Comparing the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited Cards
Chase is really changing the rules of the credit card game as they recently announced a new card to their credit card arsenal, the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Rumors spread that the Chase Freedom product will be discontinued, but as of press writing, Chase is still accepting applications for the latter card. So, given the confusing name, and the fact that one product may eventually replace the other, what is the difference between the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
Both cards have no annual fees, which makes it easier to keep both of these great cards forever. As of press writing, both also have a 0% introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers for the first 15 months. This is useful if you are planning to carry a balance on your card, but hopefully you won’t need to use this feature. After the first 15 months, the APR will change depending on the bank’s judgment of your credit worthiness, so check your terms as soon as you get approved for either card. Both cards also charge foreign transaction fees, so they may not be the best cards to use when you are planning to travel overseas, since these fees add up.
Looking at the associated fees related to both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, there’s not much difference between the two.
The Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card use the same point system: Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), which is highly valuable as the points can be used as cash back or travel on the UR website. If you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink card along with your Freedom card, you can transfer to various airline partners such as British Airways, Southwest, and United. You can also transfer your Ultimate Rewards Points to hotel partners such as Hyatt, Marriott and IHG.
If you still can’t understand the intricacies of the different points/miles used by hotels and airlines, you may opt to use the Ultimate Rewards portal to book tours, cruises, airline tickets, or hotels for an average of 1.25 cents per point.
Since both credit cards use the same Ultimate Rewards points, and cash back system, which is highly valuable, we deem them to be equal to each other.
The Chase Freedom card has occasional promotional sign up bonuses as high as 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points, equivalent to roughly $200 or more in travel rewards upon spending $2,000 in three months once approved. Normally, both cards offer between 10,000 – 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points, equivalent to roughly $100-$150 in rewards, depending on how you value them upon reaching the spend limit once approved. For this aspect, both cards are also equal.
An additional perk that the Chase Freedom & Chase Freedom Unlimited have is the auto rental collision damage waiver, which is always included if you use either of these cards to purchase a rental car. This will save you a bit of money by declining the collision damage insurance that the rental car companies may be offering.
Both credit cards also offer purchase protection and roadside assistance, which are mostly given to Visa Signature cards. On the additional perks side, both cards are equal.
If you look at our first three points above, you’ll see that both cards are equal to each other. However, there is a big tie breaker: how each card earns points for every dollar you spend.
The Chase Freedom card is a favorite card for all travel aficionados. Why? Because the Chase Freedom is a unique cash back card that allows you to earn 5 points for every $1 spent on rotating categories every quarter, with a maximum of $1,500 spent.
If you spent more than $1,500 a quarter on a specific category, it will default back to 1 point to $1 spend. These categories are normally announced at least a few months in advance, so you have ample time to make plans if this is a good deal for your spending habits or not. Chase categories range from restaurants, movie theatres, Amazon, Department Stores, grocery stores, gas, ground transportation, home improvement stores, and many more. A downside to the Chase Freedom card is that it will require you to activate the quarterly bonuses on your card. If you forget to activate the 5x bonus, you’ll only get the normal point for every spend, which is 1 UR point to $1. Also be sure to double check the merchant that you are planning to use the card for, to see if it is coded in the category you’re expecting it to fall under. Check the visa merchant website if you want to know more about the coding.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card, on the other hand, does not have rotating quarterly category bonuses, but instead gives 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 you spend, no exceptions. This is especially good if you don’t want to bother remembering all the quarterly categories, therefore making it an excellent option for an everyday card.
So, which one is better? It depends on your spending habits: if you feel that you are going to use the card for everyday spending and not in a particular category, then the Chase Freedom Unlimited makes more sense to get. However, if you feel that you can make the most of the rotating quarterly bonuses (maximum of $1,500 per quarter), then the Chase Freedom is for you.
Looking at the cards more closely, it appears that they are almost equal in every aspect except for earning bonuses. So, which card should you get all things being equal? You can opt to get the Chase Freedom now (since there are rumors that it may be discontinued soon), then sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited a few months after. Taking into consideration Chase’s new 5/24 rule, it makes more sense to space out your applications accordingly, so that you can get both cards and enjoy the sign up bonuses that come with them. It all depends on your goals: whether you’ll want to use the card for travel or just as a regular cash back card, both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are great and should definitely be wallet staples.