Comparing The Freedom Unlimited & Ink Unlimited

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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In my opinion Chase’s best personal and business cards for non-bonused spending are the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card, 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.

Similarities between the Freedom Unlimited & Ink Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited have a lot in common, as both cards:

  • Have no annual fee
  • Offer 1.5x points on all purchases, with no cap to how many points you can earn

So the earnings structures and fees of the two cards are identical, but that’s where the similarities end.

Differences between the Freedom Unlimited & Ink Unlimited

The most basic difference between the Freedom Unlimited and Ink Unlimited is that the former is a personal card while the latter is a 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.

But beyond that there are two significant advantages to the Ink Unlimited over the Freedom Unlimited:

  • The Ink Unlimited offers primary CDW coverage on car rentals when renting for business purposes, while the Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer car rental coverage
  • The Ink Unlimited offers a much better welcome bonus; in my opinion it offers the best welcome bonus of any no annual fee card

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, and 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:

AirlinesHotels
Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld Of Hyatt
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.

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Comments

  1. Aren’t there a few things missing in this comparison?

    * Bonus earn offers are offered on a somewhat regular basis for the Freedom Unlimited card – this does not seem to be the case for the Ink Unlimited (if I’m wrong here, that’s awesome).
    * The approval process is significantly different for a great many applicants given the additional requirements associated with being approved for a Business product issued by Chase.
    * Although both cards require a free “5/24 slot” for approval in most cases, the Ink Unlimited does not fill one of those slots.
    * Existing Chase customers are sometimes offered the ability to apply for Chase personal cards (including the Freedom Unlimited) even though they are past 5/24. Myself and others have been targeted with offers for the Freedom Unlimited in ways that typically bypass 5/24, even though we’re all well over 5/24.

  2. @UA +1- not only are the CFU bonus spend offers better, the bonus sign-up offer last April (unltd 3x for a yr) has only been offered on the CFU & never the CIU. Doubling the value on spend from a new sign-up is a big distinguisher if you are doing a lot of spend, if only temporary (as are spend offers).

    Maybe they will, or won’t, bring 3x back on the CFU but for the last yr I also had no reason to use the CIU with it. I think if I didn’t have either I’d get & use the CIU & wait for another 3x unltd CFU offer to maybe come around?

  3. @lucky is there a limit on the number of chase business cards you can have? I want to get the CIP and this ink card but already have two other ink cash cards and a handful of regular chase cards.

  4. You can use the IU with plastiq without limitation. The FU is limited to 20% of your credit limit. You can also load the FU to your digital wallet. Also, chase offers only with the FU.

    Cheers

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