My first ever credit card was a Chase Slate that I later upgraded to a since-discontinued Chase Freedom. When I made the call to upgrade, I mentioned to the customer service rep that it would be nice to have a card that earns UR points at a flat rate. I even said that I would rather upgrade to a card like that than the Freedom. I think someone at Chase’s Headquarters must have heard my wish. The Chase Freedom Unlimited (CFU) was released in February 2016, about six months after my call.
Bonus categories are great because you can earn more points faster when you spend within the categories. Who doesn’t love that? But some purchases don’t fall into a category and thus only earn one point per dollar on most cards. The CFU is a personal transferrable points earning card that solves this problem.
The Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic earner, especially for a no annual fee credit card. It earns 1.5x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points (or 1.5% cash back) per dollar on all purchases. As its name suggests, the Freedom Unlimited has no spending limits. And that makes it a great complement to other UR earning cards.
But that’s not all. The Freedom Unlimited also earns 5x UR points (or 5% cash back) on travel purchased from the Chase Travel Portal. It also earns 3x points (or 3% cash back) on dining and pharmacies. These categories were introduced in 2020 alongside the introduction of the Chase Freedom Flex.
Furthermore, the CFU’s potential can be maximized if you have multiple UR point-earning cards. If you have a Chase Ink Business Preferred or a Sapphire card, you can transfer the points from your CFU account to one of those accounts. This feature is the most powerful that Chase has to offer as it is vital for many earning strategies. Without a premium Chase card, you cannot earn UR points directly. Otherwise, the Ink Business Unlimited earns cash back as a standalone credit card.
Plus, Chase is offering a sign-up bonus worth 20,000 UR points (or $200 cash back). This bonus can be earned by spending just $500 within the first three months. This is a nice bonus for a no annual fee credit card.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Chase has multiple options for points redemption:
Cash Back, Travel, & Gift Cards
Cash back is one of just three redemption options if you do not have a premium Chase card. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back.
Furthermore, you can also redeem UR points for travel via Chase’s travel portal. As with cash back, points are worth 1 CPP if you redeem them this way.
The final option is to redeem points for gift cards. With this option, UR points are worth 1 CPP. Sometimes, Chase discounts some of their gift card options, enabling cardholders to redeem for more than 1 CPP.
Transfer partners are by far Chase’s most valuable redemption option. But they are only available if you also have either Sapphire card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred. Chase has 13 transfer partners:
- World of Hyatt
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- British Airways
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Rules & Regulations
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is subject to the 5/24 Rule. This rule was enacted by Chase to prevent “churners” from scoring their sign-up bonuses too many times.
The 5/24 rule states that you will not be approved for any UR-earning card if you were approved for five or more new accounts in the last 24-months. Some Chase co-branded cards also fall under this rule as well.
Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Unlimited recently became as complicated as its newest “sibling”: the Chase Freedom Flex. That’s because the Freedom Flex earns 5x UR points on quarterly rotating categories in addition to the Freedom Unlimited Card’s categories. However, the Freedom Flex earns one point per dollar (or 1% cash back) on non-bonus purchases. It also comes with the same sign-up bonus as the Freedom Unlimited.
Chase has made the Freedom Flex redundant to the Freedom Unlimited in September 2020. The only real differences are the rotating categories, earnings on non-bonus spend, and the card network. The Freedom Flex is a MasterCard and the Freedom Unlimited is a Visa.
American Express Everyday Card
The Amex Everyday Card has a different earning structure than most points and miles cards. It earns 2x Membership Rewards (MR) points per dollar at grocery stores and 1x on everything else. If you use your card at least 20 times per month, you will receive a 20% points bonus. With a little work, you can earn 2.4x points at grocery stores and 1.2x points on everything else.
Plus, Amex is offering a public sign-up bonus worth 10,000 MR points for the Everyday Card. It can be earned after spending just $1,000 within the first three months. The Freedom Unlimited has a much better sign-up bonus for half the minimum spend.
The advantage of the Everyday Card is that it does not require a premium Amex card to transfer points to transfer partners. In fact, its the only personal credit card in the industry that can transfer points to partners without an annual fee. The CFU does not have this special advantage.
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash is a flat rate card that earns 2x Thank You (TY) points on all purchases if you have a premium Citi credit card. Otherwise, it earns 2% cash back. Rewards are earned in two parts: the first comes upon making a purchase, and the second comes upon paying your bill.
Travelers who would rather earn Citi TY points should go with this card over the CFU. It has a higher flat rate and indirect access to a plethora of international airline transfer partners. Just be sure to have a premium Citi credit card as well to maximize your earnings.
Citi does not offer a sign-up bonus for the Double Cash because of its high earning structure. It was also stripped of its benefits alongside the rest of Citi’s credit cards.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great complement to the Chase Sapphire cards and Chase Ink Business Preferred card. If you are looking for just one card or for cash back, the Freedom Unlimited is a great option. But is is even better as part of a wallet with multiple Chase cards.
I was thrilled to hear about the CFU’s release in early 2016. But I had to wait a year to get it because I was having trouble finding a job after college. As I let my existing accounts age, my credit file became more robust. After I got my first post-college job, I was approved for a decent starting limit.
Apply Today: Chase Freedom Unlimited