Editorial Review

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: A Winning Combination

Start with an easy-to-earn bonus and a long 0% period, then enjoy 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Redeem your cash for any amount, or transfer rewards to other Chase cards.

Claire TsosieDecember 12, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

4.8

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: You can find options that pay higher rewards rates, but this card's simplicity, flexibility and versatility make it a champ in the 1.5% cash-back game.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

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

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • High rewards rate and no minimum redemption

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

Cons
  • Has foreign transaction fee

  • No bonus rewards categories

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Bonus cash back

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

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a compelling combination of easy-to-earn rewards, flexible redemption options, a solid sign-up bonus and a lengthy 0% introductory APR period — all for an annual fee of $0.

Although the card has done away with its splashy 3% introductory rewards rate, its other features still put it at the top of the class among 1.5% cash back cards. And if you carry other credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, it packs even more value.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: $0.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. .

Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Interest rate: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR.

Balance transfer fee: In the first 60 days, 3% of the amount transferred, or $5, whichever is greater. After 60 days, 5% or $5, whichever is greater.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

CHase ultimate rewards® points

Although the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is marketed as a cash-back card, your spending actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. For each $1 you spend, you get 1.5 points; points are worth a penny apiece when redeemed for cash back, thus you get 1.5% cash back. Points may also be redeemed for:

  • Gift cards at 1 cent per point.

  • Travel booked through Chase at 1 cent per point.

  • Amazon purchases at 0.8 cents per point.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is an excellent card on its own, but it's even better as a companion to other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. More on that below.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Chase Freedom®

If you're looking at the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, it's only natural to wonder how it compares with the original Chase Freedom®.

Both of the Freedom-branded cards give you cash back, but how you earn it is markedly different. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® pays a flat rate on every purchase, regardless of what you buy or where. The Chase Freedom® pays 5% cash back in bonus categories that change every three months — things like gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. The 5% is good on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Plus, it offers a cash sign-up bonus — and a fairly-easy-to-earn one at that.

Which is better for you depends on your spending. If you spend a lot in common household categories like gas and groceries, the Chase Freedom® is probably a more valuable card for you. But if your spending is all over the place, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® could be the stronger option. For a more thorough breakdown of the differences, read NerdWallet's comparison of the two.

Why you might want the Chase Freedom Unlimited®

As a flat-rate cash-back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® delivers high ongoing value at a low cost. Its best features include:

SIMPLICITY

With no categories to keep track of and no limits on how much you can earn, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is ideal for people who want to earn solid rewards with minimal effort. Just make sure to earn the sign-up bonus — the low spending requirement makes that easy to do.

No minimum redemptions 

With this card, you can redeem for cash back in any amount — even for as little as 1 cent. Many cash-back cards impose a redemption minimum of $20 or more, which can require you to put thousands of dollars on the card before you're able to access the rewards you've earned. The lack of a minimum means you can redeem every cent you earn.

An EXCELLENT 0% APR period

The card also comes with a better-than-average introductory APR period for a rewards card: 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR.

point transfers to maximize value

Because Chase allows you to transfer its points among cards that earn them, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be a cornerstone of a strategy to get maximum value out of every dollar you spend. If you have multiple Chase cards, you can:

Earn more points by splitting your spending between this card and the Chase Freedom®. 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.

Get more value per point by transferring your rewards to a card with elevated redemption values. As mentioned, the points earned with this card are usually worth a penny apiece. But several Chase cards give you more value per point when you use them to book travel through Chase's online portal, operated by Expedia:

These three cards also allow you to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to about a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Marriott and Hyatt. Depending on how you used your transferred points, you could reap even more value.

Drawbacks of 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 one of the best flat-rate cards on the market. It offers 2% cash back — 1% back on every dollar spent, and 1% back on every dollar paid off — and not just for a limited time. That ongoing, year-after-year rate beats the ongoing 1.5% rate on the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

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. Among popular options:

  • The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express pays a best-in-class 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%), 6% on selected streaming subscriptions, 3% at U.S. gas stations, 3% on transit and 1% on all other spending (terms apply). It comes at a cost, though: The annual fee is $95.

  • The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card pays 3% in a category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings) and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, on up to $2,500 in combined choice-category/grocery-store/wholesale-club spending per quarter. All other spending earns 1% cash back. Annual fee: $0.

You can find out more about how this cash-back credit card compares versus 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 a good deal for consumers — especially for those who already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase 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 ongoing flat-rate cash-back rate, but its versatility and value make it a super-strong choice.

Comments

NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.

Write a review

Read Our Posting Guidelines
user avatar
Overall Rating:
Select your rating
undefined reviews

Some of the reviews on the NerdWallet site were purchased through a third party provider. Users who post a review directly on the NerdWallet site will not be compensated in any way. Please see our Terms of Use and Posting Guidelines for more information.