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.

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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
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
15.24%-23.99% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
Apply now

on Chase's website

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: Simple, flat-rate cash back

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
NerdWallet rating 

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Earn 2% on all purchases

If you're not in the mood to track bonus categories, this card keeps things simple. You earn 2% cash back on all purchases, plus it comes with a new cardholder bonus offer and a great introductory 0% APR period.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

15.24%-23.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

14.74%-24.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

12.24%-23.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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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 more than most cash-back cards offer — all for an annual fee of .

The  earns 3% cash back on restaurants and drugstore purchases, 5% back on travel booked through Chase and 1.5% back on other purchases. Put that together and you have a card that can really pile up the cash back. And if you carry other credit cards that also earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, 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.

: Basics

Card type: Cash back.

Annual fee: .

Sign-up bonus: (NOTE: This offer is available when you apply through NerdWallet. If you apply directly with Chase or through a different website, you may not be eligible for this offer.)

Rewards:

  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • 3% back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

  • 3% back on drugstore purchases.

  • Through March 31, 2025, 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.

  • 1.5% cash back on everything else.

Nerdy tip: With the bonus offer currently in effect on the through NerdWallet, the rewards rates listed above get boosted by 1.5% for the first $20,000 in total spending in the first year. Categories that usually earn 5% cash back will instead earn 6.5%. Categories that usually earn 3% cash back will instead earn 4.5%. And all other purchases will earn 3%.

Interest rate: .

Foreign transaction fee: 3%.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Although the is marketed as a cash-back card, your spending actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® 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:

  • Gift cards at 1 cent per point.

  • Travel booked through Chase at 1 cent per point.

  • Amazon purchases at 0.8 cent per point.

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.

vs. Chase Freedom Flex

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:

  • The 5% cash back is enticing but complicated. Bonus cash back is also capped at $1,500 per quarter in spending before reverting to 1% back. Category activation is required; all other purchases earn 1% cash back.

  • The 1.5% back on everything else is less exciting but simpler and way more flexible.

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.

Nerdy tip: The runs on the Visa payment network, while the  is a Mastercard. In terms of acceptance, it doesn't matter much if you carry a Visa or a Mastercard. But Visa and Mastercard do offer some differing side perks.

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.

Click to see the Freedom cards compared side by side

Offer for new cardholders:

None — card is no longer accepting applications

Rotating bonus categories:

None.

• 5% back on quarterly bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending.

Ongoing bonus categories:

• 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

• 3% cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

• 3% cash back on drugstore purchases.

None.

Rewards on other purchases:

1.5% cash back

1% cash back

1% cash back

For more information on which of these Freedom credit cards is right for you, see our full comparison story.

Why you might want the

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:

Potentially rich sign-up bonus

Unlike a standard credit card bonus, which pays you a lump sum once you hit a specific spending amount, the bonus on the comes in the form of higher reward rates in the first year, which, depending on how much you spend, can really add up: (NOTE: This offer is available when you apply through NerdWallet. If you apply directly with Chase or through a different website, you may not be eligible for this offer.)

Comparable no-fee cash-back cards nowadays offer bonuses of around $200. To earn that much in extra rewards on the , you'll have to spend $13,333 in the first year, or $1,111 per month.

Useful bonus categories

The bonus rewards categories are useful and lucrative:

  • 3% back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

  • 3% back on drugstore purchases.

  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Through March 31, 2025, 5% back on qualifying Lyft services purchased through the Lyft app.

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.

1.5% on 'everything else'

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.

Point transfers to maximize value

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:

  • With the and the , each point is worth 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel through Chase.

  • With the , points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase.

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.

Drawbacks of the

It’s complicated

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. Add in the extra 1.5% in the first year, and things get even more ... interesting.

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 satisficers: people who are happy to settle for a good-enough option without feeling regret.

Better rates available in specific categories

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

Alternative options include:

  • The pays an industry-leading 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year in spending (then 1%), plus 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% at U.S. gas stations, 3% on transit and 1% on all other spending. Terms apply (see rates and fees). It comes at a cost, though: The annual fee is . Terms apply. This is an ideal card for high grocery spenders.

  • The 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.

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 get.

: Is it worth getting?

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

It comes with a potentially rich 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.

To view rates and fees of the , see this page.

on Chase's website

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

Frequently asked questions