The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the most rewarding credit cards out there for everyday spending, though it’s not a card that everyone should have, in my opinion.
So in this post I wanted to take a look at who should and shouldn’t consider picking up this card.
The basics of the Chase Freedom Unlimited
Here are the basic things to know about the Chase Freedom Unlimited:
- Annual fee: $0
- Return on spend: 1.5x points per dollar spent
- Value of points: Each point can be redeemed for one cent, though in conjunction with another card can be worth more
- Foreign transaction fees: 3%
The Freedom Unlimited has an increased welcome bonus
That means $20,000 of spend would earn you 60,000 points. This is a significantly better welcome bonus than the old one, especially for big spenders.
Who wouldn’t benefit from the Freedom Unlimited
On the most basic level, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a cash back card, earning 1.5 cents back per dollar spent. While that’s alright, it’s not great, and you can definitely do better.
For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card also has no annual fee and offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases. So that card offers a significantly better return.
That’s because the card has a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening (each mile can be redeemed for a cent towards a travel purchase, or can even be transferred to an airline partner at a ratio of up to 2:1.5). Then the card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, though it offers other great benefits, like no foreign transaction fees, up to 10x points on hotels.com purchases, and more.
Regardless of which path you choose, there’s no reason to earn 1.5% cash back when you could be earning 2% cash back on a variety of cards.
Who would benefit from the Freedom Unlimited
What makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited so interesting is how much the value of the card can change based on what other card you have in conjunction with it. Having the right other card to go along with it improves the value proposition by at least 50%, making it an industry leading card.
Ordinarily, if you have the Freedom Unlimited, points can be redeemed for a penny each, meaning that 15,000 points are worth $150 cash back. You get that same value no matter what you choose to redeem for, whether a statement credit, travel purchase, or gift card.
However, if you have the card in conjunction with one earning Ultimate Rewards points — 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.
Have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card? Suddenly those 15,000 points are worth $225 towards travel rather than $150.
And I’d say that’s the minimum value you should get out of those points. You can then also transfer the points 1:1 to any of the following partners:
|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|
This is a way to get outsized value, especially for luxury vacations. For example, you could transfer 30,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night at the Park Hyatt Maldives.
Or you could transfer as little as 50,000 points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for a Delta business class ticket from the US to Europe.
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.
Already have the Chase Freedom Unlimited? It’s not too late
If you’re someone who has been using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® as a cash back card for whatever amount of time without realizing you could get a lot more value, there’s good news.
If you pick up one of the cards that outright earns Ultimate Rewards points — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card — you can transfer over all your points to that card, and benefit from the increased value.
That’s the case even if you earned all of those points before you applied for the new card. So don’t feel bad. You’ve actually been using the right card all along, you just didn’t know it. 😉
You can also downgrade to the Chase Freedom Unlimited
There’s potentially another option for acquiring the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, beyond outright applying for the card.
You’ll need to phone Chase to see what’s possible, but as a general rule of thumb as long as you’ve had a card for at least a year, you can product change it.
For example, having the combination of the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® could make sense, as the former gives you access to Ultimate Rewards and has great bonus categories, while the latter offers 1.5x points per dollar spent.
If you’re using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® independently as a cash back card, you could probably be doing better with another card. The card offers the equivalent of 1.5% back, when other cards offer 2% back.
The good news is that if you’re using it in conjunction with another card (especially the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card), you’re doing things right. You’re using what I consider to be the single best card for non-bonused spending without any sort of caps on how many points you can earn per year.
You’re earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase (for a return of 2.25% per dollar spent), or can be transferred to an Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partner (where I think you can get even more value).