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Cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred are two of our most recommended. But this time, let’s look at two other cards that have proven to be considerable contenders for your personal line of Chase cards–the Chase Freedom vs. the Chase Freedom Unlimited. 

If you’re counting the reasons why we love Chase credit cards, you won’t run out of any. We all love Chase because of its impressive line of personal and business credit cards and the offers that these cards give to their owners. Not to mention how these cards can tie into the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. 

However, choosing a card that works best for you out of the many options available may prove to be difficult. Because of Chase’s 5/24 rule, having a carefully planned credit card strategy for your Chase cards is a must. 

The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited may appear identical but are actually not. There are only a few similarities between these two cards such as zero annual fees and hefty sign-up bonuses. Apart from these, all other features vary. Important Note: These cards are marketed as cash back cards, but you can elect to get points instead.

Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited both offer zero annual fees and great cashback features

Points Structure

When it comes to earning points, the Chase Freedom Unlimited structure is very straightforward at 1.5% cashback (or 1.5x points) on all purchases.

On the other hand, the Chase Freedom is more complicated at 5% cashback (or 5x points) on your first $1,500 spent on different bonus categories (rotating), and then 1% back on everything else. The rotating categories differ per quarter. For instance, in 2019, Q1 categories included gas stations and pharmacies while Q2 included grocery stores. Because of this rotating nature, Chase Freedom users have to register their card every quarter to be entitled to the 5% cashback. Don’t worry though, the registration process is relatively simple and Chase sends out notifications beforehand to make sure you’re in the loop. 

Sign-Up Bonuses

The Sign-up bonuses for both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are similar.

Current offer are listed here:

Chase Freedom Unlimited
$200 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
Chase Freedom
$200 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months

Points Redemption

Redeeming points on the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are almost similar. The cash backs are issued through points and each point is equivalent to 1 cent each. However, you have the opportunity to get twice as much value from these points when you own rewards-earning cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Cards. 

When you own any of the cards mentioned, you can transfer your points and convert them into Ultimate Rewards points. With Chase’s impressive list of transfer partners, hotels and airlines included, you can value points to up to 2 cents each. This means that your benefits don’t only lie on the cashback, but even more so on rewards. 

Check out our Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide here for more details on how you can maximize your points. 

Transfer your points and convert them to Chase Ultimate Rewards points with a Chase Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred

When to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited
$200 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months

If you want to settle for a card that’s straightforward and has simpler terms, then the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the better choice for you. This card fits budgeters as it offers flat rates and predictable features. You also don’t need to tailor your budget and spending habits to accommodate certain categories just to get the rewards you need and this, in turn, prevents you from overspending. 

This card is low maintenance and won’t require you to register your card every quarter for rotating cashback features. This is definitely the card to have if you’re accustomed to sticking to a strict spending schedule, and don’t have the time to google spending categories every now and then. 

When to get the Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom
$200 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months

If you love the idea of maximizing rewards and are up to the challenge to do so, then the Chase Freedom is your card. To put it, this card is great for rewards maximizers or those who are keen to squeeze out every available point from a card! 

The Chase Freedom shines at its 5% cashback (or 5x points) for quarterly rotating categories, and this may just be what you need. What’s great with these categories is that they’re broad and can include special categories such as PayPal.

If you are keen to get this card this year or perhaps next year, here is a breakdown of the Chase Freedom rotating categories for 2019 to give you an idea on how this card could benefit your spending habits or plans. Chase does not reveal their categories too far in advance, so these categories are not guaranteed to be the same for future years.

Chase Freedom 2019 Quarterly Rewards Categories

QuarterMonths Categories
1January - MarchGas StationsTollsDrugstores
2April - JuneHome Improvement StoresGrocery Stores
3July - SeptemberGas StationsSelect Streaming Services
4October - DecembeDepartment StoresPayPalChase Pay

Here’s a great tip: To maximize the 5% (5x) categories, consider buying gift cards at department stores, groceries, or gas stations. 

Breakdown: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

 Chase FreedomChase Freedom Unlimited
Earning Structure5% cashback (up to $1,500 per quarter), for rotating categories

1% other purchases
1.5% cash back on all purchases
Sign-up bonus$150 when you spend $500 in the first 3 monthsUp to $600 - earned as 3% cash back on your first $20,000 spend in the first year
Annual fee$0$0
Points Redemption1 cent per point or up to 2 cents when you use a Chase Rewards card1 cent per point or up to 2 cents when you use a Chase Rewards card

Bottom line

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited both offer great value for their owners. Since they cost zero in annual fees, the features they provide are as transparent as you can get. For one, their cashback features offer great appeal, although each caters to a different set of audience. 

If you’re in it for the travel rewards and you really want to maximize every spend you make, make sure you have one of the more premium Ultimate Rewards cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months


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