Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: A Potential One-Card Solution

Start with a lucrative bonus, add 3% back on restaurants, 1.5% back outside of bonus categories and flexible redemption options, and you have a winner.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: The card's rewards structure isn't the easiest to remember. But its useful bonus categories, flexible rewards and outstanding welcome offer make it a top contender among cash-back cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Intro APR period
  • High rewards rate
  • No minimum redemption amount

Cons

  • Requires good/excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Bonus cash back

Discover it® Cash Back
NerdWallet rating 

Discover it® Cash Back

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.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

The offers a compelling combination of valuable rewards, flexible redemption options, a lengthy 0% introductory APR period and a sign-up bonus that’s worth far more than most cash-back cards offer — all for an annual fee of .

The card earns 3% cash back on restaurants and drugstore purchases, 5% back on travel booked through Chase and 1.5% back on other purchases, and put together you have a card that can really pile up the cash back. And if you carry other credit cards that also earn , it packs even more value.

But all those different rewards rates make the card more complicated than competitors that offer a simpler 1.5% back on everything. One remedy: Make the a top-of-wallet card for every purchase, and you’ll be sure to score those bonus rewards without having to think much about it.

It’s why this card makes a compelling case to be a one-card solution among cash-back credit cards.

Card type:.

Annual fee: .

Sign-up bonus:

Rewards:

Interest rate: .

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

» MORE:

Although the is marketed as a cash-back card, your spending actually earns points. Points are worth a penny apiece when redeemed for cash back, thus you get 1.5% cash back or more depending on the category of your purchase. Points may also be redeemed for:

The 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.

» MORE:

If you're looking at the , it's logical to wonder how it compares with the similarly named .

Both Freedom-branded cards have an annual fee of , and both offer lucrative ways to earn cash back.

The choice mostly comes down to rewards: 5% quarterly rotating categories on the or the 1.5% “everything else” (instead of 1% everything else) of the .

A quick evaluation:

Which is more valuable will depend on how well the rotating bonus categories of the match your spending. It also depends on how much you spend overall. Big spenders might get more value from 1.5% on everything else because it’s unlimited.

The table in the dropdown menu below highlights the differences in rewards between the two cards and the older , which is no longer accepting applications and has been effectively replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex.

For more information on which of these Freedom credit cards is right for you, .

As a cash-back card, the delivers a great treat for new cardholders followed by high ongoing value at a low cost. Its best features include:

The current bonus:

This cash bonus is high for a card of this type and it's easy to earn.

The bonus rewards categories are useful and lucrative:

Restaurants and drugstores are especially useful rewards categories for many households. Spend $3,000 a year combined in those categories, and you’ll earn $90 annually.

And if you book travel through Chase, 5% can add up quickly on pricey travel itineraries. Vacation travel costing $6,000 gets you back $300, for example.

Cash-back credit cards with bonus categories, like 3% back on restaurants, typically offer 1% cash back on “everything else.” The offers 1.5% back on everything else.

While 0.5% more doesn’t seem like much, it adds up for big spenders because it has no limit. And many big-ticket expenses seldom fall neatly into typical bonus categories — think medical bills, car tires and furnace repair.

For those who spend a lot, say $5,000 per month on “everything else,” the extra 0.5% rate on the means an extra $300 a year in cash back, compared with its typical competitors.

» MORE:

Because Chase allows you to transfer its points among cards that earn them, the 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 Flex. By using the Chase Freedom Flex for purchases in the 5% bonus categories and the on all other spending, you'd boost your overall rewards earnings significantly.

Get more value per point by transferring rewards to a card with elevated redemption values. 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 use transferred points, you could reap even more value.

» MORE:

The 1.5% flat rate is easy enough to understand, but the mix of reward rates in other spending categories is head-spinning — especially for cash-back lovers, who tend to value simplicity.

If you don’t want to carry around a rewards cheat sheet to optimally use a credit card and you’re just interested in cash-back rewards — not necessarily Chase Ultimate Rewards® — the 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.

It’s the choice for : people who are happy to settle for a good-enough option without feeling regret.

» MORE:

Cards with rewards bonus categories are most valuable when you spend a significant amount in those categories.

Alternative options include:

You can find out more about how this cash-back credit card compares versus the competition by visiting our list of.

The is a great deal for consumers — especially for those who already have the or .

It comes with a sky-high sign-up offer, useful bonus rewards categories and plenty of options for cashing in rewards. It’s not as simple as a flat-rate cash-back card, but its versatility and value make it a strong choice.

» MORE:

To view rates and fees of the , see .

Frequently asked questions