We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited
- Best Sign-Up Bonus: Tie – Both earn up to $150 (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after meeting the same minimum spending requirement
- Best Point Earning: Chase Freedom – If you spend a lot in rotating quarterly bonus categories
- Best Redemption Value: Tie – Pair either card with another Chase card for even more value
- Best Annual Fee: Tie – Both have $0 annual fees
- Best Foreign Transaction Fees: Tie – Both cards charge a 3% fee overseas
- Best Worldwide Acceptance: Tie – Both are Visa cards with worldwide acceptance!
Andrew R: It’s no secret that our favorite rewards program is Chase Ultimate Rewards. Almost every Million Mile Secrets team member carries the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited in their wallet!
Both have great sign-up bonuses. And with either card, you can earn lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points on your everyday spending.
So which card is better for you? I’ll compare them side by side to help you figure it out!
Deciding which card is a better fit depends mostly on your personal preferences and spending habits. Let’s have a look.
Which Card Is Better? Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Link: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Link: Chase Freedom
1. Best Sign-Up Bonus
Both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited cards have the same sign-up bonus. You’ll earn $150 (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Taking into account both bonuses, you could earn a total of $175 (17,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points)!
2. Best Point Earning
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn:
- Unlimited 1.5% back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on all purchases made with the card
And with the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn:
- 5% back (5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on up to $1,500 in combined spending in rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus
- 1% back (1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on everything else
If you can make the most of the $1,500 in spending per quarter ($6,000 per year) in popular rotating 5X bonus categories (which in the past have included restaurants, gas stations, mobile wallets, department stores, and Amazon) you can potentially earn more cash back (or Ultimate Rewards points!) with the Freedom.
You can earn up to $75 cash back (7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) each quarter ($1,500 X 5%), for a total of $300 cash back (or 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) per year ($75 X 4 quarters), in addition to the non-bonus category spending you’d be doing.
Suppose you plan on spending $20,000 annually on either card, and will make the most of the 5% bonus categories every quarter. Your yearly earnings would look something like the below:
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: $20,000 x 1.5% = $300 cash back (30,000 Ultimate Rewards Points)
- Chase Freedom: $6,000 x 5% = $300 cash back. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases, so $14,000 x 1% = $140. In total, you would earn $440 cash back (44,000 Ultimate Rewards Points) over the course of the year.
In this comparison, you would earn more cash back / points using the Chase Freedom, if you spend the maximum each quarter in the bonus categories. But for some, the hassle of tracking rotating categories with the Freedom isn’t worth it. So it really comes down to your personal preference, spending habits, and how comfortable you are tracking categories.
Winner: Chase Freedom (if you make the most of the 5% rotating quarterly categories).
3. Best Redemption Value
Both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem for cash back or travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1 cent per point. For example, if you earn 10,000 points, that equates to $100 in cash back or travel.
But if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred, you can combine your points to one of these cards and use them to buy travel at a rate of 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point (depending on the card) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
Or transfer your points to valuable travel partners, like Hyatt or United Airlines, for potentially more value.
Million Mile Secrets team member Scott has kept his Chase Freedom card for many years because it has no annual fee and he loves collecting 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the rotating categories. He used to use the points for cash back. But now he moves the points he earns with Freedom to his Chase Sapphire Preferred for Big Travel! Here’s a video guide showing how to combine points.
Either way you redeem your rewards, the Freedom cards are great cards to have.
4. Best Annual Fee
Both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited have NO annual fee. Keeping no-annual-fee cards long term will increase the average age of your accounts. This can help raise your credit score. Here’s more about the best credit cards with no annual fee.
5. Best Foreign Transaction Fees
6. Best Worldwide Acceptance
The Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are both Visa cards. So they’ll both be equally accepted around the world. But again, these cards aren’t the best pick for overseas spending. Instead, consider one of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards.
Bottom Line: Chase Freedom vs. Freedom Unlimited
Do you like the set it and forget it convenience that comes with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which earns 1.5% (1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on all purchases? Or do you prefer the idea of earning more points every quarter by activating rotating bonus categories like grocery stores and Amazon?
I personally use the Chase Freedom card to earn $75 (7,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) per quarter by spending $1,500 combined in bonus categories. Then I use other cards to earn the most points for the rest of my day-to-day spending.
Most of the team keeps the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited year after year, because there’s no annual fee. Check out our post on the best no annual fee credit cards if you’re looking for a card that can help increase your average length of credit history and potentially boost your credit score.
Do you have either of these cards? What drew you to one card over the other? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!