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Updated September 20, 2016

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: Is It Good?

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
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With 1.5% cash back and no annual fee, does the Chase Freedom Unlimited live up to the hype? Read this in-depth review to see how this card stacks up.

Overall Score

4.3

Rewards

4.5

Interest Rates

4.0

Fees

4.5

Benefits

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • $150 bonus offer
  • Intro APR
  • Foreign transaction fee

Bottom Line

Great cash back credit card for everyday purchases

Earning cash back is a fantastic way for a credit card company to get your attention, but what other benefits are going to push it to the top of your application pile?

With its juicy cash sign-up bonus, no annual fee, and introductory APR, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card separates itself from the pack by offering a higher-than-average cash back percentage every time you make a purchase.

But it's not right for everyone.

First, let’s take a look at what will spark your interest in the card.

10 REASONS TO GET THE CARD

  1. $150 Bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. You will receive 15,000 in rewards points, which can then be converted into $150 in cash rewards back to you (at a rate of 1 cent per point).

  2. You can get an additional $25 bonus: Have a spouse, loved one, or someone you’re willing to go to the mat for financially? Add an authorized user and pocket another $25 as a thank-you bonus when a purchase is made in the first 3 months.

  3. You’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic (i.e. no having to enroll in bonus categories)! With a flat 1.5% rewards rate, this could work well even as a primary card (just pay off the balance each month).

  4. You don’t have to pay an annual fee: Always a plus.

  5. You can pool your points with Chase Sapphire Preferred: Like to travel, or need to go on business trips? Well, the Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t a travel rewards card per se, but you can get more out of your points if you have a premier Ultimate Rewards-earning card.

    Here’s how it works: Instead of redeeming your points for cash, you can pool your points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred points. Then you can either transfer the points 1:1 to a travel partner program (such as Hyatt Hotels and United Airlines) OR get 20% off travel when you redeem points for airfare, hotels, and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  6. You get a break with an introductory APR: This card offers 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum. This is great if you need to make a large purchase soon or are trying to pay off the balance on another card.

  7. You won’t have to wait for your rewards: You don’t have to wait to hit a required benchmark, such as $25 or $50 in rewards. There’s no minimum amount required; redeem your rewards anytime you want.

  8. Your cash back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open: Your points never expire as long as you keep the account open and it stays in good standing. So don’t worry about losing them if you forget to redeem.

  9. You’re bargain-hunting habit will get rewarded: Chase Unlimited Freedom has a Price Protection feature. If you bought an item in the U.S. and then found a lower advertised price within 90 days, you can be reimbursed the difference for up to $500 per eligible item (the reimbursement maxes out at $2,500 per year).

  10. You only have to carry one card: Even in this day and age, not all cards are accepted everywhere (we’re talking to you, Amex and Discover). But the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers widespread acceptance, which will serve you well if this is the credit card you choose to use. Plus, you get peace of mind, as you’re protected with $0 fraud liability, chip-enabled security, purchase protection, and auto rental collision damage waiver.

REASONS TO CONSIDER OTHER CARDS

  • You’ll pay if you travel overseas: This card will charge a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars is added every time you make a purchase in another country. If you travel frequently, you'd want a card that has no foreign transaction fee.

  • There’s a hefty balance transfer fee: While many credit cards only charge a 3% balance transfer fee, you’ll pay either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater with this card. So if your goal is paying off debt and you have a large balance to transfer, you may want to consider Chase Slate, which has a no balance transfer fee promotion.

  • You could earn more cash back with other cards in certain categories:

    With those cards, you have the potential to earn more than the Chase Freedom Unlimited if your spending falls in line with their bonus categories or if you are willing to think carefully about maximizing your rewards every time you spend.

  • You may be better off with a travel rewards card: If you travel but don't want to play the airline miles and points game, consider the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, which earns 2x miles on every purchase, plus you’ll get another 5% in miles back every time you redeem. But be aware — there’s also an $89 annual fee.

1.5% REWARDS

© Global Panorama (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

All day, all night, all the time. No matter what you purchase, you’ll garner unlimited 1.5% cash back. Unlike many other cards that only offer 1% on everyday purchases, if you do the math, you can see the advantages.

If you spend $1,000 on average per month on your card, you will earn $15 in cashback per month, at the rate of 1.5%. This equals to $180 in a year. Not too bad.

But you can make your rewards go even further, which we’ll explain next.

Best Ways to Use This Card

A flat 1.5% reward rate is decent, but to really get the most out of this card, it’s best to use it in conjunction with another Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Earning travel rewards: The Freedom Unlimited alone will only get you cash back. But you can use the points toward travel (at a higher redemption rate) if you have one of the following two premier Ultimate Rewards-earning cards. You can pool your points with these cards, which will then allow you to transfer the points 1:1 to a travel partner program.

  • For Travelers: Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can earn 5,000 bonus points if you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within the first three months from account opening. This card lets you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. The points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has a $0 foreign transaction fee. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

    For non-travel and non-dining purchases, you can use the Freedom Unlimited to get 1.5% where you would only get 1x with the Sapphire Preferred.

Maximizing cash back: The Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories that change every 3 months, and 1% on everything else. Past categories have included grocery stores, restaurants, and gas. To get the most cash back possible, use the Freedom Unlimited as your primary card and the Freedom card when you’re purchasing something that falls within the 5% bonus categories.

Watch Out: Chase has a 5/24 rule, where if you’ve opened 5 or more credit card accounts in the past 24 months, your application will most likely have a hard time going through (even with a fantastic credit score). So if you’re thinking about opening accounts for any of these pairings, prioritize your Chase applications over cards from other banks.

HOW IT COMPARES

You might want to consider these other popular rewards cards if you’re not sure the Chase Freedom Unlimited card works for your lifestyle:

If you want the potential for more cash back:
Chase Freedom: Same family, separated by a word (“Unlimited”) and reward percentages. The Chase Freedom card offers only 1% back (vs Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5%), but the bigger difference is with the Freedom you get rotating bonus categories that offer 5% back when you make a purchase in that category, with a $1,500 per quarter limit. So if you think earning another 3.5% back on specific quarterly purchases is more beneficial, you might want to opt for the Chase Freedom card instead.

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 15 months
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 15 months
Purchase APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.Introductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic!Cash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Cash Back Bonus Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Categories for 2017:
Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2017): Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls, and Amtrak® purchases)
Q2 (April 1 - June 30, 2017): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases)
Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2017): TBA
Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2017): TBA

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Chase Freedom: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you have a large balance to transfer:
Chase Slate. Another family member, but with balance transfer angle. You won’t earn any cash back or reward points with the Chase Slate (Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Slate). However, it’s main appeal is that there’s no balance transfer fee promotion during first 60 days, which can save you hundreds of dollars if you transfer a high balance.

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Slate

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 15 months
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 15 months
Purchase APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic! 

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Chase Slate: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Slate have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you're a frequent traveler:
Chase Sapphire Preferred. And again, another sibling in the Chase brood, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, singles itself out as being a fantastic card for frequent travelers. You can earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

If you do opt for this travel-rich rewards card, you’ll be able to transfer your rewards points to popular travel partners such as United and Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll pay for the privilege of garnering those benefits as the credit card has an annual fee (Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95).

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Sapphire Preferred

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 monthsN/A
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 monthsN/A
Purchase APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors16.49% to 23.49% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual feeIntroductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 
Points Deal Introductory Bonus Reward Points: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic! 
Travel Travel Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Airline Airline Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Hotel Hotel Rewards: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Points Point Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Restaurant Dining Rewards: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Airline Transfer Partners Airline Transfer Partners: Airline transfer partners include United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you want a travel card with no annual fee:
Discover It Miles: Do you travel? Discover It Miles offers a similar 1.5% rewards rate with no foreign transaction fees. And you wouldn’t need to play the airline transfer game; simply redeem for statement credit on travel-related purchases. But on downside: you'll lose the widespread acceptance of Visa.

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Discover it Miles

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 months0% introductory APR for 14 months
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months10.99% introductory APR for 14 months
Purchase APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors11.49% to 23.49% (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors11.49% to 23.49% (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 
Airline Deal Introductory Bonus Airline Rewards: Discover will match all the miles you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers).
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic! 
Travel Travel Rewards: 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases. Redeem Miles in any amount to credit travel purchases from your statement, or get cash at any time.
Airline Airline Rewards: 1.5x Miles on every dollar you spend on purchases.
Bonus Airline Rewards Bonus Airline Rewards: Discover pays you back for your in-flight Wi-Fi fees-up to $30 a year-with an automatic statement credit.*

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Discover it Miles: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on January 3, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Discover it® Miles have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you want to earn cash back twice:
Citi Double Cash. If you just want cash back and have no interest in travel, you’d be wise to consider it. You’ll get 1% cash back when you buy and another 1% when you pay for those purchases. But know that you won’t get any kudos for opening the card — meaning no sign-up bonus — and there’s a potential end-date to your rewards, which expire in 12 months if there’s no activity on your account. Since there's no sign up bonus, you'll have to spend and make payments on $7,500 on the Citi Double Cash to get $150 in cash back (whereas you get $150 as a bonus for just spending $500 on the Chase Freedom Unlimited within the first 3 months of opening your account).

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Citi Double Cash

 

Interest Rates and Fees

Introductory APR for Purchases0% introductory APR for 15 monthsN/A
Introductory APR for Balance Transfers0% introductory APR for 15 months0%* introductory APR for 18 months*
Purchase APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors14.24% to 24.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Balance Transfers APR15.49% to 24.24% Variable based on your creditworthiness and other factors14.24% to 24.24%* (Variable) based on your creditworthiness and other factors
Annual Fee$0 annual fee$0 annual fee
 

Benefits and Features

Cash Back DealIntroductory Bonus Cash Back: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. 
Cash BackCash Back Rewards: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic!Cash Back Rewards: Earn cash back twice on every purchase: 1% cash back when you buy; plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Pricing information including interest rates, benefits and fees were obtained on January 13, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Citi Double Cash: Pricing information including interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees were obtained on March 21, 2017 from published websites and are believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Citi® Double Cash Card have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

BOTTOM LINE

© Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a very solid, strong cash back card. Whether you’re just making everyday purchases or paying bills, the cash back you’ll accrue, plus the long introductory APR period, is worth it.

And if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, then you must seriously consider getting this card, as the travel perks you’ll acquire by pooling your points from both cards is off the charts. You can then transfer them to airline travel partners, making the Chase Freedom Unlimited card one of the best no annual fee rewards credit cards we've seen.

Cynthia Cohen is a retail analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Cynthia Cohen at cynthia@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.

Disclaimer: This content was first published on May 6, 2016. This content may have been updated on September 20, 2016. Information including APR, terms and benefits may vary, be out of date, or not applicable to you. Information is provided without warranty. Please check Chase website for updated information.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom, Discover it® Cashback Match™, Citi® Double Cash Card, Chase Slate, and Discover it® Miles have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Compare Chase Freedom Unlimited to:

Compare Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95

Compare Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Amex EveryDay
Apply for The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express
At American Express' Secure Site
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • You can use Membership Rewards® points for all or part of your flight, hotel booked and paid in advance, vacation or cruise booking.
  • No annual fee. Plus, 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Introductory Bonus Reward PointsBonus Reward PointsPoint RewardsGrocery Rewards$0 Fraud Liability
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% on Purchases for 12 months
0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months
13.74% - 23.74% Variable
$0

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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