Even though the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards might seem similar, there are some subtle differences you must consider in order to pick the best one for your needs, which we'll cover in this review.
The Chase Freedom credit card comes with a 150 dollar cash back sign up bonus within the first three months, as long as you spend five hundred bucks. It's got 1% cash back on all purchases, and it's got 5% cash back every quarter on select bonus categories. The categories have included department stores, PayPal, groceries, Walmart, gas stations, internet, etc.
The card itself has no annual fee, and that's pretty much the extent of the Chase Freedom. So the way you maximize this card is that the $150 cashback can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards linked credit card. It could be the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example. The hundred fifty dollar cash back can be transferred into fifteen thousand Ultimate Rewards points. When you shift over those points, they're worth about 300 dollars.
Another hack is to transfer the Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore Airlines, famous for their suite class so this Chase Freedom Card gets you closer to that bed in the sky.
How does it compare to the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card?
In 2016 the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card was introduced by Chase. Like the regular Freedom card it also has no annual fee, but instead of rotating through different bonus categories, it has a flat 1.5 points per dollar reward structure. So if you charge $100 on your card, you would earn 150 points.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited has at same $150 cash back when you spend 500 in the first three months. It's got zero APR for the first 15 months, and it’s is a great everyday credit card. It also has that same no annual fee.
Earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase is really a fantastic deal. The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns three points on travel and dining, and the Prefered gets two points. You're not going to hit that 3x on the travel or dining but the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Reserve only earn one point on everyday purchases, so this Chase Freedom Unlimited card is better than both of those cards and with no annual fee.
Which Freedom credit card should you get
The Chase Freedom card is an awesome card to pair with Chase’s premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Reserve card. It's an excellent card for earning points quickly, especially when you take advantage of the category spend. This card would be great for anyone getting started in the card rewards points hobby, particularly if you already have any of the premium Chase credit cards.
If you are the type of person that loves to maximize points and squeeze every last cent out of these credit cards, the Chase Freedom Card is going to be for you. Earning five times Ultimate Rewards points on every single purchase in these bonus categories up to $1500 is a tremendous value. The Chase Sapphire Reserve only earns three times points on travel and dining, but with the Chase Freedom you can get 5x points
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card, on the other hand, is a simple, no-nonsense flat rate card. It's an excellent card for people that don't want the annoyance of having to track all the bonus categories and how much was spent. While the 1.5 points per dollar may seem less than other flat rate cash back cards, keep in mind that you may be able to get more value from each point by transferring them or redeeming them via Chase’s travel portal.
If you’re the type of person who wants to maximize points but is obsessive about this, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an awesome option. You're going to get 1.5 points on every single purchase, which really is impossible to beat from a no annual fee credit card. At a bonus cap of $1500 per quarter, it would earn you 7500 bonus points or potentially 30,000 bonus points per year.
If we had to recommend a strategy, you should apply for the regular Freedom card first since you will probably gain a higher amount of points in the short term. However, you should also consider adding the Freedom Unlimited to cover the non-bonus spend as a long-term strategy.
Tips on making the most of your Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited credit cards
Keep track of the bonus categories
The bonus categories change all the time, so it can be difficult to remember. This is pretty common to people who have other cards with similar rotating bonus categories like the Discover IT card.
Set a reminder to turn on the bonus category every four months
Make sure you enable the bonus category every four months for your Chase Freedom card. To do this you go directly to the activation page or through your account page on the Chase website. You can also verify the status of your activation on the account home page. Bear in mind that you can activate the bonus even after the quarter has started. Chase will retroactively award you bonus points; the only catch is that you have to activate before the quarter ends. Otherwise, you will lose out on the bonus points.
Keep track of your spending
This is more applicable to the Chase Freedom Card. You can use apps like You Need A Budget -or YNAB- to track your daily spend. That way you can proactively monitor how much you’re spending in that bonus category per quarter.
If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, transfer points to it. You can increase the redemption rate on your Freedom and Freedom Unlimited points by transferring them to your Reserve card since it has 1.5 cents per point redemption rate vs. standard 1.25 cents per point found on most Chase cards.
Be creative with your bonus category spend
You might think that you'll never actually pay $1,500 on groceries or drugstore purchases and you're probably right. However, remember that you can often buy other things at these stores, like gift cards. For example, you can purchase a few gift cards in May and June from the grocery store and drugstore as Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts and will contribute to the category spend bonus.
Chase Freedom & Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card fees
Annual membership fee
foreign transaction fee
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases.After that, 17.24%–25.99% variable APR
3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Main benefits and perks
Shop with points at Amazon
Book your travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards for competitive rates
Extended Warranty Protection
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