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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is currently running an all-time-high bonus. New cardholders have the chance to earn up to $800 cashback or 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points. As a long-time card member, I’m not eligible for this offer. But that doesn’t make me any less excited about it.
Chase Ultimate Rewards are the perfect type of points to earn as part of a two-person strategy. My wife, Gabriela, is just getting started with points and miles. And the Freedom Unlimited is the ideal choice for her first rewards card. In today’s post, I’ll share our strategy for earning rewards as a team—and how you can do it too.
- $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
- 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 24.74%.
- No annual fee
- Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase
- Earn 3% on dining at restaurants
- Earn 3% on drugstore purchases
- Earn 1.5% on all purchases
- Why You Need a Team Strategy
- Why Chase Ultimate Rewards is Perfect for Couples
- Estimating Our Rewards in the First Year
- Simple Earning for a Happy Marriage
- Turning Points Into Travel
- Final Thoughts
Why You Need a Team Strategy
When you buy airfare or accommodation with cash, you can easily pool resources with your travel companions. But with award travel, you generally need enough points in a single loyalty account for the entire award. Some programs let you pay with a combination of cash and points, but many do not.
If you're planning to travel with a friend or partner, the first priority is getting enough points in one account to use for an award. Most reward programs will let you redeem points for other people, so you should be okay if one of you has enough points to cover travel for two. But that isn't always easy.
The alternative is to coordinate your earning strategy. That way the points you earn individually can either be combined or redeemed separately for the same itinerary.
Why Chase Ultimate Rewards is Perfect for Couples
One of the things I absolutely love about Ultimate Rewards is that you can combine Chase points with your spouse or partner and transfer them to a frequent flyer or hotel loyalty account in either person’s name. In our situation, this is especially important because the Freedom Unlimited will be Gabriela's first Chase card.
If Gabi were earning on her own, she could redeem her 20,000 points for $200 cashback or book travel at one cent per point (also $200) through the Chase portal. But when we combine her balance with the points we earn on my Sapphire Reserve card, those points can be redeemed for a minimum of $300 towards travel (1.5 cents per point).
And if we transfer those points to a Chase airline partner like Singapore Airlines, we’ll be able to turn those points into even more savings. If you aren't familiar with how a combination of Chase cards can increase the value of your Ultimate Rewards, check out these related posts:
- Chase Travel Portal — Our complete guide to redeeming points for a variety of travel purchases through Chase's Ultimate Rewards Portal.
- Chase Transfer Partners — Our complete guide to maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards by transferring to airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Estimating Our Rewards in the First Year
The Freedom Unlimited welcome bonus has two parts:
- $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
On average, we spend around $400 per month on groceries, and another $250 on meals delivered by HomeChef.
When Chase ran a temporary 5X bonus on groceries for Sapphire Reserve cardholders in 2020, all of my Home Chef purchases were categorized as groceries. I expect the Freedom Unlimited will use the same categories. Chase also categorized Hello Fresh and Sun Basket as groceries, while other popular delivery services like Blue Apron, Freshly, and Daily Harvest had mixed data.
So if Gabriela takes over the grocery transactions on her new Freedom Unlimited account, we should be able to manage around $650 in monthly purchases. Here’s how I’m estimating our earning potential for the first year:
- $650/month on groceries – $7,800 x 5 points = 39,000
- $500/month on other purchases – $6,000 x 1.5 points = 9,000
- 20,000 bonus points for spending $500 in the first 90 days
We’ll probably stock up on frozen food and non-perishables in the last month of the 5x grocery offer. So, let's tack on an extra $400 to bring the total to a nice even 70,000 points.
Simple Earning for a Happy Marriage
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re the points enthusiast in the family and your better half tolerates your obsession thanks to an appreciation for luxury travel. In my case, the Singapore Airlines first-class tickets for our honeymoon certainly didn’t hurt my credibility.
Gabriela is more than happy to let me optimize our team earning strategy when I’m making the purchases. But, she gets moderately annoyed when I try to coach her on which card to use for every purchase. Please don’t tell me you used your Discover card at the restaurant. That was so two quarters ago!
The Freedom Unlimited is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want the complexity of carrying multiple cards or the hassle of remembering which one to use. (Of course, I could point out that the AwardWallet merchant tool—which is available in our mobile app—will tell you exactly which card to use. But I’ve learned which battles I’m going to win.)
With the Freedom Unlimited, you earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn and the bonus categories make it easy to accumulate a big balance of Ultimate Rewards points without a lot of planning.
Turning Points Into Travel
Now even if we didn’t know anything about redeeming Chase points with partners, having the Sapphire Reserve means those 70,000 points are worth $1,050 towards travel. If you have one of the other premium Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you’ll get 1.25 cents per point—making 70,000 points worth $875 towards travel.
But the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners have even more potential. Here are a few trips we’ve been considering to illustrate why:
A Stay at the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau in Buenos Aires
The Palacio Duhau in Buenos Aires is one of my favorite hotels. With paid rates running $500+ per night, it's a bit hard to justify paying cash for a stay. But Hyatt charges only 25,000 points for a free night. Since Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to World of Hyatt, we'd only need only 75,000 Chase points to book a three-night stay at this amazing property.
Domestic Flights Starting at 9,000 Points
For an upcoming trip to visit my family in Michigan, we can take advantage of British Airways' distance-based award chart to fly from Austin to Chicago with American Airlines. One-way tickets cost only 9,000 points in economy or 16,500 in domestic first class. We can spend a day or two there and grab a cheap Amtrak ticket to Michigan afterward.
American's domestic first service isn't particularly exciting. But, it's hard to say no when most frequent-flyer programs charge 12,500 miles for economy!
A Trip to Europe Next Summer
One of the other nice things about Chase Ultimate Rewards points is that they won't expire as long as we keep at least one of our Ultimate Rewards cards open. This was especially helpful over the past year when travel was on hold for many. Iberia Plus has great prices for business class from Chicago to Madrid and Virgin Atlantic offers economy from New York to London for as low as 10,000 miles on off-peak dates.
It's hard to overstate the value of accumulating points you can combine when earning as a team. If you know your loyalty programs well, there are ways to travel together with separate points. However, it takes a lot more effort.
I also really appreciate that the Freedom Unlimited earns tons of points on everyday spending. Gabriela won't need a cheat sheet to maximize her return on every purchase. And starting with a hassle-free card makes it a lot more likely she'll end up as much of a fan of rewards as I am.
If neither member of your earning team has an Ultimate Rewards card, my recommendation would be for one person to get the Sapphire Preferred, which earns a great bonus, top earning rates, and lets you transfer your points to partners. If the other person gets the Freedom Unlimited, you'll be off to a great start for your next trip.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
- 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
- 5X points on travel purchased through Chase
- 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide
- 3X points on eligible streaming services
- 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- 2X points on all other travel
- 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
How do you approach earning as a team? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
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