Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Published: June 17, 2019

Partner Offer

Apply Now
Published: June 17, 2019

Partner Offer

Apply Now
Ratings Policy
Balance Transfer Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Introductory Offer: 3.9
Net Value: 3.1
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 3.6

In a Nutshell:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a great cash back program and introductory APR, but it’s high regular APR is a big drawback for balance transfers.

Learn more about this card

0% Introductory Period
15 months

Transfer Fee
$5 or 3% (whichever is higher)

Introductory Purchase APR
0% for 15 months

Regular APR
17.24-25.99% (variable)

Annual Fee
$0

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Car rental insurance, roadside assistance, extended warranty, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement

Cash Back Rating:
3.8 rating
3.8 rating
3.8 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.3
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.0
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 3.6

In a Nutshell:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a good sign-up bonus and a flat 1.5 percent cash back rate on general purchases for cardholders who want to keep things simple, plus it’s a great starter card for collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards.

See if you’re prequalified for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with CardMatch™

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate
1.5% cash back on all purchases

Sign-up Bonus
1.5% additional cash back on all purchases for the first year (up to $20,000 in purchases)

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$0

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$318

APR
17.24-25.99% (variable)

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
  • Transfer rewards as Ultimate Rewards points to other Chase cards

Cons

  • No bonus categories

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: Car rental insurance, roadside assistance, extended warranty, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: More Details

If you are the kind of cardholder who prefers a straightforward rewards program that lets you earn great cash back on every purchase you make, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of our favorite flat rate cards. With a 1.5 percent cash back rate on everything you buy, it is 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

The earning rate on the Chase Freedom Unlimited is ideal for cardholders who don’t want to keep track of bonus categories or target spending toward a particular kind of purchase. Instead, users earn 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase they make.

See Related: Which 1.5 percent cash back card is right for you?

Unfortunately, the simplicity of racking up rewards on this card limits its potential value. Because there are no bonus categories, you can’t take advantage of extra points in a certain area of spending to boost your rewards rate. That means that when you compare the Freedom Unlimited with other cash back cards that offer a higher rate on particular types of spending, the card falls toward the bottom of the pack. (Note: To calculate the average earning rate of each card, we use data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate both category and overall spend.)

However, for cardholders whose spending does not line up with the bonus categories on another cash back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited still has a good rewards rate. Additionally, the card makes a great pair to other rewards cards – especially other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.

Sign-up bonus

One big perk that comes with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a unique sign-up bonus. Rather than earning a flat cash back bonus, new Freedom Unlimited cardholders have the opportunity to earn an additional 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases in the first year (on up to $20,000 in purchases) – for up to 3 percent cash back on everything they buy.

Even with a $20,000 purchase cap on the bonus rate (you’ll still earn the standard 1.5 percent cash back after you reach this limit), this introductory offer can be very lucrative. If you spend the full $20,000, you can bring in $300, for a total of $600 in rewards in the first year alone. This is double the value of the sign-up bonuses on many competing cash back cards, such as the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.

See related: Americans’ favorite credit card feature is 3% cash back on all purchases

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 option Point value (cents)
Travel redemption 1
Statement credit 1
Direct deposit 1
Gift cards 1
Apple purchases 1
Amazon.com purchases 0.8

See Related: Best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Balance transfer offer

The Chase Freedom Unlimited also comes with a decent balance transfer offer for new cardholders. It offers a 0 percent APR for the first 15 months of account opening (17.24 to 25.99 percent variable thereafter). This is a huge perk for cardholders who need to pay down some debt over time without racking up additional interest – especially those who don’t want to sacrifice a great rewards program.

See Related: How to transfer a balance to a Chase credit card

Unfortunately, you will be charged a 3 percent (or $5, whichever is greater) balance transfer fee. On larger balances, this can add up to hundreds of dollars. If paying down debt is a bigger priority than long-term rewards potential, you might be better off opting for a card with no balance transfer fee.

Intro APR for new purchases

In addition to a 0 percent APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months (17.24 to 25.99 percent variable thereafter), the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers the same intro APR on new purchases. 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. In addition to enjoying more than a year to pay off your purchase before you accrue interest, you’ll earn 3 percent cash back on the large purchase as long as you make it in the first year (Note, 3 percent cash back is capped at $20,000 in purchases per year).

Just be sure to make a plan to pay off your balance before the introductory period ends, as the ongoing APR can be high.

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 pre-qualify 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 2018 customer satisfaction survey, the bank scored 804 – ranking fourth out of 11 card issuers. Chase’s mobile app rates well among users, rating 4.6 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.

Paring 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
Chase Freedom®
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)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus

None

Sign-up bonus

$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Sign-up bonus

$150 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
  • Price protection with Citi Price Rewind
Other things to know

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

  • 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 percent cash back on everything they buy, plus an additional 1 percent cash back as they pay for those purchases – for up to 2 percent 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 percent 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.

Additionally, the Quicksilver card offers a flat cash back bonus in lieu of a higher percentage in the first year (like with the Freedom Unlimited). While we estimate the average spender can get more value out of the Freedom Unlimited card’s non-traditional bonus, the cash back bonus on the Quicksilver can be a nice perk for cardholders who need a quick influx of rewards.

Chase Freedom

Rather than a flat rate of cash back on every purchase, the Chase Freedom awards cardholders 5 percent 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 percent 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 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 who prefer a flat rate of cash back to keeping track of bonus categories.
  • Cardholders looking for a generous introductory offer.
  • Ultimate Rewards cardholders who want to pair a good flat rate card with a card that earns more points in particular bonus categories.
  • Frequent travelers who will take advantage of the card’s protections and insurances.

How to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card:

  • Put all your purchases on the card in the first year to take advantage of the introductory rate.
  • Use the card as your go-to for general purchases.
  • 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?

For a flat rate card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a standard rate of cash back that makes it easy to earn good rewards on everyday purchases. What really sets the card apart are a unique introductory offer and 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:

Our reviews and best card recommendations are based on an objective rating process and are not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

Partner Offer

Apply Now