Chase Freedom Unlimited

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Straightforward cash-back card that increases in rewards value when paired with another card.

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Chase Freedom Unlimited is a solid, straightforward cash-back rewards card that’s ideal for cardholders who just don’t have the time or energy to track spending categories. It ranks among the very best cash-back credit cards we track.

There are other cards that offer better rewards, but the Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash back on everything is an excellent reward coming from a no-annual-fee credit card.

Review

There are just two things preventing us from declaring this credit card the very best in its reward category: It charges a foreign transaction fee for spending abroad, and its extras — in this case a perfectly OK sign-up bonus — aren’t quite as good as, for example, what you’ll get from Discover it Cashback Match, a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

But if you have other credit cards that come with no foreign transaction fees, the Chase Freedom Unlimited would make a fine addition to your wallet.

Freedom Unlimited also comes with a pretty nice introductory offer. You’ll pay 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. But watch that balance transfer fee. It’s pretty high

Who should get this card

This card is best for people who don’t want to chase their rewards. It’s also ideal for consumers who hold other Chase credit cards, as you can transfer your rewards directly as Chase Ultimate Rewards points into the account of one of your other Chase rewards credit cards. For those who are willing to do the work, when this card is paired with other eligible Chase cards, the redemption value may increase when used in conjunction with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

What if you don’t own — or plan to own — another credit card from Chase? Here’s the bottom line: Two other cards are slightly better — the Discover it Cashback Match and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Advantages
  • There’s a sign-up bonus worth $150 in cash back if you spend at least $500 within the first three months of card ownership.
  • You'll pay no annual fee.
  • Chase offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
Disadvantages
  • There are no bonus categories, which similar cards, like the Chase Freedom, for example, offer.
  • You'll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee for purchases made outside the United States.
  • The 5% balance transfer fee is high. Other cards offer balance transfers at no fee.
  • There are other flat rate cards out there that offer 2% cash back so depending on how you spend, you might earn more back over time with one of those options.

Fees and APR

  • This card charges no annual fee.
  • The balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, which is a high rate.
  • You’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside the United States.
  • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers. After that, 15.99% to 24.74% variable, based on your creditworthiness.

Extras, perks and using rewards

For those who enjoy the sport of maximizing their credit card rewards to redeem for travel, Chase Freedom Unlimited, when paired with an eligible Chase card, can squeeze even more value out of your everyday spending.

On its own, this card gives a flat 1.5% cash-back rate for every dollar spent. This means that if you spend $10,000 with this card, you earn 150 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (10,000 x .015% rewards rate = 150), which can be redeemed as a $150 statement credit or used for purchases at a value of $150 through Chase’s shopping portal.

But when you pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with another card, you can really starts to pile on the value. Let’s say you spend $10,000 on your Chase Freedom Unlimited card and earned back 150 Ultimate Rewards points. You can then transfer the points to a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred where your 150 points increase 25% in value to become worth $187.50 at Chase’s travel portal.

Alternatively, if you transfer the same 150 points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, they increase 50% in value, so that 150 in points is now worth $225 in travel benefit through the Chase portal.

Yes, the math can be confusing, but for some the payoff of increased value is worth the legwork.

There’s no fee for redeeming points.

How this card compares

Citi® Double Cash Card
Card Details
  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)
Annual Fee $0*
Purchase Intro APR N/A
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 18 months*

Citi Double Cash Card pays 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back as you pay for that purchase.  There’s no cap on how much you can earn back, making this card a leader in the cash-back category.

Card Details
  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Target now through December 2017, on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive Free Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 11.99% - 23.99% Variable
Annual Fee $0
Purchase Intro APR 0% for 14 months
Balance Transfers Intro APR 0% for 14 months

You won’t earn one of those huge sign-up bonuses other cards offer, but if you’re looking for a no-frills cash-back card, the Discover it credit card does come with one intriguing feature: Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our 0% apr category page.

Card Details
  • Earn 3% cash back in year one & 2.5% cash back after.
Credit Needed Excellent
Regular APR 10.74% to 23.74% based on your creditworthiness. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
Annual Fee $59, waived for the first year
Balance Transfers Intro APR

The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card pays 3% back during the first year of card ownership, then 2.5% thereafter. You have to be a credit union member to be eligible for the card.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.