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Chase Freedom Unlimited Offers Year of 3% Cash Back

June 20, 2019
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards
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Chase has revised the rewards structure for its popular flat-rate cash-back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. New cardholders will get a higher cash-back rate in the first year — 3% on up to $20,000 in purchases — but the $150 sign-up bonus is being eliminated.

The new offer has been available in Chase bank branches since mid-March. Now it is online as well and will be the standard offer on the card going forward.

The changes in a nutshell:

 Previous offer
(before April 5, 2019)
New offer
(starting April 5, 2019)
Rewards rate • 1.5% cash back on all purchases. • 3% cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases in the first year.
• 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Sign-up bonus$150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

All other card details remain the same. The ongoing cash-back rate (after the 3% promotion in the first year) remains 1.5% on all purchases. The annual fee remains $0, and you get an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR.

Whether the new offer is an improvement over the old one depends on how much you spend on the card in the first year. In general, if you plan to spend more that $10,000 in the first year, the new offer is more lucrative overall. At that point, the extra cash back is enough to make up for the loss of the previous sign-up bonus. (You don’t get the nice all-at-once $150 windfall from the sign-up bonus, though.)

If you’ll be spending less than $10,000 in that first year, then the new terms are a step down from the previous offer. In that case, consider an alternative card that pays the same 1.5% base rate but also gives you a cash bonus. Options include:

If you spent $20,000 in the first year with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to max out your 3% rewards, you’d come away with $600 in rewards under the new offer, compared with $450 for the old one.

One thing to keep in mind: Rewards on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, where they have 25% or 50% more value, respectively, when redeemed for travel. By using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn 3% rewards and then transferring them to one of the Sapphire cards and using them for travel, you could boost your effective rewards rate on those purchases to 3.75% or 4.5%.

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