Chase Cashback Face-Off: The Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited, Which Is Best For You? 0

So you’re looking to sign up for a new Chase card. There are certainly a lot of options to choose from, but some are better than others depending on your end goal and lifestyle. You also have to be careful with your choice, as Chase’s 5/24 rule limits the number of cards you can open over a two-year time period.

If you’ve narrowed down your choices to the Chase Freedom Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited℠, which should you go for? Here’s what you need to consider.

Signup Bonuses

The signup bonuses are literally the same, so there’s no real choice to make here. Both get you $150 cash back if you spend $500 in the first three months.

Rewards Rate

This is where things get tricky.

The Chase Freedom gives you:

  • 5% back in rotating quarterly categories, up to $1,500 per quarter (the categories range a bit; for example, this quarter there’s a category for department stores, perfect for Christmas shopping, but other past categories have been Chase Pay and mobile payments, which means practically anything goes!)
  • 1% back on all other purchases

This means that if you spend the top amount you can in the quarterly categories for a total of $6,000 per year, you’ll earn $300 in cash back, or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (when you combine them with a fee-paying card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards)

The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠, on the other hand, gives you:

– 1.5 percent cash back every time, all the time

What can you do with all these points?

If you’re traveling, it’s likely the cash-back option isn’t what you’re here for. Instead, you want to redeem your points with a travel partner, right?

Thankfully, Chase Ultimate Rewards are amazingly flexible which is key to their power. The caveat, however, is that you can’t convert cash back from the Chase Freedom cards into Ultimate Rewards points unless you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards has nine airline partners and all allow transfers at a 1:1 ratio. Airline partners include:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air France/KLM
  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

There are three hotel partners, that also allow transfers at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Marriott Reward
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • World of Hyatt

Your points can also be redeemed for 1.5 cents per point if you merge with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Again, this is where having multiple Chase cards comes in handy — you can combine points from multiple cards into one account. So if you have a business card like Ink Business Preferred, or one of the Sapphire cards, either Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, that’s more points in your pocket.

It is vital, however, to keep in mind that you cannot convert cash back from the Chase Freedom Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ card into Ultimate Rewards points unless you also hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Of course, you’d hardly be remiss if you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. This card comes with a lot of really fantastic bonuses and perks, including:

  • 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership
  • A $300 annual travel credit to cover travel purchases made with your card
  • 3X points on travel after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X points for dining at restaurants
  • 1X on all other purchases
  • Airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select membership
  • $100 statement credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre✓
  • 0% foreign transaction fees
  • Industry-leading insurance benefits

Other Perks and Details

The other important need-to-know details for the Chase Freedom include:

  • $0 annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months of card membership
  • After 15 months a variable APR between 74% and 25.49%

Then, for the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠, you get:

  • $0 annual fee
  • $25 bonus after the first authorized user makes a purchase within three months
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months of card membership
  • After 15 months variable APR between 74% and 25.49%

Pretty similar, right?

So, which of these cards is right for you?

If you think you can maximize the quarterly categories every year, and want to maximize your Ultimate Rewards earning potential year in year out, the Chase Freedom could be right up your alley.

On the other hand, if you DO want cash back at a decent rate and don’t have the time to keep up with quarterly bonuses and the fine details of earning points and miles, Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ might be the way to go.

But bottom line — you don’t have to choose. Both have their perks and, if you have room in your wallet and won’t be violating the dreaded 5/24 rule, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have both at your disposal.

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