With the changes that 2020 has brought to our travels, I’ve been reevaluating how we use our credit cards to earn points and miles. At the beginning of the year, I was working to rebuild some balances I used to book our big trip to Japan in November. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and changed everything. Our travel stopped and trips were canceled. We were getting refunds and our accounts were overflowing with points. We weren’t spending points either, as we weren’t making travel plans.
Our spending patterns also changed. Supermarket spending increased dramatically while restaurant expenses (except for a few take out meals) went down to almost nothing. The only category where we were spending less was for travel expenses. Working from home, we didn’t even have to pay for gas or tolls.
Looking at this new, hopefully temporary, everyday life we had settled into, it was time to give a hard look at the cards we were using and if we were earning the right type of points. I decided it was time to pull the trigger on getting some cards I’d put on the back burner. Since I’m usually one to procrastinate and miss out on special offers, I wanted to act before some of these bonuses go away.
Earlier this month, I signed up for the Fidelity Rewards+ card. This is a no-annual-fee 2% cashback card. No travel required for redemptions, just cash deposited right into your account. The $150 sign-up bonus required spending $1500 in the first 90 days. I’m almost finished with that amount, so I decided to look for another card. I want to get the AMEX Hilton Surpass but we just canceled a card from American Express to open a slot on Sharon’s account.
Instead of that application, I decided to take advantage of Sharon being under Chase’s 5/24 requirement. On top of that, she hadn’t applied for a new Chase card for over 2 years. Time to change that. I’ll apply for that AMEX card later.
I knew I wanted to get one of the Chase Freedom cards. They wouldn’t add any new annual fees to our list and they were offering an increased sign up bonus and 5x points for grocery store purchases for the next 12 months. I decided on getting the Freedom Unlimited card, which earns 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases. This is going to be the card on the top of Sharon’s wallet.
I sent in the application on Sunday night and Sharon was immediately approved.
Just the next day, the entire blogging world was writing about how Chase was introducing a Freedom card named the Freedom Flex. They were also adding new benefits to the existing Freedom cards.
There’s a lot of overlap between the cards and after comparing the benefits, the difference between the two cards is that the Flex has rotating bonus categories while the Unlimited earns 1.5x points on all purchases. All of the other benefits are the same.
Since I was looking for a card to be on the top of Sharon’s wallet, I’m happy with my decision to go with the Freedom Unlimited. It’s even nicer that the card will now earn 5x on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Reward, 3x on dining and 3x at drugstores.
However, if I signed up for the plain Chase Freedom card, I’d probably be making a phone call to see if I could change my application to the Freedom Flex once it’s available. We’ll have to wait for data points to see what happens to people in that situation.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary