2021 Review: Chase Freedom Unlimited – One of the Top Flat-Rate Credit Cards?
Credit Card Insider is an independent, advertising supported website. Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Editor’s Best Card Picks. Credit Card Insider has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace. Content is not provided or commissioned by any credit card issuers. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information, though all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on any ‘Apply Now’ button, the most up-to-date terms and conditions, rates, and fee information will be presented by the issuer. Credit Card Insider has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Credit Card Insider and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. A list of these issuers can be found on our Editorial Guidelines.
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.
Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.
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.
Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card
- 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.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
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:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review): 25% point bonus
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review): 50% point bonus
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (Review): 25% point bonus
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.
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption Insurance: If your trip is cancelled or interrupted for an eligible reason, you can be reimbursed up to $6,000 per trip and $1,500 per person (Visa Signature).
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|0% for 15 months, then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable||14.99% - 23.74% Variable||24.99% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|$0||3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars|
|Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|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|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to 29.99%||See Terms||See Terms|
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.
This will be good for your credit because it helps your credit utilization. And it will be good for your wallet because it prevents interest from accruing on purchases, helping you stay out of credit card debt.
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.
The Bottom Line
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is pretty straightforward and easy to understand.
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 18 to 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
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Here’s all the benefits for you to look over.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited have a foreign transaction fee?
Yes, there’s a fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars for every transaction overseas. Check out the other terms and fees right here.
Need a card for traveling abroad? See our picks for the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
Alternatives to the Chase Freedom Unlimited
Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.
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.
Do you have a correction, tip, or suggestion for a new post? Contact us here.
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts are accurate and/or questions are answered.