Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which Cash-Back Card Is Best?

How you earn rewards is different with each Chase card.

If you want to open a new cash-back credit card, you might be deciding between the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited card, both of which made GOBankingRates’ list of the best cash-back credit cards. The two cards are very similar, but there is a difference between the cards’ reward structures. Before you decide which card to apply for, make sure you understand the fees and features associated with each.

Take a look at the below table to compare and contrast the two Chase credit cards:

Chase Freedom Credit Card Comparison
 Chase FreedomChase Freedom Unlimited
APR16.74% to 25.49%16.74% to 25.49%
Intro APR0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee$0$0
Foreign Transaction Fee3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
RewardsEarn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchasesEarn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Sign-Up Bonus$150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening$150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
ProsAdditional $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same three-month period; Cash-back rewards do not expire; 0% introductory rate on balance transfersAdditional $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same three-month period; Cash-back rewards do not expire; 0% introductory rate on balance transfers
ConsLower cash-back rate than with Chase Freedom Unlimited on purchases that do not fall into a bonus categoryLower cash-back rate than with Chase Freedom on purchases that do fall into a bonus category

Chase Freedom vs. Freedom Unlimited

Both the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cash-back cards have a 0% intro APR, sign-up bonuses and unlimited cash-back rewards that do not expire. However, how much cash back you earn will differ depending on the card you choose. Take a closer look at how each of the cards’ rewards system works.

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Chase Freedom Credit Card Features and Conditions

There is no annual fee with the Chase Freedom credit card, and when you open a new card, you’ll pay a 0 percent intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the variable APR ranges from 16.74 percent to 25.49 percent, depending on your credit health. You’ll also get a $150 sign-up bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening, and an additional $25 bonus after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same three-month period.

When you make a purchase with your Chase Freedom card, you automatically earn 1 percent cash back on every dollar spent. You can earn an additional 4 percent cash back on purchases made in a “bonus” category. These categories change each quarter, and you must “activate” a bonus category by the specified deadline. Bonus categories can include gas stations; internet, cable and phone providers; grocery stores; and specific retailers like Lyft and Walgreens. Here are the Chase Freedom categories for bonus cash back in 2018:

  • January to March: Gas stations; internet/cable/phone services; Chase Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay
  • April to June: Grocery stores, not including Walmart and Target; Pay Pal and Chase Pay
  • July to September: Gas stations, Lyft and Walgreens
  • October to December: Not yet announced

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You’ll earn 5 percent cash back on bonus category purchases up to $1,500 per quarter; once that limit is reached, you’ll earn the default 1 percent cash back. Cash-back rewards do not expire, and there is no minimum to redeem these rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Features and Conditions

Like the Chase Freedom card, there is no annual fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The APR is also the same for both cards, as is the sign-up bonus offer. The only difference with the Freedom Unlimited card is that you will earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases in all categories — there are no “bonus” categories with this card. There is no limit on the cash-back rewards you can receive, and these rewards do not expire. You can redeem your Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards at any time, as there is no minimum required for redemption.

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Which Chase Freedom Credit Card Should You Choose?

The basic fees and features of both Chase cards are the same, so the best cash-back card for you will depend on which rewards structure makes the most sense for your financial situation. Chase Freedom benefits people who make (or are willing to make) a lot of purchases in the typical bonus categories since it offers a higher cash-back rate on bonus category purchases than Chase Freedom Unlimited. However, keep in mind that once you reach $1,500 in bonus category purchases for the quarter, your cash-back rate will drop back down to 1 percent, which is lower than the default rate offered by the Chase Freedom Unlimited. If you’re spending is more varied, you could be better off with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which has a higher default cash-back rate on all purchases.

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