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The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card offers a sign up bonus up to $300 cash back

Summary

If you are you looking for an inexpensive way to get a large influx of Ultimate Rewards points, the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards offer large bonuses with low spending thresholds.

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If you’re looking for a way to get a large influx of Ultimate Rewards points, there is great news for Chase members: Chase recently updated the offer on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. New cardholders can now earn 3 percent cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases in the first year of membership.

This amounts to up to $300 in additional cash back ($300 from the standard 1.5 percent cash back and $300 from the additional 1.5 percent cash back) – twice as valuable as the card’s previous offer (and the current offer on the Chase Freedom® card) of $150 for spending $500 in the first three months.

Which Chase Freedom card is better in the first year?

With the updated sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is by far the better deal in the first year. Even if you don’t reach the $20,000 spending limit for the bonus, you will likely earn more in the first year with the Freedom Unlimited card than the Freedom card.

By our estimates, the average cardholder who spends around $15,900 on credit card purchases will earn $73 more cash back with the Freedom Unlimited card in the first year.

Comparing the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards

Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom
/
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Rewards rate
  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Annual fee$0$0
Sign-up Bonus$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months3% cash back on your first $20,000 in purchases in the first year
Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)$404$477

That said, there’s nothing to stop you from applying for both cards and potentially earning both cards’ sign-up bonuses. Actually, the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards go nicely together – you can use the Chase Freedom card to earn 5 percent cash back on its quarterly bonus categories and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to earn 1.5 percent cash back on everything else. See the Chase Freedom bonus categories for 2019.

Recent changes to the Chase Freedom cards’ sign up bonus

While some rewards cards frequently update their sign-up bonuses, the offers on the Chase Freedom cards are very consistent. This is the first time the Freedom Unlimited card has increased its sign-up bonus since it was introduced in 2016, and we haven’t seen any recent changes to the sign-up offer on the Chase Freedom card:

Chase Freedom card recent changes
There have been no changes to the Chase Freedom card sign-up bonus this year.

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited card recent changes
April 5, 20193% cash back on your first $20,000 in purchases in the first year
Previous$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Who is eligible to apply for the sign-up bonus?

New cardholders who have not received a sign-up bonus for the same card within the past 24 months are eligible to earn the bonus with the Chase Freedom cards. Of course, you have to qualify for the cards first, which means you have to have a credit score in the good to excellent range (at least 680).

Chase doesn’t appear to have a hard limit on how many cards you own, though they may deny your application if you have too large of a credit limit across your other Chase cards. Also, while there is no strict rule on how many Chase cards you can apply for within a certain timeframe, many applicants report a limit of one to two new cards per month.

Chase has come down hard recently on applicants who have opened several credit cards at once. Though it’s not an official policy, Chase appears to be enforcing a “5/24” rule on new credit card applications. What this means is – if you have opened at least five credit card accounts in the past 24 months with any issuer (not just Chase) – your application will likely be denied. The rule seems to apply to any credit card account that shows up on your credit report, including co-branded store cards and authorized user accounts. (On the plus side, business credit cards that don’t report to your personal credit report do not affect your chances of being approved.)

Best ways to spend 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points

The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are flexible point cards that offer a wide array of options for redeeming or transferring your points. You can redeem points as statement credits, as direct deposits into a bank account, for gift cards or travel or to purchase merchandise through Amazon.com or the Chase Pay app.

As cash back cards, the Chase Freedom cards offer a flat 1 cent value on most redemption options. However, there are a few options that you want to avoid. Our table below shows that Amazon.com and Chase Pay purchases are valued at only 0.8 cents per point:

Redemption options for Chase Freedom cards

Redemption optionPoint value (cents)Value of 30,000 points
Statement credit1$300
Direct deposit1$300
Gift cards1$300
Ultimate Rewards portal travel1$300
Amazon.com purchases0.8$240
Chase Pay purchases0.8$240

You can also transfer points from the Chase Freedom cards to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards. As you can see from the table below, transferring your points to one of these cards will allow you to get more value out of your sign-up bonus. You get a 25 to 50 percent bonus on your points if you redeem through travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, depending on which card you own.

Also, you can transfer your points at 1:1 value to one of Chase’s many travel partners to get even higher values on your points. For instance, we value Southwest Airlines points at 1.6 cents on average (note the value can vary widely on the ticket that you purchase), which means your 30,000-point bonus can net you $480 of value on average when used for Southwest airfare:

Redemption options for Chase Sapphire cards

Redemption optionPoint value (cents)Value of 30,000 points
Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50% redemption bonus1.5$450
Chase Sapphire Preferred – 25% redemption bonus1.25$375
Singapore Airlines transfer2.36$708
British Airways transfer1.4$420
Southwest Airlines transfer1.6$480
Jetblue transfer1.53$459
United Airlines transfer1.52$456
Hyatt Gold Passport transfer1.43$429
Ritz-Carlton transfer1.22$366
Air France transfer1$300
Virgin Atlantic transfer0.8$240
Marriott Rewards transfer0.8$240
IHG transfer0.65$195

An extra $500 per year

In addition to a sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom cards offer a referral bonus worth up to $500 each year. Chase’s “Refer-a-Friend” program gives Freedom cardholders $100 cash back for each person they refer who is approved for the Freedom card – up to five people per year. To take part in the promotion, enter your last name, zip code and last four digits of your credit card on Chase’s refer-a-friend page. On the following page, enter the first name and email address of each person you wish to invite. You also have the option to post an invitation link to Facebook or Twitter or refer friends through the Chase app.

See related: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which is best?, Chase launches its bonus category for Q2 2019Chase Ultimate Rewards guide: The best ways to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

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Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

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Published: April 5, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 14th, 2019
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