You’ve Got One of the Chase Sapphire Cards, What’s Next?

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Here at Thrifty Traveler, we often tout both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve as two of our favorite travel rewards credit cards.

The Ultimate Rewards points they earn are no doubt some of the best and most powerful out there. Whether you’re an experienced traveler or just getting started, one of these cards will get the job done. They are simply two of the best options to help you see more of the world for less money.

And due to Chase’s strict application rules, we almost always recommend starting with Chase credit cards when starting your points and miles journey.

So let’s say you just got either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card and already met your minimum spending requirement of $4,000 in the first three months to earn your 50,000 or 60,000 point bonus. And you might be asking yourself: “Now what?”

Our answer? Take a hard look at the no annual fee Chase Freedom cash back cards. These cards are the perfect complement to either of the Chase Sapphire cards.


All about the Chase Freedom Cards

Chase has two different versions of their no annual fee cash back credit cards in which they brand Freedom. They are the Chase Freedom card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. While both of these cards technically earn cash back, the cashback bonuses can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent per point as long as you hold either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

That’s important because while you can earn 2x or 3x points per dollar spent on dining and travel depending on which version of the Sapphire card you carry, you will only earn 1x Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases.

The Chase Freedom cards can help you earn even more, and pile up more Ultimate Rewards points. Better yet, both of these Chase Freedom cards have no annual fee.

So which version is right for you? We will break that down.


Comparing the Chase Freedom Cards

The regular Chase Freedom card is a fantastic card to combine with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve credit cards for the reasons mentioned above.

  • Sign up Bonus: Earn $150 Bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Earn 5% Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating quarterly bonus categories.
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back: Earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Affected By The Chase 5/24 Rule: This card is subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so this is something to be aware of before applying.

chase freedom vs chase freedom unlimited


Click Here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Card. 


The Chase Freedom Unlimited card launched in 2016 as an offshoot of the original Chase Freedom card mentioned above. Instead of rotating quarterly bonus categories, the card earns a straight 1.5% cash back on all spending with no annual limit.

Just like the regular Freedom card, if you hold a Sapphire card, you can combine the points earned from the Freedom Unlimited and redeem them at 1.25 or 1.5 cents (depending on the Sapphire card you have) towards travel in the Chase portal. More card details below:

  • Sign up Bonus: Earn $150 Bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months of card membership.
  • Earn an Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back: Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Affected By The Chase 5/24 Rule: This card is subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so this is something to be aware of before applying.


chase freedom vs chase freedom unlimited


Click Here to learn more about the Freedom Unlimited card. 


Chase Freedom Card Considerations

You don’t hear a lot about either of these cards because neither offers earth-shattering welcome bonuses. The 15,000 point bonus ($150 cash back) offered by the regular Freedom card is much smaller than the standard 50,000 point bonuses offered on both Sapphire cards (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) and many other travel rewards cards out there.

But unlike many points and miles cards out there, the value of the Chase Freedom cards isn’t in a big sign-up bonus. Both cards are worth getting for the long-term value they provide alongside your Sapphire card. Since the Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases, it is a great card to pair with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for all non-travel and dining spending.

Conversely, you can earn 5% cashback on rotating categories up to $1,500 each quarter with the regular Chase Freedom card. Recent bonus categories have included purchases at Walgreens, Lyft, gas stations, wholesale stores like Costco, Amazon and department stores, to name a few.

If you can take advantage of the categories each quarter and spend $1,500 total, you would only have to spend $6,000 annually to earn an additional $300 cash back or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points.


Which Chase Freedom Card is Best for You? 

Unlike the Sapphire cards, Chase allows you to carry both the Freedom and the Freedom Unlimited cards. This means that if you held both cards in conjunction with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for example, you would earn 1.5x, 3x or 5x Ultimate Rewards points on all purchases. That is an unbeatable return, especially when you consider that Sapphire Reserve cardholders redeem Ultimate Rewards points for at least 1.5 cents each.

If you wanted to choose either the Chase Freedom card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, your choice should come down to your ability to maximize the 5% bonus categories offered each quarter on the Chase Freedom card. If you can maximize the categories, you would only have to spend $6,000 to earn $300 cash back or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points each year.

Either way, you can’t go wrong. Especially when you consider that neither card has an annual fee. If you combine your Freedom card with a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, you can really accelerate your ability to earn Ultimate Rewards points as mentioned above.

Both cards are subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule. For this reason, I always recommend getting one or both of these cards soon with a Chase Sapphire card. Once you are over the 5/24 restriction, you won’t be able to get either of these no annual fee cards.


Bottom Line

Getting either Chase Freedom card is essential to maximizing your ability to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. With no annual fee, they are cards to get and keep open for the long run to help you meet your travel goals.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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