The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) is one of my favorite credit cards, and it’s the card that I use the most for everyday, non-bonused spending. The card earns 1.5x points on all purchases, and in conjunction with a card earning Ultimate Rewards points, you can convert the points earned on this card into Ultimate Rewards points as well.
Best of all, the card has no annual fee. Well, now it has an even better welcome bonus.
Freedom Unlimited welcome bonus
Historically the welcome bonus on the Freedom Unlimited has been for 15,000 points after spending $500 within three months, and we haven’t seen many variations from that over the years. This new offer has been available in-branch for a few weeks, but just opened up to online applications.
Going forward, new cardholders can earn 3% (or 3x points) on all purchases on the Freedom Unlimited in your first year up to $20,000 spent, then unlimited 1.5x points on all purchases thereafter.
If you think spending $20,000 sounds like a lot, keep in mind there are lots of unexpected things you can pay for by credit card. For example, you can pay your taxes by credit card for a small fee, and in this case, it could be well worth it.
How much better is this new bonus?
If you maxed out the new bonus on the Freedom Unlimited and spent $20,000 within the first year, you’d earn 60,000 points after spending $20,000. Meanwhile, with the old bonus, you’d earn 45,000 points for that same amount of spending (30,000 points through spending, plus 15,000 points through the welcome bonus).
Put another way, the breakeven point between the two bonuses is $10,000 of spending within the first year, since through either bonus you’d earn 30,000 points.
Convert the Freedom Unlimited’s cash back to valuable Ultimate Rewards points
On the surface the Freedom Unlimited is a cash back card, meaning that 1.5x points convert into 1.5% cash back, and 3x points convert into 3% cash back. But there’s a way to unlock even more value.
If you have the card in conjunction with a card that accrues Ultimate Rewards points — specifically, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card — then you can convert the points earned on the Freedom Unlimited into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. This can easily be done online for free, and it’s an instant process.
Using this method you go from earning three cents per dollar spent on the Freedom Unlimited to earning three Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like increasing the value of the points you earn by 70%.
Personally, I think the Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve are a pretty incredible duo. Points on the Reserve can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase, meaning that using the Freedom Unlimited for everyday spending will earn you a minimum of 2.25% towards travel, which is excellent.
When you factor in earning 3x points on the first $20K you spend on the Freedom Unlimited with this new offer, you’re potentially earning 4.5% towards travel when combined with the Sapphire Reserve, which is an incredible earn rate.
You can find more about all the ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points and why I value them so highly in my Ultimate Guide to Ultimate Rewards.
Other cash back cards to consider
However, if you’re using this as a cash back card, you’re ordinarily earning a return of 1.5%, and that’s not quite as good.
If you’re looking for a pure cash back card, there are others to consider that might be more lucrative if you don’t want to earn miles and points.
6% Cash Back on groceries
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express lets you earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, though it’s capped at $6,000 in spending per calendar year.
4% Cash Back on dining
The Savor® Rewards from Capital One® offers a flat 4% cash back on dining globally, with no caps. The card has no foreign transaction fees either, making this a great card to use for dining both in the US and abroad.
This bonus category doesn’t just include sit-down restaurants, but also includes bars and taverns, fast food restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and more. So this is really quite a broad category.
3%, 4%, or 5% Cash Back on gas
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card earn 4% on the first $7,000 at gas stations per calendar year, while the Sam’s Club Mastercard earns 5% on the first $6,000 per calendar year.
Meanwhile, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees), but you can earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations with no spending cap. Alternatively, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Card earns 3X on purchases at gas stations with no annual fee, and the Go Far Rewards points can be redeemed for travel, a statement credit or gift cards at 1 cent per point.
2% on everything
The Citi® Double Cash Card has no annual fee and offers unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
As far as business cards go, the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business offers unlimited 2% cash back. The card does have an annual fee ($0 intro for the first year, $95 after that), though it also offers a $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Another option is the no annual fee (Rates & Fees) Blue Business CashTM Card from American Express, which offers 2% cash back on the first $50,000 spent on eligible purchases every calendar year. After that, you receive 1% cash back.
The Freedom Unlimited has generally not had an incredible welcome bonus, given that it’s a no annual fee card that’s quite lucrative. That being said, the new bonus does represent a significant improvement, at least for those who are significant spenders.
In conjunction with a card earning Ultimate Rewards points, these points could be converted into 3x Ultimate Rewards points on up to $20K spent in the first year, which is incredible.
Even after that, this is a card I highly recommend using, since earning 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points on non-bonused spending is an excellent return.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Blue Business Cash Card (Rates & Fees).