Chase Freedom Unlimited

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

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a simple cash-back rewards card perfect for cardholders just starting out or for those who don’t want the hassle of tracking rotating spending categories.

Similar cards might boast flashier rewards, but the Freedom Unlimited’s no annual fee and 1.5% cash back on all spending makes it a solid choice for a rewards card.

Here are the details

In addition to no annual fee, the Freedom Unlimited offers a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (17.24% – 25.99% variable after). But there are two things that have prevented us from labeling this card the best in its rewards category.

First, this card charges a foreign transaction fee for spending outside of the U.S. If you frequently travel internationally or make online purchases from overseas merchants, make sure you have other cards available that don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Second, the Freedom Unlimited’s extras are of lesser value than what you’ll get from similar cards. The Discover it® Cash Back offers a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, whereas the Freedom Unlimited offers a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Is this card right for you?

If you’re typically a fixed-category spender and already hold a Chase credit card, the Freedom Unlimited can be a great fit. Cardholders who own an additional Chase card can directly transfer rewards as Chase Ultimate Rewards points into any of their Chase rewards card accounts.

If this is your first Chase rewards card, you can pair the Freedom Unlimited with other eligible Chase cards to receive an increased redemption value when redeeming through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

With benefits like car rental insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip cancellation insurance, this card is a win-win for those who travel domestically. But if you frequently travel internationally, be wary of the card’s 3% foreign transaction fee.

Advantages
  • $150 sign-up bonus after qualifying spend
  • Introductory 0% APR for 15 months
  • No annual fee
  • No fee for redeeming points
Disadvantages
  • The balance transfer fee is $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

How much are the rewards worth?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers 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.

After spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening, you’ll receive a sign-up bonus of $150 worth around 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

How this card compares

Citi® Double Cash Card

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

Read the full Citi Double Cash Card review here.

Discover it® Cash Back

With the Discover it® Cash Back, you earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made when you enroll in bonus categories every quarter. The card doesn’t offer a large sign-up bonus, but Discover will pay a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Read the full Discover it Cash Back review here.

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card gives you 3% back during the first year of card ownership (2.5% thereafter). But there’s one catch: You have to be a credit union member to be eligible for the card.

Read the full Alliant Cashback Visa Signature Credit Card review here.

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom card offers no annual fee and rotating bonus categories that give you 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and an unlimited 1% back on everything else. Plus, the card’s affiliation with Visa means it’s more widely accepted compared to similar cash back cards.

Read the full Chase Freedom credit card review here.

How to use this card

Big on travel? When you pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with an eligible Chase card, you can get even more value out of your everyday spending.

For example, if you spend $10,000 on your Chase Freedom Unlimited card and earn back 150 Ultimate Rewards points, you can then transfer the points to a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card where your 150 points increase 25% in value to become worth $187.50 at Chase’s travel portal.

Those same 150 points can be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, increasing 50% in value so that 150 in points is now worth $225 in travel benefit through the Chase portal. The math can be tedious, but for some, the payoff of increased value makes it worth it.

The bottom line

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great choice if you’re looking for a simple, solid cash back card that offers no annual fee and an introductory APR. Pair it with any other Chase Ultimate Rewards card to earn points on purchases made outside of your card’s bonus categories or to transfer rewards into other Chase accounts.

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.