Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Review
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Don’t yet qualify for one of Chase’s coveted Sapphire cards? Use this as a gateway card.
Mercifully missing from the Chase Freedom Unlimited card are onerous rotating quarterly rewards categories (looking at you, Freedom Flex). Other pluses: The 3% unlimited cashback on dining and drugstore purchases, and a 1.5% cashback rate vs. 1% on everything else (another Flex diss). You can also increase point value by transferring to a fancier Chase card.
The basics: Earn unlimited 3% cashback on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 3% on drugstore purchases and 1.5% on all other purchases. Earn an unlimited 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. New cardmembers earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
Chase Freedom Unlimited pros and cons
- Unlimited 1.5% to 3% cashback (we like unlimited)
- 5% unlimited cashback on travel purchased through Chase
- $200 signup bonus
- No annual fee
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
- Transferable points within Chase ecosystem
- Only bonus categories are Dining and Drugstores (and Chase-booked travel)
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- 3% balance-transfer fee jumps to 5% after first 60 days
Chase Freedom Unlimited cashback rewards spending categories
The following table shows the cashback rewards rate per $1 spent in the six most common spending categories. The “Bonus Rate” refers to the amount you can earn in excess of the card’s standard rewards rate.
Some cashback cards limit the spending amount eligible for the bonus rate (a.k.a. the “Spend Cap”). Once you hit that cap (e.g. $1,500 spending in a particular category during a defined time period), the rewards rate on future purchases in that category reverts to the lower “Default Rate.”
|Category||Default Rate||Bonus Rate||Bonus Spend Cap||Bonus Spend Period (Months)|
Note: Only travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards earns 5% cash back. All other travel-related purchases are rewarded at the 1.5% rate. We’ve factored the higher rate into the calculator to show your potential earnings.
What we like
This standard cashback card gets a glow-up thanks to the $200 one-time cash bonus at signup (after spending just $500 within the first three months).
Unlimited rewards. No spending caps on any of the rewards categories. That’s what we’re talkin’ ‘bout.
It’s all about travel: Earn 5% cashback on travel-related spending booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program (UltimateRewards.com), which includes airfare, hotel, car rentals, cruises and activities.
A nice extra is Freedom Unlimited’s trip cancellation/interruption insurance up to $1,500 per person ($6,000 per trip) on nonrefundable fares if your trip is canceled or cut short by illness, crap weather or other covered situations.
The 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balances transfers could help justify taking a few getaways right away.
Offers an easy and cheap — no annual fee! — entree into the Chase ecosystem and positions you to upgrade to the coveted Chase Sapphire cards.
Offers the option to transfer points to your other Chase cards (the aforementioned Sapphire ones, perhaps?) to increase their value from 1 to up to 1.5 cents per point.
What we don't like
Limited rewards categories make this a card for a very specific type of spender: A frequent (or fancy) traveler who’ll go through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal to book getaways at the highest 5% cashback rewards rate.
Like so many cards, groceries from Target and Walmart aren’t eligible for any supermarket cashback bonuses. Haters.
The 5% balance transfer fee (or 3% if made within 60 days of account opening) ain’t the best. Weigh it against the 0% intro APR on balance transfers before you start moving money around.
“May charge a 3% foreign transaction fee,” according to the fine print, means does charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. Conclusion: Book overseas flights through Chase to earn the 5% cashback rate; put the card on ice after you land.
The bottom line
Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited the best rewards card for your wallet? The answer depends entirely on your spending patterns. Let the numbers speak for themselves: Use the investor.com Cashback Credit Card Calculator to see which credit card pays back the highest rewards based on how much you spend each month.
Chase Freedom Unlimited fine print
The finer points on Chase Freedom Unlimited’s rewards and card terms.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited charge an annual fee?
No, there is no annual fee for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Roughly 14% of the consumer cashback cards we track in our database charge an annual fee. The average annual fee is $72.60, while the median is $95.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited offer a welcome bonus?
Yes, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a welcome bonus of $200.
Of the more than 60 cashback credit cards in our database, 66% offer a welcome bonus. Currently, the average sign-up bonus on a new cashback card is $210.71, with the median being $200.
How much cashback can I earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited?
The average American that spends $1000 per month will earn $262.56 in cash back per year using the Chase Freedom Unlimited. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the investor.com database is $191.26, and $180 is the median.
These calculations are based on average consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the reward payout rates from the providers we track. Of course, you’re so much more than an average data point (aka “consumer unit,” in BLS parlance). The amount you can earn in cashback rewards using the Chase Freedom Unlimited depends entirely on your unique spending habits.
Find out exactly how much you’ll rake in with the Chase Freedom Unlimited by tailoring the spending inputs in the calculator above.
The results of the investor.com Credit Card Rewards Calculator are based on the monthly spending amounts you enter and the annual dollar value of the rewards each credit card program pays per $1 spent. Credit card companies often express this payout amount as a percentage (e.g., 1.5% of every dollar spent) or on a points basis (e.g. ,1.5 points for every dollar spent). We converted all of them to a dollar amount (“Cash Back Per Year”) to make comparing offers easier.
To calculate the amount of cash back you could earn per year, we factored in:
- Spend category inputs: The default dollar values for each “Spend Category” in the Best Cashback Credit Cards tool — gas, groceries, travel, restaurant, entertainment, pharmacy, other — are based on average American spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also include additional spend categories (such as streaming services, online shopping, utilities, transit, Amazon and more) to help you see which rewards cards are most closely aligned with your actual spending patterns. We encourage you to customize the monthly spend inputs for the most accurate results.
- Tiered rewards rates: If a rewards credit card pays higher cashback rates on certain spending categories (also called “Bonus Rewards”), that difference is reflected in the total “Cash Back Per Year” tally.
- Rewards spending caps: Some cards impose category- or time-based limits (monthly, quarterly, annually) that affect the amount of rewards you can earn. For example, a card may pay 3% cash back on groceries on up to $1,000 of spending each quarter, then revert to the base/default rewards rate until the following quarter. We accounted for bonus spending caps and timeframe in the calculations.
- Default rewards rates: Purchases that exceed a spending cap are usually subject to a lower default rewards rate (e.g., 1% or 1.5%). We mathed that out too.
- Annual fees: If a rewards card charges an annual fee, we deducted that amount from the “Cash Back Per Year” total to provide a true accounting of a card’s annual rewards payout.
What’s not included in the “Cash Back Per Year” total is the cash value of any sign-up/introductory bonus. We highlight any Welcome Bonus separately. While sign-up bonuses can be the most lucrative part of getting a new cashback rewards credit card, not everyone will want or be able to do what it takes to earn the extra cash. (It usually requires spending a certain amount in a specified time period after the card is activated.)
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