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Chase cash-back battle: Ink Business Unlimited vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

March 30, 2020
8 min read
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Chase has a full lineup of rewards credit cards — the Chase Sapphire and Chase Freedom cards for consumers and the Ink Business Cards for business owners. There is, however, some overlap in earning structures and benefits offered by the personal and business cards and one example of this is the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited. Both come with a 1.5% cash back rate across all spending, making them excellent no-annual-fee cards to use on everyday expenses that don't fall under other bonus categories. But which one is the best choice for you?

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Let's take a deeper look at each card offer to see which is more valuable for you.

Comparison overview

CardChase Freedom Unlimited Ink Business Unlimited
Sign-up bonusEarn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!$750 after spending $7,500 in the first three months from account opening
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rate5% on Lyft

1.5% on everything else

1.5% on all purchases
Intro APR0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers  (17.24% - 25.99% variable APR after)0% introductory APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases and (17.74% - 23.74% Variable APR after)
Foreign transaction fee3%3%
Other benefitsThree complimentary months of DashPass, then 50% for the next nine months

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Fraud protection

Auto rental collision damage waiver

Travel and emergency assistance services

Roadside dispatch

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Employee cards free

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the two cards. The biggest differences are that one is a business credit card and the other is a personal credit card and one has a larger sign-up bonus. Both are solid credit cards for everyday purchases, but there are some instances where one makes more sense than the other.

When you should get the Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Related reading: Chase Freedom Unlimited card review

You don't qualify for a business credit card

The Ink Business Unlimited is a small-business credit card, which means you need to have some sort of business or a sole proprietorship in order to apply. Business credit cards are not regulated as much as personal credit cards, and therefore, provide fewer consumer protections. They can be a great asset if you own a business or regularly use a credit card for business-related expenses. But if you aren't a business owner or have a sole proprietorship, the Chase Freedom Unlimited (which is a personal credit card) will be a better fit.

You spend a lot with Lyft or DoorDash

As part of Chase's current partnerships with the ride-hailing app Lyft and food-delivery service DoorDash, some cardholders — including those who have the Chase Freedom Unlimited -- are getting additional perks. For starters, cardholders earn 5% back on Lyft rides. That 5% can add up pretty quickly if you are frequently taking Lyft rides (especially since you can stack Lyft rewards with other Lyft partners to maximize rewards). Additionally, the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with three months of complimentary DashPass membership with DoorDash. As delivery/takeout becomes ever more popular, a membership that waives delivery fees on eligible orders over $10 can be valuable.

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You're hoping to use the intro APR offer

At TPG, we highly recommend paying off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges that can easily offset rewards earned and cause financial stress. But that may not always be possible. Both cards offer an introductory APR period on new purchases that could help you save money on interest, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited intro period lasts three months longer.

Just keep in mind that you'll be charged interest if you don't pay off your full balance by the end of the intro period, so make sure you have a plan in place to pay back whatever you charge to your card during the intro APR offer period.

When you should get the Ink Business Unlimited

Related reading: Ink Business Unlimited card review

You want a business credit card

There are advantages to having a business credit card. It makes it easier to separate personal and business expenses for tax purposes and expense reports, it generally comes with higher credit limits and you can get employee cards. You don't have to have a Fortune 500 company in order to qualify for a business credit card, either. If you are a freelancer, consultant or even an online seller on Etsy or Amazon, you can qualify for a business credit card. You can apply for a business card with your personal Social Security number (rather than a business tax ID) as a sole proprietor, but keep in mind that Chase may request additional documentation to prove you have a legit business or sole proprietorship.

Related: Clearing up the confusion: How to complete a Chase business credit card application

You want a larger sign-up bonus

If you're hoping to maximize a sign-up bonus, the Ink Business Unlimited is the better choice of the two cards. You'll get $750 after spending $7,500 in the first three months, compared to just an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back! with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Freedom Unlimited's bonus is easier to hit, but there's a $550 difference in the bonus payout.

Related reading: The best cards for each business credit card category

For those who have a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card as well, the higher sign-up bonus could be even more valuable. When you pair cards such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited with Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, all earned rewards (regardless of which card you used to pay) can be redeemed by transferring to partners or getting a bonus through the portal. That makes the $750 you get from the Ink Business Unlimited transferrable to 75,000 points — worth $1,500, according to TPG valuations.

You are close to 5/24 and want more Chase cards

Both cards are issued by Chase and therefore are subject to the infamous 5/24 rule, meaning you almost certainly won't be approved for either card if you've opened five or more new accounts in the past 24 months. However, Chase business cards reportedly do not contribute to your 5/24 score. So if you are close to 5/24 right now and hope to apply for more Chase cards before additional slots open up for you, the Ink Business Unlimited is an option.

Related reading: How to calculate your 5/24 standing

Bottom line

(Photo by Hero Images / Getty Images)
(Photo by Hero Images / Getty Images)

I recommend having a card in your wallet that you can use to earn bonus rewards on everyday spending that doesn't fall under a specific bonus category. If you already have Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards, pairing with the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Ink Business Unlimited is an excellent way to maximize the rewards you'll earn. Both beginners and experts can take advantage of these cards.

Which one is best for you really comes down to what expenses you hope to use the card on.

If you have a small business of any kind or want the higher sign-up bonus, the Ink Business Unlimited is a great choice. Those who are hoping to take advantage of Chase partnerships with Lyft and DoorDash and who don't have a qualifying small business can still get great value out of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.