CNN —  

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.

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, the card’s new sign-up offer really makes it a no-brainer.

First, new Chase Freedom Unlimited card holders can earn $200 in bonus cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months after they open the account. In addition, if you get the card now, you can also earn a whopping 5% cash back on your grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) in the first year you have the card, up to a maximum of $12,000 in spending.

If you’re a family that spends $1,000 a month on groceries, by getting 5% cash back for 12 months, you’re looking at an extra $600 in total cash back, which means this offer could theoretically equate to as much as $800 in overall cash back when you add in the extra $200 bonus.

Click here for the bonus offer on the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card.

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, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a trio of bonus categories, as you’ll earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining and 3% cash back at drugstores, all with no annual cap.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 3% cash back 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.

Start earning bonus rewards on your food delivery orders with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Other benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited include a 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases (14.99% to 23.74% variable APR afterward), which could be a good option if you’re facing some unexpected expenses and need to temporarily carry some debt. You’ll also get purchase protection and extended warranty protection with the card.

Related: Tight on cash? These credit cards charge 0% interest on purchases.

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 and 1.5 cents apiece with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which is best for you?

You can also use Chase’s “Pay Yourself Back” tool, which lets you redeem points for purchases you’ve made in eligible categories. For the two Sapphire cards, right now those categories are grocery stores, dining establishments (including delivery and takeout) and home improvement stores.

And when you redeem points with the “Pay Yourself Back” tool between now and September 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.

See if you qualify for the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card.

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 14 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. So, if you’re hoping to head on a great vacation as travel returns, you’ve got that option with your Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards.

Apply now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card.

If you're planning to use your credit card rewards for travel, hang onto the cash back you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and convert it to points down the line.

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.

Related: The best Chase credit cards to get for cash back and travel rewards.

Comparing the Chase Freedom Unlimited against our benchmark credit card

While the 1.5% flat cash back rate of the the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a very solid though not quite market-leading cash back return, it falls just short of 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.

Related: Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Citi Double Cash card.

However, the Citi Double Cash offers no bonus categories, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited has 3% dining and drugstore bonus categories, plus 5% cash back when booking travel through the Chase travel portal. 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.

Get 5% cash back on your grocery store purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

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% to 23.99% variable APR afterward). Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have a similar benefit.

Related: Here’s how to get rid of your debt with a balance transfer credit card.

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 is definitely worth a look as a great everyday credit card that you can use almost anywhere you go.

Learn more and apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card.

Find out which credit cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.