there was some question about if these categories covered everything. Well, they don’t, but they cover a lot of the common rewards categories. And you still receive 1% on the “other” spending. The only area I miss is a general restaurant category. I wouldn’t expect them to add a charity category though – that would be sort-of counter productive, but good if you wanted to cheat the tax man.

    Bottom line. This is the best card and most used card(s) in my wallet. If you have decent credit, get one.

  15. 15 Yan Mar 27th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I sent this (below) to the customer service 7 days ago and still haven’t heard back.


    Transactions for the following merchants have been categorized as “Other” in my credit card activity, and subsequently they are not taken into account when bonus rewards are calculated. These are very well known grocery and department stores in the US, in fact Wal-Mart is the #1 in the world. Please fix the problem as soon as possible. Thanks.

    JEWEL-OSCO
    Dominicks Stor
    WALGREENS
    MEIJER INC
    WAL-MART
    TARGET
    KOHL’S
    TJMAXX
    DICK’S CLOTHING&SPORTING
    BED BATH & BEYOND

  16. 16 Chad Mar 27th, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Wal-Mart is not a department store. And it is also not a grocery store. It is a discount store. TJMaxx and Target are also likely not considered in the same category of stores as a Macys or JCPenney. The other issue is that it is up to the retailer to have the proper classification when they process the charge. It is not Chase’s responsibility to make sure that the Walgreens you visit has their merchant account setup to appear as a drug-store. Perhaps they have chosen to be a more general transaction and therefore Chase can’t force them to do otherwise. I agree it isn’t ideal if something that is truly a drugstore isn’t being credited as one. But I wouldn’t expect them to have a way to change the system of giving the retailer the power of deciding their category. But Kohl’s should know better! :)

  17. 17 Yan Mar 27th, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Chad, thanks for the heads up. I just made a list out of these “Other” merchants. I think it will be useful to have a place to track them somewhere so we can take advantage of other cards when shopping at these places.

  18. 18 michael reilly Apr 1st, 2008 at 11:46 am

    if i spend at least 6,000 dollors a year is the chase freedom plus card a good card.if i spend 300 on food and 200 on gas for one month how much cash do i earn in cash.thanks

  19. 19 jackelope May 6th, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Since I signed up for a Freedom World card last year (switching from cash to points in month 1), it’s been an exceptional product. I was intriuged by the notion of the Plus card, but a $30 annual rewards program fee to eliminate the 1200 point cap isn’t a bad tradeoff in my estimation. If they can match a fixed 10% APR or allow existing accounts to transfer despite that being a move from World Mastercard to Visa Signature, that would be enough to give it serious consideration.

  20. 20 RPW Nov 2nd, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Note the T & Cs of the card state:

    “We can credit your account the yearly Program fee, if requested within 30 days of billing.”

    I interprete this to say they’ll wave the annual fee (which again is automatically waived the 1st year) if you call and ask them.

  21. 21 TheRevRuss Jan 27th, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the information on this. We recently signed up for the Chase Freedom MC and are planning to use it exclusively as it is accepted at Sam’s (where we do a good portion of shopping) and it gives 3% back on phone/cell phone bills. I saw it mentioned here, but since this post is several months old, I’m wondering if anyone has had any experience to show whether this card is better than the Amex Blue Cash card in terms of total rewards potential? It’s so hard to determine easily with their graduated scale of 1% & .5% jumping to %5 & 1.5% after $6500. Any thoughts or advice out there?

  22. 22 TheRevRuss Jan 27th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Just a minor correction (and feel free to add it to the comment already in moderation) but it’s the Chase Freedom Plus MC we now have – not just the regular Freedom card.

  23. 23 jackelope Jan 27th, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Run the calculators even to the maximum on the Amex website for the Blue Cash (https://www124.americanexpress.com/cards/loyalty.do?page=bluecash.maximize&intlink=bluecashcalc_CCBenUnlmtdCashBack), and you’ll see that the rewards overall there still don’t top the Freedom Plus because of three things: (1) Amex gives those extra 5%/1.5% rebates only annually, (2) The 5% is for gas, groceries, and drugs only (no Walmart-like shops just like Freedom), (3) Amex doesn’t offer $50 free cash back when $200 is saved up.

    I ran my first year Plus spending (~$45k) through the Amex calculator as follows.
    General: $3400/mo
    Gas: $90/mo
    Groceries: $250/mo
    Drugs: $10/mo
    ==> Cash back = $739.

    Freedom Plus with the cash back option would yield $634/yr with the same inputs, leaving a true $604 left with the annual fee accounted for. However, that’s without the top other 4 categories/mo. getting the bouns 2% rebate. With those other categories folded in, my total cash back rose to $705, which would yield $855 when redeemed.

    So, it can be hard to determine which exactly is better, but for my spending, the Freedom Plus still wins. On top of that, it’s a World Mastercard at a fixed 10% APR. Amex cannot claim as extensive a network nor as good an APR. Benefits are probably similar enough, though.

    Hope that helps.

  24. 24 Heather Mar 23rd, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    We just got our Chase Freedom cards in the mail this week. We had the 1% cash back on every purchase cards, but decided to upgrade. I was told by the customer service rep at the bank that these had NO ANNUAL FEE, but I see from this forum that it is only waived the first year.

    Also, we only use our cards for travel expenses, vacations and large purchases. We debit all of our day-to-day items. So I am thinking this card may not have been such a good idea after all.

  25. 25 Hemi Mar 27th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I have used debit cards for all my transactions for years too. However, in the past six months after getting the Chase Freedom Plus card I have only put about $75 on my debit card. I ran $40,000 a year through debit but by spending the amount and merely changing the card I put it on I will make about $750 per year. Just before my statement cuts I just transfer from savings and pay the card off in full. If you put your debit card away and start using the Freedom card I think you will be pleased with the result.

    The Freedom Plus does indeed have a $30 annual fee, but if you use it for all your purchases it will more than pay for itself.

  26. 26 Carter Apr 4th, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    How do I apply for this card? Is it discontinued?

  27. 27 jackelope Apr 5th, 2009 at 2:35 am

    There was one page (and I think only that page) that provided the Freedom Plus until literally yesterday. Chase then yanked that entry and replaced it with their Disney card.

    There is always a chance that calling up Chase directly and applying for it over the phone may do the trick. Otherwise, inquire about becoming a Freedom cardholder if they say “Yes, the Plus card we make available six months after you prove how well you can give us money.” and you really want it.

    As long as the rewards program doesn’t change terms too much, the Plus is well worth seeking. Of course, all of us Plus holders might well find the terms changed for the worse before too much longer anyway. Kind of a shame, but those are the economic breaks.

Leave a Reply