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The Chase Freedom 10 and 10 Program Explained

An 11% Cash Back Card is a Reality!

But only when spending $1. The chart shows the small purchase earning curve. Even at $25 you're still earning a respectable 1.5% cash back.

Please note: Chase has cancelled this program. The last time I personally saw this bonus cash back on my statement was July 2013.

Discover offers a debit card with 10 cents cash back per card swipe, providing a similar benefit for small purchases. However, note that it is a debit card, requiring you to keep money in a checking account to cover your purchases and with fewer fraud protections than a credit card.

Now back to the out-of-date but still interesting article...

Chase isn't advertising it but they are offering a generous cash back upgrade to their Freedom card. The program increases your base cash back rate to 1.1% and gives you an extra dime each time you swipe your card. The catch: You must have a Chase checking account.

The Chase Freedom 10 and 10 program offers some unheard of cash back rates on small purchases. Earn 3.1% on a $5 transaction and 11% on a $1 purchase.

In theory, you can make more cash back than you spend: A one-cent purchase earns 10 cents back.

Is it worth opening a Chase checking account just to participate in the 10 and 10 rewards program? We'll run the numbers to help you decide.

Get a bigger cut of each credit card transaction fee. Learn how in Knowzy's guide: "The Chase Freedom 10 and 10 Program Explained."





Introduction to the Chase 10 and 10 Program

The two benefits of Chase 10 and 10 are a bump to 1.1% cash back on your Freedom card and 10 cents cash back when you swipe your card.

A dime makes a difference when it comes to small purchases. A dime is 1% of a ten-dollar transaction and 10% of a one-dollar card swipe.

Add to that the standard 1% cash back. Then add additional 0.1% cash back.

The sum is the Chase Freedom 10 and 10 Program, where a $1 transaction earns 11% cash back.

Chase checking account required.


Chase 10 and 10 Benefits

Diagram titled 'Cash Back Earnings on Chase Freedom 10 and 10,' It reads, '1 card swipe = 1 dime + 1% standard rate + 0.1% bonus rate.'
Better Rewards on Freedom 10 and 10

Ask Chase for your upgrade! Earn 1.1% plus 10 cents cash back on every swipe of your Freedom card. For Chase checking customers only.

The Chase 10 and 10 program does two things:

  • Increases your standard cash back from 1% to 1.1%. Or, as Chase tells it, "10% extra points" (it sounds like more that way).
  • Earn 10¢ on every purchase you make on your card. On small transactions, like a RedBox movie or a soft drink, that works out to 10% or more cash back.


Cash Back Rate on Small Purchases

Here's what low value purchases earn in the Chase Freedom 10 and 10 program:

  • 1.5% cash back on $25
  • 2.1% cash back on $10
  • 3.1% cash back on $5
  • 11% cash back on $1


Cash Back Rate on Larger Purchases

The extra 10¢ cash back also plays a role in larger transactions. You have to spend $2,001 before the extra dime becomes so insignificant that you are back to 1.1%.

Run the numbers yourself in our Chase 10 and 10 spreadsheet.

  • 1.11% cash back on $2,000
  • 1.15% cash back on $200
  • 1.20% cash back on $100
  • 1.30% cash back on $50


Joining Chase 10 and 10

Joining Chase Freedom 10 and 10 takes more than just a Freedom card. The requirements are:

  • A Chase checking account. If you don't have one already, the good news is you can avoid monthly service charges and they may even pay you $100 or more to open one. Learn more about your options in the "Free Chase Checking Account" section that follows.
  • You must enroll. Having a Chase Freedom card and checking account isn't enough- you need sign up for the Chase 10 and 10 program to get the bonus cash back. Just call the number on the back of your Freedom card or visit your bank in person. Be patient if you call, the first two representatives Knowzy talked to had never heard of the Chase 10 and 10 program. The third rep knew exactly what to do.

Once you sign up for the program, the benefits don't kick in for three billing cycles (about 90 days), according to the representative Knowzy talked to.



Program History

Chase began offering 10 and 10 in 2009. It's part of their broader "Chase Exclusives" program offering discounts and deals for Chase checking account customers.

According to many FatWallet members, the Freedom 10 and 10 program was created to appease customers whom Chase was about to upset by downgrading bonus category rewards.

The Chase Freedom card, circa 2008, offered 3% cash back in your top three spending categories. As they moved to the Discover-like rotating category bonus rewards, they automatically moved existing customers in to the Chase 10 and 10 program.



Free Chase Checking Account

The extra rewards that come with Chase Freedom 10 and 10 are not worth it if you end up paying a $10 - $12 monthly service charge on a checking account. Fortunately, a couple of fairly painless techniques let you avoid monthly fees.

Chase calls their basic checking account Total Checking. They offer a handy guide on avoiding their fees.

Chase may even pay you to open a checking account. For example, now through May 12, 2012, they offer $125 bonus for opening an account with direct deposit. A Google search "Chase checking account bonus" usually reveals a sign up bonus.


Direct Deposit Option

You can get Chase checking free if you have a paycheck, Social Security check, pension or a similar, regular source of income with a direct deposit option. You must direct deposit at least $500 per month to avoid a monthly service fee.

If direct depositing your paycheck is already keeping your existing checking account free and you're a two-income family, consider depositing your spouse's paycheck in a Chase checking account. From there, you can automatically transfer the funds back to your primary checking account.

If that doesn't work out for you, the minimum balance option can keep your Chase checking account free of service charges.


Minimum Balance Option

Chase awards free checking based on your minimum balance in two ways. The first is keeping at least $1,500 in a Total Checking account. The second is to keep a combined balance of $5,000 among savings, checking and investment accounts.

We're only going to focus on the $1,500 balance.

The big question to answer: Will you earn more money putting $1,500 in a money market account than you will from the extra cash back you'll earn in the Chase Freedom 10 and 10 Program?

Depending on the economy, money market funds and online savings accounts historically earn between 0.5% and 5% APY. In today's environment, you're lucky to find a 1% return on your money.

You'll earn exactly 0% on $1,500 in a Chase Total Checking account that's open simply to remain a member of the Freedom 10 and 10 program.

Is it worth maintaining a $1,500 balance to earn 1.1% plus 10¢ cash back per transaction? Let's run the numbers.


What $1,500 Earns in a Money Market Fund

In the best of times, $1,500 will earn $75 per year in a money market fund or online savings account. It will earn 5 times less today.

  • 1% APY: $15 (Best rate for 2012)
  • 3% APY: $45
  • 5% APY: $75 ("Economy is doing excellent" rate)


Estimate Additional Cash Back Earnings

See if you can beat the rate of return on a money market account by estimating how often you'll use your Freedom card and how much you'll spend on it. Add the Bonus #1 and Bonus #2 numbers together to find your total annual bonus cash back.

The unique thing about the Chase 10 and 10 program is the frequency with which you use your card usually pays better than how much you spend on it.

Bonus #1: 10 cents cash back per transaction
  • 1 card swipe per day: $36.50 per year
  • 2 card swipes per day: $73 per year
  • 3 card swipes per day: $109.50 per year
Bonus #2: Extra 0.1% cash back on spending
  • $10,000 in annual spending: $10 per year
  • $20,000 in annual spending: $20 per year
  • $30,000 in annual spending: $30 per year



Earning More Cash Back Than You Spend

At 10 cents cash back per transaction, the Chase 10 and 10 is technically open to exploitation: You make a nine-cent profit by spending a penny on your Freedom card. Before you hatch an elaborate moneymaking scheme for cheating the Freedom 10 and 10 program, consider Chase's fine print:

If...there is any fraud or abuse related to the accrual of points or rebates, as applicable, we reserve the right to prohibit you from redeeming points/rebates...and to cause you to forfeit any points/rebates in your Account.

- Ultimate Rewards Program Rules and Regulations, February 8, 2010

11,111 penny transactions earn a profit of $1,000. It also leaves $111 in charges on your card.

If Chase takes away your points because they believe they are ill gotten, you end up with a $111 bill and nothing to show for it.

Suddenly your amazing profit turns to a loss.

The big loser in this exploit is the retailer processing all of the 1-cent transactions. Each transaction costs the merchant as much as 30 cents. Your $1,000 profit could cost them over $3,000 in transaction fees.


Originally Published:  Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 12:27 PM PT

Last Updated:  Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 1:48 PM PT

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