Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM is a cash back credit card with no annual fee, a nice sign-up bonus, a long intro 0% APR promotion, and a flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back earning rate on all purchases. It shares many similarities with the original Chase Freedom card, which also lacks an annual fee and comes with generous sign-up and intro APR promotions.
The biggest distinction between the two is that Freedom UnlimitedSM does away with the original Freedom’s rotating cash back categories. Those categories allow cardholders to earn up to 5% cash back on select purchases, up to a quarterly spending cap, in addition to a 1% baseline earning rate on all other purchases. However, they are frequently criticized as being annoying to activate and track. If you prefer original Freedom’s 5% categories, don’t worry: Chase has no plans to kill that card and continues to accept new applications for it.
Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM is comparable to a number of other cash back cards with flat, unlimited earning rates: Capital One Quicksilver (1.5%), Barclaycard CashForward (1.5%), and Citi Double Cash (1% on purchases and 1% on bill payments above the minimum). It’s also comparable to cash back cards with tiered or rotating cash back categories, such as BankAmericard Cash Rewards, Discover it and Discover it Chrome, American Express Blue Cash Everyday, and American Express Blue Cash Preferred.
- Sign-up Bonus. When you spend at least $500 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 15,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards® points (equivalent to $150 cash). You also get an additional 2,500 point ($25) bonus when you make your first purchase and add your first authorized user within 3 months of signing up.
- Earning and Redeeming Cash Back Rewards. Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no caps, restrictions, or spending categories. Cash back is tracked via Ultimate Rewards® points, which are worth $0.01 apiece – therefore, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards® points equals $100 in cash. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your points do not expire. You can redeem your accumulated cash back for cash equivalents (such as statement credits and bank account deposits), gift cards, travel and general merchandise purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® portal, and merchandise purchases made direct with online retailers (such as Amazon). Unlike the regular Chase Freedom card, Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM allows cash redemptions in any amount. Merchandise redemption minimums vary based on item cost.
- Points Transfer to Other Chase Credit Cards. If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) travel rewards card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95 annual fee) business card, you can transfer points earned through Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM to those accounts. Once transferred, you can redeem your points for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards® portal and receive a 20% bonus (for instance, boosting the value of a 50,000-point redemption to $625), or transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to approximately 10 frequent traveler programs. However, having a Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM card doesn’t automatically qualify you for Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, and you’re not eligible for the redemption bonus or 1-to-1 point transfer if you only have Freedom UnlimitedSM.
- Important Fees. There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
- Intro APR. This card has a 15-month 0% APR purchase and balance transfer promotion.
- Additional Benefits. This card comes with a number of additional cardholder benefits, including purchase protection against loss or damage for 120 days from purchase, up to $500 per item; price protection for 90 days, during which Chase reimburses the difference (up to $500 per item) if a lower advertised price appears online or in print; and complimentary collision and damage insurance for rental cars paid for in full with the card.
- Credit Required. This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable blemishes on your credit record are likely to disqualify your application.
- No Annual Fee. Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM doesn’t have an annual fee, which is great news for cardholders who don’t earn points fast enough to offset the potential cost of a recurring charge.
- Great Intro APR Promotion. This card’s 15-month 0% APR purchase and balance transfer promotion is among the best in the no-annual-fee cash back category. Competitors such as Capital One Quicksilver and Discover it offer 0% APRs for 12 months or less.
- Very Good Sign-up Bonus. Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus of 15,000 points plus an additional 2,500 combines for 17,500 points when fully utilized (worth at least $175). That’s much better than Citi Double Cash, which doesn’t have a sign-up bonus at all.
- Cash Redemptions in Any Amount. You can redeem cash back earned with Freedom UnlimitedSM at any time and in any amount. That’s a significant improvement over the original Chase Freedom, which requires at least $20 to redeem for cash back.
- Wide Range of Redemption Options. Thanks to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards® portal, you can redeem your accumulated rewards for virtually anything (including travel, merchandise, and purchases made directly with third-party retailers), and usually at a flat $0.01-per-point rate. This is a big perk relative to competitors such as Barclaycard CashForward, which limits redemption methods to cash equivalents.
- No Rotating Categories. Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM doesn’t have tiered or rotating spending categories. This removes one of the biggest knocks against the standard Chase Freedom card, which requires users to manually activate 5% cash back categories each quarter. With Freedom UnlimitedSM, you don’t even have to think about earning cash back – the card automatically maximizes your earnings for you.
- No Penalty APR. This card doesn’t charge penalty interest. That’s good news for cardholders who occasionally miss payments.
- Doesn’t Require Perfect Credit. Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM doesn’t require perfect credit. Still, this card isn’t designed for people with poor or fair credit, but a good to very good score isn’t sure to disqualify your application. Some cash back cards require legitimately excellent credit.
- Cash Back Earnings Capped at 1.5%. Chase Freedom Unlimited’s cash back earning rate is capped at 1.5% – you can never earn more than that, no matter how much you spend. By contrast, the original Chase Freedom (along with Discover it) offers the opportunity to earn up to 5% in select categories, and Citi Double Cash earns a flat, unlimited 2% back (as long as you pay at least the minimum) on all purchases.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, which is a major bummer for people who frequently travel outside the United States. Discover it and Discover it Chrome don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
- High Balance Transfer Fee. Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM charges the greater of $5 or 5% for balance transfers. That’s high relative to competing cards – $5 or 3% is more typical. This high fee doesn’t jibe with Freedom Unlimited’s long, generous 0% APR balance transfer promotion either.
- No Redemption Bonus. Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM doesn’t offer a redemption bonus under any circumstances. By contrast, Barclaycard CashForward kicks back 5% on every redemption – for instance, effectively turning a $100 redemption into a $105 redemption.
Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM offers some faint hope that credit card issuers actually listen to their cardholders’ concerns. Why? Because this card, first issued years after original Freedom’s debut, addresses the cardholding public’s biggest complaint about its predecessor: those pesky rotating 5% categories, which require manual activation each quarter – and mental effort to remember.
Freedom Unlimited’s flat, unlimited 1.5% earning rate on all purchases isn’t the most generous cash back deal on the planet, but it’s much easier to manage. And that’s welcome news for busy cardholders who don’t want to think twice about which card to use in any given circumstance.