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Good news! You can now apply for the new Chase Freedom Unlimited 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 a $150 bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) when you sign-up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
And you’ll also get:
- $25 (2,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 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!
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.
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?
That is, unless you’re a very big spender!
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).
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.
The new Chase Freedom Unlimited is now open for applications!
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.