Key takeaways

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited® boasts a healthy cash back bonus offer plus an extended increased earning opportunity that could be worth as much as $600 in “bonus” rewards.
  • Rewards earned with this card come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can leverage this cash back card as part of a travel rewards strategy.
  • Redeem your bonus for straight cash back or get even more value by combining these rewards with those earned through a premium Ultimate Rewards card.

This piece was last updated on Oct. 23, 2023, to reflect current credit card details.

One of the best perks of opening up a Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card is the $200 cash welcome bonus, earned after spending $500 in your first three months of owning the card. But, right now, you can earn 5 percent back on up to $12,000 spent on gas and grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) during your first year. Max out that opportunity, and you could earn an additional $600 cash back, bringing the total welcome bonus opportunity to $800! That’s virtually unheard of in the world of no-annual-fee cash back credit cards.

We cover the requirements for qualifying for the bonus, the best ways to use the bonus and other details about the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

Details of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Name Chase Freedom Unlimited
Rewards 5% back on Lyft purchases (through March 2025), 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% back on dining, 3% back on drugstore purchases and 1.5% back on everything else
Annual fee $0
Sign-up bonus $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening. Plus, 5% cash back on gas and grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
Intro APR 0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR 20.49% to 29.24% variable

Why the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus is worth noting

A $200 cash back welcome bonus is a pretty good offer for a card with no annual fee, but add in the opportunity to earn another $600 in cash back through 5 percent back on gas and grocery purchases for the first year (up to $12,000 spent and excluding Target and Walmart), and you have an incredible offer. Further, while you can redeem this bonus for cash or a statement credit, you can also use the bonus as part of the lucrative Chase Ultimate Rewards program and transfer your rewards to a more premium Chase credit card. This means that, depending on which redemption option you use, the bonus could potentially be worth even more than $800.

The spending requirement to qualify for the $200 bonus is only $500 over the first three months of card ownership, so most borrowers will likely qualify for the bonus if they spend just $170 per month using the card. To truly maximize the rewards, though, be prepared to max out the $12,000 spending cap to earn 5 percent back on your gas and grocery purchases for the first year. Aside from the welcome bonus, other Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits include a solid cash back rewards structure, no annual fee and a low introductory APR on purchases.

How to redeem the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus

There are multiple redemption options you can use to access the card’s sign-up bonus. The simplest way to use the bonus is in the form of a statement credit or cash back direct deposit, which transfers cold, hard cash to your bank account or credit card statement.

You can also use the bonus to book travel through the Chase Travel portal, purchase gift cards, shop on Amazon, make charitable contributions and more. In some cases, these redemption options are worth more than the cash amount, allowing you to stretch your welcome bonus further.

How much is the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus worth?

Each Chase Ultimate Rewards point is worth 1 cent if redeemed for cash. (Note that the Chase Freedom Unlimited technically earns rewards points that can be redeemed for cash back at a 1:1 rate.) Using only the Chase Freedom Unlimited, points are also worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel, gift cards and Apple purchases. Points are worth 0.8 cents when redeemed for Amazon purchases and 1.25 cents when redeemed for qualifying charitable giving through the Pay Yourself Back program.

However, your rewards can be even more valuable if you have a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. By transferring rewards earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to one of these cards, you can increase their value. For example, points redeemed for travel through the Chase Travel portal are worth 1.25 cents using the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 1.5 cents using the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Holding those premium cards also opens up the possibility of transferring your points to one of Chase’s airline or hotel loyalty partners, where you can see your points go even further.

Best ways to use the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus

For many cardholders, especially those who don’t travel frequently or don’t want to spend time maxing out their rewards earning potential, a cash direct deposit or statement credit may be the path of least resistance — and there’s nothing wrong with that if it best fits your needs!

That said, there are a few other redemption options you should consider to maximize your card’s sign-up bonus value. For instance, if you own an additional Chase credit card, such as the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, you can transfer your welcome bonus in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to one of those cards, where they can then be redeemed for travel purchases at a higher rate.

Chase also features a shopping portal with offers from retail partners in the form of discounted gift cards, product offerings and more. Before you redeem your rewards, it’s a good idea to browse the offerings in the portal to make sure you’re not missing out on any good deals from your favorite retailers.

Redemption options to avoid

With most redemption options worth 1 cent apiece, including cash back, statement credits and gift cards, there are a lot of good ways to take advantage of your rewards. However, an area you might want to steer clear of is redeeming your rewards for Amazon purchases. Since points are only valued at 0.8 cents when redeemed through Amazon, there are more valuable ways to put your hard-earned rewards to work.

You should also think carefully before purchasing gift cards or items through the Chase Travel portal. While these redemption options can be as valuable as cash (and sometimes even more so), they can also encourage you to make purchases you might not have under other circumstances. If you’re on a budget and trying to cut down spending wherever possible, you can’t go wrong with redeeming your rewards for cash or statement credit.

The bottom line

Along with lucrative rewards and no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s welcome bonus is one of the card’s top selling points. Cardholders only have to spend $500 in the first three months to qualify for the $200 offer, which puts this bonus within reach of borrowers with a wide variety of budgets and spending habits. If your budget allows, you could earn substantially more by maxing out the $12,000 spending cap earning 5 percent back on gas and grocery store (excluding Target and Walmart) for your first year.

How you redeem your welcome bonus is ultimately up to you. A cash deposit, statement credit, travel purchases, gift cards or even charitable giving are all great options. If you’re pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited with other Chase credit cards, like the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, you can transfer your welcome bonus rewards to these cards for even more valuable redemption options.

Information about the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.