Credit Card Credit Card Reviews

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Review

overall rating
4.4

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card provides a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase along with, as its name suggests, no limits on the rewards you can collect. It also offers an easily earned cash-back bonus and a decent introductory 0% APR promotion. If you're looking for a card with simple rewards and no annual fee, you can get a lot out of this one.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

overall rating
4.7
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
On Chase's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

$200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 25.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 15 Months
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Full Review of Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

Pros
  • Flat rewards at a decent rate

  • Two decent introductory offers

  • Flexible redemption options

Cons
  • No opportunity to earn bonus rewards

  • Other cards offer higher flat rewards rates

Pros Explained

  • Flat Rewards at a Decent Rate: The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a single rate, of 1.5% cash back, that’s above the typical 1% regular rate of most cards that offer variable rewards, depending on what (and occasionally) where you buy. Some cash-back credit cards have a tiered rewards system that provides relatively high rates on select spending categories, and a lower rate than this card for all other transactions. For instance, the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s sister card, the Chase Freedom, offers 5% cash back on select categories that rotate every three months and only 1% on all other transactions. But those high rewards require registration, and might not compensate for a higher base rate over the long run. 
  • Two Decent Introductory Offers: This card's cash bonus offer, while relatively small, is easy to earn. You'll earn $200 cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months, which essentially represents a remarkable 40% return on your spend. On top of that, you’ll get an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, a respectable length for such offers. There is, however, a fee for balance transfers, but the interest savings over 15 months of 0% APR help justify it for a fairly large sum. The 3% transfer fee only applies to balance transfers made during the first 45 days of account opening and reverts to 5% thereafter.
  • Flexible Redemption Options: While the Chase Freedom Unlimited is technically a cash-back credit card, you actually earn rewards in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That slightly complicates tallying the value of your rewards, since you need to multiply the points by a cent apiece to see what they’re worth as a credit to your statement, a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a gift card, or for purchasing items from the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. More complex math is required to calculate their (reduced) value on Amazon.com or to make Apple purchases, where in both cases points are worth 0.8 cents apiece. A plus to earning points is that you can transfer them, on a 1:1 basis, to potentially earn more than you would on cash rewards. Transfer options include other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards that earn points. This allows you to earn points with the Chase Freedom at high rotating rates, and then transfer them to another Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points and offers better travel redemption options.

Cons Explained

  • No Opportunity to Earn Bonus Rewards: Getting a flat rewards rate on unlimited spending, as the Chase Freedom Unlimited provides, can make your life simpler; no categories to juggle, no quarterly spending to track. But it doesn’t reward you more richly for purchasing that’s above the norm in certain areas, as do specialized cards that offer higher bonus rewards in select categories. For example, the Amex Blue Cash Everyday offers an 3% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend each year at U.S. supermarkets, and the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card gives 3% cash back on dining and entertainment. 
  • Other Cards Offer Higher Flat Rewards Rates: This card’s 1.5% cash back on every purchase is better than the norm, but not the best such rate out there. As examples, the Citi Double cash card, which also has no annual fee, provides 1% cash back on purchases plus 1% cash back when you pay your balance and the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature offers 2.5%, but comes with a $59 annual fee. You'd need to be patient before those cards would yield better overall gains than the Chase Freedom Unlimited, however. Where most people would earn its $200 bonus almost immediately, neither of these competitors have any introductory offer. That means you’d need to rely on their higher cash back rates to put you into the black with them compared with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. By our calculations, you'd have to charge at least $25,900 to the Alliant Cashback Visa Signature before you’d be ahead compared with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, and that assumes you could spend that much within a year—and so a single $59 annual fee. For the Citi Double Cash, a whopping $40,000 in spending would be required.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Cash Back Strategist Persona
    Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
    Cash Back Strategist
  • Avatar for Minimalist Persona
    Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
    Minimalist
  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for Head of Household Persona
    Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
    Head of Household

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is designed for people who want a relatively simple rewards program that pays solid returns. If you’re looking for a top-of-wallet credit card that won’t require extra legwork to maximize its value, this one should be on your radar.

The card is especially worth considering if you have other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, since you can pool your points from all such cards to squeeze more value out of them.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, for instance, you’ll get 25% more value when you redeem your rewards for travel through Chase. And the Chase Sapphire Reserves gives you 50% more. 

Also, note that the three cards mentioned also allow you to transfer your points to select airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio. Depending on how you redeem them from there, you could potentially get even more value out of your points.

Finally, the card can be worth it for people looking for a relatively long introductory 0% APR promotion and a bonus that won’t break the bank to earn.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Bonus

The card offers $200 cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months with the card. With such a low spending requirement—a minimal $167 per month—it should be easy even for people on a tight budget to reach the needed spending to earn the reward.

Rewards Earning Details

This card’s rewards could hardly be simpler. It earns a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase you charge to it, with no limit to how much you can earn at that rate. 

Rewards Redemption Details

The Chase Freedom gives you five options when it comes to redeeming your hard-earned rewards. The simplest option is to request cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit. With this option, you can redeem anytime and for any amount. 

You can also use your points to buy gift cards or book travel, though the minimum redemption amount can vary. The final two options include purchasing Apple products through Chase Ultimate Rewards or using points to shop on Amazon.com. 

For the most part, you'll get the same value regardless of how you redeem your rewards: each point is worth 1 cent. But with online shopping through Amazon.com, your points are worth just 0.8 cents apiece. And if you transfer points to some other Chase cards—including Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Unlimited—you may get "above par" value from them, at least for certain purchases. 

Transferring Points

Points can also be moved, at a 1:1 ratio, to one of Chase's travel partners if you have another Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards, like Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Unlimited. That can be very advantageous if you're a member of a loyalty program and find a good deal through a travel partner. By leveraging your Ultimate Rewards points to take advantage of limited-time offers through Chase’s travel partners, you might be able to greatly increase the value of a point. 

Here's a list of Chase's partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Flying Blue Air France KLM
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

To give you an idea of the value you can get, used to buy hotel stays World of Hyatt points are worth roughly 2.22 cents on average, and United MileagePlus miles are worth 2.16 cents each exchanged for flights, according to Investopedia's value calculations. Depending on where you transfer and how you redeem your rewards from there, you may be able to get more or less than those averages.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

First, be sure to use your card as much as possible, at least for purchases on which one of the other cards you own do not offer a higher rewards rate. 

To potentially earn more rewards, consider adding to your wallet other cards that offer higher bonus rewards rates for certain purchases than the 1.5% rate of this card. For example, you could pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Freedom, which offers rotating quarterly categories on which you can earn 5% cash back. You could then use the Chase Freedom for its current bonus categories and the Chase Freedom Unlimited for everything else. 

Adding other Chase rewards cards can also help you redeem rewards as points at a better rate than 1:1. Points can be transferred between the card on which they were earned to other Chase cards on which you’ll make more on them. 

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve offer 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents per point, respectively, when you use rewards to book travel through Chase. So the 1.5 points per dollar you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited becomes 25% more valuable when transferred to buy travel through your Chase Sapphire Preferred, meaning you’re technically getting a 1.875% rewards rate. And if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the 50% value boost on travel redemptions gives you an effective rewards rate of 2.25%, which is tough to beat.

Finally, if you like the card, recommend it to your friends and family members. Chase offers $100 cash back every time you refer someone who gets approved for the card. You can earn up to $500 each year this way.

Finally, if you like the card and think it may suit your friends and family members, recommend it to them. For each person you refer and gets approved, you'll receive $100 cash back, up to $500 total each year (The Chase Freedom card also offers a referral bonus of $100 per referral).

Standard Benefits

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Rental car insurance
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance services

Cardholder Experience

Chase ranks fourth in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Customer Satisfaction study behind Capital One, Discover and American Express. That said, its overall rating is only slightly higher than the average among all national credit card issuers.

The bank provides free access to your VantageScore credit score through its Credit Journey program, but you can sign up at no charge for that score even if you don’t have a Chase credit card. Also, keep in mind that many major card issuers provide free access to your FICO credit score, which is more likely to be used by lenders.

Chase offers 24/7 customer service via phone, which is standard for the credit card industry. You can also send a secure message through your online account if the matter isn't urgent. For general account management, you can use the Chase mobile app.

Security Features

Chase allows cardholders to lock and unlock their card through the mobile app, a handy feature that can be helpful if your card is lost or stolen. While other card issuers offer it, it's not a standard option. 

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is also contactless, which means that you can tap your card to a contactless credit card reader instead of swiping or inserting it. This feature provides a secure and faster checkout experience, and it’s not available from all credit card issuers.

Hidden Fees to Watch Out For

For the most part, the fees for the Chase Freedom Unlimited are standard for the industry. One exception is its balance transfer fee, which is 3% provided you initiate the transfer within 60 days of getting the card, but then rises for transfers that are made after that period.

Our Verdict

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a solid choice as a single cash-back credit card that offers above-the-norm rewards of 1.5%. Because it’s technically a points card—in that rewards are actually received in that form, rather than in cash—it also provides more flexibility than a typical cash-back card to maximize earnings. 

You have options to transfer the points to Chase partners, for example, or to another Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning travel credit card on which you might earn a boost in points. As such, it’s worth considering as a companion to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred, all of which offer such bonuses. 

Even for those who have no other Chase cards, and don't necessarily spend a lot, the Chase Freedom Unlimited's easily earned bonus and decent introductory 0% APR promotions alone can make it a fine bet.

Apply Now
For Chase Freedom Unlimited®
on Chase's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
overall rating
4.4
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 25.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.