chase freedom unlimited review
Updated September 26, 2021

Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

Credit Cards
  • chase freedom unlimited
    Chase Freedom Unlimited
    • Basics: With a decent rewards program and a baseline of 1.5% cash back on everything else, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card might be the one-all card for some. It comes with three different tiers of cash back, no annual fee, and a no-fuss process of cashing in rewards.
    • Pros: There’s a lot to like about the Freedom Unlimited card in terms of cash back. Cardholders earn 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% back on grocery stores (up to $12,000 in your first year having the card), 3% back on drugstore and restaurant purchases, and a base reward of 1.5% back on everything else.
    • Cons: The Freedom Unlimited credit card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee, and even though 1.5% cash-back is generous, you can still earn more cash back through similar cards on the market, though this can possibly be mitigated by transferring your points to a Chase Sapphire card.
    Rewards 8/10
     
    Other Perks 7/10
     
    Annual Fee 10/10
     
    Welcome Offer 7/10
     
    Ease of Approval 6/10
     
    Intro APR 7/10
     
    • WELCOME OFFER:

      Earn $200 if you spend at least $500 within the first 3 months

    • ANNUAL FEE:

      $0

    • ONGOING CASH BACK:

      5% back on travel booked through Chase, 3% back on drugstore and restaurant purchases, and 1.5% back on everything else

    • FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE:

      3%

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is one of Chase’s flagship cards for a good reason. It stays true to its name: Cardholders earn unlimited cash back, and the rewards comprise one of the most impressive cash-back programs on the market. But is it the right card for you? In this review, I’ll go over the features and benefits of owning a Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, as well as its pros, cons, and card alternatives that you may also be interested in. Then, I’ll provide a few examples of who this card might or might not be a good fit for.

If you’d rather watch a video of this review, check out my Chase Freedom Unlimited video review below!

Sign-Up Bonus

Chase is currently offering a welcome bonus of $200 if you spend $500 on purchases within three months of opening a new Freedom Unlimited card. This only applies if you haven’t already taken advantage of the bonus in the past two years.

If this review helped your decision in signing up for this card, feel free to use my affiliate link. If you use my link and are approved, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards

5% Cash Back on Travel through Chase

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card gives 5% cash back when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This feature makes the card well-suited to many different types of travel, since the program allows you to book flights, hotels, cars, vacation rentals, cruises, and more. Another bonus is that there are no limits as to how much cash back you can earn through this program.

You can also get more out of these travel rewards when you pair the Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

One drawback is that you are confined to Chase’s restrictions when you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for the 5% cash back. In my experience, these restrictions were never too limiting, but you can’t book an Airbnb or a similar service through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

5% Cash Back on Groceries

The Freedom Unlimited credit card offers 5% cash back on grocery store spending (excluding Walmart and Target) for the first 12 months from opening your account, or until you reach $12,000 in grocery store purchases. This is an additional 3.5% cash back on the 1.5% you already earn.

3% Cash Back on Drugstore and Dining

Chase Freedom Unlimited also offers 3% cash back on both drugstore and restaurant purchases. Restaurant purchases include both takeout and delivery from eligible delivery services associated with restaurants. Services like DoorDash and UberEats are eligible for this rewards program. However, delivery services not associated with restaurants, like Instacart or Amazon Fresh, are ineligible.

1.5% Cash Back on All Other Purchases

And lastly, Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a base of unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other non-bonus purchases, which is what makes this card versatile and, dare I say, limitless.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Benefits

0% Intro APR

If you open a new Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll get 0% annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases for your first 15 months. You will still have to make the minimum payment on your card in order to avoid late fees, but you won’t be charged any interest on purchases you make as long as you pay them off by the end of that 15-month period.

5% Cash Back on Lyft

All Freedom Unlimited card holders receive 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft purchases through March 31st, 2022. Qualifying Lyft purchases include all car, bike, and scooter rides, as well as subscription and membership products. This 5% cash back does not have a limit, so frequent Lyft users may find this to be a good deal.

DashPass Subscription

Additionally, new Freedom Unlimited cardholders receive three free months of DashPass, a DoorDash subscription service, which essentially removes the delivery fee on orders over $12 from eligible restaurants. You must activate this by December 31st, 2021, to cash in on the offer.

Afterwards, cardholders are automatically subscribed to DashPass at 50% off the regular rate for the next nine months. The regular rate for DashPass is $9.99/month, and you can cancel anytime through the DoorDash or the Caviar app. But because the regular rate for DashPass is only $9.99 a month, I would not recommend getting the Freedom Unlimited solely for the sake of this perk.

Transferable Rewards

Most Chase credit cards use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, so you can transfer your points between different Chase cards (including the Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Flex, Sapphire Preferred, and Sapphire Reserve), as long as they belong to you or someone else in your household.

There are no fees or limits, which makes it easier to consolidate points into a single account to cover a purchase. Here’s how to combine points on Chase:

  • Log onto Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Choose one of your cards
  • Tap the menu icon in the upper lefthand corner
  • Scroll down until you see “Combine Points”

chase ultimate rewards

This transfer ability allows you to get even more out of your Freedom Unlimited when you pair it with the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve. Both the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve offer extremely high bonuses on points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, giving 25% and 50% back respectively.

For example, if you have both the Freedom Unlimited and the Sapphire Reserve, you can place your non-bonus spending on the Freedom Unlimited for a 1.5% cash-back bonus, and afterwards, you can transfer those points to the Sapphire Reserve, which will allow you to get another 50% bonus when you redeem them for travel. This effectively raises the 1.5% bonus from your Freedom Unlimited to a 2.25% bonus.

Bear in mind, though, that both the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve come with large annual fees ($95 and $550 respectively), so this option is not for everyone. However, combining a Sapphire and Freedom card can be a really effective way to get more out of your Ultimate Rewards points.

Card Fees

Annual Fee$0
Foreign Transaction Fee3% international fee
 

No Annual Fee

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about spending enough to justify the cost of the card.

3% Foreign Transaction Fee

The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card has a 3% foreign transaction fee – keep this in mind if you are looking specifically for a travel-friendly card. While this card offers unlimited 5% cash-back rewards on travel booked through Chase, be wary that it is still subject to that international fee.

If you’re interested in a Chase card that you can use internationally with no extra fee, check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Pros and Cons

Chase Freedom Unlimited Pros

5% Cash Back on Travel

The 5% cash-back rate on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards is an incredible reward since it allows you to save $1 for every $20 you spend on travel. Given that the Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee, this is a huge advantage if you tend to have a lot of travel-related expenses.

$200 Welcome Offer

If you sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited right now, you’ll get an additional $200 in cash-back as long as you spend $500 or more in the first three months. As I can attest from personal experience, you will automatically receive that credit as long as you pass the spending threshold. While this is just a one-time bonus, it’s an excellent perk to go along with everything else you’ll get with the Freedom Unlimited.

Transferable Points

The Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you the opportunity to transfer points to the Sapphire Preferred or Reserve through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Because the Freedom Unlimited card offers more cash back on travel and drugstore purchases than either Sapphire card, these cards are more effective when combined together rather than used on their own. If you haven’t built up enough credit for a Sapphire card, you can always start with the Freedom Unlimited, gradually improve your credit score, then save up your points so you can transfer them to a Sapphire card when you’re able to get one.

And because Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% cash back on non-bonus spending, you can combine it with the Sapphire Reserve’s 50% bonus for travel booked through Ultimate Rewards, which in turn yields an extremely competitive cash-back rate of 2.25%.

No Annual Fee

The Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t charge an annual fee. While annual fees aren’t always a bad thing, it can be nice to get credit card rewards for free without having to calculate whether they’re worth the fee or not. Cards that complement the Freedom Unlimited, like the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, both charge a hefty annual fee ($95 and $550 respectively), and while there are certainly situations where that fee is worth the investment, it’s a lot more straightforward if you can get rewards without having to pay.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Cons

Chase 5/24 Rule

This card is subject to the 5/24 rule, which means that Chase will automatically reject you if you’ve already opened five other credit cards within 24 months of your Freedom Unlimited application. No matter how good your credit is, you won’t be able to get around this because it is Chase policy; instead, you’ll have to wait for some of your old cards to move out of that 24-month period before you try to get approved for the Freedom Unlimited.

3% Foreign Transaction Fee

The Freedom Unlimited card comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you use this card abroad, you’re going to lose an extra $3 for every $100 you spend, which might add up quickly if you’re a frequent international traveler. In my opinion, this isn’t a deal breaker, but if you’re planning on traveling outside the US, I would strongly recommend getting another card with no foreign transaction fee.

Other Cards Might Benefit More

Even though the Freedom Unlimited comes with 1.5% cash-back for non-bonus spending, other cards, like the Citi Double Cash card, will give you even more back on those purchases.

The Alliant Visa Signature, for example, has a $99 annual fee (waived for the first year), but comes with 2.5% cash-back on up to $10,000 in spending per month. If you put $25,000 on your card per year, you would get $625 back with the Visa Signature, which is almost double the $375 you would get with the Freedom Unlimited.

Again, 1.5% cash-back isn’t terrible, but there are better cards to put general spending on – especially if you’re willing to pay an annual fee.

Alternatives

 Chase Freedom UnlimitedChase Freedom FlexCiti Custom CashCiti Double Cash
 
Cash-Back Rewards
  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5% back on grocery stores (up to $12,000)
  • 3% back on dining and drugstores
  • 1.5% back on all other purchases
  • 5% back on rotating quarterly categories
  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% back on dining and drugstores
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • 5% back on top eligible spending category (up to $500 per billing cycle)
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • Unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases
Annual Fee
  • $0
  • $0
  • $0
  • $0
Foreign Transaction Fee
  • 3%
  • 3%
  • 3%
  • 3%
Sign-Up Bonus
  • Earn $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn $200 after spending $750 in the first 3 months
  • None
 

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex card offers 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in spending per quarter), 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase, 3% cash back on dining and drugstores, and 1% cash back on everything else. And, like the Freedom Unlimited, cardholders get 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022, as well as a complimentary three-month subscription to DashPass.

Check out this review for a more in-depth look at the Chase Freedom Flex card.

Citi Custom Cash

The Citi Custom Cash allows you to receive 5% cash back on your top spend category for each billing cycle. The spend category must be one of Citi’s eligible categories (which are pretty common categories), and Citi will automatically calculate which of those categories you spend most on in order to reward you. You can earn 5% cash back up to $500 per billing cycle, then earn 1% cash back thereafter.

For more information about the Citi Custom Cash card, check out my video review where I cover the card’s features, benefits, pros, cons, and more.

Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash gives unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, which is a good enough reason to not offer a sign-up bonus. With no annual fee, this card is a strong contender for a Freedom Unlimited alternative. The Citi Double Cash might suit you if you prefer not being tied down to bonus categories, and want a little bit more flexibility when it comes to earning bonus rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Chase Freedom Flex

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Flex
Rotating Cash-back RewardsNone5% back on quarterly categories
Ongoing Cash-back Rewards
  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5% back on grocery stores (limited to $12,000; excluding Walmart and Target)
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% back on all other purchases
  • 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • 1% back on all other purchases
  • Annual Fee$0$0
    Foreign transaction fee3%3%
    Sign-up BonusEarn $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 monthsEarn $200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
     

    The Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited cards offer similar rewards, but if you’re looking to decide between the two, the difference lies on how you spend.

    Both cards have a similar cash-back rewards program, including 5% back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining and drugstores. But the cash back for rotating categories and other purchases is where the similarities diverge. Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% back on all other purchases, while Chase Freedom Flex only offers 1% back.

    If you’re deciding between the Freedom Flex or the Freedom Unlimited, the bottom line is this:

    The Freedom Unlimited card is better suited for someone who wants to optimize their cash back through other purchases, and the Freedom Flex card is better suited for someone who wants to optimize cash back through the rotating seasonal categories.

    Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Worth It?

    Whether you should get the Freedom Unlimited really depends on many different factors, and while I can’t speak to your specific situation, I can share a few examples of people I would or would not recommend the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to.

    Who the Card is Best For

    If You Want a Decent “Everyday” Card With Decent Benefits

    Because of the Freedom Unlimited’s versatility in terms of bonus categories, it’s a good option for someone who just wants one go-to card for all purchases, and isn’t necessarily worried about maximizing rewards in every purchase category.

    With the Freedom Unlimited, you get 5% back on travel through Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and a baseline 1.5% back on everything else. This, to me, sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you’re not looking for rewards tied to a specific category.

    If You Already Have a Premium Chase Card

    The Freedom Unlimited is also a good card for someone who already has a premium Chase card like the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, since you can combine these two cards to maximize your points.

    If You Think 1.5% Cash Back is Good Enough

    You’re a cash-back and points minimalist, and you don’t really get too crazy about optimizing your credit card to “work for you.” If you’re fine with earning a base of 1.5% cash back on all other purchases, in addition to higher cash-back in bonus categories, this card might serve you. Plus, no annual fee!

    If You Travel Within the U.S. Frequently

    If you travel domestically often, then the 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards perk will definitely add up. Since there’s no cap on how much you can earn through this reward, this is a good enough reason for a frequent traveler to sign up for this card. Do keep in mind that the Freedom Unlimited is still subject to that pesky 3% international fee, so the 5% cash back on travel through Chase will only pay off if you book domestic travel.

    Combine this 5% cash back with the 3% cash back on dining, and this card will really take you places. Domestically, at least.

    Who the Card is Not For

    If You Pay For Most of Your Travel With Points

    I would not recommend the Freedom Unlimited credit card to someone who already pays for most of their travel with points. In this situation, Freedom Unlimited’s 5% cash back on purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards would be irrelevant. The same sentiment goes for the 3% cash back on dining, since if you pay for most of your travel with points, you probably have a card like the Sapphire Reserve, which gives 4.5% back on restaurants when your points are redeemed for travel.

    If You Travel Very Little

    If you travel very little, Freedom Unlimited’s benefits might not do much. If this is the case, you probably won’t be able to cash in on the 5% cash back on travel very often, which leaves you with only 5% back on groceries (up to $12,000), 3% back on dining and drugstores, and a baseline 1.5% back on all other purchases.

    If You’re Interested in Cash Back, and Cash Back Only

    ​​The Freedom Unlimited card might not be the best for you if you’re only interested in cash back, since other cards offer higher cash back rewards. For example, Freedom Unlimited is easily eclipsed by the U.S. Bank Altitude Go, which offers 4% back on dining.

    While the Freedom Unlimited does give 3% back at drugstores, you can get up to 6% back at grocery stores with other cards, since you can buy most drugstore items at a regular grocery store anyway. If you spend a lot on groceries and want to earn cash back that way, check out the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card, which offers 3% back at U.S. supermarkets, and its sister card, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which offers 6% back at U.S. supermarkets. However, both cards cap at a yearly limit of $6,000.

    Even the Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash-back on non-bonus spending is surpassed by other no-fee cards like the Citi Double Cash. So, if you’re only interested in cash back, the Freedom Unlimited will not go above and beyond to meet that interest.

    If You Already Have the Chase Freedom Flex

    Finally, the Freedom Unlimited probably isn’t the best option for you if you already have the Freedom Flex, as they overlap in many different categories. Both give 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back at restaurants, and 3% back on drugstore purchases. Additionally, given that both cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, it doesn’t seem worth it to have two cards so similar to one another.

    If you’re undecided between the Freedom Flex and the Freedom Unlimited, check out my video where I delve into a deeper comparison of the two.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • Is Chase Freedom Unlimited hard to get approved?

      It’s not hard to get approved for the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card if you have a “good” credit score, which is at least 670 or higher.

      If you’re looking to improve your approval odds, check out this article on how to increase your credit score to a 700 or above. I recommend bumping up your credit score before applying for the Freedom Unlimited, since credit card applications create hard inquiries that may affect your current credit score.

    • Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card worth it?

      Yes, the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card is worth it to those who are interested in high cash back rewards without doing too much work to activate it. With 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase, 3% cash back on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases, this credit card is suitable for cash-back minimalists who want to be savvy with their points.

    • What is the credit limit for Chase Freedom Unlimited?

      The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a minimum credit limit of $500 for approved applicants, according to personal reviews online. Individual credit lines vary and depend on multiple factors, but you can always ask Chase to increase your credit limit.

    Author:

    Logan Allec, CPA

    Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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