Last week, I saw via Frequent Miler that Chase was offering a new bonus for new Freedom Unlimited customers: 3 fixed-value Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all purchases for the first year. It's not for everyone, but for those eligible this has the potential to be one of the greatest deals since Office Depot stopped selling Vanilla Reload cards.
Most churners won't be eligible
The biggest obstacle for folks who chase signup bonuses is that they likely aren't eligible to open new Chase cards if they've opened 5 or more personal credit cards in the last 24 months (the so-called "5/24 rule").
Even if you are eligible for new Chase cards, the terms of the offer state, "This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months."
Under those terms existing Freedom Unlimited cardholders should be eligible for the bonus if they product-changed to the Freedom Unlimited (for example from a Slate, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve card) and therefore didn't receive a new cardmember bonus, but they'd first have to request another product change for their existing Freedom Unlimited, e.g. to a regular Chase Freedom.
This might be a trap
For all my shutdown datapoint needs, I rely on Vinh at Miles per Day, who frequently shares readers' experiences getting the axe. Even if you're eligible for new Chase cards, and eligible for the Freedom Unlimited, just applying for the Freedom Unlimited might be enough to put eyes on your Chase relationship and get all your credit card and bank accounts with Chase closed.
That would suck.
Make no mistake: this is one of the greatest deals of all time
I wanted to get all that out of the way because I know commenters like to snipe whenever I leave caveats like that out. But for those who are eligible for this signup bonus, this is an incredible opportunity:
- Unlimited 3% cash back on unbonused spend is as good as it gets. If you just redeemed your Ultimate Rewards points for cash, this is would be a phenomenal cashback opportunity, handily beating the BankAmericard Travel Rewards 2.625% cash back, which is only available to folks who qualify for Platinum Honors status with them.
- Points are awarded monthly, so even if shut down you can lose at most a single month's earnings.
- If you already have a flexible Ultimate Rewards-earning card, then you can redeem those 3 Ultimate Rewards points for 3.75 (4.5 with the Sapphire Reserve) cents towards paid airfare, or transfer them to Southwest, Hyatt, or United.
- After the first year you can product change the Freedom Unlimited to a Freedom card and take advantage of that card's valuable quarterly rotating categories.
People sometimes ask me how I think a deal or opportunity is going to play out, and I often find myself giving versions of the same answer:
- A deal can be shut down immediately, wasting your time and energy getting reimbursed.
- A deal can be cut off prematurely, pay out less than expected, or end up disappointing in some other way.
- A deal can pay off exactly as planned, leaving you laughing all the way to the bank (or the beach).
The essential thing to understand is that every deal has all three possibilities built into it from the start. There are no deals so certain of success that they don't contain the possibility of failure or disappointment, and there are no deals so certain of failure they're not worth trying (as long as the stakes of failure are low enough).
For example, a few years ago the shopping portal for Marriott Rewards briefly showed a payout of 120 points per dollar spent with an online merchant. I bought a few thousand dollars of merchandise assuming that the portal would not pay out — I assumed the deal would fail! But since the merchant had a generous return policy, the stakes of failure were low enough to be worth taking the chance of success.
On the flip side, after years of steadily paying off for thousands of travel hackers around the country, Wells Fargo suddenly started sending threatening letters to, and then actually closing the accounts of, folks who manufactured bonus spend on their 5% cash back credit cards. People who, with all the experience and wisdom of the community, were certain of success, nonetheless had the deal pulled out from under their feet!
Success is not a function of picking deals guaranteed of success and avoiding deals certain of failure. Success comes from distributing your time, energy, and of course money across deals, weighted by both their chance of success and their potential payoff.