5 Reasons To Use Chase Freedom Unlimited For Everyday Spending

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Adding a Chase Freedom Unlimited card to your wallet means you can earn 50% more Chase Ultimate Rewards points. In this post, I’ll explain how this is possible.

Chase Freedom Unlimited 2019 review
St. John, USVI

My two favorite reward currencies are Chase Ultimate Rewards points and American Express Membership Rewards points.  I personally prefer to earn points in both programs because I like to diversify my points as much as possible.  Each program has its own transfer partners, so I have lots of redemption options if I collect both.  

While carrying several credit cards works for us, it’s totally understandable that a lot of people do not want to bother with juggling different credit cards plus different award currencies.

I understand that not everyone wants to take the time to learn about 2 different bank currencies, plus all of the different transfer partners.  If you want to keep it simple, Chase Ultimate Rewards is a great program with several redemption options. There are 2 cards that I suggest if you want to stick with Chase Ultimate Rewards:

  1. A card that earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards
  2. Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited is most valuable when you also have a Chase card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points

On its own, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is just a cash-back card. We all know how I feel about cash-back cards. BUT… there’s a huge exception. If you also have one of the three Chase cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points, then any points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be redeemed the exact same way you would redeem your transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

A Chase Sapphire card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points is the first card that I suggest for almost anyone who wants to start saving big money on travel. There are 3 Chase Sapphire cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve are personal cards. Chase Ink Business Preferred card is a business card. Click here for more details about each of these cards.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve earn bonus points at restaurants and on travel purchases. The Chase Ink Business Preferred card also has bonus categories. Outside of the bonus categories, the earn rate is 1 point per dollar. My suggestion is to use whichever of these 3 cards you have for the bonus categories, and then use a Chase Freedom Unlimited card for all other purchases. Why? Because the earn rate is higher. More on that below.

Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card

Chase Freedom Unlimited, best credit card offers of 2019

Welcome offer: There is no traditional welcome bonus, but there is a nice welcome offer. The offer is 3% cash back (instead of 1.5%) on up to $20,000 in spend during your first year.  That’s up to $600.  Or 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points. 

There is no minimum spending requirement since there is no traditional bonus. After the first year (or after spending $20,000, whichever comes first) this card earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all purchases. There are no bonus categories. To compare, the earn rate on other Ultimate Rewards earning cards is 1 point per dollar on all non-category bonus spending. Another important thing to point out: there is no annual fee on this card! 

Chase Freedom Unlimited how to redeem 2019
Cute village in Croatia

5 reasons to open the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card

1. There is no annual fee on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card

There is no annual fee on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. This is great because you can keep it open year after year to help with the credit history aspect of your credit score.

2. Earn more points on non-category everyday spending than you do with Chase Sapphire cards

There are no bonus categories on the Chase Freedom Unlimited, but you earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases.  This makes it an ideal everyday spending card, but only if you also have a Chase Sapphire card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points.

To compare, the non-category bonus earn rate on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Chase Ink Business Preferred cards is 1 point per dollar.

3. The current welcome offer is an even better earn rate

There is no traditional lump sum welcome bonus, but there is a nice welcome offer when you open a Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The offer is 3% cash back (or 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar) instead of 1.5% (or 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar) on up to $20,000 in spend during your first year.  That’s up to $600.  Or 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points. 

4. You can redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemption portal, but you can also use the cash back for non-travel purchases.

You can redeem your points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal at a rate of 1 cent per point.

You do not have to redeem your points for travel, though. You can use your cash back however you want. At a rate of 1 cent per point, 10,000 points is worth $100 cash back. While this is the easiest and most simple way to redeem, you can get much more value out of points earned on this card by also having one of the 3 Chase Sapphire cards that earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points…

5. If you also have a Chase Sapphire card, you can transfer points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited to airline and hotel partners, plus your points become even more valuable if you use the redemption portal

The option to transfer points to airline and hotel partners is a huge advantage because that’s the best way to get more value out of your points.  If you only have cash back points, your redemption value is always going to be a fixed rate. In this post, I listed 25 valuable ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards. None of those redemptions are possible if you only have the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Points earned from Chase Freedom Unlimited are only transferable if you also have a Chase Sapphire card that earns transferable Ultimate Rewards points

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase.  If you only want to earn cash back, there are other no-annual fee credit cards that earn more such as the Citi Double Cash card which earns 2%. For that reason, I only recommend the Chase Freedom Unlimited if you also have a Chase Sapphire Card.

If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or a Chase Ink Business Preferred card, you can add points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to your pool of Ultimate Rewards points for whichever Sapphire Card you have.  Those points are then redeemable the same way as your points for whichever Sapphire card you hold.

This means that you can transfer points you earn from the Chase Freedom Unlimited to Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio.

Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Earn a free stay at the Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica. Transferring to Hyatt rather than using points as cash is almost always going to be a better value!

If you have a Chase Freedom Unlimited plus a Chase Sapphire card, you can earn more transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Freedom Unlimited earns more points per dollar on non-category purchases

Since the earn rate on a Chase Freedom Unlimited card is 1.5 points per dollar on non-category bonus purchases, you are earning 50% more points than with any of the 3 Chase Sapphire cards which earn 1 point per dollar.

If you spend $20,000 per year on non-category purchases:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1 point per dollar x 20,000=20,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred: 1 point per dollar x 20,000=20,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1 point per dollar  x 20,000=20,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1.5 points per dollar x 20,000=30,000 Ultimate Rewards points. Keep in mind that with the current welcome offer, you’ll actually earn 3 points per dollar the first year on up to $20,000. So that actually puts you at 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points your first year.
Chase Freedom Unlimited, how to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points 2019
That extra half point per dollar could add up to a trip to Hawaii!

Redeeming Chase Unlimited Rewards points earned from Chase Freedom Unlimited

The two options that provide the most value for booking travel with transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points are:

  1. Transfer Ultimate Rewards to airline and/or hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. This is basically using your points as cash to book through their portal.  The redemption values are going to depend on which Chase Sapphire card you have.

Again, these examples are only possible if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or a Chase Ink Business Preferred card in addition to a Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The only way to redeem points from Chase Freedom Unlimited card by itself is going to be as cash back.

If you have a Chase Freedom Unlimited plus a Chase Sapphire card, your overall return on non-category bonus spending increases

Using the 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points that you can earn from using a Chase Freedom Unlimited on $20,000 in non-category bonus spending:

Option 1: Transfer to hotel or airline programs

Chase Ultimate Rewards has 9 airline partners and 3 hotel partners.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners 2019
Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel partners

For example, Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to World of Hyatt.  Then you can use World of Hyatt for free Hyatt nights.

Hyatt category 4 properties require 15,000 Hyatt points per night.  The Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo used to be a category 4 hotel, so I’m going to use rates from our trip last year when it was still a cat 4 as an example. It is now a category 5 property, but even as a category 5 property, it’s still a good value.

The lowest rate available was over $600 per night after taxes and fees, but I will use $600 to keep this simple:

  • 2 nights at 15,000 each=30,000 Hyatt points needed. I transferred 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt.
  • 2 nights at $600 each=$1200
  • Remember that total spend to get the 30,000 points was $20,000
  • $1200/$20000=0.06
  • 0.06 X 100=6%

Thats a 6% return on spending!!!

While the Andaz Papagayo is now a category 5 property which requires 20,000 points per night, but even at 20,000 points per night, the overall return on spending would be about 4.5%. To get 20,000 points for one night, you would need to spend $13,333 on the Chase Freedom Unlimited to get one night. If we value one night at $600:

$600/13,333=4.5%… so 4.5% is your overall return on spending. This is better than any cash-back card I can think of.

Andaz Costa Rica chase freedom unlimited
Andaz Costa Rica
Option 2: Use the 30,000 points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited in the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

Here are the redemption values if you use those 30,000 points earned from spending on the Chase Freedom Unlimited in the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.  Remember, this is only possible if you also have a Chase Sapphire card. If you only have the Chase Freedom Unlimited, your return is always 1.5%.

Chase Sapphire Preferred plus Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can redeem at a rate of 1.25 cents per point in the redemption portal.
  • With Chase Freedom Unlimited, remember you have 30,000 points from $20k spend.
  • If you redeem 30,000 points in the portal, they’re worth $375 (1.25 cents per point x 30,000=$375.00)

Return on $20k spend is ~1.88%

Chase Ink Business Preferred plus Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • If you have the Chase Ink business Preferred card, you can redeem at a rate of  1.25 cents per point in the redemption portal.
  • With Chase Freedom Unlimited, remember you have 30,000 points from $20k spend.
  • If you redeem 30,000 points in the portal, they’re worth $375 (1.25 cents per point x 30,000=$375.00)

Return on $20k spend is ~1.88%

Chase Sapphire Reserve plus Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can redeem at a rate of  1.50 cents per point in the redemption portal.
  • With Chase Freedom Unlimited, remember you have 30,000 points from $20k spend.
  • If you redeem 30,000 points in the portal, they’re worth $450 (1.50 cents per point x 30,000=$450.00)

Return on $20k spend is 2.25%

Summary

You will earn 1.88% or 2.25% back on your spending when you redeem Ultimate Rewards earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited through the redemption portal.  This is better than the return rates of the Chase Sapphire cards alone.

In many situations, you can get even more value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transfering them to airline and hotel loyalty programs.  In our Hyatt example from last year, the return rate was 6%.  Learning how to use airline transfer partners is a great way to make your Chase Ultimate Rewards stretch further, but even if you only want to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the redemption portal, the Chase Freedom Unlimited helps you earn more points, which ultimately increases your overall return on spending!

Andaz Maui

Chase 5/24 considerations

If you do not know what I am talking about, read this post about Chase’s 5/24 policy. 

Are Chase Sapphire and Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards subject to Chase 5/24?

Yes.  All of these cards are subject to the 5/24 policy.  That is one of the main reasons I encourage these cards over Amex Membership Rewards cards for beginners.  You can open Amex cards after you reach 5/24, but you cannot open the Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards once you’re over 5/24.  It is important to plan your applications wisely. Click here for a list that I made specifically for beginners to explain which cards you should prioritize.

If you’re in 2 player mode (you have a partner or spouse who is also opening cards), this post explains how you can get this card without having to use a Chase 5/24 spot.

I am under 5/24.  Can I open a Chase Sapphire and a Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card at the same time?

While you can have these cards at the same time, I do not recommend trying to open them at the same time.

A couple years ago, I would have said yes.  But now my advice is to space out your Chase applications if you plan to open multiple cards.  This applies to any Chase card, not just the cards discussed in this post!  Chase has been known to flag or even shut down people who open too many accounts too quickly.  This is a marathon, not a sprint!

Final Thoughts

The best credit cards for you depend on your travel goals and spending habits.  I personally love finding sweet spots in airline and hotel programs.  But I understand that not everyone has the time to learn about multiple reward currencies and transfer partners.  If you want to simplify things while still having the option to transfer your points, Chase Ultimate Rewards is a great program. 

If you do not have an Ultimate Rewards earning card such as a Chase Sapphire Preferred, I suggest starting with that.  Then if you want to boost your earnings, consider adding a Chase Freedom Unlimited.

The current welcome bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is worth at least $750 in travel!! But the points can also be used for redemptions that are worth well over $1,000. Click here for 25 ways to redeem the bonus.

Current offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 

Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that. 

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to 9 different airline frequent flyer programs or 3 different hotel loyalty programs.  You can also redeem the points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.  Each point can be redeemed for 1.25 cents.  That makes the welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points worth $750!

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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2 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Use Chase Freedom Unlimited For Everyday Spending

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