Side by Side Comparison: Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited

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Side by Side Comparison: Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited

Andrew RSide by Side Comparison: Chase Freedom vs Freedom UnlimitedMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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 FreedomIf 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.

Plus, because there’s no annual fee, they’re free to keep forever.  This will increase the length of your credit history, and can potentially boost your credit score.

So which card is better for you?  I’ll compare them side by side to help you figure it out!

The information for the Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited
Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, You Could Get to Maui and Drive the Beautiful Road to Hana

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:   Our Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   Our Review of the 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)!

Winner:   Tie

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:

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.

Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited
If You Dine Out Frequently, the Chase Freedom Could Earn You a Ton of Bonus Points When Restaurants Are a Rotating Bonus Category

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 Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, 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.

Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines and Explore the Streets of Rome

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.

Winner:   Tie

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.

Winner:   Tie

5.   Best Foreign Transaction Fees

Both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited charge a 3% foreign transaction fee.  So they’re NOT good cards to use when you travel abroad.

Winner:   Tie

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.

Winner:   Tie

Bottom Line:   Chase Freedom vs. Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are nearly identical except for how you earn points from spending.  So the best card for you really comes down to how you prefer to earn your rewards.

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!

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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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Apparently I need one of these cards in order to transition from the Preferred card to the Reserve card. I think I have decided on the Freedom card due to the rotating bonus categories .
Can someone point me to an article showing the steps to get the new Reserve card with the bonus points and preserve the the points in my current Preferred account. Thanks for any help.

Hi. You don’t need one of these cards to get the Reserve. Ideally you would “product change” to one of them from the Preferred (I would go with straight Freedom). Unfortunately, while you can get the Reserve you will not be eligible to receive the 50k sign on bonus unless you wait 24 months after moving from Sapphire Preferred. Regardless, you need one or the other in order to convert anything earned on the Freedom cards to Ultimate Rewards. So, be sure to obtain the Reserve before product changing so you don’t lose any previously earned points from the Preferred.

I’m confused why you’re *comparing* them, as if you can only get one or the other? That’s like saying which is better, food or water? I prefer earning the most number of points, and the obvious way to do that is, just have both of them (and also other cards), and use whichever one is better at the time?

Joseph Hostetler

Haha, a true miles & points disciple! Yes, having all available cards is certainly the answer. We still think it’s necessary to have the cards face off, so you can understand how to use each one.

Absolutely, and the point acknowledging the fact that some can’t be bothered to “manage” the quarterly categories is a fair one. I thrive on it.

I only put bonus quarterly spend on the Freedom card. Nothing more. So the 20k yearly spend is not a good comparison for me. All other non bonus daily spend goes on the Citi Double Cash card. Both no annual fee so a good combo. Must have one of the Chase premium cards to make those points work for you though….

Joseph Hostetler

All fine points! If you don’t mind my nosiness, do you prefer cash back over travel rewards? I only ask because depending on which premium Chase Sapphire card you have, you could get a better return from putting your spending on a Chase Freedom Unlimited instead of a Citi Double Cash.

You make a good point and I’m probably leaving some points on the table.