Chase Freedom Unlimited Review (2019)

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Card Reviews
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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:

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:

AirlinesHotels
Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld Of Hyatt
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
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.

Purchase Protection

You’re covered for new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft of up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Credit Journey

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

People often get confused about the difference between the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Freedom® (review). Both cards have no annual fees, so what are the major differences between the cards?

  • 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.

If you want to learn more about the Freedom Unlimited Card or apply, follow this link.

Apply Now

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Comments
  1. I’m thinking about downgrading my Chase Sapphire Preferred to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and then apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Does anyone know if this is possible? I’m worried it may be risky in the case that I don’t get approved for the Reserve and I’m stuck without Ultimate Rewards points after downgrading my Preferred card to Unlimited.

    I could upgrade my Preferred to Reserve and apply for the Unlimited, but then I wouldn’t get the sign-up bonus.

  2. I like the new offer. Any feel for getting this card again? I’ve had it over 2 years, and am under Chase’s 5/24 limit.

  3. @ Noah — Because one is a business card and the other is a personal card, and the Blue Business Plus is also limited to the first $50K of spend. If you’re in a position where you can direct spend onto the BBP or CFU I’d certainly put the first $50K on the BBP, but otherwise this card wins.

  4. @ Jimmy Gottfredson — Yep, the Ink Preferred works great with this as well, and you can pool points between the two cards. 🙂

  5. @ Eric — Keep in mind you could always upgrade the Freedom Unlimited back to either of those cards later. In general I recommend waiting a few weeks after downgrading before applying for another card you might be eligible for, but overall that should work.

  6. @ Ella — There are no restrictions regarding that with the terms, so you should be able to do that.

  7. I have moved almost exclusively to the Chase Strategy because I use the points for travel redemption via the Ultimate Rewards Portal especially when award travel is not available, which is happening more and more. I have the CSR so I earn 3 points on Travel & Dining, 5 points on the Freedom, 5 Points on the Business Cards and 1.5 on all unbonused spend with the FU. I am guessing my average earning per dollar spent with Chase is 3.5 Points to 1 Dollar. 3.5 X 1.5 via UR Travel Portal is 5.25 in value. So a $600 airplane ticket or hotel night in reality costs 11,430 Chase UR Points. There is no redemption better in my mind when award space is not available. The sign up bonuses out there the personal and business Chase Trifecta are excellent.

  8. Been trying to justify opening this card. I’d earn an extra point on my everyday spend using the Freedom Unlimited card versus the Amex Biz Blue for my first 20k in spend. After that I’d go back to Amex Biz Blue to earn the extra .5 point. So I’m earning an extra point on everyday spend and so the bonus is 20,000 points on the first 20k of spend. Seems like a lot of work for a card I’d never use. Think I’m going to open a Chase business card instead.

  9. I signed up for the Freedom Unlimited the month after getting the Sapphire Preferred. I am now finding it awkward–because I hit the sign-up bonus in the first month on my Preferred and now there is no use case for it at all. 🙁
    I am finding that the 3 points on EVERYTHING for the first 20k on the Freedom Unlimited has now rendered my Preferred pretty much useless. I also had no clue (my fault) that I could just “upgrade” to the Reserve right away–guess you have to wait a year. So now I guess I just wont put any of my work travel spend on my Chase cards to avoid blowing through that 20k before a year is up so I can move to the Reserve and have it time right.

  10. I had been planning to apply for the Freedom Unlimited this year to complement my Sapphire Reserve, but now I’m going to hold off until I see what United does with their frequent flyer program after they introduce dynamic award pricing in November 2019. I’ve been transferring my Ultimate Rewards points to United, and I don’t like the other UR redemption options, so United needs to be worthwhile. Chase ought to lean on United to improve their frequent flyer program.

  11. I didn’t realize anything recently changed with this card. Does this warrant a review or is this a marketing post? TPG does that a lot too… I would like to see a follow up post about the Marriott travel packages that you recommended we booked last year. They are about to expire now.

  12. @ Bon Bon Voy — It’s a valid question. I’m trying to rework my credit card reviews to make the formatting consistent and make them much more detailed. The reason I’m doing this is because it will make the posts a much better resource when I write about cards in passing, so that I can link to the detailed reviews, rather than rehashing all the details every time. Hopefully that makes sense.

  13. @ Charlie — While your skepticism is fair, it still seems like the card is worth getting? It has no annual fee, it has a good welcome bonus, and regardless of what you decide to do long term with your credit card strategy, it will only give you more flexibility.

  14. @ Marsh — A Chase business card instead could make a lot of sense. Otherwise do you have the Freedom? You could always get the Freedom Unlimited and then later switch it to the Freedom, if that added value for you.

  15. Why not get the Amex Everyday Preferred card instead? With 30 purchases a month, you get 1.5 points on everything, 3 points on gas, and 4.5 points on groceries. I find it to be a great complement to the CSR.

  16. @Lucky,

    How do you value UR’s? I usually use my Amex BBP or BoA Premium Rewards card (Platinum Honors). I don’t see how this is better than the BoA PR other than it’s no annual fee. I mean you could potentially get > 1.75 cpp (2.625%/1.5) with URs, but definitely not always. Plus with BoA, it’s cash. What do you think?

  17. Ken

    1) Chase Freedom Unlimited is no fee
    2) I’d rather hold the Amex Gold vs the Amex Everyday Preferred. 4x on Dining and Grocery without worrying about 30 monthly uses
    3) Chase gives these cards away easily (even to those over 5/24) – there is no reason not to hold this card if you have a Sapphire card

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