Update: Some data points indicate that some people who have recently applied for the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited via referral have been able to get matched to this offer including the grocery bonus (Note: The referral offer does not show the 5x grocery bonus). See this report from Doctor of Credit. It’s not immediately clear whether applying now via referral would still get a match – there’s obviously the risk that they will decide to stop matching.
Chase has upped the ante: There are new offers out on the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards today and they are without a doubt the best I’ve ever seen on these cards: get the usual $200 back (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after $500 in purchases in the first 3 months plus get 5% / 5x back on groceries (excluding Walmart and Target) for the first year on up to $12,000 in spend. That’s up to an 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points at the grocery store in year 1. That’s a great deal on a card with no annual fee and finally makes the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited worth considering for a 5/24 slot.
The Offer & Key Card Details
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This is a fantastic deal and as good as we’ve ever seen on the Chase Freedom or Freedom Unlimited. Either of these cards are now worth considering despite using up a 5/24 slot.
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
The kind of “standard” offer on the Freedom cards has been for $150 back (15,000 Ultimate Rewards points), though we’ve had a $200 offer (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) listed for quite a while. This new offer maintains that previous 20K bonus on either card and adds 5x on up to $12K in grocery store spend in year 1. That’s a very nice bonus indeed.
Given that the Freedom Unlimited card ordinarily offers 1.5x everywhere, the bonus is really an additional 3.5 points per dollar on up to $12K in spend — or an additional 42K in points over what you would otherwise earn for that spend. That’s a really nice additional bonus on a card with no annual fee, especially given the fact that it should be very easy for most people to earn that entire bonus. On the other hand, assuming you would have earned 1x on the Chase Freedom, it’s like an additional 4x on that $12K in spend — 48K points more than you’d ordinarily earn on that spend (assuming that grocery stores are not a quarterly category).
To that last point, I’m not entirely sure how this will work if you elect to apply for the Freedom card and grocery stores are a quarterly category. Will you then receive stacking bonuses of 5% / 5x for the quarterly bonus and an additional 4% / 4x for this grocery bonus? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m sure we’ll find out early since Whole Foods is one of the quarterly bonus categories this quarter. Still, any way you slice it this will be a great bonus.
Consider also that since Chase is currently offering the Pay Yourself Back feature on Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cards, these bonuses are even more valuable for many cardholders. For example, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve in your household and you earn the welcome bonus on this card before the end of September, you could move the 20K bonus points earned here to your Sapphire Reserve account to pay yourself back for $300 in groceries or home improvement purchases (at 1.5c each). A return of 5x at the grocery store is therefore worth at least 7.5% back if used toward groceries as long as the pay yourself back feature lasts — an excellent bonus for grocery store spend.
The additional 40K+ points one stands to earn if you can max out grocery spend combined with the 20K welcome bonus points means that this card comes with a total bonus that beats out most other cards in the Ultimate Rewards lineup if you’re spending $12K per year on groceries.
Keep in mind that Chase markets the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards as cash back cards and thus the bonuses are framed in terms of cash back — $200 cash back after spending $500 in the first 3 months and 5% back on groceries — but those amounts are given in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred in your household, you can move points earned on the Freedom Unlimited to one of those cards and then transfer on to travel partners if you prefer to use the points with airline or hotel partners. Hyatt fans can no doubt see huge value in being able to rack up easy points via this card and then transfer them to Hyatt.
Overall, I’m pretty excited about this. I currently have the Freedom Unlimited, but my wife doesn’t and is under 5/24. I think this card is worth a 5/24 slot, especially considering the fact that she is not yet eligible for a new welcome bonus on a Sapphire card. Getting this card now will position her to eventually consider downgrading her Sapphire Reserve to a Freedom card when she is ready for a new Sapphire bonus. Since I had no intentions of burning a 5/24 slot any time soon, I expected it would be several years before she’d end up with more than one Freedom card. The points here are just easy peasy and hard to ignore.
This card may not make sense for those who can both get approved for and meet the spending requirement of an Ink Business Preferred (given the big bonus there) or those who would rather split their grocery spend over multiple welcome bonuses. On the other hand, with issuers in general tightening up on approvals, I think this represents an opportunity for a card that is generally easier to get than the ultra premium Chase cards and may be more realistic for some in the current environment.
I think Greg and I predicted a few months ago that we may yet see better offers on these lower-end cards if the pandemic wore on — while I’m disappointed that we aren’t on the other side of things yet, I’m glad to see this prediction come true as it will hopefully mean easy points for some enthusiasts hungry for a good offer.