Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review: A Value-Packed Cash-Back Credit Card

Elizabeth is a writer specializing in credit cards, student loans, debt repayment, and small business. Her work has also appeared on MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, and Business Insider.

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Cardholders loyal to one issuer can reap generous rewards, which is the case with Chase Freedom Unlimited®. But this cash back credit card is also a good option if you’re new to the Chase brand. Learn more with our in-depth review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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Our Bottom Line

One card to rule them all is the name of the game here. This offer includes unlimited 1.5% cash back and a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus a long 0% intro APR offer.

What we Like:
  • Innovative sign up bonus
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back
  • 0% intro APR offer for 15 months
Key Scores:
5.0 5 Perks
4.0 5 Fees
4.0 5 APR
Perks 5.0/5
Fees 4.0/5
APR 4.0/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.74% - 25.49% Variable
  • Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months
Highlights
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
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What I like

Sign-up bonus -- You'll receive a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Unlimited 1.5% cash back -- 1.5% cash back is just above table stakes for cash-back cards, but the flexibility of Chase’s rewards currency, Ultimate Rewards® points, makes that common cash back rate more enticing.

Ultimate Rewards® points flexibility -- Cash back is earned in the form of Ultimate Rewards® points that can be transferred to other Chase credit cards to increase the yield (more on that below) or redeemed for a handful of other alternatives, such as cash back, gift cards, and for Amazon or Apple purchases.

Note, the array of gift card redemption options should satisfy many consumers’ tastes but only a select few offer conversion better than $0.01 per point. The de facto conversion for the majority of gift cards is on par with cash back at $0.01 per point, which is the minimum value you should redeem for to stretch the value of your points.

$0 annual fee -- With thousands of credit cards available, card issuers must be competitive and one of the best ways to do so is by reducing fees, which Chase smartly did with this offer.

0% intro APR for purchases -- New purchases benefit from a 0% intro APR for 15 months, one of the longer offers out there for cash-back cards.

0% intro APR for balance transfers -- Balance transfers also receive the same 0% intro APR for 15 months for balance transfers.

Shop through Chase® -- You can start your purchase journey through Chase and be rewarded with up to 30% extra cash back. The rundown of partners is vast and covers many popular retailers.

Credit Journey -- Chase cardholders can monitor their credit score for free, which includes a Transunion credit score updated weekly. The service also offers a simulator to estimate how your credit score would change based on several common scenarios.

What could be improved

Balance-transfer fee -- Balance transfers incur a small fee. We’d suggest looking elsewhere for a balance transfer credit card if you’re wanting to avoid the fee.

Suggested Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit score

Chase Freedom Unlimited® is designed for people with good credit and better, with a credit score of at least 670. That’s not to say applicants with lower scores can’t secure approval. In fact, some people have reported approval with a FICO score in the low to mid-600s. Credit scores are heavily weighted in the approval decision, but the reality is other factors also play a role.

What you need to know about Chase’s 5/24 rule

As mentioned, credit scores are only one factor that inform an approval decision. Chase’s 5/24 rule is another important factor. If you have opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months, then you won’t be approved for a Chase credit card. The 5/24 rule is meant to dissuade credit card churners from applying solely to take advantage of a sign-up bonus.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®’s sister card, Chase Freedom®, offers a similar deep bench of perks.

The main difference between the two offers is Chase Freedom®’s bonus rewards rate in rotating categories you activate quarterly.

Otherwise, the cards are close twins and include the same $0 annual fee and 0% intro APR offer. Cardholders who can make the most of the quarterly bonus cash back categories will earn more with Chase Freedom®, so it’s worth crunching your budget numbers to nail down the right option.

As of Nov. 18, 2019
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Freedom®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

Read Full Review
Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

Read Full Review

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: $150 after spending $500 within three months Bonus: $150 after spending $500 within three months
Rewards Program: Unlimited 1.5% cash back Rewards Program: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, 1% on all else
Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months Intro APR: Purchases: 0%, 15 months Balance Transfers: 0%, 15 months
Regular APR: 16.74% - 25.49% Variable Regular APR: 16.74% - 25.49% Variable
Annual Fee: $0 Annual Fee: $0

Highlights:

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open

Highlights:

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
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Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

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The case for carrying a Chase companion card

As mentioned, the Ultimate Rewards® program’s versatility (namely, transferring points between Chase cards) makes Chase a slam dunk for many cardholders, including those who prefer to carry multiple cards to max their earnings. The following two Chase companion cards are commonly carried along with Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn more rewards.

Chase Freedom® as a companion -- Recall, Chase Freedom® earns up to 5% in quarterly rotating categories and 1% on all other purchases whereas Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns 1.5% on all purchases. Especially in the first year, cardholders will amp up the rewards earned when placing bonus category purchases on Chase Freedom® while reserving all other purchases for Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn 3% cash back in the first year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve® as a companion -- If travel rewards are your end goal, then carrying a Chase cash back and Chase travel card can make sense. That’s because rewards earned on Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be easily transferred to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® for 25% or a Chase Sapphire Reserve® for 50% more value (both, when redeemed through Chase’s travel portal). The fully-baked yield on your regular Chase Freedom Unlimited® purchases then increases to 1.875% or 2.25% for base rate 1.5% purchases and a whopping 3.75% or 4.5% for first year 3% purchases.

Points Scenario Bonus Highest Yield (First year purchases)
Redeemed on Chase Freedom Unlimited® 0% 1.5%
Transferred and redeemed on Chase Sapphire Preferred® travel 25% 3.75%
Transferred and redeemed on Chase Sapphire Reserve® travel 50% 4.5%

A word of caution if this strategy is enticing. Be sure you have your budget locked down so that you’re not racking up debt at double-digit interest rates for the sake of earning rewards at far lower rates. This is a money-losing proposition. Carrying multiple credit cards introduces complexity to your budget, so thinking through how to stay on track should be considered before diving in.

As of Nov. 18, 2019
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5 stars
ToolTip Icon for Star Rating. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor.
Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

Read Full Review
Apply Now
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On Chase's Secure Website.

Read Full Review

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal. Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal.
Rewards Program: 2x points on travel and dining, 1x points on all other purchases. 25% more points for travel booked through Chase's portal. Rewards Program: 3x points on travel and dining, 1 point on all other purchases. 50% more points on travel booked through Chase's portal.
Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: 17.74% - 24.74% Variable Regular APR: 18.74% - 25.74% Variable
Annual Fee: $95 Annual Fee: $450

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

Highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
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Apply Now
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How to apply

The online application process mirrors what other card issuers will require for a completed application, including the below.

  • Name and address
  • Employment, income, and housing type (rent vs. own)
  • Phone, email address, and date of birth
  • Social security number

Once this info has been collected Chase will instantly deliver a credit approval decision in the form of an approved or denied application or a request for more information to confirm details provided.

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