Editorial Review

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: Flat-Rate Cash Back With a Twist

This no-frills, no-tricks card earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You can redeem your cash for any amount, with no minimum.

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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

on Chase's secure website

Our Take

4.1

Editor's overall rating

The Bottom Line: The flat 1.5% cash-back rate has become standard on cards for those with good credit or better.

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
16.74% - 25.49%

Variable

Intro APR
0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Alternate Pick: Bonus cash back

Chase Freedom Credit Card

NerdWallet Rating

Chase Freedom®

5% cash back in rotating categories

This card gives you 5% cash back in categories that you activate every three months, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% on everything else. No annual fee, plus a sign-up bonus.

Read our review

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • High rewards rate and no minimum redemption
  • No annual fee
  • Long 0% APR period
  • Sign-up bonus
Cons
  • Has foreign transaction fee
  • No bonus rewards categories
  • Requires good/excellent credit

recommended credit score

Full Review

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is changing the rules of flat-rate cash-back cards one redemption option at a time.

With this card, you earn a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. And your redemption options include more than just statement credits or a check in the mail. You can also redeem your rewards to book travel directly through Chase for the same value, or transfer your rewards to other Chase cards with more valuable redemption options. Other flat-rate cash-back cards don’t provide such a wide array of redemption opportunities.

In terms of versatility, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is at the top of its class. And if you’re looking for a companion to the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: The Basics

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a straightforward cash-back card, with no caps on rewards earnings and a handsome sign-up bonus. Here’s what you should know before applying:

  • Earn rate: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Redemption options: Cash back or Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. The points, worth 1 cent apiece, can be transferred to other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® or redeemed for gift cards and trips booked through Chase’s travel portal. Cardholders will also be able to redeem rewards at certain stores’ point-of-sale terminals using theChase Freedom® Mobile app.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a good card on its own, but it’s even better as a companion to other proprietary Chase cards. If you have more than one Chase card, you could:

  • Earn more by splitting your spending between this card and the Chase Freedom®. The Chase Freedom® earns 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories and 1% on everything else. By using the Chase Freedom® for purchases in the bonus categories and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® on all other spending, you’d boost your overall rewards earnings significantly. You’d also have the option of transferring rewards from one account to the other and redeeming them all at once.
  • Get better redemption value by transferring your rewards to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. If you transferred the rewards earned on your Chase Freedom Unlimited® to one of the Sapphire-branded cards, you’d have more rewards and better redemption options. When you redeem rewards on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card through Chase’s travel portal, you get a value of 1.25 cents per point. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, that rises to 1.5 cents per point. You can also transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to major loyalty programs, such as United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Marriott and Hyatt, which could get you even more value.

In either case, you’d earn much more than you would if the Chase Freedom Unlimited® were your only card.

» MORE: Chase credit cards mobile app review

Why get the Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

As a flat-rate cash-back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® delivers high ongoing value at a low cost. In addition to its redemption flexibility, its best features include:

No minimum redemptions. With this card, you can redeem for cash back in any amount — even for as little as 1 cent. The Chase Freedom®, in contrast, has a $20 minimum redemption for cash back, and the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has a minimum $25 redemption. With no minimum redemptions, Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders will be able to redeem every cent earned on the card, a relatively rare benefit among cash-back cards.

A hefty sign-up bonus and a 0% APR period. The sign-up bonus matches that on the Chase Freedom®. The card also comes with an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.74% - 25.49% Variable APR.

» MORE: How much is a Chase Ultimate Rewards® point worth? 

The limits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers good value — especially if you’re looking for ways to earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. But it also comes with some limitations you should know about:

It charges foreign transaction fees

Like many cash-back credit cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® charges foreign transaction fees. If you’re traveling abroad, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months might be a better choice, since you won’t have to pay that extra 3% fee on every purchase made outside the U.S. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, just like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Not the highest flat-rate cash-back card 

If you’re just interested in cash-back rewards — and not necessarily Chase Ultimate Rewards® — the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is still the best. It offers 2% cash back: 1% back on every dollar spent, and 1% back on every dollar paid off. That beats the Chase Freedom Unlimited®’s 1.5% cash-back rewards rate.

No bonus categories

The whole point of a flat-rate cash-back card, of course, is to increase your rewards earnings across the board, not just in one category. But for those who do a lot of spending in one area — say, groceries — a card with bonus categories may offer more overall value. And there’s no reason you couldn’t use both types of cards: a flat-rate card for everyday purchases, and a card with tiered rewards for purchases within a certain category.

You can find out more about how this cash-back credit card compares vs. the competition by visiting our list of best credit cards to apply for.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Is it worth getting?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is good news for consumers — especially for those who already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Freedom®.

With no minimum redemptions and plenty of options for cashing in on rewards, it offers more flexibility than we’ve seen in other Chase cards. It doesn’t come with the highest flat-rate cash-back rate around, but for consumers looking for a card that offers versatility and value, this one is a strong choice.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best cash-back cards

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