This Is the Most Overlooked No-Annual-Fee Card for Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards

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INSIDER SECRET: With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you earn cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points and if you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card (with an annual fee) that earns points, you can transfer the points from either card to any of Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners.

My parents have only been collecting miles and points for less than two years and they are looking to resupply their stock of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. They already have these Chase cards:

Now I’m recommending they apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited. With this card they’ll earn 3% cash back (3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent) the first year on up to $20,000; then 1.5% back.

My folks like to keep it simple and to book travel they wouldn’t otherwise pay cash for at the same time. I’ll explain why the Chase Freedom Unlimited fits the bill for them.

My folks used their Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a trip out west last year and now they’re ready to re-stock.

Earn Up to $600 cash back (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points) for No Annual Fee

Apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card

Read our review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

It’s not hard to earn at least $600 cash back (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) the first year you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited. If you spend ~$1,667 on the card each month for a year, you’ll earn the full 3% back on spending up to $20,000. And anything you purchase after that will earn you 1.5% back.

This is a quirky offer because $20,000 is such a big number and you could put that same amount of spending toward earning the intro bonus on four or more travel rewards credit cards. But the thing is, my parents don’t want to open that many credit cards this year. They’ve got enough to manage already and this offer is perfect for keeping their travel rewards simple. They don’t have to worry about meeting minimum spending requirements and after the introductory offer is met (or expires), it’s still a card worth keeping.

Right now they put their personal spending on their Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which earns 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and travel. But most of their purchases only earn 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. So by earning 1.5% back (1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on their everyday purchases, they’ll be getting 50% more in rewards for most of their purchases and they won’t have to keep track of bonus spending categories. So it’s not only more rewarding for them, it is also easier to manage.

Make the Points You Earn Worth More

Normally the points you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited are worth 1 cent each toward various rewards. But they can be more valuable once you pool them with any of these cards:

Because my parents have the Chase Sapphire Preferred they will be able to pool their Chase points into that account and then transfer them to any of Chase’s transfer partners. They can also do the same thing with their Ink Business Preferred. They love having this option because they can stay at expensive Hyatt hotels that normally wouldn’t be in their budget. For example, they were able to use 30,000 points to book two award nights at the Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco (the award price at that hotel has increased since then). The same two nights would have cost over $1,200 if they paid cash.

But even if you don’t want to transfer your Chase points to Hyatt or other Chase partners, you can still keep it simple and get more value at the same time. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred you can pool your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to those accounts and they’re worth 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal. The Chase Travel Portal runs through Expedia, so using it is just like booking through Expedia and you’ll have the option of paying for your travel with Chase points instead of cash.

And if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can do even better because your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal.

Be Sure You’re Eligible

Another big reason the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a good fit for my parents is because they are both still under the Chase “5/24” limit. The Chase “5/24” rule will restrict you from getting any Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards from any bank in the past 24 months. But small business credit cards from certain banks (including Chase) won’t add to the count because they don’t show up on your personal credit report. And they own a cabinet shop, so several of the cards they’ve opened the past couple of years have been business cards.

Want to learn more about Chase Ultimate Rewards?  Check out these guides:

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All photos by the author unless noted otherwise.

Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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