The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card has been one of the top cash-back credit cards since it first came on the scene, especially because of its association with the versatile Ultimate Rewards program. But on Sept. 15, it got a major upgrade, making it even more appealing.
Originally, the Chase Freedom Unlimited earned a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. Now, cardholders will earn extra rewards every time they book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, shop at drugstores or eat at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services). Plus, the card still offers a solid sign-up bonus and bonus rewards on grocery purchases during your first year.
Here’s a look at the card’s new details and whether or not it may be a good fit for you.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Review
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is unique for a couple of important reasons. First, it comes with purchase protection and extended warranty protection you don’t see with some other no-fee cash-back cards. Second, you can move cash (in the form of points) back into Chase Ultimate Rewards for even more value if you love to travel.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited initially had a simple rewards program, giving you 1.5% cash back on everything. It wasn’t the best rewards rate out there, but the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points made up for that. And now, the souped-up Chase card provides even more value.
You earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back at drugstores, 3% back on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, and 1.5% back on everything else. There are no rotating categories to track, caps on how much you can earn or excluded purchase categories. You’ll also get a nice sign-up bonus when you meet minimum spending requirements and bonus rewards on grocery store purchases during the first year.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, so it’s possible to use it with no costs at all as long as you pay off the balance in full by the due date and avoid certain fee-bearing activity.
Introductory 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The Chase Freedom Unlimited allows new cardholders to save money with an introductory 0% interest rate on purchases for the first 15 months of account opening.
Beyond the initial intro 0% APR, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a variable regular APR that will be determined based on your creditworthiness.
APR is the interest rate for a whole year, rather than just a monthly rate, as applied to whatever balance you carry from one statement period to the next. Chase will determine your APR during the approval process. However, APRs can fluctuate periodically as credit card issuers adjusts its rates to the market.
While the credit card issuer doesn’t publicly disclose the credit score needed to qualify for the Chase Freedom Unlimited, this card is designed for people with good to excellent credit scores (690-850). Your credit limit will vary based on your credit history and any existing relationship with Chase.
However, you may not need excellent credit to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited. In fact, many cardholders report getting approved with good credit.
The reason to sign up for any cash-back card is the rewards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards include 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase, 3% back on drugstore and eligible dining-related purchases and 1.5% cash back on everything else. Most cards that offer bonus category rewards give you just 1% back as a base rewards rate, making this card stand out.
|5%||Travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards|
|3%||Restaurant spending (and eligible delivery services)|
|1.5%||All other purchases|
Chase Freedom Unlimited Bonus
New cardholders can earn a $200 cash bonus after $500 in purchases in the first three months. That’s a great sign-up bonus for purchases you probably would have made anyway. If you want to do the math, that’s a 40% cash-back rate on your first $500 in purchases with the card. And keep in mind that while it’s technically a cash-back credit card, you’re really earning Ultimate Rewards points, so $200 in cash back is worth 20,000 points.
Referral Bonus Program
Once you’ve become a Freedom Family Member, you can also earn additional cash bonuses through Chase’s Refer-a-Friend program. Earn up to $500 cash back per year by referring friends for any participating Chase Freedom card. That’s $100 cash back for each friend who gets approved.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Benefits
The Chase Freedom Unlimited has slightly above average benefits for a card with no annual fee, which is notable considering a lot of card issuers are slashing extra perks. It beats just about every no-annual-fee card from Citi, among other issuers. Here are some of the benefits to get excited about:
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: If you take a trip that gets canceled or interrupted due to sickness, severe weather or another covered situation, you can get reimbursed for up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for prepaid, non-refundable passenger fares.
- Rental car insurance: Decline the rental car company’s insurance coverage and use your card instead, and you’ll get protection against theft or damage. The coverage is secondary, though, so if you have a personal auto insurance policy, you’ll need to file a claim there first, and your card’s coverage will cover the rest, including your deductible.
- Purchase protection: This benefit covers new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days after purchase. That includes cell phones and other electronics. There is a limit of $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
- Extended warranty: This benefit gives you an additional year of warranty coverage for eligible purchases. If you buy something with a warranty of three years or less, you’ll be happy to have this coverage as a backup plan.
Like virtually all credit cards in the U.S., the Chase Freedom Unlimited features $0 fraud liability. If someone uses your card without your permission, just call Chase, and they’ll remove the transactions from your statement and investigate it.
How to Use Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards for Travel
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is great for simple cash-back rewards, but it’s especially valuable for travel if you play your cards right. If you have one of the travel credit cards in the Ultimate Rewards program, you can transfer your points-earning rewards with the Freedom Unlimited to one of those cards to take advantage of their better redemption options.
For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card in addition to the Freedom Unlimited card, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase, instead of the flat 1 cent per point the Freedom Unlimited offers.
With the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you get 1.5 cents per point toward travel booked through Chase. Each of the travel cards in the program also allows you to transfer your points to one of several airline and hotel rewards programs, potentially giving you even more value.
I carry a four-card combo, including the Freedom Unlimited card, to maximize my travel rewards. With the Sapphire Reserve, the new-and-improved Chase Freedom Flex℠, Freedom Unlimited and Ink Cash cards, I get maximum rewards across all purchases. I get up to 5x points on some purchases thanks to the Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards and a minimum of 1.5x points with Freedom Unlimited.
Ultimate Rewards travel credit cards generally require an annual fee, but if you travel frequently, you’ll likely get more value back than the cost. The sign-up bonuses alone cover years of annual fees and can give you enough points for a free roundtrip ticket to Europe and other international destinations.
Fees: Foreign Transaction Fees, Annual Fee and Other Costs
This card has no annual fee, so there’s no recurring cost to keep this card. Like all credit cards, if you pay it off in full by the due date, you won’t pay any interest.
|Balance Transfer Fee||Yes|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||Yes|
|Cash advance fees||Yes|
|Late payment fees||Yes|
|Returned payment fees||Yes|
Interest rates for this card are roughly in line with similar cash-back credit cards. There are fees for balance transfers, cash advances, late payments, returned payments and foreign transaction fees. New customers get 15 months with 0% APR on purchases which is a standard no-interest offer. After that, the variable APR varies based on your creditworthiness.
Applying for the Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer the best base rewards rate, but the new additions to the card make it really difficult to pass up. That’s especially the case if you have one of the Sapphire credit cards or Ink Business Preferred card. Being able to combine points with one of those travel cards and get more value with travel redemptions. And if you also have the Freedom Flex, you can add the card’s rotating bonus categories to rack up even more rewards.
The Freedom Unlimited is popular because it has a wide range of great features for a very low cost. If that gets you excited, head over to Chase to apply today.
Comparing Chase Cards
Between awarding one-time bonuses, no annual fees, balance transfers and accelerated cash-back rewards, Chase offers high-value credit cards with positive overall ratings. Below we compare several popular Chase cards including the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom Flex and the travel points-earning Chase Sapphire Preferred.
|Chase Freedom Unlimited card||Chase Freedom Flex Card||Chase Sapphire Preferred Card|
|APR||0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then Variable APR after that||Variable APR||Variable APR|
|Bonus Eligibility||Spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||Yes||Yes||None|
|DoorDash||3 month DashPass||3 month DashPass||12 month DashPass|
|Lyft||5% cash back||5% cash back||5x points per dollar|
|Cell Phone Protection||None||Yes||None|