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Chase launched a new flat-rate cash back credit card in April called the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Unlimited card does not replace the rotating rewards Chase Freedom card - but it does provide a great addition to cardholders looking for either cash back or ways to obtain more Ultimate Rewards points.
How the Rewards Program Works
The Freedom Unlimited program is very simple:
- You earn a flat 1.5% back on all spending.
- You have the option of earning your rewards as 1.5 Ultimate Rewards ("UR") points per $1 spent to combine with other UR point programs.
There are no bonus categories to sign up for. No purchase caps. And, as long as your account remains open, your rewards points will never expire.
As with many other cash back cards, your rewards are tracked as points with 100 points equal to $1 in cash back rewards. For those who like to accumulate Chase Ultimate Rewards points, this means you can redeem your points for cash back through a statement credit or a deposit into a checking or savings account.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is the only card currently available that allows you to earn bonus Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase you make.
Note: if you currently have the regular Chase Freedom card or another Chase card without an annual fee like the Sapphire, you can call the number on your card and switch to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
Compared to Other Cash Back Cards
The Freedom Unlimited offers a solid cash back program. But, if you don't plan to use other Chase credit cards, you can do better than the Freedom Unlimited if you're looking for a simple flat-rate cash back card. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card also earns 1.5% back on purchases plus 20% back on Uber rides for a limited time. The Citi Double Cash card offers an even better rewards rate with 1% back on purchases and another 1% back when you pay the bill.
If you do plan on combining the Freedom Unlimited with other UR point eligible cards, keep on reading!
Where You Can Benefit from Ultimate Rewards Points
As you collect Ultimate Rewards cards, you will have the option to redeem them for cash back - as most people will do.
Or you can redeem your points for gift cards, travel, and merchandise. In some cases, the redemption rate will be lower than (or equal to) taking 1.5% cash back. For example, when points are used for gift cards, the redemption value is always $1 for 100 points.
But, if you have another card that earns Unlimited Rewards (UR) points like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or regular Chase Freedom card, you can convert your Freedom Unlimited points into UR points and combine them with the bonus points you earn from those other cards. From there, you can get an even better value than 1.5% back because your points can be transferred to popular travel loyalty programs.
For some travel loyalty programs, your Ultimate Rewards points are among the most valuable.
You can use UR points to directly book travel (with a point value of 1.25 cents each) and the flights will count toward elite status. You will get the best value for UR points by transferring them to a partner like United, Hyatt, or Marriott, in which case you can get a value of 2+ cents per point.
Combining the Freedom Unlimited with the Sapphire Preferred or Freedom
The Freedom Unlimited card on its own may not seem like much more than a standard cash back card, but its real value is in combining it with another Chase card like the Freedom or Sapphire Preferred to convert your cash back into UR points.
You can use the regular Freedom card to earn 5x UR points on rotating categories like gasoline and groceries, or the Sapphire Preferred to enjoy 20% off travel redemptions.
The Sapphire Preferred and regular Freedom are also handy if you travel frequently because the Freedom Unlimited does have a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
The Bottom Line
I don't think this is the end of the regular Chase Freedom card. But I do think that 1.5% cash back are generally more valuable than rotating rewards card - and require less work. (Check out this article for numbers backing up that assertion.)
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a solid cash back credit card that definitely complements other Chase cards, but it can't replace them.