Updated Apr 12, 2021 | Published Sep 21, 2020 • 12 min read
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The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great rewards card with valuable 3% and 5% bonus categories, along with 1.5% cash back on every other purchase. There’s no annual fee, and cardholders can transfer cash back to other Chase cards to maximize its value.
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Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
We give the Chase Freedom Unlimited®5 out of 5 Stars because it provides a lot of cash back in a variety of bonus categories, and earns an above-average amount on every other purchase compared to other credit cards. It also gets points for the long intro APR and having no annual fee.
Why We Like It
5% cash back on Lyft rides
5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores
1.5% cash back on every other purchase
No annual fee
Transfer cash back to other Chase cards, where it could be more valuable
Why It Could Be Better
The benefits and protections are somewhat basic, unless you get a Visa Signature version of the card
The Freedom Unlimited is a general-use cash back credit card designed for all kinds of spending.
It offers 5% cash back on Lyft rides, 5% on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% at restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% cash back for every other purchase you make. That’s more rewarding than you typically get from a rewards card with no annual fee.
There’s an introductory bonus, too: $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months.
The Freedom Unlimited has a long 0% introductory APR for 15 months for purchases. After that, the regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR applies.
There are also some basic benefits, which will vary based on your card tier. You’ll get a Visa Platinum card and the accompanying benefits if you’re approved with a credit limit under $5,000, or a Visa Signature if your limit is $5,000 or above.
Take it on the road: With the new travel category, as long as you book your trips through Chase Ultimate Rewards you’ll earn 5% cash back. That’s an incredible rate for travel for a card with no annual fee. You’ll get that same rate for Lyft rides.
Dine out at restaurants and shop at drugstores: The newly added bonus categories include 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores (relatively high compared to other cards), adding more value to an already-great offer.
Don’t leave home without it: Use this card for all your non-category spending, because you’ll earn 1.5% back for all of those purchases (most cards only give 1% for non-category purchases).
Transfer your points to another Chase card: Do you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) or Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review)? If so, you can transfer the rewards you earn with the Freedom Unlimited over to your Sapphire account. You might be able to get more value this way, with reward bonuses or further transfers to airline or hotel travel partners.
Keep an eye on one of your credit scores: Check the Chase Credit Journey tool to monitor your VantageScore 3.0, based on your TransUnion credit report. You can also get a survey of the contents of your TransUnion credit report, a very handy feature for anyone interested in improving his or her credit.
5% cash back on:
Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
3% cash back at:
1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
$200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
Chase recently added a few bonus categories to expand on where you’ll earn rewards. You’ll now earn 5% on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% at restaurants and drugstores.
These new categories, on top of the 1.5% base rate, make this a pretty lucrative option — especially if you consider most cards only offer 1% for purchases outside of bonus categories.
You can earn an unlimited amount of cash back, and it will never expire.
The rewards you earn are actually counted as points by Chase, but this is branded as a “cash back” card, and in most cases it’s easiest to just refer to the rewards as cash back.
You’ll have a few different ways to redeem your cash back.
Cash back statement credits: This is the best option, providing the full value for your cash back.
Gift cards: Gift cards will usually provide less than $1 for every $1 in cash back that you redeem.
Ultimate Rewards travel portal: Cash back can be used to pay for travel expenses, but the value you get will vary.
Pay with points: You can use your points to pay for purchases at certain merchants, like Amazon, but you’ll only get 80 cents per $1 redeemed.
Transfer to a different Chase card: Your cash back can be transferred to certain other cards, if they’re part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program
So as you can see, the simplest and easiest way to redeem is for cash back statement credits. These will simply reduce the balance of your account. You can redeem any amount of cash back in this way, at any time.
This is a useful feature compared to many cards, which only let you redeem after you’ve reached a certain amount. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review), for example, requires you to redeem a minimum of $25, though you can select any amount above that.
The other redemption methods will provide a lesser value for your rewards, so you should avoid them. However, it might be a good strategy to transfer your cash back to a different Chase card.
Transferring Rewards to a Different Chase Card
If you have another Chase card in the Ultimate Rewards program, you can transfer the cash back you earn with the Freedom Unlimited over to it. Every cent of cash back will be worth 1 point in the Ultimate Rewards program. This could end up giving you a better rewards value overall.
There are three other Chase cards that you can use to get a better value for your cash back. These cards provide a bonus when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards:
These cards also allow you to transfer points to a number of traveler loyalty programs at a 1:1 rate, including both airline and hotel partners. You can often get a better value by converting to airline miles or hotel points.
So, the basic strategy here is:
Earn cash back with the Freedom Unlimited
Transfer that cash back to one of the three cards above, where it will be counted as Ultimate Rewards points
Redeem your points through Ultimate Rewards to get a point bonus of 25% or 50%, depending on which card you have
Or, transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program where they may be worth more to you
If you put all the rewards you earn through this process, you’ll effectively be getting more than 1.5% cash back for non-category purchases with the Freedom Unlimited. If you end up getting a 25% point bonus you would get a cash back equivalent of 1.875%. And if you get a 50% point bonus, your cash back equivalent would be 2.25%.
At a 50% bonus, you’d be getting cash back equivalents of 7.5% and 4.5% for the 5% and 3% categories.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes at either the basic Visa Platinum level or the upgraded Visa Signature. If you’re approved with a credit limit under $5,000 you’ll get a Visa Platinum. If it’s $5,000 or above, you’ll get a Visa Signature.
Complimentary DoorDash membership: You’ll get three free months of DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. You’ll pay $0 in delivery fees for orders over $12, and get reduced service fees. Once those three months are up, you can reenroll for 50% off (more about how Chase’s DoorDash benefits work here).
Shop through Chase: Cardholders can get more cash back at select retailers with the Shop through Chase marketplace. You’ll find deals that come and go over time, which let you earn a good reward rate outside the bonus categories.
Chase Offers: Browse and activate special offers from a selection of retailers on the Chase app.
Chase Credit Journey: Chase offers the Credit Journey credit monitoring tool, providing a way to keep track of your credit from month to month. This provides your VantageScore 3.0, based on your TransUnion credit report. The Credit Journey service is free and available to anyone, whether you’re a Chase cardholder or not.
Purchase Protection: Your eligible purchases are covered for 120 days against damage and theft, up to $500 per claim.
Extended Warranty Protection: Eligible warranties of three years or less can be extended by an additional year.
Roadside Dispatch: Call 1-800-847-2869 if you have an emergency on the road, and are in need of towing, a locksmith, a tire change, or anything else.
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Call for help if you get in trouble of any kind for legal and medical referrals, among other types of assistance.
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage for theft and collision damage of rental vehicles, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
Returned Payment Fee
Up to $38
A long interest-free period is a great complement for a cash back card like this.
Even if you have a 0% rate you’ll still need to make minimum payments every month. If you don’t you can lose your intro rate. After the 0% period runs out, we recommend paying your statement balance in full each billing period.
There’s no annual fee to pay for this card. That means it can be a completely free way to earn cash back, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of revolving a balance from month to month and accruing interest charges.
You earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides and travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You’ll also earn 3% at restaurants and drugstores, and an above-average 1.5% on every other purchase you make.
Plus, the signup bonus adds extra value without demanding a ton of spending. The 0% intro APR is competitive with other cards, giving you quite a while to pay.
All in all, this can be a very rewarding card, and the lack of an annual fee makes it all the more lucrative.
If you’re looking for a simple option that provides good rewards for your spending, the Freedom Unlimited is not a bad fit at all. But there are other general-use cash back cards as well, and one of them could be a better fit for you. Check out some of those alternative cards below.
How Do I Apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card?
Apply now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited by following the link below. It should only take a few minutes to fill out a secure application, and most applicants will get an instant decision. But it could take longer in some cases. Chase may contact you for more information.
What Credit Scores Do You Need for the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is designed for applicants with good credit scores — that’s at least 670 for FICO and 700 for VantageScore. Your credit scores won’t guarantee approval, though. Credit card issuers look at other factors when considering your creditworthiness, like your income. So you may be approved with lower scores, and you may be denied even with excellent scores.
Qualifications and Requirements
Must be 18to apply
Personal identifying information: Social Security number, email address, phone number
Financial information: Total annual income, source of income, monthly mortgage/rent payment
Some people report being denied for Chase cards for having five or more new credit card accounts in the last 24 months
What are the benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
A free three-month subscription to DoorDash is one of the highlights — your DashPass will give you free delivery and reduced service fees for orders of $12 or more. The Shop through Chase and Chase Offers shopping portals can provide extra rewards or discounts, letting you get more out of the card.
And then there are the shopping and travel protections, like rental car insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, and purchase protection. Hopefully you don’t need them, but they can be handy in a pinch.
It’s got a super-simple rewards program: 2% cash back no matter what you purchase, or where you use it (1% for purchases, 1% for payments; must pay at least the minimum due on time to earn rewards).
If an easy experience is what you want, this could be the card for you. There are no additional bonus categories to be concerned with. You can use it for everything and earn a little more than the 1.5% you would get if you used the Freedom Unlimited for non-category expenses.
There are significantly fewer shopping and travel protections, but you’ll still get to check one of your credit scores, which might prove useful.
That’s about all there is to this card. All you have to do is make purchases and reap in the rewards. There are no additional bonus categories like the Freedom Unlimited offers. But there is a welcome bonus that’s pretty easy to reach.
The Quicksilver doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, so it would be the better choice if you plan on leaving the country.
The benefits you’ll get are pretty standard, with a few shopping and travel protections thrown into the mix. All in all it’s about on par with the Freedom Unlimited, minus those additional bonus categories.
You’ll usually earn 1.5% cash back for every purchase, but for your first year you’ll get 3% thanks to your introductory bonus. There’s also a 10% annual reward bonus; so for the first year you’ll get an equivalent of 3.3% cash back, and then 1.65% after that.
However, there are no other bonus categories, like the 3% and 5% categories the Freedom Unlimited offers. So the earning potential is somewhat stunted with this card.
If you get the Freedom Unlimited at the Visa Signature level it could come with some benefits that the HSBC Cash Rewards won’t have. However, these usually aren’t major decision points when choosing a credit card.
There are a few subtle differences in the terms, like the lack of a foreign transaction fee for the HSBC card, and the introductory interest rate periods may differ.
Free FICO credit score on monthly statement: You can see one of your FICO Score 8 credit scores for free with this card. It’s based on your Equifax credit report.
Mastercard Airport Concierge: Get a 15% discount on airport meet and greet services. Airport concierges are available to escort you through the terminal, in some cases expediting you through security or immigration.
The Discover it® Cash Back (Review) is a different type of card than the others mentioned above. Instead of a single cash back rate for all purchases, the Discover it Cash Back has bonus categories that change throughout the year.
Normally you’ll earn 5% back on purchases in quarterly rotating categories, but Discover has the unique Cashback Match feature. This doubles the rewards you earn in your first year, meaning you’ll actually end up getting 10% back. Other purchases will earn 2% back that first year, which is better than the Freedom Unlimited’s base rate. The rotating categories must be activated, and are good up to $1,500 spent per quarter; after that you’ll earn 1%.
This is a fantastic deal for a credit card, especially for one without an annual fee. But you’ll get better benefits with the Freedom Unlimited, because the Discover it Cash Back doesn’t have much in the way of perks.
A card with cash back categories like this can work well in combination with the Freedom Unlimited. You can use the Discover it Cash Back whenever you’re spending in the active 5% categories. Then use the Freedom Unlimited for any and all expenses not covered by the Discover card’s categories.
5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months (see calendar below), up to $1,500 spent per quarter (then 1%; activation required)
1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
Cashback Match: Get double cash back for the first year, provided at the end of the first year
The 5% cash back calendar for 2021 is:
5% Cash Back Categories
January – March
Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June
Gas Stations, Wholesale Clubs, Select Streaming Services
July – September
October – December
Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com
You’ll need to manually activate the cash back categories every quarter before you can start earning at the 5% rate. Discover can remind you to do so, with emails and text messages. This card takes a bit more work to understand and use than the Freedom Unlimited, but it also provides higher potential rewards in the first year.
Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.
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