Chase Freedom Chase Freedom Unlimited
Annual fee: $0 $0
Cashback: 5% cashback in rotating spending categories (on up to $1500) per quarter1% cashback on everything else 1.5% cashback on everything (no spending limit)
Sign-up bonus: $150 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months $150 bonus for spending $500 in the first three months
Introductory APR 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Transferable points You can transfer points to any other Chase card participating in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program You can transfer points to any other Chase card participating in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program
Other benefitsAuto rental insurance Purchase protection Extended warranty protectionAuto rental insurance Purchase protection Extended warranty protection
Visa Signature benefitsIf your card is approved for $5,000 or more the benefits will also include Trip Cancellation / Interruption insurance, up to $6,000 per trip, and $1,500 per person.If your card is approved for $5,000 or more the benefits will also include Trip Cancellation / Interruption insurance, up to $6,000 per trip, and $1,500 per person.

The Difference

The main, noticeable difference between these two cards is in the rewards. The Chase Freedom offers 5% cashback on rotating categories and only 1% on all other purchases. On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Unlimited will get you 1.5% back on everything.

The 2019 category’s for the Chase Freedom were:*

Q1 – Gas stations, Tolls, Drugstores

Q2 – Grocery Stores (perfect for Passover season), Home Improvement stores

Q3- Gas stations (perfect for summer season), Select streaming services

Q4- Department stores, PayPal, Chase Pay

*Categories may change from year to year

Which One Should I Get?

First, check if the 5% categories are even where you spend your money. Then ask yourself if you’re ready to deal with a high maintenance card. Are you enough of a points optimizer that you’ll be ready to be busy activating your quarterly reward categories? (There’s a deadline too! For example, to activate the quarterly cashback for the fourth quarter of 2019 you had to have done it by Dec. 14, 2019.) Also, you’ll have to make sure it’s not causing you to spend more in places you never used to spend before just because you’re just trying to get more cashback. And remember you’ll only be getting the 5% back on up to $1500 per quarter.

If you don’t have time to be busy figuring out the categories, get the Chase Freedom Unlimited, where you’ll earn 1.5% back on any and all purchases.

Go For Both

Why not get both? Chase will not approve you for both the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited. But, the key is the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve. If you get approved for one of the Sapphire credit cards you can later downgrade it to any of the Freedoms even if you already have the other Freedom product.

Optimizing Your Rewards

Get more bang for your buck…um… rewards. Since both of these cards have the option of transferring points to any other Chase card, take advantage. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, then pool your points from the Chase Freedom and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited and transfer them to one of the Sapphire cards. This will allow you to maximize your point value to 25% or 50% more (Preferred 25%, Reserve 50%), when you’ll redeem those points for travel through the Chase Travel portal.