3/5/18

Liberate Your Wallet With Chase's Freedom Cards



It’s Monday, Monday, gotta read my #MileageMonday…that’s how that song goes, right?

If my memory serves correctly, I promised to give you guys some great insight to the travel hacking community every Monday. With some people out of the office, I had to cover some extra work but the hustle NEVER STOPS! We are going to keep bringing you guys great content & save you some major COIN while we’re at it. You’ve got no excuse not to read.

Shake off the Sunday scaries, strap on your work boots & let’s get to business. Time to kick off another #MileageMonday! In this week’s installment, we are going to continue our Chase breakdown of the 6 major Chase-branded credit cards. I have a handful of these cards and they have become my go-to cards because they provide more value than most cards on the market. If you need a refresher, here’s my definition of the Chase credit card family:
  • Premium Cards
    • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Everyday Cards
    • Chase Freedom
    • Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Business Cards
    • Chase Ink Plus
    • Chase Ink Cash
We already covered the premium cards a few weeks ago. Chase’s Sapphire cards are some of the most coveted on the market for their robust benefit offerings & ability to transfer points to travel partners. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the cards I keep in my arsenal for the 2x dining & travel points. However, what if I told you that you could get 5x points on certain categories? How about 1.5% cash back on EVERYTHING?

That’s where the Chase “Everyday” cards come in. Smart Money Squad, allow me to introduce you to the Chase Freedom & Chase Freedom Unlimited! As a quick note-we don't get paid to advertise these cards. If you'd like to help support the blog & you are interested in getting one of these cards, sign up under our referral links here:

Chase Freedom-Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening.

Chase Freedom Unlimited-Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening.

Thanks for supporting us-now on to the good stuff!

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom will always have a soft spot in my heart. As a senior in college, I finally bit the bullet & pulled the trigger on my first-ever credit card. I was looking for something straightforward that would give me some solid cash back-and that’s EXACTLY what the Chase Freedom is. It stands to reason that the Chase Freedom is one of the best introductory cards on the market for anybody looking to build their credit or ease in to the credit card world. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the perks the Chase Freedom offers:
  • Earn $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • No annual fee!
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1500 in bonus categories each quarter.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back!

At a glance, this card certainly doesn’t have all the bells & whistles of the Chase Sapphire cards. However, I’d argue that you can gain some major value from the Chase Freedom through the 5% cash back on select categories. These categories rotate quarterly, providing you with flexibility on your categories while offering solid cash back options. Here’s what the categories looked like last year:
  • Q1: Gas Stations & Local Commuter Transportation
  • Q2: Grocery & Drug Stores
  • Q3: Restaurants & Movie Theaters
  • Q4: Walmart & Department Stores

As you can see, tons of value to be had. I maxed out three of these categories last year for a net total of 22,500 Chase UR points ($225 in cash back at minimum). There are ways to be creative to maximize your category spend, too-you can buy gift cards for manufactured spending, buy & sell product, offer to take everybody’s check at dinner & get paid in cash, etc. With this mindset, it’s easy to quickly accumulate points & get yourself some cash back at your disposal. Let’s take another look at those categories from last year-here’s how I strategized my category spend:
  • Q1: Gas Stations & Local Commuter Transportation
    • Paid for family gas, bought variable gift cards at gas stations & purchased money orders
  • Q2: Grocery & Drug Stores
    • Bought groceries, manufactured spend by purchasing variable gift cards at Kroger/CVS
  • Q3: Restaurants & Movie Theaters
    • Offered to get paid in Venmo/cash for any meal with friends, bought Kayleigh food
  • Q4: Walmart & Department Stores
    • Bought some Christmas gifts at department stores

This year’s Q1 for Chase was gas stations once again, which you can be sure I will be maxing out though both normal gas expenses + variable gift cards to bridge the gap. Get creative with your spend & you’ll find yourself knocking out these categories in no time. For some people, this card makes all the sense in the world. However, if all of these categories are too confusing or you simply don’t want to keep track of it, I’ve got the card for you-the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

For those of you that just want a cash-back card without the hassle of thinking about when to use it, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is your answer. This card provides a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make, no matter what the category is. Whether you’re swiping for that late-night slice or making a rent payment, you’ll get the same cash back rate. In addition to that, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers:
  • Earn $150 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • No annual fee!
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back!

Look familiar? That’s because these cards offer the same benefits, even down to the sign-up bonus. It’s all about whether you prefer category spending vs. a flat fee. For me, I know I can max the categories out & therefore I go for the Chase Freedom.

It’s important to keep in mind that everybody’s spending situation is different! Take note of where you spend the most money & evaluate if category spending is right for you. If not, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a fantastic option that will have you earning points quickly.

Stacking Your Freedom With A Sapphire

One of the best reasons to have one of the Chase Freedom cards is that you can transfer your cash-back balance to one of your Sapphire cards if you are a cardholder. Since the Chase Freedom/Freedom Unlimited only gives you the option to redeem these points for cash-back, this opens Pandora’s box in terms of redemption options. As I laid out in our Sapphire post, you can utilize these points to:
  • Transfer to travel partners like Southwest, United, Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, etc.
  • Book travel directly through the Chase portal for a 25-50% discount on travel by using points
  • Redeem for gift cards
  • Cash Back
This is why having a Chase Freedom/Freedom Unlimited can be SO VALUABLE in the travel hacking community-you can stack these points with your other cards! I try to max my categories out on my Freedom because I never know when I’ll have a surprise travel expense that requires some additional UR points. Both of these cards have saved Kayleigh & I multiple times when we are in a pinch & we haven’t paid a dime in annual fees. Seems like a win-win situation to me!

Recap

Chase’s “everyday” cards (as I define them) can provide tons of value for no additional cost & serve as a great starter card for those of us just getting started. While I typically recommend the Chase Sapphire cards or the Southwest Chase cards to anybody looking for a new credit card, you cannot go wrong with one of these options. These cards also fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule, so if you want to get them, make sure you haven’t received 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months.

With that said, I hope you enjoyed today’s #MileageMonday. I’m going to get prepared for a big night of Bachelor watching (this Arie guy…SHEESH) with the lady & map out what valuable content we can bring you guys next. Have a fantastic week, Smart Money Squad!

Cheers,

Ty



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