Chase Freedom Unlimited Vs. Chase Ink Unlimited

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Comparisons
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In my opinion, Chase’s best personal and business cards for non-bonused spending are the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) and Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card (review), respectively. Actually, I’d argue these are the two best cards for everyday spending without any sort of a cap on how many points you can earn.

There are a lot of overlapping benefits between the two cards, so in this post I wanted to look at the similarities and differences between the cards, for anyone who is trying to decide which makes more sense. Personally I have both cards, and I’ll explain why below.

So, what makes these cards similar, what makes them different, and which card makes the most sense for you?

Similarities between the Freedom Unlimited & Ink Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited have a lot in common, including their annual fees, their rewards structures, and more. Even their names are similar.

So let’s take a look at the details of the similarities:

No annual fee

Both cards have no annual fee. Not only is there no annual fee the primary cardmember, but there’s also no fee to add authorized users.

1.5x points on all purchases

Both cards offer 1.5x points on all purchases, with no cap on how many points you can earn with the card. On the surface this is equivalent to 1.5% cash back, though as I’ll discuss a bit later, there are ways to get a lot more value than that.

Differences between the Freedom Unlimited & Ink Unlimited

While the Freedom Unlimited and Ink Unlimited have a lot in common, they also have quite a few differences that are worth being aware of, and that should impact which card you get (unless you’re like me, and decide that both cards make sense for you).

Personal card vs. business card

On the most basic level, the Freedom Unlimited is a personal credit card, while the Ink Unlimited is a business credit card. So which card makes the most sense depends on whether you’re looking for a personal or business card.

According to the cardmember agreements, it’s permissible to put business spending on a personal card (you can always do that and have your company reimburse you), but you can’t put personal spending on a business card.

Car rental coverage

The Ink Unlimited offers primary CDW coverage (collision damage waiver coverage) on car rentals when renting for business purposes, while the Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer car rental coverage.

Getting that kind of a benefit on a no annual fee card is pretty rare.

Sign-up bonuses

The two cards have very different sign-up bonuses:

  • The Ink Unlimited offers a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first three months
  • The Freedom Unlimited offers a welcome bonus of $150 back after spending $500 in the first three months

The bonus on the Ink Unlimited is going to be better no matter how you slice it.

Maximizing value with both “Unlimited” cards

On the surface, both the Freedom Unlimited and Ink Unlimited are cash back cards, and points can be redeemed for a penny each. It doesn’t matter whether you want to redeem for a statement credit, travel purchase, or gift card, you’ll get a penny of value per point.

However, you can get significantly more value out of the points if you have them in conjunction with a card earning “premium” Ultimate Rewards points:

That’s because points can be pooled across cards (see the ultimate guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards for details on how that works). That increases the value of your points by 25-50% right there.

Then you can potentially get even more value out of your points by transferring them to one of the Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partners (which is my preferred redemption), which include the following:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld Of Hyatt
Emirates Skywards
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited are both exceptional cards. Assuming you have these cards in conjunction with one earning Ultimate Rewards points, I value the return on these cards at ~2.55% (since I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each).

The business version of the card does have some additional perks and a better welcome bonus, but otherwise, there’s a lot of overlap between the cards.

Personally, I have both cards, and that’s simply for easy accounting. I want to keep my business and personal expenses separate, so that allows me to do so.

See this post for more on the best Chase credit cards for travel rewards.

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  1. @Lucky

    The primary CDW on the Ink Business Unlimited is for car rental for business. Is there a potential problem if try to collect, if the car rental was on a personal trip?

    Is so, is there any card that had primary CDW for personal car rentals?

  2. @david

    Yes it needs to be for business purposes. I would not risk it.

    The Chase sapphire preferred/Reserve and the US bank altitude reserve all have primary CDW for personal.

  3. I’m simply interested in adding to my miles and not in insurance or other similar benefits. Chase says that only business related items should be charged on business cards but do they really care? What could happen if I used the Ink Business Unlimited for all my personal purchases?

  4. There’s a hole in this post as big as the Grand Canyon: eligibility, based on already having a bunch of Chase cards in the same card “families”.

    For example, I’d love to get either (actually both) of these cards. But I’m up against the limits (never mind 5/24, a whole other limitation)…

    I currently hold 8 Chase cards, a mix of personal and business cards…

    In the “Ink family” I have two Ink Business Plus cards (one was previously an Ink Bold card); I also have an Ink Preferred. I’d love to get the Ink Unlimited, but I suspect Chase would say no.

    I have the old Freedom (Freedom Classic) card — and a Sapphire Preferred. I’d love to get a Freedom Unlimited, but I think having the Sapphire and Freedom card would similarly disqualify me for that.

    Am I wrong about the above?

  5. @Leland
    Close some of those old cards and make room for new, better cards. Nobody needs 8 cards with the same bank.

  6. @ Charlie,

    You must be unfamiliar with Chase cards. Most of the cards I have are super-valuable (the two Ink Plus cards, for example, are highly valuable, and are no longer available for new apps).

    I get great value from every single one of my 8 Chase cards – I (and I bet others here with a bunch of Chase cards) would take issue with your statement that “Nobody needs 8 cards with the same bank.” More to the point, having 8 cards from Chase is not necessarily an issue. The issue is that Chase limits the number of cards you can have in some of their product groups (eg you can’t get multiple Sapphire cards or, I think, multiple Freedom cards).

    The issue I have is I already have a Freedom card, but also want a Freedom Unlimited card. Likewise, I already have 3 Ink cards, and would like an Ink Unlimited card (and an Ink Cash card too, for that matter, if that were possible). I could make very good use of each one of these. There’s nothing wrong with “old” cards (in fact, there are “old” cards that have much better benefits than the “new” cards that replaced them).

  7. @Charlie, I have 10 chase cards. I don’t have any plans to close them. Ink plus, Ink cash, Ink preferred, marriott business, Ink unlimited, Ink preferred, sapphire preferred (just got the bonus), IHG, old Hyatt card, freedom card.

  8. @Leland
    I am very familiar with Chase cards and consider them to be far superior to their competitors. In fact, I’ve held the Chase United Explorer card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card since they were first issued. However, I am also familiar with the laws of mathematics which tell me that, the more cards I have, the less I can spend on each card, because my personal budget is a fixed amount. To get the maximum bang for the buck, I need to pick only the best cards, and then use those to maximize my credit card rewards. If I had 8 Chase cards, my rewards would decrease, because the annual fees would eat away at my earnings.

  9. Hi, @Leland. Quick question: are both of your Ink Plus cards for the same business/EIN? If yes, I would give serious consideration to the product change option (actually, even if not, I would give serious consideration to the product change option). I held both the Plus and Preferred for my new business, and I decided to product change the Plus to the Cash after being separately approved for the Ink Unlimited. This kept my credit history strong for my D&B/DUNS rating, and also allowed me one slot-worth of leeway within 5/24 for other cards which were part of my overall strategy.

    Sure, it stung a bit giving up that juicy sign-up bonus, but I earn the majority of my points through spend as opposed to churn, so this solution fit my “buy and hold” paradigm better than “pump and dump.” What’s important to me (especially for business cards), is that a card fits my spending patterns rather than the other way ’round.

  10. My wife and I have, jointly or individually, the Sapphire Reserve (first week it was available), Freedom Unlimited and Ink Preferred (x2). We us them all and they all contribute to our UR account, now close to 1M UR points. Dumped Amex after 40 years and haven’t looked back.

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