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Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Is It A Top Cashback Card Contender?

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Is It A Top Cashback Card Contender?

If paired with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom Unlimited has the potential to be the best flat-rate cash back card.
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
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Editor's Rating

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4.5/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card is a solid rewards card to use for everyday purchases. The card offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no bonus categories to remember. Your rewards never expire and the annual fee is $0. Plus, you can pair the card with other Chase credit cards to unlock even more value from your rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® review: Unlimited 1.5% cash back everywhere you shop

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$0

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Excellent

  • 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 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 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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$150 sign-up bonus offer

When applying for a card with a $0 annual fee, you may think that it won't offer a good sign-up bonus. That's not the case with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. You'll earn $150 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

There are three main restrictions to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card's sign-up bonus. You will not be approved if you currently have a Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. If you've received a sign-up bonus from this card within the past 24 months, your application will be denied. And this card is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, so consumers who have opened more than five credit cards in the past 24 months should not apply.

Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back

Many credit cards have complicated rewards structures or caps on the number of rewards you may earn. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is very simple. You earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You don't have to register for limited-time promotions or check if a store qualifies for bonus cash back.

There is no limit to the amount of cash back you may earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. By comparison, the Chase Freedom® card has a limit on its 5% cash-back bonus categories each quarter you activate. However, you'll only earn bonus rewards on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter.

When using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card while traveling, keep in mind that it charges a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars. For example, a $100 purchase will show up as $103 on your statement.

Cash-back rewards never expire

All the rewards earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card never expire. Compare that to the Citi® Double Cash Card, where your rewards expire after 12 months if you haven't earned cash back from purchases or payments during that time.

As long as your account remains open, you can continue to accrue rewards or redeem them for cash, gift cards, travel or purchases at Amazon.com. If you decide to close your account and have other credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer the points to those accounts to keep them active.

Pair with other Chase cards for even more value

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is advertised as a cash-back credit card. However, when you pair your rewards with certain Chase credit cards, you can unlock even more value.

For example, you can transfer your Chase Freedom Unlimited® points into your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account. If you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal with those points, then each point is worth 1.5 cents. You can also transfer your points to airline and hotel partners. When paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, you're effectively earning 2.25% cash back toward travel on every purchase that you make.

Through the Chase travel portal, you can book flights, hotels, rental cars, attractions and more with your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These flexible points are a great way to purchase travel instead of using cash.

Some customers choose to transfer their Chase Ultimate Rewards points to partner airlines and hotels. All point transfers are on a 1:1 basis, so 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points converts into 1,000 airline miles or hotel points.

There are 10 airline transfer 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

There are three hotel programs from which to choose:

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

When you pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, you get the best of both worlds. You can spend with these cards to maximize their bonus categories, such as travel, dining, and internet and telephone purchases, then make all your other purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.

Introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers

If you need to carry a balance, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (after that, it's a 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR). However, there is a 3% fee (minimum $5) on all balance transfers made within the first 60 days. After that, the balance transfer fee increases to 5% (minimum $5).

It is best to avoid carrying a balance because credit card interest rates can be high. But the introductory 0% APR offer is a great way to save money in the right situation. You can transfer a balance from a high-interest credit card to pay it off before the promotional APR expires. Or, you can make purchases that you need extra time to pay off, such as a home improvement project or college tuition.

ValuePenguin's verdict: Valuable rewards on everyday purchases

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers cash back on all your purchases with no limit on how much you can earn — no matter where you shop. You earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase without having to register for quarterly promotions or remember which store gives extra rewards.

The program is simple and straightforward, yet it offers additional value when paired with other Chase products. Points can be redeemed for cash back, travel, gift cards or Amazon.com purchases. There is a $0 annual fee, and points do not expire as long as your account remains open.

Alternatives to the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card

Although the Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, there are reasons why you should consider a different card. Some competing no-annual-fee credit cards offer higher cash-back rates while others avoid pesky charges, including foreign transaction fees.

The Chase Freedom® card

Chase Freedom®

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$0

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Excellent

  • 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 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 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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The Chase Freedom® card gives cardholders the ability to earn 5% cash back at certain stores each quarter you activate, while giving 1% on all other purchases. Each quarter, you can earn 5% on your first $1,500 in purchases in a new category of merchants. Promotional categories in 2019 included gas stations, drugstores, grocery stores and PayPal purchases, among other things. For people who love to optimize their rewards, this is a great way to build up your cash-back rewards or Ultimate Rewards points balance. When maxing out these quarterly promotions, you can earn $300 in cash back every year.

This card lets you Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. There is also a $0 annual fee. Your rewards do not expire and can be transferred to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • On Citi's Secure Website

$0

15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

Excellent, Good

  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% – 25.49% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
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The Citi® Double Cash Card approaches cash back in a unique way. You earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay. The cash-back rewards can be directly deposited into a Citi or non-Citi account, applied as a statement credit to your credit card or mailed to you as a check.

Rewards from this $0 annual fee card have become more valuable, too. Instead of cashing out your rewards, you can now convert your cash back into Citi ThankYou Points. You receive 100 ThankYou points for every $1 you convert, and the minimum conversion amount is only $1. Once converted, your points can be used to book travel or transfer to any of Citibank's 15 airline partners, which include Air France, JetBlue, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

The Citi® Double Cash Card does not offer a sign-up bonus. However, it does earn 1% for purchases and 1% when you pay, which is more than the Chase Freedom Unlimited®'s 1.5%. It is not subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, but Citibank does have its own 24-month rule, which applies to some of its cards.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website

$0

15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

Excellent, Good

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
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The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is another cash-back credit card that offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase with a $0 annual fee. You can Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening The minimum spend requirement is the same as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. Rewards earned from the card can be redeemed for cash or to cover recent purchases or purchase gift cards.

The good thing is that cardholders can redeem their cash-back rewards anytime — and for any amount. Rewards earned do not expire as long as the account remains open. For people who have reached the Chase 5/24 limit, this credit card is a good alternative. Capital One does not have published rules prohibiting applicants from getting approved if they've signed up for more than five new credit cards in the past two years.

Travelers will like the foreign transaction fee when using this card: None. This benefit makes the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card a better credit card to use than the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card for international transactions.

Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).