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If you don’t already have a Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, right now might be the perfect time to consider one. While it’s already a top-notch no-annual-fee credit card with potentially flexible rewards, Chase’s recent changes to the Freedom Unlimited, plus its current sign-up offer, really makes the card a no-brainer.
New Chase Freedom Unlimited card holders can currently earn $200 in bonus cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months after you open the account. That’s a nice chunk of change and an easy spending requirement for a credit card with no annual fee.
But beyond the sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great everyday credit card. It earns 1.5% cash back on everything you buy, with no cap, and the cash back is easy to redeem as a statement credit or as a deposit into your checking or savings account, among other options.
On top of that, a trio of bonus categories were added last year to the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both new and existing Freedom Unlimited card holders now also earn 5% on travel purchases made through Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and 3% at drugstores.
The Freedom Unlimited also earns 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022, and offers a three-month complimentary DoorPass membership, along with 50% off DashPass for the following nine months.
Other benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited include a 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases (14.99%-23.74% variable APR afterward), which could be a good option if you’re currently facing some unexpected expenses and need to temporarily carry some debt. You’ll also get purchase protection and extended warranty protection with the card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card benefits
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great choice for those who want to earn cash back with their credit card but also have the option for greater flexibility when it comes to their credit card rewards. That’s because there’s a way to get even more from the card than just cash back.
If you pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with a premium Ultimate Rewards card — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve — you can convert your cash back from the Freedom Unlimited into Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a ratio of 1 cent for 1 point, and transfer the points to your premium Chase card.
Once you’ve converted your rewards to points, you can redeem them based on the options available on your premium card. That means you can use them at the Chase travel portal — where your points are worth between 1.25 cents apiece with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and 1.5 cents apiece with the Chase Sapphire Reserve — or with Chase’s “Pay Yourself Back” tool, which lets you redeem points for purchases you’ve made in eligible categories, including grocery stores, dining establishments (including delivery and takeout) and home improvement stores.
When you redeem points with the “Pay Yourself Back” tool between now and April 30, you’ll get the same value as you would when redeeming for travel at the Chase travel portal, meaning customers with the Sapphire Reserve card get 1.5 cents per point on these redemptions, while Sapphire Preferred cards get 1.25 cents per point.
That means when you pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the 1.5% cash back you earn on all your purchases with the Freedom Unlimited can turn into 1.875 cents per point in value when redeemed for travel or through the “Pay Yourself Back” tool. And the 5% cash back at grocery stores could be worth as much as 6.25 cents per point when redeemed using those options.
But believe it or not, there’s one more way to get even more value for your Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards. Once you’ve converted your cash back to points with a premium Unlimited Rewards credit card, you can also transfer them to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel loyalty partners, such as Hyatt, Marriott, JetBlue, Southwest and United, at a 1-to-1 ratio.
While transferring points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners requires doing some homework and learning about these programs to really maximize them, the value can far exceed even the increased redemptions of the Chase travel portal and “Pay Yourself Back” tool.
At that rate, the 1.5% cash back you earn on everyday purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited could be equivalent to a return of 3 cents per point. And 5% in cash back on groceries returns a huge 10 cents per point.
Now, you’re undoubtedly not thinking much about travel at the moment, but eventually airlines and hotels will resume a more typical schedule. And if you’re hoping for a great vacation when travel returns, you can hang on to your Freedom Unlimited rewards for now and use them down the line when travel is a more likely option.
One other point to keep in mind is that the Chase Freedom Unlimited is subject to Chase’s “5/24” rule. This is an unpublished Chase application restriction that means that if you’ve gotten five or more personal credit cards across all banks in the last 24 months, your application for a new Chase card will be automatically denied. Most people don’t apply for credit cards that often, so you likely won’t have to worry too much about 5/24, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Comparing the Chase Freedom Unlimited against our benchmark credit card
Up until now, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been a solid though not quite market-leading cash back credit card. Its 1.5% flat cash back rate didn’t quite match up to the competing Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns 2% cash back on everything you buy — 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off.
However, with the addition of these three new bonus categories, the calculation has changed. The Citi Double Cash offers no bonus categories, and the new 3% dining and drugstore bonus categories on the Freedom Unlimited will undoubtedly prove to be popular. Depending on where you spend your money, you may find yourself better off with a Chase Freedom Unlimited versus a Citi Double Cash.
You’ll also want to keep in mind the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus for new applicants — $200 cash back, plus 5% cash back on groceries on up to $12,000 in purchases for the first account year. The Citi Double Cash card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus at all, so regardless of how you redeem your rewards, you’re definitely better off using the Chase Freedom Unlimited card for grocery purchases for the next year.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited also has another leg up on the Citi Double Cash with its purchase protection and 15-month introductory APR offer on purchases. But if you’re looking for a card that offers an opportunity to help you with existing debt, the Citi Double Cash card offers a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (13.99%-23.99% variable APR afterward). Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have a similar benefit.
Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited card right for you?
If you’re looking for a no-annual-fee card that offers not only a solid sign-up offer but potentially flexible rewards, then the answer to the above question is yes! Especially if you’re able to couple it with another Chase Ultimate Rewards card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be the right card for you.
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