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?
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.
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.