Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Juan Ruiz
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If you’re not quite ready to take on the high annual fee typically required of a premium travel rewards card yet want to start earning flexible travel rewards, you’ll find today’s card comparison appropriate.
We’ve selected 2 solid rewards-earning cards that are not only practical but could also serve to complement more premium cards should you decide to expand in the future.
The American Express® Green Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® will fit comfortably in your wallet and deliver value beyond earning and redeeming rewards.
Let’s look at what you can expect from these 2 popular cards.
Before we dive deeper, let’s look at a side-by-side overview of our featured cards and how they compare overall:
|Feature or Benefit||American Express® Green Card||Chase Freedom Unlimited®|
|Welcome Offer||Earn 40,000 points after spending $3,000 within the first 6 months.||SPECIAL OFFER: Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.|
|Top Redemption Options||
Transfer points to airline/hotel partners, redeem points via AmexTravel.com
Redeem points for travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, transfer to premium Chase cards for access to airline/hotel partners
|Top Travel Protections and Benefits||Car rental insurance, baggage insurance, trip delay, no foreign transaction fees||Car rental insurance, trip cancellation/trip interruption|
|Top Shopping Protections and Benefits||Purchase protection, extended warranty, Amex Offers||Purchase protection, extended warranty, introductory 0% APR on purchases, Chase Offers|
|Annual Fees and Authorized Users||
Once you’ve received approval for either the Amex Green card or the Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus. Welcome bonuses on our featured cards can vary in value, though typically, you can earn rewards potentially worth hundreds of dollars during this initial period.
The following are snapshots of each of our featured cards, including the cards’ welcome offer information.
You’ll want to check out the most current offers available before applying.
This card can provide a great way to accumulate Membership Rewards points on eligible travel, transit, and at restaurants.
The American Express® Green Card is an excellent all-around travel rewards card thanks to earning 3x Membership Rewards® points on eligible travel and transit purchases and at restaurants, access to American Express transfer partners, and a reasonable annual fee.
This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is easily one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. There aren’t many no-annual-fee credit cards that offer multiple great bonus categories like 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.
When paired with other Chase cards in the Ultimate Rewards family, you can transfer that cash back into points if you wish – making it one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet.
Earning valuable rewards on the Amex Green card and Freedom Unlimited card is an everyday activity.
Most rewards are earned by spending on your card, but you’ll also earn bonus rewards when referring family or friends.
Here’s how you’ll earn points and cash-back on our featured cards.
Rewards earned on the Amex Green card are in the form of Amex Membership Rewards points. Rewards earned on the Freedom Unlimited card, although marketed as cash-back, are earned first as reward points that can subsequently be redeemed for cash-back.
We’ll discuss your options at redemption time coming up next. First, let’s look at how you’ll earn rewards on each of our featured cards:
|Spending Category||Amex Green Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
3x points on travel and transit
|Dining||3x points at restaurants worldwide and on dining, delivery, and takeout in the U.S.||3% cash-back at restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services|
|Drugstores||1x points||3% cash-back|
|All Other Purchases||1x points||1.5% cash-back|
If your spending is largely on travel and dining out, the Amex Green card has broader earning potential. Unlike the Freedom Unlimited card, the Amex Green card earns well on general travel purchases. The Freedom Unlimited card offers elevated bonus earnings only on travel via the Chase travel portal and Lyft rides. All other travel earns 1.5% cash-back.
The Freedom Unlimited card has strong earnings (1.5% cash-back) on non-bonus category spending and earns 3% at drugstores and on dining.
The better card for earning is the one that best matches your mix of spending.
Referring a family member or friend who gets approved for a card can earn you a referral bonus. These bonuses can add up throughout the year.
Here are the referral opportunities for the Amex Green card and Freedom Unlimited card:
You can refer family or friends by logging in to your online Amex Green card account and selecting the Refer a Friend link. You can either enter your referral’s email address to send an application link or copy and paste a link you can send yourself.
Your referral can select any available American Express card, and once approved, you will receive the Amex Green card referral bonus. Typically, the bonus is 7,500 Membership Rewards points for each approved referral, up to 55,000 points yearly.
Earning additional cash-back is easy when referring family and friends for a Chase Freedom card. Log in to your online card account and select Refer a Friend to receive a custom link you can use to send an invitation to your referral. You can also copy/paste the link and send it yourself.
Your referral can select the Freedom Unlimited card or the Chase Freedom Flex℠. Once they’re approved for either card, you will receive the bonus.
You can receive $50 to $100 cash-back for each referral, up to $500 annually.
At redemption time, you’ll discover the real value of the rewards earned on the Amex Green card or the Freedom Unlimited card.
Fortunately, with either card, you’ll have several flexible options.
Here are your options for converting rewards earned on both cards into valuable experiences or other values:
|Redemption Option||Amex Green Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
|Statement Credits||Redeem points for 0.6 cents each for a general statement credit||Redeem points for 1 cent each for a general statement credit|
|Additional Redemption Options||Gift cards, Amazon, PayPal checkout||Gift cards, Amazon, Apple, and experiences|
The best potential value for the rewards earned on either of our featured cards is to transfer points to travel partners to purchase award flights or free hotel rooms.
With the Amex Green card, you have the advantage of direct access to Amex travel partners. For example, it’s possible to transfer 50,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and redeem Virgin Points for a business class ticket from the U.S. to Europe in Delta One on Delta Air Lines.
We value Amex Membership Rewards points earned on the Amex Green card at 2.2 cents each.
With the Freedom Unlimited card, you must hold a Chase premium card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® to have the option to transfer to Chase’s transfer partners. Without direct access to travel partners, rewards earned on the Freedom Unlimited card are generally worth a fixed value of just 1 cent each.
The Freedom Unlimited card also offers the benefit of redeeming points for 1 cent each as a statement credit versus just 0.6 cents each with the Amex Green card.
Complimentary travel protections that come with the Amex Green card and Freedom Unlimited card aren’t meant to replace a comprehensive travel insurance policy. The protections provide peace of mind, knowing you’ll have some coverage should something go wrong during your trip.
Travel benefits with each card can save you money on travel-related purchases or provide added comfort during your journey.
Here are the travel protections and benefits you’ll find on both of our featured cards and a list of additional benefits unique to each card:
|Travel Protection or Benefit||Amex Green Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
|Car Rental Insurance||Secondary coverage worldwide with access to Premium Protection for 1 low price (starting at $12.25) that covers the entire rental period, up to 42 days||Secondary coverage within the U.S, primary coverage in most other countries|
|Baggage Insurance||If baggage is lost or stolen, up to $1,250 for carry-on and up to $500 for checked baggage||
Up to $100 per day (maximum 5 days) for delayed baggage, up to $3,000 per person per trip for lost or stolen baggage
Here are the additional benefits you’ll find on each featured card:
It’s worth noting that we haven’t included every benefit available on our featured cards, just key ones for comparison purposes. We’ve also abbreviated coverage descriptions. Many coverages are secondary to protections provided elsewhere. Some coverages also require that you pay for your entire ticket/trip with your card and/or associated rewards. Each card’s Guide to Benefits is your source for complete information, terms, and conditions.
When you use either the Amex Green card or Freedom Unlimited card to purchase eligible items, you may receive protection that can help if something goes wrong with your purchase.
Additionally, shopping benefits can save you money.
Let’s review the shopping protections and benefits on both cards. We’ve also included additional benefits on each of our featured cards.
|Shopping Protection or Benefit||Amex Green Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
|Purchase Protection||If an item is damaged or stolen within 90 days from the purchase date, you could receive up to $1,000 per covered purchase, up to $50,000 per eligible card||Receive up to $500 per item, $50,000 per card account if an eligible item is accidentally damaged or stolen, or for involuntary and accidental parting for up to 120 days from the purchase date|
|Extended Warranty||For eligible items with manufacturer’s warranties of 5 years or less, 1 additional year of coverage is provided||For eligible items with manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less, 1 additional year of coverage is provided|
You’ll find these additional shopping benefits on each card:
A card’s annual fee and the cost to add additional users may be a consideration when selecting a card that will work well for your situation.
The Amex Green card has an annual fee of $150, and the Freedom Unlimited card fee is $0.
There is no fee to add up to 5 additional users to the Amex Green card. After that, there is a charge of $35 per authorized user. There is no fee to add authorized users to the Freedom Unlimited card.
However, if we look closer, one is more likely to be a better match for your household.
The Amex Green card has the edge regarding redemption options as you can transfer points directly to travel partners. To do this with the Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll need to hold a Chase premium card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
You may earn more with the Freedom Unlimited card if you have high non-bonus spending, such as tuition, home repairs, or medical bills. Large expenses may also be eligible to be paid off over time without interest with the introductory 0% APR period for purchases. Plus, if you hold a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card, you can maximize rewards for greater value at redemption time. Rewards are worth up to 50% more value and access to Ultimate Rewards travel partners.
For the frequent traveler who values premium benefits, the Amex Green card would pair well with The Platinum Card® from American Express for a mix of strong earnings and elite-style benefits.
Then, there’s the issue of the higher annual fee on the Amex Green card. If the card rewards your highest spending categories and you can utilize transfer partners for greater potential reward value, it could be worth it. If useful, the CLEAR Plus and LoungeBuddy statement credits add even more value.
For the car rental loss and damage insurance benefit of the [card name], car rental loss and damage insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the commercial car rental company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations Apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
The information regarding the American Express® Green Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
The better of these 2 cards depends on your spending mix, redemption preferences, and whether you’ll use card benefits. While the Amex Green card has an annual fee, it has strong earning potential, flexible travel redemption options, and statement credits for select purchases. If you’re a frequent traveler, the card may be a good fit. If you currently hold a premium Chase card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the Freedom Unlimited card may be an excellent choice as a companion card. The Freedom Unlimited card is also a solid choice for heavy expenses that do not fall into bonus categories.
Unfortunately not. While you can use your Freedom Unlimited card worldwide, you will be charged foreign transaction fees of 3% on the total amount of all foreign purchases.
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.