Key takeaways

  • The Chase Freedom Unlimited® could be worth it if you’re looking to earn more Ultimate Rewards, don’t want to pay an annual fee and can take advantage of the earnings structure, welcome bonus and intro APR.
  • The Freedom Unlimited works well as a cash back card, but it offers the most value as part of an Ultimate Rewards-earning strategy.
  • This card may not be worth it if you’re looking for premium card benefits or rotating bonus categories.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® regularly shows up on top credit card lists thanks to its healthy rewards earning opportunities, lengthy intro APR offer and ability to function as both a cash back and travel rewards card. But is the Freedom Unlimited worth it for you?

This no-annual-fee card offers at least 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases — a solid option if you’re looking to earn flat-rate rewards on whatever you buy. But the Freedom Unlimited also features 5 percent cash back on travel booked through Chase Travel, 5 percent back on Lyft purchases (through March 2025) and 3 percent back on dining and drugstore purchases. Plus, all that cash back accumulates as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, so this card plays well with others in that rewards universe.

To help you decide if Freedom Unlimited is worth it for you, we’ll dig into the features and drawbacks of the card’s earning and redemption rates.

When is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?

Whether the Chase Freedom Unlimited is worth a spot in your wallet may boil down to two factors:

  • Can you earn a substantial amount of rewards with the earnings structure?
  • How valuable are the redemption options you can get?

The major benefits of the card could help you out in these scenarios:

You want at least 1.5% cash back on every purchase

A card that earns at least 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase racks up a surprisingly high number of rewards and can be a great option for those uninterested in remembering what card to use for which purchases. Plus, there’s no limit on how much cash back you can earn with the Freedom Unlimited, and rewards don’t expire.

If you’re just starting out in the credit card rewards world, the Freedom Unlimited is a good place to begin. The rewards are simple enough to earn, but there’s room to make this card even more valuable as your experience and expertise using rewards cards grows.

You want to earn Ultimate Rewards points

What makes this 1.5 percent cash back card more valuable than others is that it officially earns that cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and those points combine seamlessly with others in the Ultimate Rewards universe.

Freedom Unlimited redemptions for cash back or travel are only valued at 1 cent per point if that’s the only Ultimate Rewards card you hold. But when you pair Freedom Unlimited with a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can combine your points and make them worth 1.25 cents to 1.5 cents apiece toward Chase Travel redemptions. Furthermore, premium cardholders’ points are worth around 2.0 cents apiece when transferred to a high-value Chase travel partner, according to Bankrate valuations.

If travel rewards are your goal, Freedom Unlimited can help you get there, especially when you combine this no-annual-fee card with one of Chase’s premium offerings.

You dine out frequently or have large prescription costs

In addition to the at least 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers 3 percent cash back on eligible restaurant purchases, including takeout and delivery. This is competitive with other cards that offer a bonus on restaurant purchases, including cards that charge an annual fee.

And for cardholders with regular prescription costs, 3 percent cash back is an attractive way to earn some rewards for the essentials you purchase at the drugstore.

You’re looking for solid sign-up bonus value

The Chase Freedom Unlimited currently offers a unique sign-up bonus that boosts your cash back rate for the first year you hold the card.

You’ll earn an extra 1.5 percent cash back on your first $20,000 in purchases in your first year, after which the rate drops back down to normal. This is on top of your ongoing rewards rate, so you could earn 6.5 percent back on Chase Travel, 4.5 percent on restaurant and drugstore purchases and at least 3 percent back on everything else.

If you’re able to max out this offer by spending $20,000 in your first year, you could earn up to $300 in bonus cash back in your first year, not counting cash back you’d earn via your base rewards rates.

An up to $300 welcome offer is about as good a sign-up bonus as you can get for a no-annual-fee cash back card. Most competitors offer just $200 as a sign-up bonus, and the Freedom Unlimited card’s typical bonus offer is $200 after you spend $500 in your first three months.

This makes now a great time to apply if you’ve been on the fence.

You don’t want to pay an annual fee

You won’t pay an annual fee for all the benefits the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers. That makes it easier to add to your wallet and use alongside other cards.

Top travel rewards cards usually charge annual fees, but Freedom Unlimited’s earning of Ultimate Rewards points means you can think of it as a travel card without an annual fee.

You could use the 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers

If you have credit card debt to pay off, you could transfer your balance to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and not pay any interest for 15 months (followed by a 20.49 percent to 29.24 percent variable APR). Not paying interest on credit card balances means more money goes toward paying off the balance instead of interest. Just note that balance transfers must be made in the first 60 days in order to secure a 3 percent balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is greater). After 60 days, that fee jumps to 5 percent (or $5, whichever is greater).

Further, if you know of an upcoming, large expense that you need to finance, the introductory 0 percent APR for 15 months on purchases could also help. After the intro period, the ongoing variable APR becomes 20.49 percent to 29.24 percent.

When is the Chase Freedom Unlimited not worth it?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t the best option for everyone. Here are a few examples of situations when you should look toward another card:

You’re looking for premium award travel card benefits

The Chase Freedom Unlimited does offer a solid 5 percent cash back on Chase Travel bookings and its rewards can be redeemed for travel, but it lacks some of the perks and benefits you often find on true travel rewards cards. The Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer lounge access, free bags, complimentary hotel nights or other perks you sometimes find with premium credit cards.

If you travel frequently (or want to start traveling more, for that matter) and don’t already have a feature-rich travel rewards credit card, you may want to look into the best travel credit cards on the market. Freedom Unlimited can help you round out your rewards earnings, while a true travel rewards card can offer you the perks and benefits you want when you travel.

You can’t see yourself using the cash back rewards as Ultimate Rewards

It’s called a “cash back card,” but the Freedom Unlimited truly shines as part of an Ultimate Rewards points strategy. If you’re not going to use that program, you may want to look at cards from other issuers that have higher flat-rate cash back earnings, such as 2 percent cash back cards.

Should you get the Chase Freedom Unlimited?

Even as a $0 annual fee card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited needs to make sense for your lifestyle and budget. Before you apply for the card, have the following in mind:

  • The Chase 5/24 rule. The Chase Freedom Unlimited does count toward the Chase 5/24 rule, so if you’re on your travel rewards journey, be sure to get your top, premium cards first.
  • Increased credit. If you’re approved for the card, you’ll have access to more credit. If you know you can’t handle having access to more credit without getting into debt, consider taking a break to get your finances in line before applying. On the flip side, assuming you use your new credit card responsibly by paying off the balance each month, having access to more credit can boost your credit score by decreasing your credit utilization ratio.
  • Ultimate Rewards. You will need to have another premium card from Chase that earns Ultimate Rewards in order to score a higher redemption value for Chase Travel or transfer points to travel partners. The premium card annual fees can be worth it if you maximize the rewards, benefits and perks they offer.

The bottom line

For a no-annual-fee card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a lot of benefits, particularly if you’re a fan of the Ultimate Rewards program.

For elevated cash back on all purchases and some bonus categories, this should be an easy add for you at some point. But if you can’t take advantage of the 1.5 percent unlimited cash back or bonus categories, need a more enticing introductory offer or aren’t interested in using the card to boost your award travel, you’ll want to evaluate other card options.