Earn 17,500 bonus points with the Chase Freedom cards

Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited

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Are you looking for an inexpensive way to get a large influx of Ultimate Rewards points? The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards are Ultimate Rewards cards that offer a large bonus with a low spending threshold and no annual fee: You get 15,000 points ($150) if you spend $500 in first three months and 2,500 points ($25) if you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months.

If you are thinking of applying for the bonus on one of these cards, we recommend you go all in and collect both the sign-up and authorized user bonus. Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most flexible and valuable rewards currencies on the planet. You have a plethora of options to redeem your points, including transferring them to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to get more than $175 worth of value (more on that below).

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. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card has kept the same 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
There have been no changes to the Chase Freedom card sign-up bonus this year.

Which Chase Freedom card is better in the first year?

Since the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards offer the same exact bonus, it comes down to which card offers the better earnings rate. Our calculations show that the average cardholder is likely to earn more rewards with the flat 1.5 percent cash back rate on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card than with the 5 percent bonus categories on the Chase Freedom card:

COMPARING THE CHASE FREEDOM AND FREEDOM UNLIMITED CARDS
  Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom
Chase Freedom Unlimited
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
Introductory offer
  • $150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • $25 if you add authorized user and make a purchase in first 3 months
  • $150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • $25 if you add authorized user and make a purchase in first 3 months
Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend) $355 $414

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 2017:

CHASE 5 PERCENT CASH BACK CALENDAR 2017*
January - March
Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls and Amtrak purchases)
April - June
Grocery stores and drug stores (not including Walmart and Target purchases)
July - September
Restaurants and movie theaters 
October - December
Walmart and department stores

*On up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter

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.)

Bonus tip: If the sign-up bonus increases within 90 days after you’ve been approved, you can ask to be matched to the higher offer.

Best ways to use the Chase Freedom cards’ sign-up bonus

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:

CHASE FREEDOM CARDS REDEMPTION OPTIONS
Redemption option Point value Bonus value
Statement credit 1 cent $175
Direct deposit 1 cent $175
Gift cards 1 cent $175
Ultimate Rewards portal travel 1 cent $175
Amazon.com purchases 0.8 cent $140
Chase Pay purchases 0.8 cent $140

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 1.57 cents on average (note the value can vary widely on the ticket that you purchase), which means your $175 bonus can net you $275 of value on average when used for Southwest airfare:

CHASE SAPPHIRE CARDS REDEMPTION OPTIONS
Redemption option Point value Bonus value
Chase Sapphire Preferred travel redemption 1.25 cents $219
Chase Sapphire Reserve travel redemption 1.5 cents $263
British Airways transfer 2.29 cents $401
Singapore Airlines transfer 2.17 cents $380
Southwest Airlines transfer 1.57 cents $275
United Airlines transfer 1.52 $266
Korean Air transfer 1.4 cents $245
Hyatt Gold Passport transfer 1.37 cents $240
Ritz-Carlton transfer 1.22 cents $214
Virgin Atlantic transfer 0.8 cent $140
Marriott Rewards transfer 0.8 cent $140
IHG transfer 0.65 cent $114

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 Freedom categories 2017: Earn 5 percent back at Walmart in Q4

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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Updated: 12-15-2017