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Earn a cash back bonus of over $200 with the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards

The Freedom cards offer a generous flat cash bonus and a boosted first-year rewards rate on grocery store spending

Summary

If you are you looking for an inexpensive way to get a large influx of Ultimate Rewards points, the Chase Freedom Flex 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: Both the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards offer a high cash bonus for a low spend threshold.

Currently, both cards are offering a $200 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months.

On top of that, both cards are offering a boosted first-year rewards rate on grocery store purchases: You’ll earn a whopping 5% back on the first $12,000 you spend in this category for your first year (excludes Target and Walmart purchases). Though only temporary, this is one of the highest cash back rates on groceries you can get without paying an annual fee.

However, since these two cards share the same sign-up bonus, how do you choose which is best for you?

Which Chase Freedom card is better in the first year?

That depends largely on your spending habits. While the two cards share certain earning categories, they still have different rewards earning structures.

The Freedom Unlimited offers a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on purchases outside of bonus categories, and the Freedom Flex card offers 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1% cash back).

Comparing the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards

For many cardholders, the Chase Freedom Flex card should offer greater value, assuming you are able to maximize your spending in its quarterly bonus categories.

That said, if you’re not able to maximize the Freedom bonus categories, the Freedom Unlimited card might be a better choice thanks to its higher rewards rate on general purchases.

Chase Freedom Flex/
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Rewards rate
  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Annual fee$0$0
Introductory offer
  • $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • $200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 annual spend)*$666$526

Along with the value you’ll get from each card’s flat cash bonus and from ongoing spending, you can expect to take home an impressive amount of cash back in your first year if you spend heavily on groceries. If your spending matches that of the average consumer and you make about $4,500 worth of grocery store purchases per year (around what the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average person spends), you’d earn an extra $225 in cash back in your first year.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from applying for both cards and potentially earning both cards’ sign-up bonuses. The Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards go nicely together – you can use the Chase Freedom Flex card to earn 5% cash back on its quarterly bonus categories and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to earn 1.5% cash back on everything else. Then, use either card at drug stores and restaurants and on travel purchases in the Ultimate Rewards portal.

* Estimated first-year earnings are based on our model of the average cardholder’s spending and the assumption that you max out your rotating 5% cash back category each quarter with the Freedom Flex. The cards’ higher rewards rate on your first $12,000 in grocery store purchases in your first year is not considered as part of this calculation.  

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 fairly consistent. Recently, however, we have seen increased welcome offers, with both cards adding a higher-than-usual cash back rate on grocery store purchases on top of their familiar $200 flat cash bonus.

Chase Freedom Flex card recent changes
Current$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months, plus 5% cash back on grocery store purchases in first year (on up to $12,000 in spending, not including Target or Walmart purchases)
Previous$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Previous$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months, plus 5% cash back on grocery store purchases in first year (on up to $12,000 in spending, not including Target or Walmart purchases)

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited card recent changes
Current$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months, plus 5% cash back on grocery store purchases in first year (on up to $12,000 in spending, not including Target or Walmart purchases)
Previous$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Previous$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months, plus 5% cash back on grocery store purchases in first year (on up to $12,000 in spending, not including Target or Walmart purchases)
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’ll need 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 it 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 recently cracked down 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 appear on your personal credit report do not affect your chances of being approved.)

Best ways to spend 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points

The Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards 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 20,000 points
Statement credit1$200
Direct deposit1$200
Gift cards1$200
Ultimate Rewards portal travel1$200
Amazon.com purchases0.8$160
Chase Pay purchases0.8$160

You can also transfer points from the Chase Freedom cards to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 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% bonus on your points if you redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, depending on which card you own.

Also, both the Sapphire cards allow you to 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 the 20,000-point bonus can net you $320 of value on average when used for Southwest airfare:

Redemption options for Chase Sapphire cards

Redemption optionPoint value (cents)Value of 20,000 points
Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50% redemption bonus1.5$300
Chase Sapphire Preferred – 25% redemption bonus1.25$250
Singapore Airlines transfer2.36$472
British Airways transfer1.4$280
Southwest Airlines transfer1.6$320
JetBlue transfer1.53$306
United Airlines transfer1.52$304
World of Hyatt1.43$286
Air France transfer1$200
Virgin Atlantic transfer0.8$150
Marriott Rewards transfer0.8$160
IHG transfer0.65$130

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.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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