Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Published: November 17, 2020

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Published: November 17, 2020

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Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
4.7 rating
4.7 rating
4.7 / 5
Rewards Value:5.0
Annual Percentage Rate:2.0
Rewards Flexibility:4.4
Features:3.0
Issuer Customer Experience3.6

In a Nutshell:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a good sign-up bonus and an impressive average rewards rate, including a 1.5% cash back rate on general purchases, making it a great starter card for collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on dining
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Excellent

Sign-up Bonus

  • $200 cash back after you spend $500 in the first three months
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Walmart or Target purchases, on up to $12,000 in spending in your first year)
Excellent

Annual Bonus
None

Poor

Annual Fee
$0

Excellent

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$408

Excellent

APR
14.99-23.74% (variable)

Poor

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Rewards don’t expire
  • No limits on cash back
  • Redeem any amount any time
  • Redeem for gift cards, travel, or Amazon.com merchandise
  • Impressive cash back rate on general purchases
  • Transfer rewards as Ultimate Rewards points to other Chase cards

Cons

  • No 0% intro APR on balance transfers
Excellent

Chase Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2020 customer satisfaction rating: 809 (30% of issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: No
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.4/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.8/5
Very Good

Other Notable Features: Car rental insurance, roadside assistance, extended warranty, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, free credit score updated weekly, free DashPass membership for three months, followed by 50% off next nine months of membership

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: More Details

A longtime favorite of fans of cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has recently revamped its rewards program and now offers even more opportunity to earn cash back with every purchase. Along with the card’s classic 1.5% cash back rate on general purchases, cardholders will enjoy outsized rewards on Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases.

Such practical bonus categories and a better-than-average cash back rate on general purchases should make it easy to earn plenty of rewards – no matter how you weigh your spending. Plus, Ultimate Rewards cardholders will enjoy the flexibility to transfer points between cards, allowing points hackers to stockpile enough rewards for their next vacation in no time.

Earning cash back: New bonus categories

With its recent refresh, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is on track to be an ideal choice for cardholders who want the best of both worlds: Not only do you earn 1.5% cash back on general purchases, but you’ll also get 5% back on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% back on dining and 3% back on drugstore purchases.  Through March 2022, you’ll also earn 5% cash back on Lyft purchases.

This new rewards earning scheme is unique, as most cards that offer bonuses in specific spending categories limit you to a 1% cash back rate on general purchases. Indeed, based on the average consumer’s spending habits, we estimate that the Chase Freedom Unlimited now caries a terrific average rewards rate of just over 2% back. Based on an average spend of $15,900 per year, the average person should earn around $328 per year in cash back with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, about $100 more per year than we’d expect with the card’s traditional cash back program. Of course, you could earn even more if you spend heavily in the card’s bonus categories.

Sign-up bonus

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a $200 cash back bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months of card ownership. Previously, rather than earning a flat cash back bonus, new Freedom Unlimited cardholders had the opportunity to earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all purchases in the first year for up to 3% cash back on everything they bought.

On top of this cash back bonus, you’ll earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 in spending in your first year. This rivals the rate offered by some of the best credit cards for groceries, including the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, at least for the first year. If, like the average consumer, you spend around $3,600 per year on groceries, we estimate that you’ll earn $180 in cash back on groceries in your first year, thanks to this offer.

Redeeming cash back

Once you’ve earned rewards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is extremely flexible in how you redeem them, giving you plenty of different redemption options. If you want to use your points for cash back, you can redeem them for either a statement credit or direct deposit into your bank account. You also have the option to use Freedom Unlimited points to pay for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal. Just keep in mind that your points might have a different value depending on how you choose to redeem them.

Chase Freedom Unlimited redemption options

Redemption optionPoint value (cents)
Travel redemption1
Statement credit1
Direct deposit1
Gift cards1
Apple purchases1
Amazon.com purchases0.8

See Related: Best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

You can also use the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature to redeem points to pay for some or all of your purchases in select categories and get paid back with a statement credit. You’ll still earn points on these purchases and your points may be worth more when your redeem in certain categories. For a limited time, Freedom Unlimited cardholders can redeem at a value of 1.25 cents per point when they opt to donate to eligible charitable organizations.

See related: Chase Pay Yourself Back expands to Freedom cards

Intro APR for new purchases

The Chase Freedom Unlimited could also be useful if you need to strategically carry a balance in the short term. The card comes with a 0% intro APR on new purchases for the first 15 months (14.99% to 23.74% variable thereafter), so if you have a big purchase to make that you’d like to pay off over time without incurring hefty interest charges, signing up for this card can be a great strategy. Just be sure to make a plan to pay off your balance before the introductory period ends, as the ongoing APR can be high.

See related: Best credit cards for large purchases

Other benefits

The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with several perks that make it a valuable choice for frequent travelers. Here’s a quick look at some of the card’s benefits.

  • Car rental insurance – For car rentals booked and paid for with your card, you can receive secondary coverage in the case of damage or theft.
  • Purchase protection – If you purchase an item with your Freedom Unlimited and it is stolen or damaged in the first 120 days, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per claim (max $50,000 per account).
  • Extended warranty – Add an extra year to qualifying manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – If you have to cancel or cut a trip short due to a covered circumstance such as severe weather or illness, you can be reimbursed for any non-refundable fares charged to your card.

To take full advantage of the card’s perks, put all major purchases on the Freedom Unlimited.

Approval odds

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is designed for users with good to excellent credit (above 670), so you’ll want to ensure you meet those qualifications before you apply. If you are worried about your eligibility and want to avoid a hard pull on your credit, you can also take advantage of tools like CardMatch™ to see if you’re matched for the offer.

Additionally, Chase is one of the strictest issuers when it comes to the number of accounts you can have open – holding new applicants to the 5/24 rule. This means if you have opened five or more credit cards with any issuer in the last 24 months, it is likely you won’t be approved for the card.

Customer experience

Among major issuers, Chase has a pretty good customer service reputation. In J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, the bank scored 809 – fourth out of 11 card issuers. Chase’s mobile app rates well among users, rating 4.4 out of 5 in the Google Play Store and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store.

One drawback to Chase’s customer service is that the bank does not have an online chat feature on its website, which can make it difficult to get a quick answer to a simple question.

Pairng the Chase Freedom Unlimited with other rewards cards

Because the Freedom Unlimited card comes with a good flat rate of cash back on all purchases, it makes an excellent pair for other rewards cards that earn bonus points or cash back in particular categories. It makes a particularly good pair for other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards – as it is easy to transfer points between them.

Plus, cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card* get a higher point value when you redeem rewards for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal – meaning you can stretch your points a bit further by carrying both cards. Simply put all bonus category purchases on the Sapphire Preferred (the card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and restaurant purchases) and all other purchases on the Freedom Unlimited. Then, transfer all your points to the Sapphire to get more value out of them.

See Related: Earn more Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase trifecta

Additionally, Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders have the option of transferring points to one of Chase’s travel partners. Since many airline and hotel loyalty programs have an average point value higher than 1 cent per point, this can be another way to get more from your rewards.

How does the Chase Freedom Unlimited compare to other cash back cards?

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a good flat rate of cash back for cardholders seeking simplicity, it does not offer the best rate you can find among cash back cards. Here’s a quick look at a few popular alternatives:

Citi Double Cash Card
Citi® Double Cash Card
Capital One Quicksilver
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Chase Freedom Flex
Chase Freedom Flex
Rewards rate

  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • 1% additional cash back as you pay for those purchases
Rewards rate

1.5% cash back on every purchase

Rewards rate

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 5% cash back on Ultimate Rewards travel
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus

None

Sign-up bonus

$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Sign-up bonus

$200 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Other things to know

  • Rewards expires if card is not used over 12 months
  • Lengthy intro period for balance transfers
Other things to know

  • Rewards don’t expire
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Intro APR for new purchases
Other things to know

  • Includes cell phone protection
  • Redeem points for cash, travel, merchandise or gift cards
  • Transfer rewards to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to potentially boost value
  • Rewards don’t expire

Citi Double Cash Card

For cardholders who prefer a flat rate of cash back to keeping track of bonus categories, the Citi Double Cash Card offers one of the highest earning rates you can get on every purchase. Cardholders earn 1% cash back on everything they buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as they pay for those purchases – for up to 2% back on every purchase. While the Double Cash Card does not come with a sign-up bonus, it is easy to rack up enough rewards over time to make up for this.

See Related: Citi Double Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Capital One Quicksilver

Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Capital One Quicksilver card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase. If you want to earn a flat rate on all purchases – but prefer Capital One to Chase – this could be a great choice for you.

Chase Freedom Flex

In addition to a bonus rewards on Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, the Chase Freedom Flex awards cardholders 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories that they must enroll in each quarter (on up to $1,500 in purchase per quarter). Users also earn 1% cash back on other purchases. If you don’t mind putting a bit more maintenance into your credit card, this can be a very lucrative earning rate.

See Related: Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom is also an excellent pair for other Ultimate Rewards cards, as you can transfer points between cards just like you can with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Who should get the Chase Freedom Unlimited card?

  • Cardholders looking for a good all-purpose cash back card that earns solid cash back on every purchase, plus bonuses in specific categories.
  • Cardholders looking for a generous introductory offer.
  • Cardholders who want to earn Ultimate Rewards without paying an annual fee.
  • Frequent travelers who will take advantage of the card’s protections and insurances.
  • You’re a frequent Lyft ride-share user.

How to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card:

  • Spend at least $500 on the card in the first three months to secure the sign-up bonus.
  • Use the card as your go-to for general purchases.
  • Use the card for all Ultimate Rewards travel bookings and on dining and drugstore purchases.
  • Use the card for all Lyft rides.
  • Consider pairing the card with another Ultimate Rewards card such as the Sapphire Preferred to get more value out of your Ultimate Rewards points.
  • Take advantage of perks like Chase Offers and referral bonuses to earn more rewards.

Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited card worth it?

Thanks to its recent refresh, the Chase Freedom Unlimited should offer most cardholders an impressive average rewards rate and an easy way to earn solid cash back on every purchase. What really sets the card apart is the ability to transfer rewards to other Chase Ultimate rewards credit cards. If you are looking for a good card to pair with other rewards cards to maximize rewards potential, the Freedom Unlimited is a great option.

Need more information on this card? See related articles:

*Information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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