Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which card is right for you?
The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are two of the most popular cash back credit cards available today. These cards have plenty in common. Both are part of the JPMorgan Chase family. Both offer cash back rewards, a 15-month 0% introductory APR, and a $150 sign-up bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months. Neither charge an annual fee. Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited, which is better?
In fact, virtually the only difference between Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited is the cash back rewards structure. The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back on bonus rewards categories that rotate each quarter, with a quarterly $75 limit. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back. On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Unlimited cardholders will earn 1.5% cash back on all their purchases.
You can’t go wrong with a cash back credit card with no annual fee. As long as you pay off your bill each month, so you aren’t charged interest, the “free money” you earn will be free. However, depending on your spending habits, one card or the other may offer a greater value for you.
The Chase Freedom card may be a better choice for you if:
- You want to use bonus categories to earn extra cash back. Chase announces the rotating rewards category just before the quarter begins. For some consumers, this brings extra excitement to the cashback program. Bonus categories often have a theme related to common spending areas during the quarter. For example, Chase recently ran a summer savings bonus reward for summer that includes restaurants and movie theaters. Using your Chase Freedom card for these purchases will earn you 5% cash back. This is a much greater value than the 1.5% offered by Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- You have time to keep up with the rotating rewards category and will remember to opt-in every month. To receive their 5% bonus cash back, cardholders have to activate their rotating rewards each quarter. You can activate using the Chase website or mobile app, by sending a text or email, by calling the customer service line, or in person at a local Chase bank branch. The process is straightforward, but you have to remember to activate. You’ll also have to remember what the rewards category is for each quarter.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card may be a better choice for you if:
- You want the easiest possible way to earn the most cash back. Unlike the Chase Freedom card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t require opting into savings. You’ll automatically earn 1.5% cash back on each purchase.
- You’re looking to upgrade from another cash back credit card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% rewards is one of the best unlimited flat cash back rewards rates available. The industry standard is 1% cash back.
- You are prone to overspending or making impulse purchases. Since you don’t have to modify your spending to take advantage of its rewards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the better choice. For example, if Chase runs a 5% bonus on Amazon.com purchases, and you don’t usually shop there, you may be tempted to start to take advantage of extra rewards. Your overspending will quickly counteract the cash back that you earn.
Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited – Either card is a good choice if:
- You don’t want to pay an annual fee. And who does? Your total cash back reward is cash in your pocket with either the Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- You have average credit and are looking for a cash back card. Chase regularly approves people with fair or average credit for both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- You are planning to make a large purchase that you can pay off in the next 15 months. Since both cards offer an introductory interest rate of 0%, you may want to apply before you plan to make a large purchase. You’ll earn cash back and have interest-free financing for over a year.
- You already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards are part of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. When you pair Freedom or Freedom Unlimited with a Chase Sapphire card, you can transfer the points you would redeem for cash back to a common account for travel discounts. When you do so, you can then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to use for popular free travel rewards. Alternatively, you can use them to book travel at a 20% discount through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Pairing your cards will help you earn travel points much more quickly.
Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited – Neither card may be right for you if:
- You plan to carry a balance on the card after the promotional period. While standard interest rates on both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited are competitive, if you have good or excellent credit and plan to carry a balance, you may want to consider a card with a lower interest rate.
- You frequently travel internationally. Both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you plan to use a credit card outside the country regularly, you may want to consider a credit card that waives those fees. You may also want to consider a co-branded airline rewards card so you can combine your credit card rewards with your frequent flyer miles.
- You want to transfer a large balance to consolidate your credit card debt. Both cards charge a 5% balance transfer fee. If you’re looking to transfer a large balance, you may want to consider the Chase Slate® card. Slate offers a 0% promotional fee for balance transfers.
Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited – Which is better?
Still having trouble deciding between the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠? You might want to consider getting both. Since both cards provide solid cash back rewards with no annual fees, you could maximize your earnings by using them together. Using the Chase Freedom card only for purchases in the quarterly rotating bonus category would allow you to earn 5% cash back. You could then use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card for all your other purchases to earn 1.5% cash back, rather than the flat 1% offered by Chase Freedom.
Try Comparing the Chase Freedom Unlimited With the Capital One Quicksilver- Which is best?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Quicksilver Card both offer 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Although both Freedom Unlimited and Quicksilver are similar in most ways they do have their differences. Do you choose the Freedom Unlimited Card in the Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited debate? Compare Freedom Unlimited with Quicksilver in order to decide which 1.5% cash back card is best.
A word of caution: this probably isn’t the best idea for those who are building or rebuilding credit. Each time you apply for a card, an inquiry is added to your credit report. Too many inquiries over a short period will have a negative impact on your score. In addition, JPMorgan Chase has its own 5/24 rule. New applications will automatically be denied for anyone who has opened five or more credit card accounts over the past two years. Spacing out your applications may also allow you to take advantage of the $150 signing bonus for both cards.
Which Cash Back Credit Card is the Best Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Unlimited℠?
Chase Freedom vs Chase Freedom Unlimited, which card is the winner? Whether you choose the Chase Freedom, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, or a combination of the two, you can’t go wrong if you use your credit responsibly. Be sure to charge only what you can afford. Make minimum payments on time, and pay off the entire balance on each card as quickly as you can. Doing so will help you avoid interest charges, meaning that your rewards really will be yours to keep.
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