The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the top cash back cards on the market today and for a good reason. It started out as a flat-rate card offering 1.5 percent cash back on everything you buy, but, over time, more categories were included so that you can always earn up to 5 percent cash back on certain categories of purchases.
You can get a lot more out of this card than just the cash back, however. To really maximize your value, read on for a guide to all the Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited at a glance
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card comes with no annual fee, which makes it a great choice for people looking to earn rewards on a budget. It’s also geared toward people who have good to excellent credit (670 to 850).
It’s also an especially good choice for people looking to finance a large purchase interest-free. This card comes with a 15-month 0 percent APR period (14.99 percent to 23.74 percent variable APR after that). It’s important to note that this only applies to new purchases, not balance transfers.
Although this is a cash back rewards card, it’s popular with travelers for a few reasons. One of those reasons is that you can earn 5 percent cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which is the highest amount of cash back you can earn with this card. While it’s fine to book your travel with this card, we’d recommend leaving it at home if you plan on traveling abroad because you will have to pay a 3 percent foreign transaction fee for out-of-country purchases.
Sign-up bonus and rewards rates
You can earn a generous sign-up bonus of $200 cash back if you spend at least $500 on the card within the first three months of getting it. For a rewards card with no annual fee, that’s a decent sign-up bonus.
As mentioned at the beginning, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card used to offer a flat rate of 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. Since its launch in 2016, however, Chase has expanded that to a lot more: 5 percent cash back on travel that you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3 percent cash back on restaurant and drugstore purchases.
One of the tricky things about this card, however, is how you redeem your rewards. It’s advertised as a cash back card, and, indeed, you can use it for that. But when you log in to your account, you won’t see “$200 available for redemption,” for example, if you earn the sign-up bonus. Instead, you’ll see something like “20,000 Ultimate Rewards points” with a button that says “Redeem.”
You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points in a 1:1 ratio for cash. In other words, 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $200 in cash (20,000 points x $0.01 per point = $200). But you can also redeem your rewards toward travel or gift cards at a 1:1 ratio too.
The market is full of luxury rewards cards for travel nuts. And while this card isn’t quite geared toward those people, there’s still plenty to like for people who take occasional trips.
If you’re a cash back aficionado, you’ll appreciate the 5 percent cash back offered on Lyft rides through March 2022.
If you’re renting a car, you’ll get insurance against theft or collision damage for it if you pay with your card. This is only secondary coverage to your own car insurance, so if you need it, you’ll need to file a claim with your own car insurance first. If you don’t have car insurance, or if you’re renting a car out of the country, it’s considered primary insurance.
Another nice perk is the trip cancellation and interruption insurance. With this benefit, if your trip is canceled or cut short because you got sick or got caught in a snowstorm, for example, you can be reimbursed for up to $1,500 per person (max of four people) against fares and tickets that you’ve already paid.
Ever run into a problem while you’re traveling or commuting? Chase also offers a roadside dispatch hotline with this card that, while not free, can at least get you the help you need. You’ll also have access to a hotline for emergency assistance, which can help you if you run into snags on your travels in-country or abroad.
Purchase protection and warranties
It’s really frustrating to have an expensive purchase break or get stolen not too long after you bought it. One of the things in the Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits guide is “purchase protection” and “extended warranty protection,” both of which can help you here.
If your purchase is stolen or damaged within 120 days after you buy it, you can be reimbursed for up to $500 through Chase’s purchase protection program.
If your purchase had a warranty with it, you might be eligible for an extended warranty through Chase. This one’s a little tricky, though, because it only applies to original warranties of three years or less. But if your item is eligible, Chase will give you an additional year of warranty on that item, for up to $10,000 per claim.
For example, if you used your card to buy a $300 Fitbit that originally came with a one-year warranty and it dies after 18 months, you may be able to get reimbursed through Chase’s extended warranty program.
How to maximize your Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits
We highly recommend reading your Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits guide, which you’ll get in the mail after you’re approved for the card. This will tell you the ins and outs of all the perks you’re eligible for, which sometimes change over time.
One of the best ways to boost your rewards is to pair this card with another one in the Chase Ultimate Rewards suite of products. You can transfer your points back and forth between Chase cards. The big benefit of this is that your points are worth 25 percent more when you transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or a whopping 50 percent more when you transfer them to a Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
These cards come with a higher annual fee, though, so you’ll need to decide if that’s worth the increased redemption value for you.
The bottom line
While it’s a solid option for cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card travel benefits are enough to vault this choice up to the top of the list for occasional travelers too. If you’re looking to finance a large purchase that you can pay off within 15 months at zero interest, even better. Either way, as long as you pay your bills responsibly, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card can help you reach your financial goals.