Should You Apply for the New Chase Freedom Unlimited Card With No Annual Fee?

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Good news!  You can now apply for the new Chase Freedom Unlimited card! 

Should You Apply For The New Chase Freedom Unlimited Card With No Annual Fee

The Chase Freedom Unlimited Can Unlock Big Travel – but It’s NOT Right for Everyone!

It’s similar to the Chase Freedom (which is still available) with the same sign-up bonus and no annual fee!

And it also earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points which you can transfer to travel partners if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available) card.

But there’s ONE big difference you should know about!

I’ll explain who should consider this card and what makes it so different from the regular Chase Freedom!

What’s the Deal?

Link:   Chase Freedom Unlimited

You’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) when you sign-up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and spend $500 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

And you’ll also get:

  • 2,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus points ($25) when you add an authorized user who makes a purchase in the 1st 3 months of opening your account
  • 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (1.5% cash back) per $1 you spend on all purchases with NO limit (hence, the “Unlimited”)
  • No annual fee

But it does NOT have rotating 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) quarterly bonus categories like the regular Chase Freedom card.

Instead, you’ll earn 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend (1.5% cash back) on ALL purchases.  With NO spending limit!

Should You Apply For The New Chase Freedom Unlimited Card With No Annual Fee

You’ll Earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (1.5% Cash Back) on ALL Purchases With the Chase Freedom Unlimited – With No Cap!

This could make a big difference for folks who spend the maximum of $1,500 per quarter in popular rotating 5X bonus categories, which in the past have included restaurants, gas stations, department stores, and Amazon.

That said, the regular Chase Freedom only earns 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 (1% cash back) on non-bonus category purchases.  So depending on where you spend the most, the Chase Freedom Unlimited could be a better deal.

But you can have both cards, because they’re different card products.  And they’re both free to keep for the long term, because they don’t have annual fees.

Hanging on to no-annual-fee cards can increase the average age of your credit accounts and possibly boost your credit score.

Should You Apply For The New Chase Freedom Unlimited Card With No Annual Fee

Keeping No-Annual-Fee Cards Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited for the Long Term Can Potentially Improve Your Credit Score

I’ve kept the Chase Freedom in my wallet for years because I love the 5X rotating bonus categories.  It’s a terrific way to earn lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which I transfer to airline and hotel partners like United Airlines and Hyatt for Big Travel!

But keep in mind, Chase has tightened their application rules, and if you’ve opened ~5 or more cards in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for either card.

Regular Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited – Which Should You Choose?

If you regularly spend the maximum $1,500 per quarter on rotating 5X bonus categories, the regular Chase Freedom card is hard to beat.

That is, unless you’re a very big spender!

Here’s why.  If you spend $1,500 each quarter on 5X bonus categories, you’ll earn 7,500 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($75 cash back) each quarter with the Chase Freedom.

That works out to 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($300 cash back) per year for $6,000 in spending ($1,500 per quarter x 4).

If you spend the same $6,000 per year with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($90 cash back).

That’s a difference of 21,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (30,000 points earned with the Chase Freedom – 9,000 points earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited).

Should You Apply For The New Chase Freedom Unlimited Card With No Annual Fee

The Chase Freedom Is the Clear Winner If You Spend Lots in Bonus Categories – Unless You’re a Very Big Spender

That said, if you only spent $6,000 in non-bonus categories with the Chase Freedom, you’d earn 6,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points compared to 9,000 points with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.  Not that big a difference!

Of course, most folks spend a mix between bonus and non-bonus categories.  So it’s hard to do a side-by-side comparison for all scenarios.

The ideal situation is to have both cards.

How 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Can Be Worth More Than 2% Cash Back

Not all points are created equal.  So earning 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points could be more lucrative than earning 2% cash back with other cards.

Beat 2% Cash Back at Hyatt

For example, say you transfer your points for an otherwise pricey Hyatt hotel stay where your points are worth at least 2 cents each.  Then it’s like getting 3% cash back (1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 X 2 cents per point).

Free Flights on Southwest

Or if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, this could be a no-brainer.  That’s because Southwest points are worth at least 1.43 cents each when you redeem them for flights.  And with the Companion Pass you get 2 tickets for price of one.

That said, if you’re worried about Chase’s new application rules, or are limited in the number of Chase cards you can apply for, there are better Chase cards to get for Big Travel.

Decline the Sign-Up Bonus but Save a Credit Pull

The Chase Freedom Unlimited might be a good choice for folks who are about to cancel their Chase Sapphire Preferred or Slate card.  Instead of canceling, ask to switch your account to a Freedom Unlimited to keep the credit line with no annual fee.

But keep in mind you will NOT earn the sign-up bonus.  However, your credit score won’t temporarily dip because you’re not asking Chase for new credit.  Though you can ask the representative to be certain the bank won’t perform a “hard pull.”

This may also work with the Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash small business cards.  But Chase will likely NOT allow you to convert a Chase airline or hotel card such as the Hyatt or British Airways card to the Freedom Unlimited.

What I Dislike About Both Cards

Foreign transaction fees!  Both the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited impose ~3% fee for each transaction in US dollars when you make purchases abroad.

For that reason I always bring my Chase Sapphire Preferred.  But it’d be sweet to earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points while traveling outside the US!

Here’s my post for those of y’all looking for a no-annual-fee card without those pesky foreign transaction fees.

Bottom Line

The new Chase Freedom Unlimited is now open for applications!

Like the regular Chase Freedom (which is still available), you’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($150) after meeting minimum spending requirements.

But the Chase Freedom Unlimited does NOT earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (5% cash back) in quarterly rotating bonus categories.  Instead, it earns 1.5X points on all purchases (1.5% cash back) with no limit.

The regular Chase Freedom is a better card for folks who spend a lot in 5X bonus categories and have typical spending habits.

Of course, you can have both cards (because they’re different card products).  But keep Chase’s new application rules in mind, because if you’ve opened ~5+ cards in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for either card.

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24 responses to “Should You Apply for the New Chase Freedom Unlimited Card With No Annual Fee?

  1. I downgraded my Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Freedom Unlimited to avoid the annual fee. Because I last received the signup bonus for the CSP in February 2014, [at least 24 months ago, I realized I’m eligible to earn the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus again and have the annual fee waived for the 1st year.] – Edited

  2. Thinking about this scenario. Wife and I both have Freedom cards (two separate accounts). Convert one to Unlimited and keep the other to maximize both daily spend and quarterly categories. We do, however, have the max of 5 Chase-branded cards already. Would switching products as mentioned fly in the face of their policy, or are we good to go?

  3. any idea if this is going to be subject to chases 5/24 rule? if so its basically useless for me and most

  4. Is it possible to apply for the Freedom Unlimited and earning the 15,000 points AND canceling the sapphire preffered??

  5. Geez don’t you people read the frigging article?

  6. @Ian – You can earn the bonus again on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Chase says: “This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.”

    However, if you’ve opened ~5+ cards in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved.

    @Jon – That should work!

    @brendon – I suspect it is already subject to that rule because it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

    @MAC – Yes.

  7. I think we’ll try to downgrade our CSP to the Freedom Unlimited Card to avoid the annual fee. We’ll then still have a CSP, Freedom, and Freedom Unlimited, which will be used for everything other than gas and groceries, when we’re not going for a CC bonus with another card.

  8. That’s not the right phone number, they transferred me! 🙁

  9. @Matthew – That sounds like a good plan.

    @Jennifer – Thanks for letting us know!

  10. Saw the link to apply online at Credit Karma when I was logging in this morning – should I roll the dice and apply? I’m at 7/24!

  11. has anyone actually successfully gotten the Sapphire Preferred sign on bonus twice? I’ve had the card for years now but always thought the sign on bonus was once in a lifetime deal.

    I’d be willing to downgrade my CSP to Freedom Unlimited and then reapply for Sapphire if I can get 50K points again!

    Anyone pull this off?

  12. I have a chase slate card and keep getting offers for this chase freedom I was under the impression that if you have a chase card of any kind you couldn’t have anymore???is that true??

  13. Geeze. If we’re manufacturing new cards, why not put RFID technology in them. I’m sure Chase manufacturers RFID card for the rest of the world.

  14. So I think this is a good card for my mom. She has the Sapphire Ultimate and doesn’t want to pay the annual fee. So should we transfer the Sapphire card to the new Freedom Unlimited or just apply for the new card on a separate application? We want the sign up bonus too.

  15. Dear Jaina:

    Definitely downgrade the sapphire preferred to the Freedom Unlimited if you are going to get rid of the Sapphire Preferred (I assume you do minimal international travel of have another card with no foreign F/X fees?) Otherwise I’d suggest Mom keep the Sapphire preferred (or downgrade it to the Freedom Unlimited, as I myself don’t usually max out on the 5x’s bonuses as it’s all too much to keep track of with the 20+ cards (40 + if you include my partner in the dark arts, my sister). With that many cards, it’s very hard of keep track of keeping them all on payment on time (I suggest you ask the banks involved to give you a first of month or middle of month payment date where possible so it’s simplifies payment. Chase is VERY good about doing this, Citibank less so, but I think after you have had their card for a year they allow you to change the payment due date. Also it’s good to sign up for automatic payment of at least the minimal so you never are late, even if you have to pay some small fees that month, much better than having a late payment and getting dinged with a penalty APR rate!

    My 81 year old mother is the same way, she HATES to pay any annual fees, and loves to charge things on debit cards, which as you probably know earn (in 99.999% of the cases) no bonuses, especially travel. BofA may STILL have the Alaska air debit card, but that the only decent one (if it’s still available) that earns miles with purchases. I hate debit cards for this reason. It’s easy enough to keep track of the spending and have the son in the family make the payments on time and get reimbursed at the end of the month, and get thousands of annual points for family trips. I especially LOVE the Ink Plus card due to the 5 x’
    S points bonus on ultimate rewards for Internet, cell phone and cable service 12 months a year, 365 days a year. I don’t have to keep track of rotating bonuses, and it earns a LOT of bonus points when you have a family of 5 and 2 households automatically putting all those categories automatically on that card. You have to have a business, but Darius has written about MNAY ways you can be considered to have a business that you would otherwise not think of. Search his (this) website for “ways to be considered for business cards” or perhaps some shorter version of that in his excellent search function at the top right of the web page.

    Darius in my opinion is one of the best detail oriented bloggers out there, and one of the most honest. I love that he will tell you of a better offer, even if a lower offer on card would get him a tidy bonus. It’s really such a good policy (he calls it the mother in-laws rule, always give the best offer regardless financial gain to him personally, and I think it’s one of the many things that endear he and his wife and their site to us frequent flier types.

  16. We just tried to downgrade the CSP to the Freedom Unlimited and they wouldn’t let us do it. They said that the normal Sapphire was the only card that we could downgrade to.

  17. @Matt and Scott,

    Thanks for all your tips! We have decided to wait on the Freedom Unlimited. She is going to keep her CSP card for now. I want her to get the Chase United Mileage Plus card when the 50,000 mileage bonus signup rolls around the next time. For me, I think I am going to look into getting the Ink Plus card (I already have the CSP, Freedom, and United card), but I will need to establish a business first.

  18. I didn’t think the “normal” sapphire was still being offered, but anyways I would not recommend it as the Sapphire preferred is so much superior and well worth the $95/annual fee, which you can get back with the ability to make freedom points (either unlimited at 1.5 X’s or regular) into Ultimate rewards points, the no foreign transaction fees (remember not to go for the trick: would you like this in currency x or in dollars-it’s tempting to go for a dollar dominated transaction, but in essence, the way I understand it, you get charged a “transaction fee” to go from the home foreign currency into dollars, whereas the CSP card already pays for this transaction fee, so it’s really a tricky semi-scam in my opinion. I believe you MUST have either an ink product (I prefer the Plus with the nice bonus available) and/or the CSP product in order to use freedom points for UR points. I very much like the 1.5 points/dollar, essentially compared with he United Mileage $95/year card (versus the $450/year card which DOES give 1.5 points per dollar but is never offered with a bonus, what say a 30 or 50,000 bonus, which I have always been offered as a Premier Silver member (it’s my secondary program, a distant second as I live in Miami.) Thus, you get the 1.5 miles/dollar into UA miles through UR points, or you can top off highly valuable Hyatt points or Singapore air (be careful, once you transfer into one Singapore air even if by mistake, you are “Stuck” with that account for life according to the UR representative I talked with-sort of hard to believe. I have also been offered the $450 UA mileage card with no annual fee the first year, but unless UA is your primary program and thus the UA lounge access is something you would buy anyways, the main plus of this account (especially now that you can get the 1.5 points through the freedom ultimate) is indeed the access to UA lounges. I have never taken the bite to UA mileage only earning cards, although I like them (my sibling has the UA business version and I like the primary rental car coverage I am tempted to try to get the UA mileage plus explorer personal card at some point for the 50 K private premier bonus. However, two points I want to share additionally, I was able to transfer from a freedom to a freedom ultimate (keeping the same number and therefore the length of tenure for the card, important as it’s one of our oldest cards, about 10 years) just by asking, although since it was not a hard pull application I didn’t get the 15,000 points after $500 of spend nice offer but nowhere near as nice as the CSP 50K opening bonus. Also, 20/20 hindsight, I applied on a lark, not expecting to be approved for a new Chase card as I have been approved for more then 4 cards in the past 2 years, and got a Marriott Personal card with the quite rich 80,000 points after $3K spend and 7,500 EXTRA points (almost 90K points for opening a credit card) for the addition of an authorized used who only needs to make one purchase. They also gave me a rich $33K limit, I guess they finally believe me that I make a decent salary and pay my bills in full every month. Had I known I would have gone for the CSP, but I didn’t really think I would be approved due to the draconian approval process reported as of late. Oh well, at least they let you move limits around to whatever personal cards you like the best (Ritz -Carlton that I have enjoyed for several years and can’t imagine not having it in my wallet, the 10K/year for Gold Marriott status is very nice, and the last 2 years I have been offered a 40K points buy up for platinum, which I accepted both years with minimal (less than 1/2 the platinum 75 nights/year stay requirement). I find the Platinum upgrades to often be to 1 bedroom suites, so worth it in one 4 nights stay. I LOVE my Ritz-Carlton Card with the $300 airline credit (effectively making the card a $95/year card) with so many travel benefits, baggage insurance, trip cancellation insurance, up to 10K if you get sick for private air transport, etc. etc. etc. It boggles the mind why more people don’t get this card. It really is sweet in my humble opinion-and I always get some notice for the full 1 ounce of titanium it can’t help but make an impression (not sure if it a good one or one of ostentation?) It’s a fun hobby I think. Going to Europe this summer for a month with my fiancée and have suites confirmed in Berlin and Paris through Diamond Hyatt upgrades, excellent rates at Marriott Lisbon, JR Marriott in London and finally the renaissance Fira (a lovely property with a central garden and terrific, one of the best in fact, breakfasts.

  19. I have CSP and Chase Freedom. My hubby has CSP and is an authorized user on my Chase Freedom. I just got the Chase Freedom last fall. I didn’t max out the 2015 Q4 category but we have been this year. It takes us both spending to max out the $1500 quarterly. For example, gas category, $500 per month is more than what we spend for 3 cars per month because I drive a lot, he does not. Our gas stations don’t have gift cards worth buying or none at all so we bought gas cards for future spending. Having 2 Chase Freedom might pose a spending issue. We do not carry balances on our cards.

    We used to have the Southwest Premier and Plus cards (both of us). Late summer will be 2 years since I got it. I cancelled it a year after getting it to avoid the annual fee again. We would like to apply for them again so we can get the southwest bonus points and companion pass at the beginning of 2017.

    Should I apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card as well? Should my hubby apply for it?
    Would that hurt our chances of getting the Southwest cards later this year?

  20. So, I just gotten the CSP 10/05 and my current run rate would put me at the signup bonus of $4K by end of Nov. ( Yes! 50K bonus pts). After that, I’m thinking about getting both the Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited. My reasoning would be :
    1) get the 1.5 bonus for all purchases ( Unlimited)
    2) get the 5X bonus for specific quarterly categories ( Freedom)
    3) still use my CSP for in’l travel
    4) able to transfer all my points from both Freedom and Unlimited to CSP’s UR? Can I?
    5) get both signing bonus ( $150 after $500) for signing up with Freedom and Unlimited? Can I?

    • Yes to #4 and #5, though both the Freedom and Unlimited are under the 5/24 rule, so you likely won’t be approved if you have 5 open credit cards in the last 2 years.

      • My CSP is the only card I applied for in the last 5-7 years. I usually don’t quite get into the cc pursuit. Only had my AMEX for the longest time. Just started the Chase card after seeing one of my colleague getting “free” vaca from his points. lol.
        So, if I applied for both the Freedom and the Unlimited, I can potentially get back $300 after spending the required amount?
        Also, like I said earlier, I usually don’t apply for many cards once I find the one that I like but since I’m on a roll, haha, I’m also looking at the United MileagePlus Chase or rather “waiting ” for their targeted offer of 50K points after spending a certain amount. Makes sense since usually when I travel for business, I try to choose United and get the points for that.

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