Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card Review – 1.5% Cash Back
Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a cash back credit card with no annual fee, a nice sign-up bonus, a long intro 0% APR promotion, and a flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back earning rate on all purchases. It shares many similarities with the original Chase Freedom card, which also lacks an annual fee and comes with generous sign-up and intro APR promotions.
The biggest distinction between the two is that Freedom Unlimited does away with the original Freedom’s rotating cash back categories. Those categories allow cardholders to earn up to 5% cash back on select purchases, up to a quarterly spending cap, in addition to a 1% baseline earning rate on all other purchases. However, they are frequently criticized as being annoying to activate and track. If you prefer original Freedom’s 5% categories, don’t worry: Chase has no plans to kill that card and continues to accept new applications for it.
Chase Freedom Unlimited is comparable to a number of other cash back cards with flat, unlimited earning rates: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (1.5%) and Citi Double Cash Card (1% on purchases and 1% on bill payments above the minimum) are 2 noteworthy examples. It’s also comparable to cash back cards with tiered or rotating cash back categories, such as the Discover it Credit Card and American Express Blue Cash Everyday.
When you spend at least $500 within three months of opening your account, you get 15,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (equivalent to $150 cash).
Chase Freedom Unlimited earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no caps, restrictions, or spending categories. Cash back is tracked via Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth $0.01 apiece – therefore, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points equals $100 in cash. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your points do not expire.
You can redeem your accumulated cash back for cash equivalents (such as statement credits and bank account deposits), gift cards, travel and general merchandise purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, and merchandise purchases made direct with online retailers (such as Amazon). Chase Freedom Unlimited allows cash redemptions in any amount, but merchandise redemption minimums vary based on item cost.
If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee) travel rewards card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card ($95 annual fee) business card, you can transfer points earned through Chase Freedom Unlimited to those accounts.
Once transferred, you can redeem your points for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal and receive a 20% bonus (for instance, boosting the value of a 50,000-point redemption to $625), or transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to approximately 10 frequent traveler programs.
However, having a Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t automatically qualify you for Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, and you’re not eligible for the redemption bonus or 1-to-1 point transfer if you only have Freedom Unlimited.
There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.
This card has a 15-month 0% APR purchase and balance transfer promotion.
Once the introductory period ends, Chase Freedom Unlimited’s regular purchase and balance transfer APR ranges between 16.99% to 25.74% variable, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. From day one, the cash advance APR is 26.99% variable. There is no penalty APR.
This card comes with a number of additional cardholder benefits, including:
This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable blemishes on your credit record are likely to disqualify your application.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers some faint hope that credit card issuers actually listen to their cardholders’ concerns. Why? Because this card, first issued years after original Freedom’s debut, addresses the cardholding public’s biggest complaint about its predecessor: those pesky rotating 5% categories, which require manual activation each quarter – and mental effort to remember.
Freedom Unlimited’s flat, unlimited 1.5% earning rate on all purchases isn’t the most generous cash back deal on the planet, but it’s much easier to manage. And that’s welcome news for busy cardholders who don’t want to think twice about which card to use in any given circumstance.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a no-nonsense cash back credit card that’s ideal for people who don’t want to deal with annual fees, rotating spending categories, and complicated rewards programs. Thanks to the long intro purchase APR period, it’s also a solid choice for people who wish to make large purchases they can’t pay off right away. Chase Freedom Unlimited isn’t the best card for people who want to earn the most cash back possible, as a number of competing cards offer higher baseline or category earning rates.
This card’s great intro APR promotion on balance transfers and purchases, strong sign-up bonus, flexible and varied redemptions, somewhat laid-back credit requirements, and lack of an annual fee and of manual category activation are all big perks. Its cash back earnings cap, foreign transaction fee, and lack of a frequent spender bonus all hurt it.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.
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Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card Review – 1.5% Cash Back
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