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Update: This deal originally ran a year ago (April 2018). The return of this offer has been rumored for quite a while, and Doctor of Credit reports the deal is back, though it is available in-branch only at the time of writing. On the downside, this time the deal is capped at $20,000 in purchases in the first year. Still, this is a great deal if you’re looking to earn Ultimate Rewards for daily unbonused spend. Read on for Greg’s original recap of the offer a year ago, updated with the new details:
Chase’s usual offer for the no-fee Freedom Unlimited card is for “$150” after $500 spend. In reality, the “cash back” earned by this card is in the form of Ultimate Rewards points which can be cashed in at a penny each. So, the normal offer for this card is really for 15,000 points after $500 spend. And the card normally offers 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, which is pretty darn good since it’s possible to move these points to a premium card in order to get more than 1 cent per point value.
Now Chase has unveiled an optional new signup bonus for this card, which is available in-branch only as of 3/18/19. Instead of earning 15,000 points, you can earn an extra 1.5 points per dollar on up to $20,000 in purchases for the first year of card membership. For big spenders, that’s insane! If you expect to spend more than $10,000 in your first year with the card, then you’ll come out ahead with the new offer instead of the usual offer.
Unfortunately, the Freedom Unlimited card is subject to 5/24.
|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 Freedom Unlimited does charge foreign transaction fees, so leave it at home when traveling internationally. But within the US, 3X everywhere cannot be beat.
Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed as follows:
- Cash or merchandise (1 cent per point value). Through this option, the Freedom Unlimited earns 3% cash back ton all spend first year.
- Move points to a premium card (Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred, for example) and purchase travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel site (1.25 cents per point value). Through this option, the Freedom Unlimited earns 3.75% back towards travel on all spend first year.
- Move points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and purchase travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel site (1.5 cents per point value). Through this option, the Freedom Unlimited earns 4.5% back towards travel on all spend first year.
- Move points to a premium card and then transfer to a variety of airline and hotel programs (per point value varies from very low to extremely high when points are used this way). Through this option, the Freedom Unlimited earns 3 miles per dollar on all spend first year.
Consider these options for increasing your 3X spend in the first year:
- Use the card for all spend first year: This is obvious, but needs to be said for completeness. Use the card for all day to day spend. You can even put away your Sapphire Reserve except when traveling internationally because your first year Freedom Unlimited will earn the same 3X for restaurants and travel (and everywhere else!)
- Timeshift Spend: With some utilities and other ongoing expenses it may be possible to pre-pay for charges that you know you’ll incur past the first year.
- Pay Bills: Obviously if a biller allows credit card payments, that’s a good way to go. If not, consider using a service like Plastiq to pay bills (including things like rent, mortgage, day care, etc.). With Plastiq you’ll have to pay a 2.5% fee, but you’ll still come out ahead at 3X. Better yet, pay your rent for 1.5% with Urbanr.
- Pay Federal Taxes: The timing on this offer doesn’t make this a great option for many of us, but it’s still a great option for paying estimated taxes or for next year’s taxes. Fees start at 1.89% for credit cards. Over-payments, if any, will be refunded after you file your year end taxes. For full details, please see: Complete guide to paying taxes via credit card, debit card, or gift card.
- Fund Kiva Loans: Do good and hopefully get your money back. See: Manufacture Spend (and do good) with Kiva and Kivalens.
Additional ideas for increasing credit card spend can be found here: Manufactured Spending Complete Guide.
Hat Tip: Doctor of Credit.