The Chase Freedom Unlimited® was launched in 2016, and nowadays it’s the single credit card that I put the most spending on. The catch is that there’s a learning curve to using this card — for some people this will be a mediocre card, while for other people it will be hugely valuable.
So in this post I wanted to provide a detailed review of the card, so that I can share why I find the card to be so valuable, and how you can maximize value with it.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Card
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of Chase’s two “Freedom” cards, and is an excellent complement to any of Chase’s cards earning Ultimate Rewards points.
The value you get from the card will vary significantly, though, based on what other cards you have. For example, some people might only be earning rewards equivalent to 1.5% back with this card, while others will be earning rewards that they value at 2.5%+, which is among the best rewards rate in the industry.
Sign-Up Bonus Offer
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has an unconventional sign-up bonus. The card offers 3x points on the first $20,000 spent on the card within the first year. In other words, if you spend $20,000 within that timeframe you’d earn 60,000 points.
Obviously that’s a significant spending requirement, but this is also one of the best credit cards to use for everyday spending, so this is the card you want to be using anyway.
On the surface points can be redeemed for one cent each, so that means you’re earning 3% cash back for your first $20,000 of spending.
You can potentially get a lot more value than that, as these points can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points, and I value those at 1.7 cents each. So that’s the equivalent of a ~5.1% return on your first $20,000 spent, which is incredible.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Eligibility
Eligibility for this card is unrelated to eligibility for any other Chase cards, so you could earn the bonus on this card, and the Freedom Card, etc.
Chase 5/24 Rule
Chase has something that’s known as the 5/24 rule. With this, you typically won’t be approved for the card if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months. So if you do apply for this card, make sure you’re under that limit.
See this post to learn how to check your 5/24 status.
No Annual Fee
The Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, which is unbeatable.
1.5% Cash Back On All Purchases
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is marketed as offering unlimited 1.5% cash back. The catch is that this isn’t actually that good, since there are other cards that earn 2% cash back.
But there’s a trick that allows you to convert the 1.5% cash back into 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. Based on my valuation of points, this increases the value of rewards from 1.5% to 2.55%.
3% Foreign Transaction Fees
While this is a fantastic card for purchases within the US, the card does have 3% foreign transaction fees, so I don’t recommend using this card outside the US. If you’re looking for a great card with no foreign transaction fees, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.
Maximizing The Freedom Unlimited
As I’ve explained above, the Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back, which isn’t exceptional. But there is a trick to earning much bigger rewards with this card.
Turning Cash Back Into Ultimate Rewards Points
While the Freedom Unlimited is a cash back card, in reality the card earns points. You earn 1.5x points per dollar spent, and then ordinarily each point can be redeemed for one cent cash back. That’s how they arrive at the valuation of 1.5% cash back with the card.
However, if you have the Freedom Unlimited in conjunction with another card that earns “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, then you can do significantly better. These cards include the following:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review)
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card (review)
If you have the Freedom Unlimited in conjunction with one of those cards, suddenly your points are much more valuable. Transferring points between cards is easy and can be done online. You can learn more about that process in this post.
Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points For 1.25-1.5 Cents Towards Travel
There are a couple of ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points. The first is that you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points towards the cost of a travel purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each towards a travel purchase
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase
That increases the value of your points by 25-50% right there.
Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points To Airline Partners
Personally the way I like to redeem Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to airline and hotel partners, which include the following:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||IHG Rewards Club|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Marriott Bonvoy|
|British Airways Executive Club||World Of Hyatt|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
This can be the best way to redeem points towards premium travel experiences. If you want to redeem for first or business class travel or stay at luxury hotels, this option is for you.
Freedom Unlimited Card Benefits
For a no annual fee card, the Freedom Unlimited offers a solid sign-up bonus and generous rewards structure, though there are also some perks that are potentially quite valuable.
Extended Warranty Protection
You can extend the time period of U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.
You’re covered for new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft of up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
With Chase Credit Journey you get unlimited access to your credit score and more. This is free for Chase customers.
Is The Freedom Unlimited Right For You?
The Freedom Unlimited is the single card that I spend the most money on. However, the key is to have the card in conjunction with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, so that you’re really maximizing your rewards.
I wanted to look a bit more closely at the best strategy to take with the Freedom Unlimited.
Complement It With The Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve
I can’t emphasize enough that having the Freedom Unlimited in conjunction with either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve is the best card combo you can have. That’s because not only can you combine the benefits of the two cards, but this greatly increases the value you get from your Freedom Unlimited points.
For example, if you have the Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited:
- You’re paying a single $450 annual fee on the Sapphire Reserve
- You’re earning 3x points on dining and travel and 1.5x points on all other purchases
- You’re getting a $300 annual travel credit
- You’re getting a Priority Pass membership, giving you lounge access
- You get travel protection, no foreign transaction fees, car rental coverage, and more
- You get a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit
Quick Comparison: Freedom Vs. Freedom Unlimited
- The Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5x points on all purchases, so is great for everyday spending
- The Freedom offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter, so it’s great if you spend money in those categories, but otherwise isn’t that useful
Personally I think both cards are worth having — I have both, though if I could have just one, I would get the Freedom Unlimited.
Quick Comparison: Freedom Unlimited Vs. Ink Unlimited
Chase has two “Unlimited” cards — the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business UnlimitedSM Credit Card (review). These cards are very similar — both have no annual fee, and both offer 1.5x points. So, what’s the difference?
- The Freedom Unlimited is a personal card, while the Ink Unlimited is a business card
- The Ink Unlimited offers better car rental protection and a potentially better sign-up bonus
Other than that, the two cards are very similar. I have both of these cards (yes, I have a lot of Chase credit cards).
Best Cash Back Card Alternative
Are you just looking to earn cash back rewards, and don’t want to earn points towards travel? In that case I’d recommend the Citi® Double Cash Card (review). The card has no annual fee and offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% cash back after you pay for that purchase. So you’ll earn two cents back on the dollar, rather than 1.5.
Freedom Unlimited Summary
The Freedom Unlimited is the credit card that I spend the most money on, as I consider it to offer the best return on everyday spending. The catch is that you’ll want this card in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.
If you have one of those cards then the Freedom Unlimited is earning you 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, which is excellent.