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Chase Freedom Unlimited Card: Requirements, Ideal Credit Score & Approval Tips

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Stephen Au
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Stephen Au

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the top credit cards on the market, especially if you’re looking for a credit card with no annual fee.

It offers a unique set of bonus categories, the ability to earn outsized rewards on miscellaneous purchases, and a series of travel and shopping benefits like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage.

Surprisingly, this credit card isn’t as easy to get approved for as it looks, despite being a no-annual-fee card.

So in this guide, we’ll take a look at the Freedom Unlimited card’s requirements, including the ideal credit score, approval tips, and what to look forward to if you can get your hands on one of these cards.

Freedom Unlimited Card Snapshot

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

This all-purpose cash-back card offers great bonus categories, including bonus points for every purchase you make!
Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
Up to $300 cash back
$0
0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is easily one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market. There aren’t many no-annual-fee credit cards that offer multiple great bonus categories like 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% back on all other purchases.

When paired with other Chase cards in the Ultimate Rewards family, you can transfer that cash back into points if you wish – making it one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet.

Pros

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Earn big on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • Everyday bonus on dining and drugstores
  • Straightforward cash-back on all other purchases
  • Ability to pool points

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Credit Score Factors

FICO Score
Image Credit: Fair Isaac Corporation

The FICO score is the most widespread type of scoring model used for consumer credit. Currently, there are 5 key factors that influence your FICO score.

These are:

  • Payment history (35%)
  • Outstanding debt (30%)
  • Credit history length (15%)
  • Credit mix (10%)
  • Pursuit of new credit (10%)

We’ll overview each of the factors in this section.

To start, payment history is the single factor with the biggest impact. In simplest terms, your payment history is determined based on your reliability in making debt payments on time every month, even if you’re not paying off your bills entirely.

Outstanding debt refers to a number known as your credit utilization ratio. To determine this number, you can add up the total amount of credit available to you. Then, add up the total monthly balances on these cards. Lastly, divide the total balance by the total amount of credit available. If you have $10,000 in available credit and spend $2,000 every month, you have a 20% credit utilization ratio.

Credit history length simply refers to the average length of your credit cards. So if you have 2 credit cards, 1 with 5 years of history and 1 with 20 years of credit history, your average credit history length is 12.5 years.

Credit mix is a term used to describe the variety of different types of credit you have available to you. It’s more advantageous to you and your credit score if you have other credit instruments beyond credit cards, such as auto loans, home loans, student loans, HELOCs, personal loans, and so on.

Lastly, the pursuit of new credit is generally defined as the number of hard inquiries present on your credit report.

Together all of these factors make up your FICO credit score.

How To Check Your Credit Score

Contrary to popular belief, checking your credit score does not hurt your credit.

As we mentioned above, the most accurate credit score (and the credit score that lenders use the most) is your FICO score. There are other scoring models available, such as VantageScore, but these are unreliable and sometimes misleading.

Be sure to seek out your FICO score instead of your VantageScore when evaluating your odds of getting approved for a credit card.

Luckily, it’s easy to check your credit report (and your credit score) for free with all 3 bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

To monitor your credit report and get notified when any major changes are made, you can also register for a free Credit Karma account, though we wouldn’t recommend trusting the scores on Credit Karma since these are based on the VantageScore model.

What Credit Score Is Needed for the Freedom Unlimited Card?

As a rule of thumb, Chase requires you to have good to excellent credit when you apply for the Freedom Unlimited card. This is somewhat unexpected, considering the fact that most people associate no-annual-fee cards as suitable for those with lower-tier credit. However, the Freedom Unlimited card actually offers better rewards as a no-annual-fee card than some cards with an annual fee. Chase wants to reserve these perks exclusively for customers with better credit practices, which is why Chase makes approval a bit tighter here.

You’ll want to have a FICO credit score of at least 670 before applying, but a higher credit score doesn’t guarantee approval while a lower credit score doesn’t guarantee a decline. If you’ve opened 5 or more new credit cards in the past 24 months, Chase will automatically decline you for new credit card applications. This is known as the 5/24 rule. So for example, even if you have an 800+ credit score, you will almost certainly be declined for the Freedom Unlimited card if you’ve opened 6 new credit cards in the past 2 years.

Chase also tends to care a lot more about the number of credit cards you’ve opened in the past few months, as far as approval criteria go. For example, if you’ve already opened 3 new credit cards this year, Chase may choose to decline you for a new card. However, Chase generally isn’t that sensitive to the number of hard inquiries on your credit report.

Another factor that can influence Chase’s decision is the total amount of credit extended to you across all Chase credit cards. If the total amount of credit available on your existing Chase credit cards exceeds 50% of your income, you will probably find yourself having a harder time getting approved for any new credit cards.

Chase also weighs your previous relationship with the issuer heavily. For example, you’re generally more likely to get approved if you already have a couple of Chase credit cards. On the flip side, if you’ve had previous delinquencies, late payments, or charge-offs with Chase, you’re going to have a very difficult time getting approved for new Chase cards.

Chase generally doesn’t weigh your income heavily during the application process.

We recommend you have an established credit history before applying for the Freedom Unlimited card. This includes at least 2 years of consistent, on-time payments on your credit report. If you have a limited credit history, you might find yourself having a difficult time getting approved.

Hot Tip: Another way to tilt the odds in your favor is to apply for a new personal checking account in a Chase branch and check for preapproved offers immediately after opening the bank account with your banker. If you qualify for these offers, you can apply immediately for even higher approval odds.

In general, Chase will only pull 1 credit report when you apply for the Freedom Unlimited card, so be sure that your credit reports aren’t frozen before you apply.

Maximizing Your Success When Applying for the Freedom Unlimited Card

With all of that being said, here are some great tips we recommend implementing if you’re serious about getting the Freedom Unlimited card:

  • Avoid negative activity with your existing Chase cards, like missing payments or maxing out your credit cards. Chase is very unlikely to approve your applications if you’ve demonstrated negative credit practices.
  • Do not apply for multiple Chase cards for at least 2 months before this card application. Chase views the speed at which you apply for new Chase cards negatively.
  • If you were considering opening a Chase personal checking account anyway, open one in-branch first and check for a preapproved offer on the Freedom Unlimited card. By doing so, you may have better approval odds.
  • Watch the number of new accounts you’ve opened in the last 6 months. Chase is sensitive to the number of new accounts you’ve opened, which can adversely affect your approval odds.
  • Even though this is a no-annual-fee card, establish a consistent payment history for at least 2 years before applying for this card.
  • Do not max out your existing Chase cards in the months leading up to this application. Chase is sensitive to using all or most of your available credit.

How To Boost Your Credit Score

Jumping high
Image Credit: Cam Adams via Unsplash

You can follow some tenets to make your credit score jump, sometimes significant amounts with incremental adjustments.

If you’re still new to credit and have limited/no credit history, you’ll first need to apply for a “lower-tier” credit card to build your credit history before thinking about applying for the Freedom Unlimited card.

If you have a trusted family member who has strong credit, you can have him/her add you as an authorized user onto one of their credit cards. That way, you can acquire that excellent credit history without having to invest years in building your history independently.

If you check your credit report for the first time and see some accounts or activity that you’re pretty certain aren’t yours, you’ll need to dispute these errors with the credit bureaus. Even if there has been perfect payment history up until that time, there’s no telling what’s going to happen in the future, assuming it was a fraudster who opened a credit card in your name.

What Is the Credit Limit for the Freedom Unlimited Card?

The absolute minimum credit limit you’ll be approved for is $500. And most people agree that the highest credit limit you’ll initially get approved for is $30,000.

It’s possible to reallocate credit limits from your existing Chase credit cards and consolidate them into your Freedom Unlimited card, but this may trigger a bit more scrutiny or verification required.

The most common credit limits approved, however, are between $3,000 and $10,000.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there is lots to love about the Freedom Unlimited card. This no-annual-fee card has always been way ahead of its time in terms of rewards, benefits, and features.

We recommend having a FICO score of at least 670 before applying for this card.

If you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months, you will likely face an uphill battle for approval, no matter how good your credit score is.

If you’ve got your eyes set on this Chase card, we recommend not applying for any other Chase cards for the 2 months leading up to this application.

Another insider tip is that if you want to maximize your approval odds, walk into a Chase branch and open a personal checking account first; after opening the checking account, ask the banker to check for a preapproved offer for the Freedom Unlimited card. If there’s an offer, you have much higher approval odds.

Lastly, we recommend not maxing out your credit cards in the months leading up to your credit card application.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the credit limit on the Freedom Unlimited card?

The minimum credit limit is $500, while the maximum credit limit is usually around $30,000. However, the most common range of credit limits is between $3,000 and $10,000.

Is the Freedom Unlimited card hard to get approved?

The Freedom Unlimited card requires good to excellent credit, which is defined as a FICO score of at least 670.

Is Freedom Unlimited card debit or credit?

The Freedom Unlimited card is a credit card. It has a revolving credit limit and the ability to carry a balance.

Does applying for Freedom Unlimited card hurt credit?

In general, when you apply for a credit card, you’ll see a small ding on your credit score. Don’t let that discourage you, though, because you’ll probably see your credit score recover back to where it was a few months after you’re approved and pay off your bills on time!

What do I need to qualify for the Freedom Unlimited?

In general, you need a credit score of at least 670 to get approved for the Freedom Unlimited card. We’ve seen applicants with higher scores get denied and applicants with lower scores get approved, so this is not a rule that’s set in stone.

Why was my application for the Freedom Unlimited card denied?

Your application for the Freedom Unlimited card could have been denied for many reasons. One of them is if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 2 years, Chase will automatically deny you. Another reason could be that you’ve opened too many new accounts recently. It just depends!

Stephen Au's image

About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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