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Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited: Is One Better For You?

The Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited debate is a simple one to tackle.  Both credit cards are very similar, besides one important factor.  How they earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  They even have such a similar card name that people often confuse which card is which.  The Chase Freedom credit card is the original card which offers bonus categories that earn 5 points per $1 spent that rotate quarterly.  The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is the successor which offers a consistent 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases.   The debate of frequent travelers and credit card experts is over which card is better for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

chase freedom card

Chase Freedom

$150 (15k Ultimate Rewards) after spending $500 in 3 mo.

No Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

VS

chase freedom unlimited card art new

Chase Freedom Unlimited

$150 (15k Ultimate Rewards) after spending $500 in 3 mo.

No Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

 

Both Cards are Mostly the Same, Except for Earning Points

Everything about the two credit cards is identical besides how they earn points.  We will save you from looking at a comparison chart with only one difference.  We’ll focus in on the one important difference.  First, we’ll briefly run through what the cards have in common.  Both the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited have the following features:

  • $25 for adding Authorized User (2500 Ultimate Rewards)
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months
  • No Annual Fee

 

Introductory Offers

While both cards used to come with an introductory offer of $150, now only the Chase Freedom card offers that. The Freedom Unlimited has a new offer. In the first year of being a cardmember, you’ll earn 3% on all purchases up to $20,000 in spend. 3% is double the usual rewards and can earn you up to 60,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the first year. That would be 30,000 more than you’d earn regularly at 1.5%. Is it a good offer? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

 

You’ll Need a Good to Great Credit Score

Note that both cards have a 3% foreign transaction fee, so they aren’t the best cards to use while traveling internationally.  They both also get approvals with credit scores in the range of good to great (670+).  If your credit score is not at this level yet, learn about the credit cards available to those with fair credit.  The one difference these two credit cards have is how points are earned.

 

chase freedom vs chase freedom unlimited pinterest

 

The Chase Freedom earns 5 points per $1 spent on rotating categories, like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, department stores, phone bills, or cable bills.  They also have categories such as using Chase Pay or Apple Pay on your phone.  Each quarter there will typically be 3 different categories that earn the 5X bonus.  These category bonuses are limited to $1500 of spending each quarter.  So, the maximum amount of points earned per quarter is 7,500.  All other purchases will earn 1 point per $1 spent.

 

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has no rotating categories, and simply earns 1.5 points on each and every purchase.  It has no spending limit for its earning rate.  The Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Freedom debate comes down to which of these two no-fee credit cards is best for you.

 

Let’s compare the Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited using the scenario of a person who spends $2,000 per month.

 

ScenarioQuarterly Points Earned with FreedomQuarterly Points Earned with Freedom Unlimited
1. Max Out All Quarterly Bonuses80003000
2. 50% of Spend in Quarterly Bonuses50003000
3. 25% of Spend in Quarterly Bonuses35003000

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: Better for Simplification

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is great for people who don’t want to worry about where and when they spend their money, but still want an elevated rate of earning points. By earning 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, you can simply use the card and earn the same amount of points on everything. Never worry about going to a certain store or gas station, or activating any category bonuses. This card is for no-nonsense people who just want simplicity. If this is you, the Chase Freedom Unlimited would be a great addition to your wallet.

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You'll earn $150 (in the form of 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You'll earn 1.5% back on all purchases. (after year 1) No limit.
BENEFITS
Points can be transferred to primary Chase cards for better redemptions.
Free credit score.
ANNUAL FEE
No annual fee
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
This is one of the best "cash back" cards for earning rewards. You earn 1.5% per dollar (3% year 1) and those points can be transferred to a primary Chase card for better redemptions. It's a perfect card to pair with either of the Sapphire cards or the Ink Business Preferred.

 

Chase Freedom Review: Better for Maximizing Points

The original Chase Freedom card is better for people who are looking to maximize their points earning with every purchase.  Because Chase Freedom has very good category bonuses, it’s possible to get nearly the full amount of bonus points per quarter (7500).  Many of the category bonus merchants even have gift card racks.  Gift cards can be bought to make purchases at the stores you regularly go to.  This technique can allow you to earn 5X points on nearly everything.  Personally, if we could only have one of the two cards, we would choose the Freedom because we’re willing to put in the extra effort to maximize points.

 

Chase Freedom

LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>
INTRODUCTORY OFFER
You'll earn $150 (in the form of 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
REWARDS
You'll earn 5% on rotating quarterly categories. (up to $1500 in purchases per quarter)
BENEFITS
Points can be transferred to primary Chase cards for better redemptions.
Free credit score.
ANNUAL FEE
No annual fee
TRAVEL FREEDOM THOUGHTS
This is one of the best "cash back" cards for earning rewards. You can earn up to 5X per dollar and those points can be transferred to a primary Chase card for better redemptions. It's a perfect card to pair with either of the Sapphire cards or the Ink Business Preferred.

 

chase freedom unlimited vs chase freedom

 

Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited: How About Both?

Why treat these cards like competitors when they can play together quite nicely?  Like Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry playing together on the basketball court, these two credit cards can be champions together (NBA reference).  If you pair the two credit cards, you can earn 5X points on all Chase Freedom category bonuses and 1.5X points on everything else using the Chase Freedom Unlimited.  This will give you the best of both worlds and a killer point earning combination.  Double the freedom has to be a good thing, right?

 

Transfer Points to a Premium Chase Card For More Value

Here’s a little secret that you’ll want to know if you have any Ultimate Rewards points.  When Chase Ultimate Rewards are redeemed using either of the Freedom credit cards, points are worth 1 cent each.  But, because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are transferable between different cards, and even between different people (only household members), point values can be multiplied.  With a few of the other premium Chase credit cards, it’s possible to redeem points at a higher value.

 

Upgrade your Ultimate Rewards

When redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, points are worth 1.25 cents with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Preferred and 1.5 cents with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  All three of these credit cards also come with the ability to use Chase’s travel transfer partners.  By transferring to some of their travel partners at a 1:1 ratio, it’s possible to redeem points for well over 2 cents each.  If you’re able to have one of these premium Chase credit cards to go along with your Freedom or Freedom Unlimited, it always makes sense to transfer points before redeeming.

transfer chase ultimate rewards

 

Chase Freedom Activate Quarterly Bonuses

In order to be eligible for the Chase Freedom 5X quarterly bonus categories, you’ll need to activate your card each quarter.  You’ll visit this Chase web-page and fill out your last name, last 4 digits of your card, your zip code, and press enter.  That’s all.  It’s very simple, and Chase will even send you reminders via email.  For your category bonuses to work, you’ll need to activate your Chase Freedom by the middle of the last month in that quarter.  For instance, you must activate your card by December 14th, 2018 to be eligible for the quarter 4 bonuses in 2018.  With Chase’s reminders and the fact that you’ll want to know what the bonus categories are, it’s easy to remember to activate your card.

 

Chase Freedom Calendar: Rotating Categories

To see the current and upcoming Chase Freedom 5X bonus categories visit the Chase Freedom Calendar.  You’ll also be able to activate your card on the same page.

chase freedom calendar spring 2019

 

If you’re looking to add a great credit card for earning points by spending, either the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Freedom are great additions to any wallet.  They are very similar cards with that one large difference.  How points are earned through spending.  Pick which card fits your style best, or even better, go with both.

 

Definitely look into the other Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards to partner with these so that you can both maximize your earning and your point redemptions.  Just think, if you can earn 5X points on every $1 spent, and then redeem those points for a value of 2 cents or more, you’re essentially getting 10% or better back in value on your spending. That’s pretty impressive, compared to the typical 1% cash back earned with other cards.

chase freedom card

Chase Freedom

$150 (15k Ultimate Rewards) after spending $500 in 3 mo.

No Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

chase freedom unlimited card art new

Chase Freedom Unlimited

$150 (15k Ultimate Rewards) after spending $500 in 3 mo.

No Annual Fee

LEARN HOW TO APPLY >>

Advertiser Disclosure: Travel Freedom has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Freedom and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
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