In my opinion, Chase’s best personal and business cards for non-bonused spending are the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) and Ink Business UnlimitedSM 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
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.
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 3x points on the first $20,000 spent on the card within the first year
The bonus on the Ink Unlimited is going to be better no matter how you slice it. For example, if you spent $20,000 on both cards in the first year, you’d earn 80,000 points with the Ink Unlimited (30,000 points from spending, plus 50,000 points from the bonus) or 60,000 points with the Freedom Unlimited.
I would note that in both cases these cards have among the best offers ever.
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:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (review), points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase
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 Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Bonvoy|
|British Airways Executive Club||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
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.