There’s one obvious reason to go for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, and it comes in a pair of two.
This card offers double cash back for the first 15 months on all purchases. That’s 3% on restaurants, groceries, gas, shopping, and more up to $20,000.
That’s basically a $600 welcome bonus, folks. But you have to read in between the lines.
Quick Facts about Chase Freedom Unlimited®:
- Annual Fee: $0
- Introductory Offer: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for the first 15 months, plus 3% cash back on the first $20,000 spent!
- Rewards: 1.5% cash back after the promotional period
- Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
Why You Would Love It
It’d be easy to overlook the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card from a perceived lack of a cash bonus, but if you know you’re running a zero-sum budget and paying off your balance every month, it won’t take you long to spend $20,000 on this card and pad your bank account in just a few short months.
Once the introductory period is over, you’ll still enjoy 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limit or expiration date.
How do you want your cash? You can choose!
Get cash back as a credit on your statement, or even as a direct deposit. You can also redeem your points at 1 cent per point for gift cards and travel booked through the Chase bonus mall.
Or, you could use your points for Amazon purchases at a slightly lower rate of .8 cents per point. If you’re someone who likes variety from your points, you’ll love the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.
Why You Would Pass
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card would not be your go-to travel card, and here’s why:
There is a 3% foreign transaction fee, which we can’t even lie about, we’re bummed. But when paired with another card more well-suited for international adventures, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card offers just that – freedom.
And well, sometimes freedom must be earned. This card requires a good or excellent credit score. You might have to hold off on this card if you don’t have great credit.
If you’re paying off other debt, consider another credit card with a longer 0% promotional period and take advantage of lower interest rates.
This could include the Citi Double Cash card which offers 0% APR for 18 months.
Finally, while the unlimited points on every purchase is a beautiful thing, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card might not be right for you if you prefer specificity with your rewards points.
What do we mean? If you know that every month you’re banking on restaurants or gasoline points, you might be able to get a card with higher cash back for one or two categories alone.
Same for rotating reward categories; maybe you like the variety that a card with rotating, quarterly reward categories provides you.
Just do some research and you can find the best type of credit card to suit your needs.
Pros of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
No Redemption Minimum
Many of this card’s competitors have a minimum redemption, meaning you have to amass a certain amount before you can take advantage of your credit card rewards.
Usually, this amount is $25, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card lets you utilize your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points® with disbursements of any amount, at any time.
Why is this important? Because of flexibility!
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that changes happen all the time in life. Right now, you might prefer to save your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points®, but one day you might wonder how to redeem your credit card points faster.
With this card, you have the power to choose cash back transfers that work for you.
No Annual Fees
There are a number of great credit cards out there, and many of them have annual fees which are worth paying for the rewards you get in return. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, you don’t have to worry about crunching the numbers here. This card boasts no annual fees – period.
When does it make sense to pay an annual fee? An annual credit card fee is only worth it if it comes with other, more important, perks like a 0% interest fee that will save you more money than the fees cost you.
Or, if canceling your card will harm your credit, holding onto cards with fees makes sense.
Good thing the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card takes annual fees entirely out of the equation. All you have to do is focus on making the most out of your points.
Flat Rate Rewards = Flexible Spending
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card falls into the category of a “flat-rate” reward card because you will not need to enroll in quarterly rewards incentives to benefit from unlimited 3% cash back.
This is great news for people with variable spending habits who prefer freedom over sticking to a rewards schedule.
Reward Points vs. Cash Back
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card technically awards your cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points.
But these points can be redeemed in a number of ways – including cold, hard cash. We love the versatility of this approach.
Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards® lets you choose – do you prefer to spend points directly on hotels, airfare, gift cards, and other goods and services? Or do you like your money in the form of good, old-fashioned dollars?
If you end up choosing to redeem your points in the form of hotels, airfare, and other shopping, here’s the breakdown:
Redeem at the rate of 1 cent per point for gift cards and travel booked through Chase, or also use points for Amazon purchases at a slightly lower rate of .8 cents per point.
This is what freedom looks like.
Cons of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Foreign Transaction Fees
3% is about on-par with the average foreign transaction fee, so we can’t complain too much.
But if you plan to use your credit card to travel, keep in mind that a 3% fee applies to all of your purchases! This would entirely negate the reward points in the first 15 months if you were to spend your first $20,000 abroad. Something to keep in mind.
That said, you can use your Chase Freedom Unlimited® card for purchases at home, while finding an excellent card like the Capital One Quicksilver card, which hits you with zero foreign transaction fees, to be your travel card.
Our Consensus: Why tack on an extra 3% cost to your travel costs? There are plenty of ways to utilize the robust rewards program of this card while finding other ways to meet your travel needs.
No Welcome Bonus
With no cash sign up bonus, you can avoid the mental gymnastics of having to meet minimum spending thresholds in order to earn your rewards.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card makes it simple by giving you double cash back on every purchase up to $20,000 in the first 15 months.
This is a generous potential earning of $600 – sounds like a bonus to us!
Take Advantage of The Chase Freedom Unlimited® Intro APR for Balance Transfers
For starters, know your credit score to understand how much credit you will qualify for. If the balance on your existing credit card is higher than what you’ll qualify for when you apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, then it will probably not be worth your time.
When you’re ready to transfer, calculate what 3% of your balance will be. This is a one-time fee you will pay Chase for the service of transferring your debt and the 0% interest you’ll soon take advantage of.
But there’s a catch – If the 3% fee is higher than what you WOULD pay on interest for 15 months, then it’s not worth it.
But usually, unless your balance is a really great personal loan with low interest, most debt has a higher APR than the fee costs you to transfer.
Now that you’ve calculated the difference and how much you will save over the next 15 months, read the fine print and apply for the wire transfer. You can do this by logging into your Chase Freedom Account and filling out an online form.
Once you are approved, you’ll get a notice as to how long your wire transfer will take. Be sure to check the date the transfer takes place, as well as what remaining interest will need to be paid after it’s completed.
This all comes down to the timing of when your billing cycle ends and whether the balance is removed before your statement is generated.
It’s worth considering if the balance transfer will eat up your credit limit, especially for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. Because this card offers double cash back points on spending, it might not be the card for holding a large balance. It’s much better suited for spending – And earning.
Will I Earn Double Points on Balance Transfers?
While you will earn double on all spending in any category, you don’t earn points on balance transfers.
Who Is This Card Best For?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is best for regular credit card spenders, or if you have a big purchase coming up.
We can’t stress enough how great this double cash back intro offer can be!
That’s why this card is for someone who uses credit cards as part of a zero-sum budget and plans to pay the balance in full.
Or – If you have a major purchase coming up, consider putting it on this card to pay off in the first 15 months. Why not earn money on what you know you’re already going to spend?
Remember – you will earn double on all spending in any category. But you won’t earn points on balance transfers.
Is Chase Freedom Unlimited® for You?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is, in many ways, a go-to best friend – that showers you with up-front cash in the first 15 months.
But as a travel card, it might need to sit in the back seat. Of course, you can book airfare and hotels with your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points®, which never expire unless you close your account.
But the 3% foreign transaction fee will negate any double earnings in the first 15 months if you use this card abroad.
One last tip – while you can redeem your points in a number of great ways, be sure to check the redemption rate when shopping in the Chase bonus mall.
Aim to use it when your rate is 1 cent per point, and use an Amazon gift card or simply charge purchases made on Amazon.com where the transaction rate is lower.