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.
If you’re looking for a way to get a large influx of Ultimate Rewards points, there is great news for Chase members: Both the Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards offer a high cash bonus for a low spend threshold.
Currently, both cards are offering a $150 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months of card ownership.
Which Chase Freedom card is better in the first year?
That depends largely on your spending habits. The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited offer very different reward structures. While the Freedom Unlimited offers the same flat rate of cash back on every purchase, the Freedom card offers 5 percent cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter ($1,500 limit on purchases, then 1 percent cash back).
For the average spender, we estimate the Freedom Unlimited card can result in a bit more value in the first year. However, those who spend heavily in the Freedom card’s quarterly bonus categories might be able to shift that ratio.
Comparing the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards
Chase Freedom Unlimited
|Introductory offer||$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months||$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months|
|Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)||$330||$389|
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.
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 Freedom Unlimited saw its only major bonus change earlier this year, when the structure was altered to include a higher rate of cash back in the first year — instead of the traditional cash bonus.
|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|
|Oct. 10, 2019||$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months|
|April 5, 2019||3% 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 15,000 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 option||Point value (cents)||Value of 15,000 points|
|Ultimate Rewards portal travel||1||$150|
|Chase Pay purchases||0.8||$120|
You can also transfer points from the Chase Freedom cards to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire 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 15,000-point bonus can net you $240 of value on average when used for Southwest airfare:
Redemption options for Chase Sapphire cards
|Redemption option||Point value (cents)||Value of 15,000 points|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50% redemption bonus||1.5||$225|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred – 25% redemption bonus||1.25||$188|
|Singapore Airlines transfer||2.36||$354|
|British Airways transfer||1.4||$210|
|Southwest Airlines transfer||1.6||$240|
|United Airlines transfer||1.52||$228|
|Hyatt Gold Passport transfer||1.43||$125|
|Air France transfer||1||$150|
|Virgin Atlantic transfer||0.8||$120|
|Marriott Rewards transfer||0.8||$120|
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.