Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Review

Chase Freedom

Chase FreedomChase offers two Freedom credit cards: the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both cards give you cash back, but how you earn the rewards is different. The Chase Freedom card takes more work — you can get up to 5% cash rewards, but only in certain categories that change every three months. You’ll need to activate the spending categories or you won’t earn the bonuses. All other purchases earn 1% cash rewards.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is easier to work with. Chase will award you with 1.5 points for every dollar spent, saving you from worrying about which categories earn more or if you remembered to activate the earnings potential. If you’re spending on a variety of categories and don’t have the time or energy to track categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited could be the better option of the two.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Overview

Pros Cons
Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening
No minimum required to redeem for cash back
Cash back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
3% foreign transaction fee
No bonus rewards categories
  • Card Type: Cash back
  • Rewards Rate: 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Sign-Up Bonus: $150 cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • APR: 16.49% to 25.24% variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to excellent
  • Additional Rates and Fees:
    • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% or $5, whichever is greater
    • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%

Perks

  • No minimums required to redeem cash awards
  • Earn a flat-rate 1.5X in points for every dollar spent
  • Enjoy a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel redemption portal

Best for

People looking to earn a simple, flat rewards rate

Not for

Frequent travelers

The Competition

Chase Freedom Unlimited Discover it Cash Back Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa Credit Card Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Rewards rate 1.5% cash back on all purchases 5% cash back on everyday purchases in specific categories each quarter
1% cash back on all other purchases
1.5X points on all purchases
Preferred rewards members earn 25% to 75% more points
1.25X miles on all purchases
Sign-up bonus $150 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months Match for all cash back earned during the first year 25,000 online bonus points once you spend $1,000 in the first three months ($250 value) 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 in the first three months ($200 value)
Annual fee $0 $0 $0 $0
APR Variable 16.49%-25.24% Variable 13.49%-24.49% Variable 16.49%-24.49% Variable 13.49%-23.49%
Other 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
Redeem for cash or travel through Ultimate Rewards
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months
Rotating rewards card
0% APR on purchases for 12 months
Redemptions aren’t limited to specific websites
No blackout dates
0% APR on purchases for 12 months
Redeem for hotels or travel packages
View details View details View details View details

All information accurate as of January 24, 2020.

Main Benefits

Redeem for travel

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is promoted as a cash back credit card, but the rewards are actually earned as Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Every dollar you spend earns you 1.5 points that can be redeemed as cash or applied toward travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Earning points is simple

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is best for those who want to earn rewards on purchases without having to actively track how they spend. There are no complicated rules to earn cash rewards, like tracking categories or calculating limits on how much in rewards you can earn. Use your card as you normally would, and reward points accumulate to your account.

No interest for over one year

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card comes with one of the best introductory APR offers for a credit card: no interest for 15 months on all purchases and balance transfers. Take advantage of this introductory offer by making your larger purchases using your Freedom Unlimited credit card to get free financing for as long as 15 months.

Possible Drawbacks

No bonus categories

The flat 1.5X points you can earn on purchases is nice if you prefer to earn rewards without having to adhere to complicated rules. That said, you will miss out on more substantial rewards: Other rewards cards, like the Discover it Cash Back, feature rotating quarterly categories where you can earn up to 5X cash back. One quarter you may earn significant rewards on gasoline, while another quarter you’ll earn rewards through grocery purchases.

Foreign transaction fees

If you travel to Mexico, Canada, or countries abroad, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card incurs a 3% foreign transaction fee on all foreign currency purchases you make while traveling.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Compared to Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Chase and Capital One are major travel reward card rivals. Both card issuers have solid travel portals and plenty of card products with which to earn free travel. Although the Chase Freedom Unlimited is meant to be a cash rewards card, it can keep up with the travel rewards capability of the VentureOne card. Chase’s card earns more in cash back rewards, with 1.5X points back compared to Capital One’s 1.25X miles.

Additionally, when you group your Freedom Unlimited with your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card could surpass the travel rewards earnings potential of the Capital One VentureOne credit card.

How to Earn Points

To earn the most value from the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll want to collect as many points as possible to redeem as cash or apply towards travel. Here is how to earn points faster:

  • Set up a budget and use your Chase credit card to pay for as many of your monthly expenses as possible. The key here is to stick to a budget you can afford and pay off your card in full each month so you don’t incur interest charges.
  • Transfer your Freedom Unlimited points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card and redeem the points at the Ultimate Rewards website to get 25% more from your points.
  • Better yet, transfer your Freedom Unlimited points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve card and redeem the points at the Ultimate Rewards website to get 50% more from your points.

How to Redeem Points

Cash back rewards are earned as Ultimate Rewards travel points. You can redeem your points as cash by transferring them to your bank accounts, applying them towards your statement balances, or purchasing gift cards. Each reward point is equal to one cent.

One of the best ways to get the most out of your points is to apply them toward travel. By transferring them to a second Chase travel reward credit card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink for Business Preferred, you get the most out of your points. Here’s how:

  • Transferring Freedom Ultimate points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card increases the value of your points by 25%. Your point (which would normally be worth one cent) will be worth 1.25 cents. $100 in points will be worth $125 when using this tactic, which can be applied to travel bookings through Chase.
  • Transferring your points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve will increase the value of your points by 50% when redeemed for travel through Chase. $100 in cash back points is worth $150 toward free travel.

The Bottom Line

If you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Preferred for Business card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited could work well in conjunction to increase rewards earnings. It’s simple to use without having to remember spending categories and flexible enough for redeeming points for cash or travel, making it a card worth considering.

 

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