How to Get the Best Value for Chase Unlimited Points
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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of our favorite everyday cash-back cards. Cardholders earn a base rate of 1.5% cash back on all purchases plus bonus cash back on dining at restaurants, drugstore purchases and travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
As a cash-back card, cardholders may believe they can't do much to maximize their earnings from this card. However, there are a few tricks to get the best value for Chase Unlimited points. Let's review how you make the most of your Chase Freedom Unlimited® card points.
Earning Chase Unlimited points
Before redeeming points, you first need to earn them. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® welcome bonus is a good place to start: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders also earn Ultimate Rewards® points at the following rates:
5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3% on dining at restaurants — including takeout and eligible delivery services.
3% on drugstore purchases.
1.5% on all other purchases.
Long-term cardholders may remember when this card only earned a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. That changed in September 2020 with the rollout of three new bonus categories. These changes boosted an already solid card into one that made a much more compelling argument for a spot in your wallet.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
The best value for Chase Unlimited points
Getting the maximum value out of your Chase Unlimited points requires some flexibility — and some luck with the timing of promotions. Here are the current options to get the best value for your Chase Unlimited points.
Chase Pay Yourself Back
Initially launched in May 2020 as a temporary COVID-19 measure, Chase has continued to extend its Pay Yourself back redemption option. Now through Dec. 31, 2023, Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can redeem Ultimate Rewards® points at a 25% bonus for donations to select charities. That's a redemption rate of 1.25 cents per point for eligible donations.
To qualify, you'll need to charge a donation to one of the eligible charities (listed below) to your Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. Then, within 90 days of the donation, go into your Ultimate Rewards® portal and redeem points through Pay Yourself Back for a statement credit.
Chase's current list of eligible charities for Pay Yourself Back:
» Learn more: What you need to know about Chase Pay Yourself Back
Redeeming Chase Unlimited points during an Apple promotion
The Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal is an authorized reseller of Apple products. Chase cardholders can typically redeem Chase points for 1 cent per point toward Apple purchases.
However, Chase has lately offered a biannual promotion to boost the redemption value for Apple purchases. For example, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 30, 2022, Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders could redeem points with a 10% bonus, netting a value of 1.1 cents per Chase Unlimited point.
Since Chase has offered these promotions reasonably often, it may be worth holding off for the next one if you want to redeem your Chase Unlimited points for Apple products.
» Learn more: Chase vs. AmEx
Use Chase Unlimited points to save on Amazon purchases
Amazon periodically offers Chase cardholders the ability to save by redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards® points toward an Amazon purchase. Chase cardholders have saved as much as 50% through these promotions on a single purchase. The minimum points redemption can be as few as just one point — although more-recent offers have required 100 points.
Still, saving 50% by using just 100 Chase points sits up there in the ranks of the best value for Chase Unlimited points. Just keep in mind that you'll want to limit how many points you redeem. That's because you'll only get 0.8 cents per point in value when redeemed for Amazon purchases. And you can get more value by redeeming Chase Unlimited points for cash back.
» Learn more: The guide to Chase travel credit cards
Simply redeeming for cash back
Chase advertises the ability to redeem Chase Unlimited points for gift cards, travel, Amazon and more. However, the best value for Chase Unlimited points is often simply redeeming points for cash back. With this redemption option, you'll get $10 in cash back for every 1,000 points redeemed.
Sure, you can also get 1 cent per point when redeeming points for several redemption options. However, you're generally better off just redeeming points for cash back and purchasing items — from Apple products to Amazon purchases — with your Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
First, you'll earn rewards on your purchase. That means you'll effectively earn rewards when redeeming rewards. Second, you can utilize shopping portals to earn additional rewards on your purchase. Finally, you'll get card benefits — such as purchase protection and extended warranty protection — that only take effect for purchases.
» Learn more: The beginner's guide to Chase credit cards
Combining points with other Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning cards
Ultimate Rewards® points earned through the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card can be redeemed for various redemption options. However, the one major restriction on Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned through the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is that points can't be transferred to Chase Ultimate Rewards® airline and hotel partners.
The good news is that you can get around this restriction by combining the points earned through the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card with an eligible Ultimate Rewards® card. That means getting the best value for Chase Unlimited points requires that you carry another Chase card — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Say that you have both the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You'll earn 3% cash back at drug stores using your Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. But you can turn that into 3x transferable points by combining these earnings with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card point balance.
» Learn more: The best Chase credit cards
If you want to get the best value from your Chase Unlimited points…
Although advertised as a cash-back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card earnings can be redeemed for much more than cash back. Cardholders can redeem points for travel, gift cards, Apple purchases and so much more. The downside is that most of these redemption options are limited to just 1 cent per point in value — unless you can take advantage of a promotion.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders may get more than one cent per point in value through Pay Yourself Back, Apple redemption promotions or Amazon point redemption promotions. However, the downright best value for Chase Unlimited points is combining earnings with an eligible Ultimate Rewards®-earning credit card, unlocking the ability to transfer points to Chase's hotel and airline partners.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card