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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is an excellent rewards credit card for both amateur points and miles enthusiasts and the pros in the award travel field. The card earns cash back on every purchase, some of which qualify for bonus earnings, and the annual fee is $0.
If you’re considering applying for the card, here are some things you should know before getting the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
What to know before getting the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
1. Holding the card won’t cost you anything
Applying for and keeping the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card in your wallet won’t cost a penny because of its $0 annual fee. This makes it an easy choice to keep the account open year after year and increase the average age of your accounts, which can build your FICO credit score. The longer you keep your card accounts open, the better for your credit report.
Another benefit of holding the Chase Freedom Unlimited® long-term is that rewards don’t expire for as long as you have the card. Make sure your account is in good standing at all times and you won’t lose your cash back.
2. The card has a worthwhile earning structure
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card offers high rewards on everyday spending, including bonus cash back in the following categories:
5% on travel booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
5% on Lyft rides (through March 2025).
3% on dining and drugstore purchases.
1.5% on everything else.
If you apply for the card with the current welcome bonus, you'll earn an additional 1.5% on spending up to $20,000 in your first year.
The earning structure is rather good for a card that charges a $0 annual fee. True, many credit cards on the market offer bonus rewards on dining, but it’s the 1.5% on everything that makes this card stand out from the crowd.
Think of the possibilities — an auto repair shop, a dental office, a hair salon — these expensive purchases that otherwise don’t fall into a bonus category would earn 1.5% rewards.
3. There’s no minimum amount to redeem for cash back
Some credit cards require that you hit a certain minimum before you get your cash back. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you don’t have to collect a certain threshold of rewards to be able to redeem them for credits.
Each point is worth 1 cent when used for a statement credit against your bill, a direct deposit to your bank or a travel booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. You’re in control of your rewards, regardless if you want to redeem just 1 point or 10,000 points (or any other amount).
4. Rewards could be used for travel
Although the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is marketed as a cash back card, the rewards you earn with this card aren’t solely limited to cash back.
This card’s cash rewards can’t be transferred to airline or hotel loyalty programs. However, if you hold either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can combine points and turn cash rewards earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Those points can be redeemed directly through Chase or transferred to any of about a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Flexible points are generally worth more than cash back, which means you can increase the value of your rewards dramatically by pooling all of your Chase rewards to the Ultimate Rewards®-earning card and transferring them to travel partners. Because this card earns 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases, it can be a great way to earn more points on purchases that aren't part of the Sapphire cards' bonus spending categories.
» Learn more: How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® between cards
5. Beware of foreign transaction fees
Earning 1.5% cash back on all nonbonus purchases is nice, but keep in mind that using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to make purchases overseas will negate the value of your rewards faster than you can say “cash back.”
This credit card tacks on a 3% foreign transaction fee to all purchases made outside of the U.S. So you’ll earn $1.5 for every $100 spent, but it’ll cost you $3 to earn those rewards. You don’t have to be good at math to know that this isn’t financially lucrative, so leave this card at home the next time you pack for an international trip.
6. You don’t need an excellent credit score to be approved
There’s no doubt that many more credit doors open to those with good to excellent credit scores. If you’re in the middle of the road with your credit journey, don’t lose faith.
Although the higher the score, the higher your chances of being approved, some Chase Freedom Unlimited® card holders have reported approvals with scores in the mid-600s. A credit score alone isn’t enough to get a credit card, and other factors can affect your approval odds.
» Learn more: Travel loyalty program reviews
7. The card is restricted by the Chase 5/24 rule
Chase has an unwritten (but widely known in the points and miles community) rule called Chase 5/24. According to this rule, the bank won’t approve you for one of its credit cards if you have opened five or more consumer credit cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
If you’ve been rather liberal with your credit card applications in the past two years, you won’t qualify for an account. We recommend checking your records before submitting an application with Chase.
» Learn more: The Chase 5/24 rule explained
If you’re considering the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card is a great option for those looking to collect cash back, but the card really shines when combined with one of Chase's premium travel cards: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
You can pool the points into one Chase Ultimate Rewards® account and use them for high-value items, such as flight and hotel bookings. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® costs nothing extra and accelerates your rewards earning capabilities.
» Learn more: Best cash back credit cards
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card