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Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card Review – 1.5% Cash Back

At a Glance
chase freedom unlimited credit card
4.3 / 5
Rating

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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 bonus after $500 in purchases within first 3 months
  • Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases; Redeem for cash – no minimums; Cash back rewards don’t expire as long as account is open
  • Intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 17.24% to 25.99% variable (purchases and balance transfers); 27.24% (cash advances)
  • Fees: Balance transfer fee 3% of amount transferred ($5 minimum)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® 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 Unlimited 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 Unlimited is comparable to a number of other cash back cards with flat, unlimited earning rates: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (1.5%) and Citi Double Cash Card (1% on purchases and 1% on bill payments above the minimum) are 2 noteworthy examples. It’s also comparable to cash back cards with tiered or rotating cash back categories, such as the Discover it Credit Card and American Express Blue Cash Everyday.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

When you spend at least $500 within three months of opening your account, you get 15,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (equivalent to $150 cash).

Earning Cash Back Rewards

Chase Freedom Unlimited 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.

Redeeming Cash Back Rewards

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). Chase Freedom Unlimited allows cash redemptions in any amount, but merchandise redemption minimums vary based on item cost.

Points Transfer to Other Chase Credit Cards

If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee, waived in the first year) travel rewards card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card ($95 annual fee) business card, you can transfer points earned through Chase Freedom Unlimited to those accounts.

Once transferred, you can redeem your points for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal and receive a 25% 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 Unlimited 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 Unlimited.

Important Fees

There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.

Introductory APR

This card has a 15-month 0% APR purchase and balance transfer promotion.

Regular APR

Once the introductory period ends, Chase Freedom Unlimited’s regular purchase and balance transfer APR ranges between 17.24% to 25.99% variable, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. From day one, the cash advance APR is 27.24% variable. There is no penalty APR.

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
  • Complimentary collision and damage insurance for rental cars paid for in full with the card
  • A free credit score, updated weekly, with Chase Credit Journey

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable blemishes on your credit record are likely to disqualify your application.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. Chase Freedom Unlimited 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.
  2. 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 the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and Discover it offer 0% APRs for 12 months or less.
  3. Very Good Sign-up Bonus. Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus of 15,000 points is worth $150 when redeemed for cash. That’s much better than Citi Double Cash, which doesn’t have a sign-up bonus at all.
  4. Cash Redemptions in Any Amount. You can redeem cash back earned with Freedom Unlimited at any time and in any amount.
  5. 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.
  6. No Rotating Categories. Chase Freedom Unlimited 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 Unlimited, you don’t even have to think about earning cash back – the card automatically maximizes your earnings for you.
  7. No Penalty APR. This card doesn’t charge penalty interest. That’s good news for cardholders who occasionally miss payments.
  8. Doesn’t Require Perfect Credit. Chase Freedom Unlimited 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.

Disadvantages

  1. 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 Card earns a flat, unlimited 2% back (as long as you pay at least the minimum) on all purchases.
  2. 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.
  3. No Redemption Bonus. Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer a redemption bonus under any circumstances. This is a notable disadvantage relative to some competing cash back cards, which offer across-the-board 5% or 10% bonuses at redemption.

Final Word

Chase Freedom Unlimited® 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.

Verdict
chase freedom unlimited credit card
4.3 / 5
Rating

Apply Now

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a no-nonsense cash back credit card that’s ideal for people who don’t want to deal with annual fees, rotating spending categories, and complicated rewards programs. Thanks to the long intro purchase APR period, it’s also a solid choice for people who wish to make large purchases they can’t pay off right away. Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t the best card for people who want to earn the most cash back possible, as a number of competing cards offer higher baseline or category earning rates.

This card’s great intro APR promotion on balance transfers and purchases, strong sign-up bonus, flexible and varied redemptions, somewhat laid-back credit requirements, and lack of an annual fee and of manual category activation are all big perks. Its cash back earnings cap, foreign transaction fee, and lack of a frequent spender bonus all hurt it.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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