We are big fans of Chase Ultimate Rewards points – the points you can earn from both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit cards – and you should be too. They're some of the most valuable points out there, period.
But there are two other Chase cards with no annual fees that can make either Sapphire card much more valuable. I'm talking about the Chase Freedom Flex and the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both of these cards technically earn cash back, but if you hold a Sapphire card or another that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can convert that cashback into Ultimate Rewards points. And considering these cards are better for many everyday expenses, that makes them the perfect way to complement a Sapphire card.
We'll break down both flavors of the Chase Freedom card and why they are the perfect cards to pair with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards.
Comparing the Chase Freedom Credit Cards
The Chase Freedom Flex was launched earlier this year, replacing the original Chase Freedom Card – which is no longer available for new applications.
Just like its predecessor, this new card has rotatingly quarterlyChase Freedom categories, where you can earn 5% back on your spending on changing categories like gas stations, pharmacies, Amazon, Whole Foods, etc. But it also has other bonus categories that make it even more rewarding.
And remember, the cashback you earn can be transferred into Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you hold one of the Sapphire credit cards on a 1:1 basis. So for example, if you use your Chase Freedom Flex card at one of the 5% categories, you would effectively be earning 5x points per dollar you spend since you can transfer cash back into your Ultimate Rewards.
Here's the full list of Chase Freedom Flex card benefits.
- Welcome bonus of $200 after spending $500 within three months of opening the card. This is equal to 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
- Earn 5% cashback on rotating quarterly categories
- Earn 5% cashback on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- Earn 5% cashback on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025
- Earn 3% cashback on dining, including takeout and delivery services
- Earn 3% cashback at drugstores
- Earn 1% cashback on all other spending
- Affected By The Chase 5/24 Rule: This card is subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, so you won’t get approved for the Chase Freedom Flex if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the last 24 months.
- No Annual Fee!
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Card.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card launched way back in 2016. And what the benefits are largely the same as the Chase Freedom Flex – with one major difference. Instead of rotating quarterly bonus categories, the card earns an unlimited 1.5% cashback on every dollar you spend that isn't tied to one of the bonus categories. Compare that to just 1% back on the Chase Freedom Flex Card.
Just like the Freedom Flex card, if you hold a Sapphire card, you can combine the points earned from the Freedom Unlimited and redeem them as Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
See below for the full listing of Chase Freedom Unlimited card benefits
- *freedom bonus*
- Earn 5% cashback on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
- Earn 5% cashback on Lyft rides through March 2025.
- Earn 3% cashback on dining
- Earn 3% cashback at drugstores
- Earn an unlimited 1.5% cashback on all other purchases.
- No Annual Fee!
Learn more about the *freedom unlimited*.
Chase Freedom Card Considerations
You don't hear a lot about either of these cards in part because neither offers an earth-shattering welcome bonus.
But the welcome bonus offer isn't the reason to get these cards. 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 use for all spending that might not earn a points or cashback bonus in another category.
Conversely, you can earn 5% cashback on rotating categories up to $1,500 each year with the Chase Freedom Flex card. Recent bonus categories have included purchases at Walgreens, Lyft, gas stations, PayPal, wholesale stores like Costco, 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 cashback or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
See our post comparing the Chase Freedom Flex vs the Freedom Unlimited to see which version of the card is right for you.
Which Chase Freedom Card is Best for You?
Unlike the Sapphire cards, Chase allows you to carry both the Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited cards. This means that if you held both cards in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, you would earn at least 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase – and often times much more.
That is an unbeatable return, especially when you consider that Sapphire Reserve cardholders redeem Ultimate Rewards points for at least 1.5 cents each, while Sapphire Preferred cardholders redeem for at least 1.25 cents each.
If you wanted to choose either the Chase Freedom Flex 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 Flex card. If you can maximize the categories, you would only have to spend $6,000 to earn $300 cashback or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points each year.
With the Freedom Unlimited card, you would need to spend $20,000 annually to get that same $300 cashback or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points. However, if you are not able to maximize the bonus categories on the Chase Freedom Flex card, your rate of return on the Freedom Unlimited card will be better (1.5% vs. 1%).
Either way, you can't go wrong – especially when you consider that neither card has an annual fee. Further, 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 right away 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.
See our post on 8 Great Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
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.