Is The Chase Freedom Unlimited Right For You?

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the most rewarding credit cards out there for everyday spending, though it’s not a card that everyone should have, in my opinion.

So in this post I wanted to take a look at who should and shouldn’t consider picking up this card.

The basics of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Here are the basic things to know about the Chase Freedom Unlimited:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Return on spend: 1.5x points per dollar spent
  • Value of points: Each point can be redeemed for one cent, though in conjunction with another card can be worth more
  • Foreign transaction fees: 3%

The Freedom Unlimited has an increased welcome bonus

Since early April the Chase Freedom Unlimited has an improved welcome bonus. The card is now offering a welcome bonus of 3x points in your first year, on up to $20,000 of spending.

That means $20,000 of spend would earn you 60,000 points. This is a significantly better welcome bonus than the old one, especially for big spenders.

Who wouldn’t benefit from the Freedom Unlimited

On the most basic level, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a cash back card, earning 1.5 cents back per dollar spent. While that’s alright, it’s not great, and you can definitely do better.

For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card also has no annual fee and offers 1% cash back on every purchase, and then an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases. So that card offers a significantly better return.

Some might even prefer to get a premium card that offers the equivalent of 2% cash back that can be redeemed towards travel, like what’s offered by the Capital One Venture Card.

That’s because the card has a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening (each mile can be redeemed for a cent towards a travel purchase, or can even be transferred to an airline partner at a ratio of up to 2:1.5). Then the card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year, though it offers other great benefits, like no foreign transaction fees, up to 10x points on hotels.com purchases, and more.

Regardless of which path you choose, there’s no reason to earn 1.5% cash back when you could be earning 2% cash back on a variety of cards.

Who would benefit from the Freedom Unlimited

What makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited so interesting is how much the value of the card can change based on what other card you have in conjunction with it. Having the right other card to go along with it improves the value proposition by at least 50%, making it an industry leading card.

Ordinarily, if you have the Freedom Unlimited, points can be redeemed for a penny each, meaning that 15,000 points are worth $150 cash back. You get that same value no matter what you choose to redeem for, whether a statement credit, travel purchase, or gift card.

However, if you have the card in conjunction with one earning Ultimate Rewards points — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card — then you can convert the points earned on the Freedom Unlimited into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. This can easily be done online for free, and it’s an instant process.

Have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card? Suddenly those 15,000 points are worth $225 towards travel rather than $150.

And I’d say that’s the minimum value you should get out of those points. You can then also transfer the points 1:1 to any of the following partners:

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 is a way to get outsized value, especially for luxury vacations. For example, you could transfer 30,000 points to World of Hyatt for a free night at the Park Hyatt Maldives.

Or you could transfer as little as 50,000 points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for a Delta business class ticket from the US to Europe.

You can find more about all the ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points and why I value them so highly in my Ultimate Guide to Ultimate Rewards.

Already have the Chase Freedom Unlimited? It’s not too late

If you’re someone who has been using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® as a cash back card for whatever amount of time without realizing you could get a lot more value, there’s good news.

If you pick up one of the cards that outright earns Ultimate Rewards points — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Sapphire Reserve® Card, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card — you can transfer over all your points to that card, and benefit from the increased value.

That’s the case even if you earned all of those points before you applied for the new card. So don’t feel bad. You’ve actually been using the right card all along, you just didn’t know it. 😉

You can also downgrade to the Chase Freedom Unlimited

There’s potentially another option for acquiring the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, beyond outright applying for the card.

In theory, you should be able to product change some other Chase personal cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, to the Freedom Unlimited.

You’ll need to phone Chase to see what’s possible, but as a general rule of thumb as long as you’ve had a card for at least a year, you can product change it.

For example, having the combination of the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® could make sense, as the former gives you access to Ultimate Rewards and has great bonus categories, while the latter offers 1.5x points per dollar spent.

Bottom line

If you’re using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® independently as a cash back card, you could probably be doing better with another card. The card offers the equivalent of 1.5% back, when other cards offer 2% back.

The good news is that if you’re using it in conjunction with another card (especially the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card), you’re doing things right. You’re using what I consider to be the single best card for non-bonused spending without any sort of caps on how many points you can earn per year.

You’re earning 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase (for a return of 2.25% per dollar spent), or can be transferred to an Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partner (where I think you can get even more value).

Apply Now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with 3% back or 3x points on the first $20K in spend!

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Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. The CapitalOne Venture card may earn 2% but the annual fee reduces its yield to less than 2% compared to the no annual fee Citibank Double Cash card. Let’s stop confusing earning rates with effective yield. Citibank customer service frustrations may have one questioning as to whether earning 2% instead of 1.5% is worth it. Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited charge a high interest rate and have minimal purchase protections and are not that attractive to individuals not able to pay their monthly bill on time. Having to constantly verify a cost effective redemption through the Chase travel portal lessens its attractiveness significantly and point transfers to airlines other than Southwest are only a value to those seeking business or 1st class international flights which are overpriced for many. Most hotel points other than Hyatt have point values less than 1 cent which eliminates un-bonused spend on most hotel cards. Sad to say it but boring cash back is becoming the only viable option that doesn’t require a monumental effort to achieve a reasonable yield.

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