Yesterday I wrote about ways to maximize your Chase Ultimate Reward points if you have the Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Classic, or Chase Ink Cash credit cards. While the redemption is the same for all four cards there is a huge difference in the number of points you earn for your purchases. With all four cards you earn 1 point per dollar spent on purchases that do not fall into a bonus category with the card – all four cards have very different bonus categories. If you are thinking of getting one of the no annual fee cards, I’d make my decision based on the bonus categories.

Chase Sapphire (application link)

  • 2x points per $1 at restaurants

Chase Freedom (application link)

  • 5x points per $1 spent on rotating quarterly categories. While these categories change year to year, 2013 included:
    • January-March: Gas Stations, Drugstores, Starbucks
    • April-June: Restaurants, Movie theaters, Lowes
    • July-September: Gas stations, Theme Parks, Kohl’s
    • October-December: Amazon.com, Select department stores

Chase Ink Classic (application link)

  • 5x points per $1 on business expenses up to a maximum of 100,000 bonus points/$25,000 spent  (business expenses include: wireless communication services, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies)
  • 2x points per $1 at gas stations, hotels and motels up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points/$25,000 spent

Chase Ink Cash (application link)

  • 5x points per $1 on business expenses up to a maximum of 100,000 bonus points/$25,000 spent  (business expenses include: wireless communication services, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies)
  • 2x points per $1 at gas stations and restaurants up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points/$25,000 spent

Best card for each category:

  • Office supply stores, such as Staples or Office Depot = Chase Ink Classic or Chase Ink Cash (and remember, you can purchase gift cards at these stores and get the 5x points, related blog post)
  • Internet, cable television, cell phone bill = Chase Ink Classic or Chase Ink Cash
  • Gas stations = Chase Ink Cash or Chase Ink Classic or Chase Freedom (bonus for Q1 in 2014)
  • Restaurants = Chase Ink Cash or Chase Sapphire (and most likely Chase Freedom one of the quarters)
  • Hotels = Chase Ink Classic (and possible Chase Freedom depending on 2014 categories, it was one of the categories in 2012)

You also might want to factor in the bonus and the minimum spend required to earn the sign up bonus. While the Chase Ink Cash, Chase Ink Freedom, and Chase Freedom have a 20,000 point offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements, the Chase Sapphire card only gets you 10,000 points after meeting the minimum spend. With that said, the minimum spend requirements on the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire card is significantly lower.

Personally, I like the option of being able to get 5x points at office supply stores (primarily for gift card purchases), 5x points on phone, internet, cable, 2x points at gas stations, and 2x points at restaurants, so my personal favorite pick would be the Chase Ink Cash card. But that is me, your spending habits might be different.

Key Links:

  • Chase Ink Cash – 20,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months; no annual fee
  • Chase Ink Classic – 20,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months; no annual fee
  • Chase Sapphire – 10,000 bonus points with $500 spend in 3 months; no annual fee
  • Chase Freedom – 10,000 bonus points with $500 spend in 3 months; no annual fee

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  • Steve said,

    Redemption is not the same between a PAID Account and a FREE account. I switched my Chase Sapphire from a paid to free account because I also had the Ink card. So I had 2 Ultimate Rewards accounts. When I went to book a hotel using points I noticed that I needed less points for the Ink account. I called Customer Service and they said with the paid account you get a 20% discount in points redemptions (which is significant). Luckily I was able to merge my 2 accounts and now just have it with the Ink card. Also, when I converted my Sapphire card to a free account the representative did not tell me about losing this 20% discount. She just said I would earn 1 point per $ instead of 2 points.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Steve – That is correct. The redemption is not the same between paid accounts and free accounts. However, the cards included in this post are all free accounts so the redemption is the same.

  • JustSaying said,

    a large nuance is that freedom gets 10% bonus if you are a Chase checking account customer which is a “game changer” for everyday spend………

  • Stan said,

    JustSaying said,

    a large nuance is that freedom gets 10% bonus if you are a Chase checking account customer which is a “game changer” for everyday spend………

    I have a Chase Checking account. So are you saying if I get the Chase Freedom card, I can get 10% cash back on anything or is it only the categories?

  • Stan said,

    My current Chase cards are Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Southwest Plus card which I received all in 2013. I cancelled a Southwest Premier card a year ago.

    There are so many great Chase cards that I want but want to be careful with them. I really want the Freedom card but do you think I should wait to apply? Also, what is the average # of active Chase cards we can have?

  • JustSaying said,

    I believe the correct nuance of the card is that at the “end of the calendar year” you receive a bonus added to your account the amounts to 10% of the points you have earned during the year so it works out to being 1.1 points for everyday spending which even beats the Sapphire 1.07 for everyday spend………every drop of juice squeezed out ultimately matters………

  • Stan said,

    Okay thanks. I thought it was 10% bonus on our purchases which would be fantastic. But it’s 10% of the points we earned that year. Do you know if ultimate rewards purchases count too?

  • justSaying said,

    If the ultimate rewards purchase (mall?) was done using a Freedom Card then yes…….I don’t think redemptions on the mall meet that criteria……..And from my experience Chase wants you to have all of their cards although they will max out your credit line so you will have to move around the various limits……….and search for reconsideration line posts on Boarding Area…..a very good resource to have around………..

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