Chase Freedom Unlimited: Ways to use the $200 cash sign-up bonus

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One of the best perks of opening up a Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is the $200 cash welcome bonus, earned after spending $500 in your first three months of owning the card. While it’s not quite as generous as that of more premium rewards credit cards, the bonus is competitive for a rewards card with no annual fee.

We’ll cover the requirements for qualifying for the bonus, the best ways to use the bonus and other details about the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, below.

As a reminder: Details of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Name Chase Freedom Unlimited
Rewards 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5% back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022), 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining, 3% back on drugstore purchases and 1.5% back on everything else
Annual fee $0
Sign-up bonus $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
Intro APR 0% for the first 15 months on purchases
Regular APR 14.99% to 24.74 % variable

Why the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus is worth noting

A $200 cash back welcome bonus is a pretty good offer for a card with no annual fee. Further, while you can redeem this bonus for cash or a statement credit, you can also use the bonus as part of the lucrative Chase Ultimate Rewards program and transfer your rewards to a more premium Chase credit card. This means that, depending on which redemption option you use, the bonus could potentially be worth even more than $200.

The spending requirement to qualify for this bonus is only $500 over the first three months of card ownership, so most borrowers will likely qualify for the bonus if they spend just $170 per month using the card. Aside from the welcome bonus, other Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits include a solid cash back rewards structure, no annual fee and a low introductory APR on purchases.

How to redeem the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus

There are multiple redemption options you can utilize to access the card’s sign-up bonus. The simplest way to use the bonus is in the form of a statement credit or cash back direct deposit, which transfers $200 worth of cold, hard cash to your bank account or credit card statement. But there are plenty of other ways to use the bonus, as well.

In addition to cash or statement credit, cardholders can also use the bonus to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, purchase gift cards, shop on Amazon, make charitable contributions and more. In some cases, these redemption options are worth more than the cash amount, allowing cardholders to stretch their welcome bonus further.

How much is the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus worth?

If redeemed for cash, each Chase Ultimate Rewards point is worth 1 cent. (Note, the Chase Freedom Unlimited technically earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash back at a 1:1 rate.) Utilizing only the Chase Freedom Unlimited, points are also worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel, gift cards and Apple purchases. Points are worth .8 cents when redeemed for Amazon purchases and 1.25 cents when redeemed for charitable giving.

However, your rewards can be even more valuable if you have another Chase Ultimate Rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. By transferring rewards earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to one of these more premium cards, you can increase their value. For example, points redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal are worth 1.25 cents using the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 1.5 cents using the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Best ways to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus

There’s nothing wrong with redeeming the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus for straight-up cash. For many cardholders, especially those who don’t travel frequently or don’t want to spend time maxing out their rewards earning potential, a cash direct deposit or statement credit may be the path of least resistance.

That said, there are a few other redemption options you should consider in order to maximize your card’s sign-up bonus value. For instance, if you own an additional Chase credit card, such as the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, you can transfer your welcome bonus in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to one of those cards, where they can then be redeemed for travel purchases at a higher rate.

Chase also features a shopping portal with offers from retail partners in the form of discounted gift cards, product offerings and more. Before you redeem your rewards, it’s a good idea to browse the offerings in the portal to make sure you’re not missing out on any good deals from your favorite retailers.

Finally, if you want to up your charitable giving, consider using the welcome bonus to contribute to a charity of your choice. Rewards earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, including the welcome bonus, are worth an additional 25 percent when used to cover charitable donations to 12 select organizations via Pay Yourself Back (until Dec. 21, 2021).

Redemption options to avoid

With most redemption options worth 1 cent apiece, including cash back, statement credits and gift cards, there are a lot of good ways to take advantage of your rewards. However, one area that you might want to steer clear of is redeeming your rewards for Amazon purchases. Since points are only valued at .8 cents when redeemed through Amazon, there are more valuable ways to put your hard-earned rewards to work.

You should also think carefully before purchasing gift cards or items through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. While these redemption options can be as valuable as cash (and sometimes even more so), they can also encourage you to make purchases you might not have under other circumstances. If you’re on a budget and are trying to cut down spending wherever possible, you can’t go wrong with redeeming your rewards for cold, hard cash.

The bottom line

Along with lucrative rewards and no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s welcome bonus is one of the card’s top selling points. Cardholders only have to spend $500 in the first three months to qualify, which puts this bonus within reach of borrowers with a wide variety of budgets and spending habits.

How you redeem your welcome bonus is ultimately up to you. A cash deposit, statement credit, travel purchases, gift cards or even charitable giving are all great options. If you’re pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited with other Chase credit cards, like the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, you can transfer your welcome bonus rewards to these cards for even more valuable redemption options.