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finance money bank banking banking credit card credit score investment payment chase freedom unlimited cox 4



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This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on this page are from our partners, like Citi, but our coverage is always independent.

For those looking for a new hobby to pass the time at home — or for those who can’t wait to begin traveling as soon as it’s safely possible — now might be the perfect time to dive deep into the world of travel credit cards.

But for many who have seen their financial situations change since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, spending money to take out a new card that primarily offers travel benefits may not seem like the best financial move, particularly while leisure travel is essentially on hold indefinitely.

The good news is there’s a happy medium here. Credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee are a key part of many travelers’ credit card strategies, and thanks to their earnings structures, they happen to be the only cards I’m using during quarantine.

Here’s a look at the pair of cards I’m using for all my stay-at-home spending, and how doing so will translate into big rewards when travel does come back.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

I’m using the Chase Freedom for groceries and streaming services

The Chase Freedom is unique in that the number of points per dollar you earn on a given purchase depends on the time of year. Once per quarter, the Chase Freedom card’s bonus categories change, and you’ll earn 5% cash back (or 5 points per dollar) up to $1,500 after activation when you spend in those categories.

This quarter — which lasts until the end of June — those categories couldn’t be more perfectly suited to quarantine life, with bonuses on groceries, select streaming services, and gym memberships and fitness clubs (including plenty of options such as ClassPass that are live streaming workouts or doing virtual classes on-demand).

Trying to stay away from the grocery store? No problem; popular delivery services, such as Instacart, Thrive Market, and Amazon Fresh are covered under Chase’s grocery umbrella.

Regular APR

14.99%–23.74% variable APR

Credit Score

Good to Excellent

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • The information related to the Chase Freedom® has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
    • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire
    Pros
    • One of the highest cash-back rates — if you work for it
    • No annual fee
    • You can turn your cash back into travel rewards if you have another eligible Chase card
    Cons
    • Cap on quarterly bonus cash back
    • If the quarterly categories aren’t convenient, you can do better with another card


    Read Our Review
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    Don’t be confused: The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a completely different card than the similarly named — and similarly blue-and-green-colored — Chase Freedom. Instead of earning 5% cash back on a rotating selection of bonus categories, the Freedom Unlimited simply earns 1.5% cash back (or 1.5 points per dollar) on everything, making it the perfect card to use on purchases that don’t fall into popular spending categories.

    One such category? Retail. Like many others who are suddenly seeing a lot more of their living spaces than they’re used to, I’m plunging into home organization and interior design projects. Consequently, pretty much all of my non-grocery spend is going to home and lifestyle stores including Bed Bath & Beyond, West Elm, and a variety of small businesses selling ceramics, prints, candles, and other décor. And that means the Freedom Unlimited is on heavy rotation.

    Regular APR

    14.99%–23.74% variable APR

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

    • The information related to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
    • 1.5% cash back on every purchase
    • Low intro APR
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire
    Pros
    • Solid flat cash-back rate
    • No bonus categories to keep track of
    • You can combine cash-back rewards with Ultimate Rewards points if you have an eligible card
    • No annual fee
    Cons
    • Some other cards offer a higher rate of cash back


    Read Our Review
    Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

    In addition to being great for quarantine points-earning, the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited also offer a nice degree of flexibility in terms of using your points — something that consumers can appreciate whether or not they’re hoping to travel anytime soon.

    The points you earn on the two cards are cash-back points, so if you’re in a pinch financially and travel feels a lifetime away, you can use the cash back you earn to help ease the burden.

    But if you can afford to wait and have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points — think the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or, on the business side, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — you can quickly and easily transfer the points you earn on the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited between accounts. Doing so will instantly convert them into Ultimate Rewards, which are super valuable for travel, either for booking directly through Chase or for transferring to travel partners like Hyatt and United to book award reservations.

    Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards do come with an annual fee of $95 or more, so if you don’t have one already, you might want to wait to take one out until you can use some of their travel benefits (and maybe until the economy looks a little more stable).

    Your Chase cash back points will be ready and waiting to be converted whenever you’re ready, making now the perfect time to amp up your earning.

    The information related to the following cards has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed by the issuer: Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom®, Chase Slate®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
    Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card, IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card, United ClubSM Infinite Card, United℠ Business Card, British Airways Visa Signature® Card, The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, Citi Diamond Preferred Card, Citi Rewards+ Card, Citi Rewards+ Student Card, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite™ Mastercard, American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card, Citi Secured Mastercard, Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi, Citi Prestige Credit Card, Citi Premier Card, Citi Simplicity® Card

    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

    Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

    Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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