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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, the card’s new sign-up offer really makes it a no-brainer.
New Chase Freedom Unlimited card holders can currently earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy in the first year after opening the account, up to $20,000 in purchases. That means if you’re able to spend that much, you’d be earning an extra $300 in bonus cash back.
Even better, the additional 1.5% cash back is added not just to the card’s everyday 1.5% cash back earning rate, but even on the card’s bonus categories. So any dining or drugstore purchases you make in the first year effectively earn 4.5% cash back thanks to the bonus offer.
But beyond the sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great everyday credit card. It earns a standard 1.5% cash back on everything you buy, with no cap (which is 3% for the first year with the bonus offer), 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. And again, you’ll get an extra 1.5% cash back on top of those bonuses for the first 12 months after you’ve opened the account.
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 both purchases and balance transfers (15.24% to 23.99% 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.
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.
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. And with the additional 1.5% cash back from the bonus offer, your everyday purchases could be worth as much as 3.75 cents per point when redeemed that way.
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. That’s why frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece.
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. 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.
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
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.
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, which effectively doubles the card’s cash back rate on everyday purchases to 3% for the first 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 the first year you have it.
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 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 (14.24% to 24.24% variable APR afterward), while the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s introductory rate on balance transfers is only for 15 months.
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.