is committed to the highest ethical standards and reviews services independently. Learn How We Make Money

Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Review

Dayana Yochim

Written by Dayana Yochim
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Andrea Coombes

March 18, 2024

Why trust us? has no financial relationship with any of the credit card providers whose products we analyze and review. Our opinions are based solely on data and our own extensive independent research — that means unbiased guidance for consumers. Rewards cards in our cashback credit card calculator are listed in descending order according to how much money they pay out annually based on the inputs.

If you've been eyeing Chase’s coveted Sapphire card but can't justify paying an annual fee, Chase Freedom Unlimited is a good gateway card. It comes with travel perks, competitive cash back rates, and the chance to upgrade to one of the bank's rewardier cards.

Mercifully missing from the Chase Freedom Unlimited card are onerous rotating quarterly rewards categories (looking at you, Chase Freedom Flex). Other pluses are the 3% unlimited cash back rates on dining and drugstore purchases, and 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The most impactful difference between Chase's two Freedom-branded cards is the base cash back rate, which applies to all purchases that don't qualify for the bonus rewards tiers. The Freedom Unlimited card pays 1.5% versus Freedom Flex's 1%. That seemingly small difference can make a big difference in your annual rewards earnings. (See just how much in our comparison of Chase Freedom Flex vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited.)

The basics: Earn an unlimited 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 3% on drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases. Welcome offer: Earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Also, 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.

Credit Card Calculator
Monthly Spend
Spend Categories expand_more
Clear All
dining Dining
theater_comedy Entertainment
local_gas_station Gas
shopping_cart Groceries
monetization_on Other
local_pharmacy Pharmacy
card_travel Travel
local_shipping Amazon
storefront Costco
construction Home Improvement
shopping_bag Online Shopping
smart_display Streaming
local_taxi Transit
power Utilities
kitchen Whole Foods
receipt_long Wholesale Clubs

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited Logo
Cashback Per Year
Annual Fee
Welcome Bonus
Want to compare more cards? Use our full calculator.

Chase Freedom Unlimited pros and cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • Unlimited 1.5% to 3% cash back (we like unlimited)
  • 5% unlimited cash back on travel purchased through Chase
  • Offers sign-up bonus and 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Transferable points within Chase ecosystem
  • Multiple reward redemption options
  • No annual fee

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • Only bonus categories are dining and drugstores (and Chase-booked travel)
  • Charges a 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 (aka 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)
Gas 1.50% - - -
Travel 1.50% - - -
Dining 3.00% - - -
Entertainment 1.50% - - -
Pharmacy 3.00% - - -
Groceries 1.50% - - -
Other Purchases 1.50% - - -

Note: The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card also pays 5% if you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. All other travel-related purchases are rewarded at the 1.5% rate.

What we like

Unlimited rewards. No spending caps on any of the rewards categories. That’s what we’re talkin' 'bout.

The 1.5% base cash back rate — versus the 1% similar bonus category cards pay — makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited card a solid choice for consumers who prefer the simplicity of using a single card for all spending.

Packed with tempting new cardmember offers. In addition to an easy-to-earn welcome bonus, there's a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfer.

Offers a high rewards rate for travelers: Earn 5% cashback on travel-related spending booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program (, 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.

Offers an easy and cheap — no annual fee! — entree into the Chase ecosystem and positions you to upgrade to the coveted Chase Sapphire cards.

Multiple reward redemption choices, including the standard statement credit or direct deposit, as well as gift cards, travel redemptions and applying earned cash instantly to purchases on

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 bonus rewards categories. The sole 5% cash back category is travel, and it applies only to travel-related spending booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. (Chase Freedom Flex offers a rotating lineup of 5% cash back categories in addition to the 5% on Chase-booked travel.)

Dining and drugstores are the only 3% bonus categories, which is great if you eat out a lot and buy buckets of antacids (or other pharmacy fare). But the average cardholder may find that the narrow bonus categories limit their overall rewards earnings. Also ...

There are better cards for foodies. The no-annual-feeSavorOne Rewards Card from Capital One pays 3% cash back on dining and grocery store purchases. And you'll earn 4% cash back on those same spending categories with the Capital One Savor Rewards card, although it comes with a $95 annual fee.

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.

Charges 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 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 Ultimate Rewards Program and card pricing and terms.

Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited charge an annual fee?

No, there is no annual fee for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

tips_and_updates Trivia time!

How common are annual fees? Roughly 17% of the consumer cash back cards we review charge an annual fee. They range from $39 to $99, with an average annual fee of $67.

Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited offer a welcome bonus?

Yes, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has a welcome bonus of $200.

tips_and_updates Fun fact

More than half (55%) of the consumer cash back credit cards we track in the database offer a welcome bonus, ranging from $30 up to $300. The average sign-up bonus for new cardholders is $197, 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 $208.80 in cash back per year using the Chase Freedom Unlimited. For comparison, the average annual rewards payout from the cashback credit cards in the 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.

Popular Credit Card Guides

More Credit Card Reviews


The results of the 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.)

About the Editorial Team

Dayana Yochim
Dayana Yochim

Dayana Yochim has been writing (articles, books, podcasts, stirring speeches) about personal finance and investing for more than two decades, focusing on bringing clarity and the occasional comedic aside to what is often a murky, humorless topic. She’s written for NerdWallet, The Motley Fool,, Woman’s Day, Forbes, Newsweek and others, and been a guest expert on "Today," "Good Morning America," CNN, NPR and wherever they’ll hand her a mic.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is Managing Editor for Reink Media Group and the lead editor for content on Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Andrea Coombes
Andrea Coombes

Andrea Coombes has 20+ years of experience helping people reach their financial goals. Her personal finance articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications, and she's shared her expertise on CBS, NPR, "Marketplace," and more. She's been a financial coach and certified consumer credit counselor, and is working on becoming a Certified Financial Planner. She knows that owning pets isn't necessarily the best financial decision; her dog and two cats would argue this point.