Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?

With so many great credit card options on the market, it’s easy to get a case of FOMO (or fear of missing out). That small voice in the back of your mind might persist, “Am I getting the most out of my credit card?” or “Do I have the very best credit card when it comes to my financial goals and spending patterns?”

These questions will invariably lead you on a search for a great credit card. Whether you are looking for a rewards credit card with cash back or a travel credit card with an intro APR offer, it’s never a bad idea to explore your options.

Chase is a popular credit card issuer with many feature-rich cards to choose from. Let’s take a look at one of its entry-level cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, so we can answer the question of, “Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?”

What does the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offer?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited’s benefits are pretty solid. It’s a cash back credit card that includes perks like no annual fee, a $200 cash welcome bonus after spending $500 within three months of account opening and an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases for 15 months (14.99 percent to 24.74 percent variable APR after).

Being part of the Chase credit card family carries some weight, too, of course. Many people combine Chase cards to rack up and redeem more rewards for discounted travel.

Quick highlights:

  • Rewards rate: 5 percent cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 5 percent back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022), 5 percent back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 percent back on dining, 3 percent back on drugstore purchases and 1.5 percent back on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 15 months
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 14.99 percent to 23.74 percent (variable)

Earning rewards

Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s rewards structure worth it? Luckily, this card’s rewards offerings have gotten even better over time.

Before its rewards program update in 2020, the Chase Freedom Unlimited was a standard flat-rate cash back card, earning 1.5 percent back on all purchases. With new, higher-earning bonus categories, the potential to earn more rewards has increased significantly since then.

Even if you are not very conscientious about tracking your spending according to the Freedom Unlimited bonus categories, you can still get a respectable cash back rate on all purchases made with the card. Of course, if you have time to monitor and adjust your spending habits based on these categories, you’ll get even more out of it.

Redeeming rewards

Redeeming rewards with the Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t difficult, but it’s important to understand what each redemption option can get you in terms of monetary value:

  • Cash back in the form of a statement credit (worth 1 cent)
  • Cash back in the form of a direct deposit (worth 1 cent)
  • Travel (worth 1 cent)
  • Gift cards (worth 1 cent)
  • Apple purchases (worth 1 cent)
  • Shop with Points on Amazon.com (worth 0.8 cents)
  • Charitable contributions (worth 1.25 cents)

Another common move is to combine points with one of Chase’s other premium cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. This provides you with added flexibility and the ability to move your rewards to one of Chase’s transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio.

Also, note that until Dec. 21, 2021, you can use the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s Pay Yourself Back feature to cover charitable donations to 12 select organizations at a 1.25 cents-per-point rate.

Benefits

The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a number of perks that you don’t normally see with no-annual-fee credit cards. For starters, this card comes with a complimentary DashPass subscription for three months. After that, the subscription automatically resumes at a reduced rate (50 perfect off the monthly rate) for the next nine months. With this pass, you’ll get unlimited food delivery with no delivery fee on orders over $12.

There’s also purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and trip cancellation and interruption protection that reimburses up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip.

Pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited with other Chase cards

Perhaps one of the best things you can do with this card is pair it with another Chase card or even use it within the Chase trifecta. In either case, the goal is to combine rewards to maximize both the way you earn and how you redeem.

For instance, if you decide to pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll have the option of transferring your rewards to Chase airline and hotel partners. Some of these partners include Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards. Plus, you’ve got the added benefit of combining rewards from both cards and redeeming them for 50 percent more value when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Suppose you want to go the trifecta route. In this case, you could throw in the Ink Business Preferred, a business credit card that offers generous rewards for travel, shipping, internet, cable and phone services and select advertising purchases. From here, you’d pool rewards earned from all three cards to your Chase Ink or Sapphire Reserve to use with Chase travel partners.

If you aren’t interested in a business card, you could add another Chase Freedom card to your wallet (for example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠) to complete your trifecta. A key difference between the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex is that the Freedom Unlimited earns .5 percent more cash back on non-category spending.

Using multiple Chase cards also works to enhance rewards earned with the Pay Yourself Back tool. For instance, let’s assume you have a Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card in addition to a Chase Freedom credit card. From there, you could transfer points to either of your Sapphire cards and use the Pay Yourself Back tool for a boosted rewards value on certain redemptions.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, only you can decide whether the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a good fit for your lifestyle. Overall, if you’re looking for cash back rewards without a pricey annual fee, this card will likely serve you well.