Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Review

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"A New Cash-Back Competitor"

This is Chase's all-purpose cash-back card that competes with similar cards from the other big banks. The bonus with this card: you can turn the cash-back into Ultimate Rewards points!

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Card Summary Table

The Ideal Cardholder

You have carefully planned your points strategy and have most of your big spending categories covered. You’re earning 2x or more points in these categories.

Your only problem is that you’re still only earning 1x points for all other purchases. Is there a way to cover this while still earning travel reward points?

Fortunately, with the new release of the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠, you can solve this problem.

Excited Girl on Her Laptop
The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is a great new card to fill in the gaps of your points strategy: earn 1.5% cash-back everywhere.

Sign-Up Bonus and Earning Categories

The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is a brand new card from Chase. You will get a sign-up bonus after you spend the required amount in the allotted time (see above for details).

In addition, Chase offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, evenly across all categories, making it easy to start accumulating no matter your purchase. Like its predecessor, this card has no annual fee.

Using the Cash-Back Earned with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

All your cash-back is deposited onto your card account, and it can be used for statement credit or with other partners from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

While your cash-back will be worth $0.01 per reward point, you can improve that rate if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card credit cards.

Using these other Chase cards, you can transfer your points into your Ultimate Rewards account to either purchase travel at 20% off in the portal, or transfer again at 1:1 to one of the travel partners.

Other Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Benefits

No limits exist for how much cash-back the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ can earn, unlike the $1,500 limits on the Chase Freedom categories.

This card also includes price and purchase protection, as well as auto rental insurance, which are a few very useful perks.

Things to Note About the New Chase Card

One thing you should be aware of is that Chase has unofficially updated their policies to make it unlikely you will be approved for a new credit card if you have applied for more than five in the last two years, regardless of credit card issuer.

Those five cards include not only Chase cards, but all credit cards in general. However, it’s unclear whether this rule only applies to their Ultimate Rewards cards (rather than other co-branded cards).

Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is an Ultimate Rewards card, so you may be denied approval depending on your situation.

One way around this would be to call Chase customer service and ask them to update your current Chase Freedom® into a Chase Freedom Unlimited℠. The downside here would be losing the 5% quarterly cash-back categories.

Bottom Line:  If you have already applied to more than five credit cards in the last two years, you may not be approved for the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠. In this case, you could consider upgrading your existing Chase Freedom®.

Biggest Competitors to the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

Chase released their new Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ soon after some other big cash back cards likely took some market share from their standard Chase Freedom®.

Some of the most popular cards that have released in a similar all-around cash-back fashion are the Citi Double Cash Card and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Other travel rewards cards also give a flat earning rate across all categories, but their rewards are used for travel instead of standard cash-back.

These include the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® and the Discover it Miles Card.

In straight cash-back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Card earns the same as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Discover it Miles Card (1.5%). The Citi Double Cash Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® actually earn a higher 2%.

A few other cash-back cards out there also have specific earnings categories: the Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa CardChase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

For those who spend larger amounts in the specific categories where these cards provide bonuses, any of the above cards could prove valuable.

Bottom Line:  The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ competes with many other cash-back and flat earnings rate cards out there.

The Advantage of the Chase Cards Over Other Competitors

The advantage of the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ over competitors’ cards is that the cash-back can be converted into travel rewards in Chase Ultimate Rewards.

To do this, however, you must also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. Combining all these cards gives you have a formidable points-earning posse!

For instance, you can use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for all travel and dining purchases, the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card or Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card for business expenses and related categories, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ for all other categories.

This gives you a slight edge, because you’ll earn 1.5x points rather than the 1x points you would earn with any other card, including the Chase Freedom®.

If you also add this card to your strategy, you’ll gain 5% cash-back in the quarterly categories.

Final Thoughts on the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ works very similarly to the normal Chase Freedom®. This means you can also use the Ultimate Rewards portal to earn additional points with shopping partners.

Combined with its better-than-average earning rate, this makes a very attractive card for those who just want a cash back card or already utilize Chase travel rewards.

It appears that the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ will be a solid card to work into your travel rewards strategy!

Great Card If

Don't Get If

U.P. Pro Tips

Combine the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ with other Chase cards (see our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Review or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card Review) in order to utilize the cash-back in Ultimate Rewards for travel.

This card is best used for all categories not covered by the other cards. Use it any time you would only get 1x points using the other cards, since you’ll earn 1.5x with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠.

Handing Over Your New Credit Card
The real benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ are unlocked when you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card: you can then use the points to transfer to travel partners.

How To Use the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠: The Upgraded Way

Best Way To Maximize Points

Earning points with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is part of the same strategy as earning Ultimate Rewards points with any Chase card. You’ll want make sure to use this card when the others wouldn’t earn more points.

Of course, if you are using this card on its own, you will simply use it for all transactions in order to earn the most points. Below are some ideas of how to use it when combined with other Chase cards:

  • Department stores during times other than the 5% rotating category of the Chase Freedom®
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Drugstores
  • Sports tickets
  • Haircuts
Getting a Hair Cut
Using your Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ at places where you would only earn 1% on any other card is the best strategy, such as when getting your hair cut.

Best Way To Redeem Points

You can redeem all of the cash-back you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ as statement credit if you wish, which is valued at 100 points per $1.

Using your reward points as cash-back in the Chase rewards portal offers the same or lesser value, and can be used for a variety of merchandise.

However, the most valuable way to redeem these points would be to get a Chase travel rewards card, and then either use the points in the travel portal for 20% off or re-transfer to a travel partner at a 1:1 ratio.

Many options exist for redeeming your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, so using this last strategy will give you lots of ways to earn greater value for your points!

Partners

Chase has a variety of shopping partners through which you can earn bonus cash-back online. Some of them include:

In the portal, you’ll find more that cover a bunch of different shopping categories.

To utilize the travel partners from Chase, you will need to sign up for a Chase travel card. This gives you access to partners like Southwest, United, and Marriott.

Chase even recently added a new partner airline: Air France/KLM.

Card Math

Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ worth getting versus other cash-back cards? Taking a look at the math via some examples will help you choose.

Recall that this card earns a flat 1.5% cash-back for all purchases and has no annual fee. Using that information, we can compare it to some other cards after finding out how much it is worth over a year.

The Value of the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ to the Model Families

With flat-rate cash-back cards, we can easily show the math on how rewards will stack up. Using each model family’s spending, we can quickly show how much cash-back this card can earn.

One caveat: we are assuming that the “other” category is not used, except for making the same “floating cash” assumptions that we used in the Chase Freedom® Review for an easier comparison.

Family Total Spend on Card Total Cash-Back Earned
Kennedys $24,600 $369
Jetsons $39,900 $599
Hartnells $51,100 $767

*Total value of cash-back earned by the fictitious families over the course of a year with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Card.

Comparing the Chase Freedom Cards

Using the totals from the Chase Freedom® review, but adding in the additional 1% cash-back for the rest of the year’s spend (which was omitted from the math before), we can compare the value of both Freedom cards:

Family Chase Freedom Unlimited℠
Chase Freedom® (Classic)
Kennedys $369 $428
Jetsons $599 $639
Hartnells $767 $751

*Comparing the value of both Chase Freedom Cards, assuming that 5% cash-back is maximized per each family’s spending levels

The math assumes that each family maximized what they could earn in all the 5% rotating categories. As you can see, the Chase Freedom® actually wins out at lower spending levels.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ begins to win at higher levels of spending, however, due to the fact that the 5% category maxes out after the first $1,500 spent.

Comparing to Other Cash-Back Cards

Comparing the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ to other similar cash-back cards is simple: it will earn the exact same amount as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Discover it Miles Card because they are all 1.5% earners.

The Citi Double Cash Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® will earn a bit more because they earn 2% on all purchases.

If you are only looking for cash-back and don’t need the travel rewards, one of the 2% cards is probably your best bet, unless the other cards have any special offers.

However, if we consider combining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, then the value of the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ card’s awards go up.

How the Chase Travel Cards Increase the Value of the Freedom Cards

For either Chase Freedom® card, you can increase the value of your cash-back by either using the Chase travel portal or transferring to travel partners.

When using points to book in the travel portal, you will get a 20% discount on travel. You could also say the value of your cash-back is increased by a multiple of 1.25.

We can assume that you will not redeem the points for less than a $0.02 per reward point value when used with travel partners. (Some redemptions can go as high as $0.08 or more!)

With these assumptions, the value of the cash-back increases to the following amounts:

Chase Travel Portal (20% Off Travel) Chase Travel Partners ($0.02/pt)
Family Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Chase Freedom® (Classic) Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Chase Freedom® (Classic)
Kennedys $461 $535 $738 $856
Jetsons $748 $799 $1,197 $1,278
Hartnells $958 $939 $1,533 $1,502

*The value of using cash-back for the travel portal at 20% off vs. through travel partners at $0.02-$0.08 per point

As you can see, the cash-back value skyrockets as you utilize these travel redemption options, which is why we always recommend doing so!

One thing to note is that the $95 annual fee of the Chase travel cards is not taken into account in these tables. At lower levels of spending, this could really intrude on the value.

In fact, if you have the yearly spend of the Kennedys and use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, then you would actually be better off just using the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Card’s cash-back as statement credit by $3.

Bottom Line:  The way you redeem your cash-back determines the final value you can earn. Figure out your goals and you will be able to determine if the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is for you.

Using the Right Credit Card
Depending on how you use and redeem your reward points, you can get anywhere from $400 to over $6,000 in value!

Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Math Conclusion

No matter how you look at it, using the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ will provide you value. The card costs nothing, and acts as a 1.5% off coupon for all purchases.

If traveling is your end game, then you can potentially pay for some great rewards when you combine this with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.

The card is a better earner than the classic Chase Freedom® the higher your spending, since it has no cap on rewards like the Chase Freedom® card’s $1,500 cap on extra cash-back.

The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know

You should also note that the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ has basically the same fringe benefit structure as the Chase Freedom®.

However, remember the new 5/24 rule: Chase likely won’t approve you for more than five Ultimate Rewards cards in a 24 month period, regardless of credit card issuer.

Other Unique Features

Purchase protection – Get $500 in theft or damages per item for up to 120 days after purchase, up to $50,000 per account. Keep all your receipts and purchase information in order to submit a claim.

Price protection – For up to 90 days after a purchase, if you find a better price advertised in the U.S. either in print or online, you can submit a claim and get up to $500 per item or $2,500 per year in reimbursement.

Auto rental collision damage waiver – Get secondary car rental insurance when renting a car in the U.S., and primary insurance when abroad. This covers the value of the car, but you must decline the agency’s waiver.

Photo Credits / Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Girl Celebrating on Laptop: asife/Shutterstock
Girl Handling Credit Card: gpointstudio/Shutterstock
Cutting Hair: coka/Shutterstock
Guy Smiling with Card: gpointstudio/Shutterstock
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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FAQ

What is the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ is a new cash back card offered by Chase that earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You can use the cash-back for statement credit or in Chase Ultimate Rewards.

This card comes at no annual fee.

Is there a sign-up bonus for the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠?
The card typically comes with a sign-up bonus; see the card summary table for details on the current offer.

Is there a limit to the cash-back I can earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠?
No, the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ earns an unlimited 1.5% cash-back.

How do I log in to the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠?
Log in to your card through the Chase account login portal.

What are the benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ comes with unlimited 1.5% cash-back. This can be used directly for cash-back or with the variety of awards offered in Ultimate Rewards.

If you have a Chase travel rewards card, you can transfer your cash-back to one of these cards to be used for the 20% off travel portal or to transfer to travel partners.

Additionally, the card offers purchase and price protection benefits, as well as car rental insurance.

Currently, the card offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.

Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ have a foreign transaction fee?
Yes, the foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars.

Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ have an annual fee?
No, the card has no annual fee ($0).

Does my Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ card’s cash-back expire?
As long as your account stays open and in good standing, your cash-back will not expire.