Last updated on May 13th, 2020
Effective October 10th, 2019 the Chase Freedom Unlimited has ended its beloved signup bonus of 3% cash back on all purchases within the first year.
Say “Bye Bye” to 3% Cash Back
The Chase Sapphire and Chase Freedom credit cards have often been used in conjunction with one another as one of the internet’s most popular credit card combinations. Touted as one the best rewards programs out there for rewards card beginners and pros alike, many rewards credit card enthusiasts rely on this one, two (and possibly three) punch in their credit card arsenal in order to earn as many of Chase’s widely coveted Ultimate Reward points as possible. Unfortunately, this power duo/trio has taken a hit as the Chase Freedom Unlimited no longer offers its exciting introductory offer of 3% cash back on all purchases during the first year. As of Thursday, October 10th this cash back card now only offers 1.5% cash back on purchases. While the card’s purpose of cashing in on all non-bonus category purchases is still present…the 1.5X return makes this card less of a must-have as Discover and several other credit cards offer equal – if not higher – flat-rate cash back earnings. However, Chase trio-hopefuls shouldn’t feel entirely let down. In lieu of the doubled cash back earnings, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is reverting to its pre-3% offer: a $200 signup bonus for spending $500 within the first 3 months of opening an account – that’s a whopping lump sum 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
Who Benefits from the New Freedom Unlimited Signup Bonus?
Whether this change hurts or helps you will depend on how you plan on incorporating the Freedom Unlimited into your spending strategy.
Those who already have a bunch of credit cards
There are über-specific rewards cards that offer points and/or cash back for almost any category imaginable: going to the movies, online shopping, paying for your light bill, and even grabbing an Uber. For this reason, the change from a year-long earning boost to a spending minimum could be a blessing in disguise for those who already have several (highly specific) credit cards. Since the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a catch-all card that’s meant to be used for purchases that otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a bonus reward, it would be difficult for ‘I-have-a-card-for-that’ types to fit their new Freedom Unlimited into their current lineup and utilize the card to its full potential.
Those who wouldn’t have spent much in the first place
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those that prefer to rely on one credit card for everything without regard to category bonuses or reward multipliers. At first glance, it might seem that you’re missing out if you intend on using the Freedom Unlimited card for everything – but crunch the numbers and you’ll likely feel otherwise. Even if you designate the Freedom Unlimited as your primary credit card, if your annual spend on the card was unlikely to surpass $6,000, you’re still better off with the new $200 signup bonus. In order to earn that equivalent in Ultimate Reward points with the previous offer, you would have to spend $6,667 dollars over the course of a year – that’s a little over $555 a month. So low spenders, rejoice! Instead of having to push your spending beyond your natural purchasing habits, you can instead front-load your credit card purchases to score a sweet signup bonus and then tuck your card away, knowing that you got the best that the Chase Freedom Unlimited had to offer without blowing your budget.
Those who want to use bonus points ASAP
Have the ultimate getaway planned (pun intended) but are a few thousand Ultimate Rewards points short of being able to book the trip completely free? The new $200 signup bonus could offer a quick and convenient way to put you over the edge without having to resort to last-minute (and otherwise unnecessary spending). The one-and-done nature of a large signup bonus spells good news for those with the intent of racking up points to use towards booking an upcoming trip. Instead of having to spend 12 months accumulating points, those with impending travel plans can open this card as a strategy for boosting their Ultimate Rewards balance with a hefty chunk of points at once.
Overall, regardless of your credit card M.O, if you’re deep into the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem, you’ll likely find the Freedom Unlimited a worthwhile cash back card regardless of it’s initial earning potential. The true value lies with feeding the points into The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards for 1.25x and 1.5x point value when redeemed in the Chase travel portal. There are rumors that the new Chase Freedom Unlimited signup bonus is going to be reduced to $150 soon, so you’ll want to snap this deal up immediately.