As a millennial who grew up in the early Information Age, many people have told me “don’t believe everything you read on the internet”. This newfound adage holds especially true today.
I saw a post on Reddit today from a Chase employee that said this:
working at chase – new ad material coming out for the freedom unlimited for a 3% bonus on certain categories beginning in the middle of March and beginning of April. No exact details as of yet, but just expect an email regarding it soon if you have the freedom unlimited. And reduced material for the freedom on internal sites and newsletters make me think they’ll be phasing it out fairly soon. on top of no visual update compared to the sapphires and freedom unlimited. so if you have not gotten the standard freedom yet, I’d get it by this year probably
This was a rumor from this morning that has since been debunked. However, I’m going to speculate and examine some possibilities for the Chase Freedom series of cards.
Overview of the Chase Freedom Series
The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are two of my favorites for earning valuable Ultimate Rewards (UR) points. They are even more powerful when combined with either of the Chase Sapphire cards or the Chase Ink Preferred. But without the Sapphire cards or the Ink Preferred, the Freedom series earns cash back.
The “classic” Chase Freedom earns 5x UR points (or 5% cash back) on select quarterly rotating categories. You can receive up to 7,500 points per quarter within the categories, making the Freedom a nice bonus card.
The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x UR points (or 1.5% cash back) on all purchases. This flat rate card makes it a fantastic “workhorse” card for non-bonus category purchases.
The rumor stated two major changes: the “classic” Freedom will be discontinued and the Freedom Unlimited will become a bonus category card.
The Freedom Unlimited will become a card with a 3x category in addition to the 1.5x flat rate for other purchases. Comments from the reddit post hope that the category will be Grocery Stores. This choice would be logical because Chase does not have any cards with a Grocery Store category. It would also help Chase compete with American Express, specifically the Everyday Card.
I like the “classic” Chase Freedom and its 5x categories because they’re useful and abundant. Chase normally gives a primary 5x category and then one or two other 5x sub-categories. For the 1st Quarter of 2019, they’re Gas Stations with Pharmacies and Tolls alongside. Perhaps Chase has gotten too generous with their categories and they’re losing money. Competitor Discover remedied this issue by having only one category with no sub-categories each quarter.
The Freedom Unlimited becoming a bonus category card makes it more generous. But we could be losing the “classic” Freedom as well. The 3x category would be nice if its unlimited in the vein of the Sapphire cards’ travel and dining categories. Coupled with the 1.5x flat rate, the new card would be a nice earner for no annual fee.
Chase might also want to streamline their cards as they used to only have one Freedom card. One way this could be possible is if Chase is losing money on the “classic” Freedom. Another way could be if Chase is losing so much money on another card, like the Sapphire Reserve, that they would discontinue the Freedom.
Final Draw / Update
A few hours after the rumor was written on Reddit, the post was updated. The original poster said that the “classic” Freedom will not be discontinued. And the Freedom Unlimited might have another 3x flat rate bonus like the one from Spring 2018.
I would rather see this bonus scenario happen than the more drastic changes portrayed in this post. I will leave the post up because speculating about the near future of Chase is very interesting.