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Our quick take: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be an excellent addition to your wallet if you want a simple cash back card with no annual fee that earns generous rewards on everyday spending.
- No annual fee.
- Earns 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Earns 3% cash back at restautants and drugstores.
- Earns 1.5% cash back everywhere else.
- Ability to convert cash back rewards to points if you have another card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (then 19.49% to 28.24% variable).
- Provides trip cancellation and interruption coverage and a rental car damage waiver when you charge travel expenses to the card.
- Approval is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.
- Rental car damage waiver is secondary to your car insurance or other policy.
- 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases originating abroad.
Current sign-up bonus: Earn $200 after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening.
Best for: People who want elevated rewards in common spending categories and the ability to convert cash back to valuable points.
Digging into the Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a popular cash back card offering many benefits and rewards. It has no annual fee and earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, making it ideal for those who want to earn elevated base rewards on all spending. The card also offers additional bonuses, like 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores.
Typical for a cash back card, Freedom Unlimited offers 0% introductory APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. This makes it a great choice for those wanting to consolidate credit card debt and have more time to pay it off. Your APR will increase to a variable APR between 19.49% and 28.24%.
One of the best features of the Chase Freedom Unlimited is its ability to be combined with other cards from the Ultimate Rewards program, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® cards. This allows cardholders to convert their cash back to points and redeem them for even more valuable rewards, such as first-class flights or hotel stays.
Overall, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is an excellent choice for those looking for an easy way to earn flexible rewards. It also pairs great with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Sapphire Reserve, helping you earn more rewards and convert them to valuable points.
Advantages of the Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a generous rewards program with no annual fee, making it an attractive option for many consumers. You can earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limit on how much you can earn.
Another advantage of the Chase Freedom Unlimited is its flexibility in redeeming rewards. You can redeem your rewards for statement credits, travel purchases, gift cards and more. Additionally, your points never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited also offers an introductory 0% APR period for 15 months on both balance transfers and purchases made within the first 60 days of opening your account. This can be a great way to save money if you need to make a large purchase or want to pay down existing debt without incurring interest charges during this period.
Disadvantages of the Chase Freedom Unlimited
For all its positive attributes, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has some drawbacks worth noting.
First, the card’s rewards structure is less generous than other cash back cards. The card offers a baseline 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which is lower than the 2% cash back offered by the Citi® Double Cash Card. This means you will not be able to maximize your rewards with this card as much as with other cards.
Second, the sign-up bonus for the Chase Freedom Unlimited is relatively low compared to other rewards cards. The sign-up bonus is only $200 after spending $500 within three months of opening an account. Cardholders also get 5% cash back on grocery spending during the first year, but that’s limited to the first $12,000 you spend in this category.
Meanwhile, you could get a card like the Sapphire Preferred and convert its 60,000-point welcome bonus to $600 cash back. Granted, the Sapphire has a $95 annual fee, but the welcome bonus would still make up for that. Since the Freedom Unlimited is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, you should consider whether the card’s perks and welcome bonus are worthwhile.
Lastly, the card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases originating abroad. That’s not ideal on international travel if you want to use the Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash back base rate to earn rewards. Travel expenses add up substantially and you should be able to use your card to earn rewards without a penalty.
Stacking up the Chase Freedom Unlimited to our benchmark card
CNN Underscored has chosen the Citi Double Cash Card as our “benchmark” credit card. That doesn’t mean it’s the best credit card on the market — rather, it means we use it as a basic standard to compare other credit cards and see where they score better and worse.
Here’s how the Chase Freedom Unlimited scores against our benchmark. The features of each card in the below chart are colored in green, red or white. Green indicates a card feature that is better than our benchmark. Red indicates the feature is worse than our benchmark, and white indicates the feature is either equivalent or cannot be directly compared to our benchmark.
When reviewing other credit cards, we use this format and these criteria to compare them with our benchmark. You can read our credit card methodology for more details on what we take into account when it comes to perks, protections and redemption value.
Other credit cards similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited
If the Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t a good fit for you, there are other options that you might want to consider. For example, the Citi Double Cash we mentioned earlier earns 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you spend and 1% when you pay your bill. This could provide a better return than the Freedom Unlimited if you don’t dine out or spend at drugstores, where the Freedom Unlimited earns 3% cash back.
Alternatively, those with who spend a lot on gas, groceries or online shopping may consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. This card earns 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and 1% cash back everywhere else.
The card currently offers new cardholders $200 back after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months of account membership. Plus, it has 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months from the date of account opening. It then goes to a variable APR between 18.99% and 29.99%. Like the Freedom Unlimited, the Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee (see rates and fees).
Further, the Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card is similar to the Freedom Unlimited in both name and welcome bonus. The card has no annual fee and offers a $200 welcome bonus after $500 spent in the first three months of account opening.
Beyond this bonus, the Freedom Flex earns 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% on rotating categories (on the first $1,500 spent each quarter). The card also offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of account opening (then 19.49% to 28.24% variable).
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which credit card is best for you?
Should you get the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
Whether or not you should get the Chase Freedom Unlimited card depends on your individual needs and financial situation. It’s a great card for maximizing everyday spending and provides a generous 0% APR offer. If you can pair it with a card that offers more generous category bonuses and earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can maximize your rewards further. This makes the Freedom Unlimited a great card to pair with the Sapphire Preferred.
However, the Freedom Unlimited might not be the best option for someone looking for travel-related benefits like zero foreign transaction fees. Ultimately, it’s important to consider your needs and compare different cards before deciding which one is right for you.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card.
Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best credit cards currently available.
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