Earning Points as a Team with the Freedom Unlimited

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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 cardmember, 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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Annual Fee$0
Welcome Bonus Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
The everyday workhorse of the Ultimate Rewards family of cards earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day of the week. While the Freedom Unlimited earns cash back on its own, the points earned become even more valuable when you hold an Ultimate Rewards card with the ability to transfer points to partners.
  • Earn a $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.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase
  • Earn 3% on dining at restaurants
  • Earn 3% on drugstore purchases
  • Earn 1.5% on all purchases
  • New Cardmembers earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

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.

Because I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the welcome bonus that Gabi earns with her new Freedom Unlimited account will be worth far more than its $200 face value.

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.
Gabriela and I in Cape Town, South Africa

Estimating Our Rewards in the First Year

The Freedom Unlimited welcome bonus has two parts:

  • Earn a $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 earlier this year, 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 Sapphire Preferred 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:

Delta One Business Class to Brazil

Gabriela is from Brazil, so we often fly back and forth from Austin to visit family. Our first step for a Brazil trip is always Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Most frequent-flyer programs charge around 30,000 for economy and 60,000 for business class each way. But we can use Flying Club to book Delta One business-class flights for only 45,000 miles each way.

Since Chase lets you combine points with your spouse or partner, I can easily supply an extra 20,000 points from my Sapphire Reserve account to get our Virgin balance up to 90,000 for a pair of one-way tickets.

Domestic Flights Starting at 9,000 Points

When we're headed the other direction 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. While we probably won't do much travel besides visiting family in the short term, we've had our eyes on a trip to Europe for some time. 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.

Final Thoughts

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 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns a great bonus, 2X points on travel and dining, 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring a 80,000 point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®..
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 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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Comments

  • We’ve gotten so many great redemptions with the ability to combine our Chase card points.

  • I love that they let family members can combine the points. I don’t have Sapphire(waiting on 5/24 to pass), but I do have Freedom and Freedom unlimited. I transfer my points to my husband’s Sapphire account so that we can transfer points to airlines/hotels.

  • Yes, using Discover is not as rewarding as it used to be, when everyone else has upped their game 🙂

  • that’s really good news. I’d like combine my family account so that we can get more points.

  • did you get the refer a friend 20k bonus on your card for referring your wife?

    • Hey Paul, I did not have that offer. My refer-a-friend was only 10K.

      • I don’t think your article addressed that as part of the 2 player scheme. I think this is an important attribute, as my wife and I have referred several cards to the other. Maybe amend the article and add that as an additional point? just a suggestion. thanks for responding.

  • Great illustration on how you can really maximize these rewards with P1 and P2 working together.

  • This is how banks make up their own money. It is nice to have but I never ever want to pay for an annual fee. So this will not work out for me.

    • Totally get not wanting to pay an annual fee; that was me for years. However, I learned to always run the math and let it dictate. In other words, there are definitely times when signup bonus offers combined with one’s particular spending habits more than cover annual fees, making a particular fee card a very smart move for at least a year.

  • Chase is gradually ramping up the offerings on the Freedom cards.
    I don’t recall seeing sign up bonuses on the FU card before this.

  • That’s household account pooling on a whole new level. Thanks!

  • Thanks for the Flying Club tip! Points/miles hacking is great if loved ones cooperate. If they don’t, then fortunately single-mode players can still benefit from pursuing card portfolio + stacking + tier/status matching strategies.

  • It is great that two people can accrue at the same time. These rewards will add faster. Thanks!

  • Great info! Might need to get me and the wife in on this!

  • Chase + Flying Club = better / cheaper Skymiles awards.

    Interesting.

  • never owned a chase card. this may be the right time to get one. thanks for the post and info!

  • I might have to consider getting this for my wife and I now though I don’t think I can hit the full grocery spend. 🙁

    • You can buy all sorts of gift cards at the grocery store, and they count as grocery spend for the 5x UR points. Amazon gift cards are easy, just load them to your Amazon account.

  • all cards should have this feature

  • Great strategy except you have to remember to switch from the Freedom Unlimited to a different card for use while traveling. Foreign transaction fees are certainly not necessary to pay when you have one of the Sapphire cards.

  • This is truly an awful and misleading article. Is there even news here in terms of a new higher bonus? I’m reading through the article to figure out how the 20k bonus turns into 80k points. Turns out you’re adding in arbitrary spending to get to a higher bonus. Why not just add in $200k spending and claim all cards get a 200k points bonus? Way to turn off readers!

    • Thanks for your feedback Andy. This offer is clearly and transparently marketed by Chase as a two-part bonus consisting of an initial $200 cash back after meeting the minimum spend, plus 5% cash back on the first $12,000 of grocery purchases in the first year. The increased offer is only available to new cardmembers, and provides an opportunity to earn up to $800 cashback or 80,0000 Ultimate Rewards points if you also hold a card that allows transfers to airline and hotel partners. As the title states, the post details how you can take advantage of the new cardmember offer to maximize your returns as a couple or family. We genuinely try to explain the offers in a simple and concise way, if you can point out which part of the post you find misleading, we’ll do our best to clarify it for you. Jess.

  • Love Chase for this awesome feature!

  • Can Freedom Unlimited cash back be transferred as Ultimate Rewards to another member if the FU cardholder doesn’t have a second UR-earning card? Or do they need a Sapphire/Ink card to convert to UR first?

  • Wish I had that grocery benefit the new Freedom cardholders are getting.

  • 1.5X UR on every purchase is solid. What would be even more cool is to see Chase have 2X promotions from time to time.

  • Interesting article! We do a less organized version of this right now but appreciate all these details, if we switch over to these cards.

  • Are there any data points if a referral to the CFU results in an application option that includes the 5% grocery bonus?

    • Paul L Davis says:

      My wife did refer three people including myself got $100 credit for each one and all the three people have the 5% grocery offer. however when I was going to send it to someone new it appeared that the 5% grocery offer had been deleted from the link

  • When I travel with others we’d divide up the rewards redemption where one person would take care of paying for air with rewards and the other takes care of the hotel cost. It’s definitely the lazy simple way.

  • This is good to know to pool all points together from different accounts. Thank you!

  • Like the feature that family members can pool the points together to spend!

  • Nice to have 2 people’s spend count towards a sign up bonus, makes it much easier!

  • I have been using a similar strategy to push my Ultimate Rewards points into my wife’s Sapphire Reserve account for more than a year now.

    One additional advantage of this pooling not mentioned in your article is the temporary “pay yourself back” feature on the Sapphire Reserve account. Through at least September 30, you can redeem your Sapphire Reserve UR points for 1.5 cents apiece not only for travel, but also as a credit against other purchases, including dining, groceries, and home inprovement. Since travel is out for the moment, but dining (including delivery) is in, we have been combining and redeeming our UR against our dining charges. Awesome!!

  • Good breakdown of how to work as a team. Hey, it may even save some marriages! 😉

  • I wish they would give some extra 2020 love to long time card holders. New card holders get so much goodness.