Should You Apply For The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card?

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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In early March I first wrote about the rumors of Chase introducing a new card called the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. This was intended to be a product which was separate from the popular Chase Freedom®. The Freedom Card offers 1% cashback, and then 5% cashback in rotating quarterly categories.

Meanwhile the Freedom Unlimited is intended to offer a flat 1.5% cashback on all purchases, with no bonus categories.

For a few weeks now it has been possible to apply for the Freedom Unlimited at a Chase branch, though it’s now also possible to apply for the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® online.

Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits

The card has a straightforward rewards structure, as it offers a flat 1.5% cashback on every purchase. You can redeem for any amount at anytime, and there are no caps to how much cashback you can earn.

The best part of the Chase Freedom is that points earned on the card can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. If you have either of those cards then you can convert cashback into Ultimate Rewards point at a rate of one Ultimate Rewards point per cent. In other words, $100 cashback converts into 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

This means that in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, this card accrues 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. That’s an incredible return on everyday, non-bonused spend, and makes it better than the Sapphire Preferred, which does have an annual fee.

Is the Freedom Unlimited a good cashback card?

If it’s just cashback you’re after, you shouldn’t get the Freedom Unlimited. You’re better off with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers 1% cash back when you make your purchase, and then 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases. That card will net you 0.5% more cashback after you pay off your bill.

If you’re open to earning cashback towards travel, I’d consider the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® or Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, both of which offer 2% or more cashback towards travel with no foreign transaction fees.

But either way, you can do better than 1.5% cashback on a no annual fee card. The real value in the Freedom Unlimited is in conjunction with the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, as you’ll be earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent.

Is the Chase Freedom or Freedom Unlimited better?

It all depends on what you’re after and how much you spend in various categories. Both cards have no annual fees, so the major difference is how many points you’d earn through the bonus categories on the Freedom Card. The Freedom Card offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, valid for up to $1,500 of spend per quarter.

In other words, I usually earn 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points per quarter by maximizing the Freedom Card bonus categories. What this doesn’t account for is how many points I’d earn on another card.

For example, this quarter you can earn 5x points at grocery stores, though usually I earn 4.5x points at grocery stores on the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, as it offers 3x points at grocery stores, and a 50% points bonus when making 30 transactions per billing cycle. I should note that the bonus on groceries is capped at $6,000 per year, but my point is that the math gets tricky at times.

In general I think the Freedom Card is worth having for maximizing the bonus categories, though at the same time the Freedom Unlimited is fantastic for maximizing your return on everyday spend.

For example, you can pay your taxes by credit card for a convenience fee of ~1.87%, so if you pay with the Freedom Unlimited and also have a card which accrues Ultimate Rewards points, that’s like picking up Ultimate Rewards points for ~1.25 cents each, which I consider to be a great value.


Freedom Unlimited Card bottom line

The Freedom Unlimited offers the best return on everyday, non-bonused spend of any Chase card out there, assuming you have it in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. I guess it’s intended to be Chase’s response to the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, which also offers up to 1.5x points on everyday spend.

However, if it’s actual cashback you’re after, you’re much better off with something like the Citi® Double Cash Card,

I’d say there’s also still merit to the Freedom Card, thanks to the 5x points in rotating quarterly categories.

Lastly, keep in mind that Chase has recently tightened up their rules for credit card applications, so don’t expect to get approved if you’ve applied for more than five credit cards in the past 24 months.

Do you plan on picking up the Freedom Unlimited? Do you prefer it or the Freedom Card?

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  1. “don’t expect to get approved if you’ve applied for more than five credit cards in the past 24 months.”

    The number of applications or hard pulls isn’t the determinant. It’s credit cards accounts actually opened, as reported on your credit report. Does not include small business cards (which don’t report on personal), except for Chase small business cards which do count.

  2. I can’t apply for this card because of 5/24. If I can go 24 months without opening 5 cards, I’d probably apply for this, especially if they offer a higher bonus. But I’m not going to suppress my other credit card activity just for this. Other cards provide similar value, and their 5/24 rule clearly means that Chase doesn’t want my business anyway.

  3. Any insight into comparison of protection perks between sapphire and freedom ultimate card? Return protection, price protection, extended warranty?

    Beyond dining and travel 2x pts on Sapphire, I had always thought it was slightly better than some non-annual fee cards in regards to those types of perks. For example, including primary car rental coverage vs I assume ultimate doesn’t have. If ultimate doesn’t have extended warranty coverage or provides less coverage, may not be better for certain large purchases, for example.

  4. Clearly an answer to Amex Everyday Preferred, but I prefer having one card for grocery, gas (in non Freedom quarters), and everyday spend. However, for someone who doesn’t want to diversify and already uses Sapphire Preferred and Freedom, this is great news.

  5. @Lucky – can household UR transfers be made from one person with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to another person with CSP? Unfortunately, we are stuck at the moment unable to apply for more Chase cards due to 5/24, and I have a CSP and my wife has a Chase Freedom card. Thanks.

  6. Adam, may want to try an ink card. I got initially denied 5 weeks ago. I called back in last week and got approved despite getting the dreaded …”sir, can you explain why you have 8 new accounts opened in the past year?” I was not asked anything else beyond verifying personal information and my business revenue the past 2 years and expected revenue this year (5000). They also shifted credit from my united card.

  7. Does anybody know if the Chase United Mileage Plus cards fall into their 5/24 rule? Does Chase apply the rule to ALL of their credit cards? I was just rejected for a Chase SLATE due to the aforementioned 5/24 rule violation. This is starting to make Chase products unworkable in the short-term and making me pass up some great deals.

  8. Does anyone know if this new Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a Visa card, so it can be used later at Costco, after the changeover in June from AMX?

  9. @Lucky
    I am in the same situation as Adam, above. Husband with Ultimate Rewards earning cards (Sapphire Preferred & Ink) but unable to get Chase Freedom Unlimited due to 5/24 rule. Wife approved for Freedom Unlimited. Same household. Same question as Adam, can the Freedom Unlimited points be transferred to a household Ultimate Rewards account or is my wife stuck with cash back?

    If anyone knows the answer, it would be great.

  10. To use it in conjunction with the CSP card, is it ok if my CSP card is an authorized user card or does the CSP card have to be under my own primary account?

  11. Which credit company will my credit application information be assessed by? Some use Transunion where others use Equifax or Experian. Also, what score is the least amount a consumer needs to have in order to be approved. I understand that other variables are considered too but there should be a minimum number allowed.
    Thank you.
    Tami Hart

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