Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

There’s one big reason to apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, and it comes as a pair: 1.5% and 1.5%.

Typically, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on purchases. However, this card offers double cash back for the first 15 months on all purchases. That’s a total of 3% on restaurants, groceries, gas, shopping, and more up to $20,000.

That’s up to a $600 welcome bonus, folks. But you have to read 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%

Is Chase Freedom Unlimited A Good Card?

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

It’d be easy to overlook the Chase Freedom Unlimited card from a perceived lack of a cash sign-up bonus like those advertised on some competing cards.

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 0.8 cents per point. If you’re someone who likes variety from your points, you’ll love the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

How Do I Redeem My Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

Your Chase points can either be redeemed as straight-up cash in the form of account credits or direct deposits, but savvy credit cardholders often pool their points and use them towards purchases through Chase’s online shopping portal.

By simply logging in to your Chase account and clicking on “Redeem Rewards,” you will be transported to a portal that allows you to purchase airfare, hotels, Apple products, and gift cards.

There is even an option to link your Amazon account to your Chase account, letting you shop directly from your credit card window and stretching your points farther. 

What Are The Benefits of 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 Fee

There are several great credit cards out there, and many of them have annual fees that 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.

The good thing is, 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 excellent 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 many ways – one 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. 

Why Chase Freedom Unlimited May Not Be For You

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card would not be your go-to travel card, and here’s why:

Foreign Transaction Fees

There is a 3% foreign transaction fee. We’ve got to be honest, here: we’re bummed about that. However, when paired with another card better-suited for international adventures, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers just that – freedom.

Excellent Credit Score Needed

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.

Paying off Debt

If you’re paying off other debt, consider another credit card with a longer 0% APR promotional period and take advantage of lower interest rates.

This could include the Citi Double Cash card, which offers 0% APR for 18 months.

You Want Specific Rewards Points

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.

The same goes 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.

What Credit Score Is Needed For Chase Freedom Unlimited?

People have the best chance of qualifying for a Chase Freedom Unlimited card when they have a credit score of 690 or above, meaning a good or excellent credit score.

This requirement puts the Chase Freedom Unlimited card at a fairly accessible entry point for those who want to gain access to the Chase family of credit cards. This card is suitable for those who might not yet qualify for the Chase’s best travel rewards credit card, the Sapphire Preferred, or the most premier card of the bunch – the Sapphire Reserve.

Take Advantage of The 0% Intro APR For Balance Transfers

chase freedom unlimited credit card reviewIf you have an existing credit card balance, you’d probably like to transfer it over to take advantage of the 0% intro APR.

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 be eligible 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 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.

David Weliver

David Weliver

David Weliver is the Credit Cards Editor at Millennial Money. He is the Founder of Money Under 30 and is widely regarded as one of the top credit card rewards experts in the world. David has been writing about personal finance and credit cards since 2006 and been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and many others.
David Weliver

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