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Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited a Good Card?
If you are working to collect points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem, this credit card is a key component. But even on its own as a cash back credit card, the Freedom Unlimited is a powerful earner.
You may have also heard of the Chase Freedom Flex.
The primary difference between the Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex is that the Freedom Flex has a quarterly 5X bonus on rotating categories but earns 1X on non-bonus category spend. The Freedom Unlimited, by contrast, has no rotating quarterly categories, but earns 1.5X on non-bonus category spend. That, for many, is the reason to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Review
Within this article, I will break this down two ways:
- The benefits of having a Chase Freedom Unlimited all by itself to earn cash back
- How this credit card can be “supercharged” by pairing it with a Sapphire card to earn tons of Ultimate Rewards points.
What’s the Signup Bonus for a Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card?
What are the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Benefits?
|Chase Freedom Unlimited Benefits|
|Bonus Offer||$200 (20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) when you spend $500 in your first 3 months, plus 5X on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.|
|Earn rate on general spend||1.5X|
|Earn rate on rotating quarterly bonus categories (limit $1,500 per quarter n spend)||Not a feature of this card. That's only on the Chase Freedom Flex|
|Earn rate on on travel when purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal||5X|
|Earn rate on dining including takeout||3X|
|Earn rate at drugstores||3X|
|Earn rate on Lyft rides (through March 2022)||5X|
|Foreign Transaction Fees Charged?||Yes. 3%.|
|Can points be transferred to a Sapphire card for transfer to travel partners?||Yes (Also see: How To Combine Chase Ultimate Rewards Points from Multiple Cards)|
How Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card Work?
If you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card by itself, then the Ultimate Rewards points you earn are simply cash back. So, 3X points really equals 3% cash back. But there is a way to make them fully transferable Ultimate Rewards, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
But as you see in the table above, the Freedom Unlimited has several bonus categories.
- 5X on travel when purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal*
- 5X on Lyft until March 2022
- 3X on dining (including takeout and delivery)
- 3X at drugstores
- 1.5X on everything else
* Note the downsides: If you book air via the portal, you have to deal with Chase rather than the airline on changes or cancellations. If you book hotels, they are prepaid bookings ineligible for elite night credits, hotel points earning, or hotel elite benefits, if applicable.
It’s clearly the best credit card to use at drugstores, especially if you have high prescription costs, as the the 3X on drugstores is unique to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex. And 3X on dining is fantastic for a no annual fee card.
And then when you spend on categories that don’t earn a bonus, you’re still earning a respectable 1.5X on everything else (although some true credit card junkies might opt for a 2% cash back card on non-bonused spend, such as a Citi Double Cash).
Using the Drugstores Category for Extra Savings
You can buy tons of gift cards at most drugstores. If you buy a lot at Amazon, for example, you could buy gift cards at your drugstore, ultimately saving 3% on Amazon or anywhere else you can buy a gift card for.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Have Foreign Transaction Fees?
Yes, it does and it’s a 3% fee. You could step up to a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve to avoid those, although they also have annual fees. Side note: if your main consideration is foreign transaction fees, Capital One credit cards never have any foreign transaction fees on any credit card.
Still, you can definitely use your Chase Freedom Unlimited internationally if you don’t mind the 3% fee.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Have a 0% Intro APR Offer for New Purchases?
Yes, it does. New cardholders will get a 15 month intro APR period with a 0% APR on new purchases. See here for details.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Have a 0% Intro APR Balance Transfer Offer?
At this time, it does not. It only has a 15 month intro APR period with a 0% APR on new purchases, not for balance transfers.
Turning the Freedom Unlimited Cash Back into Fully Transferrable Points
Earlier, I mentioned that you can use this credit card alone as an excellent no-annual fee cash back credit card, or you can combine it with other Chase credit cards to make it much more powerful.
This involves a bit of time to educate yourself on how Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points work. But once you have the hang of it, it gets pretty simple.
The way things work in the Chase world is that you need at least one Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card with an annual fee in order to “unlock'” the full power of your points. The eligible cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550 annual fee), Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95), and Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95).
This even works if your spouse has one of the premium cards and you have the Freedom Unlimited – since you can share points within the same household.
Once you have a premium card, you can transfer your points from the Chase Freedom Unlimited to that premium card and then redeem.
How Do You Spend Chase Ultimate Rewards?
There are two primary ways to redeem for more value per point.
The first way is at a fixed value. You can redeem via the Chase Travel Portal and buy travel with your points.
It’s super easy to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the points are worth 1.5c per point. If you have the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, the points are worth 1.25c per point.
When you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, with points worth 1.5 cents each, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $150 in travel purchases.
Similarly, you can Pay Yourself Back. After making purchases at grocery stores, dining, and home improvement stores, you can “Pay Yourself Back” based on the Travel Portal value of your points (same as redeeming for travel).
But there’s another way to redeem that will give you even more value….
Transferring Ultimate Rewards to Airline and Hotel Partners
You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points (once you have combined to your premium Chase credit card) to a range of airline and hotel partners. the “exchange rate” is always 1:1, so it’s extremely simple.
Here are the transfer partners and the time it takes to transfer from Chase to the relevant airline or hotel program.
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners||Last Updated: January 2021|
|Transfer Ratio||Expected Transfer Time *|
|Aer Lingus Avios||1:1||Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1:1||Not Yet Live: Coming in 2021|
|Air France Flying Blue||1:1||Instant|
|British Airways Avios||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1||~ 1 - 2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1:1||~ 1-2 days|
|IHG Rewards Club||1:1||~ 24 hours|
For 10 great ways to use transfer partners to maximize your Ultimate Rewards points value, please refer to our Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Personally, I think the 1:1 transfer to Hyatt is consistently the highest value for points. This is partly because of the overall value of the World of Hyatt program and partly because of the ability to redeem at high end Hyatt partner hotels like Miraval and Small Luxury Hotels as well as the ability to book really expensive Hyatt suites for just double the points of a standard room.
Other great redemption include using British Airways Avios for short-distanced flights operated by American Airlines and transferring to Virgin Atlantic points to book ANA business or first class award. You’ll need just 95,000 Virgin Points for a roundtrip in business class on ANA from the US to Japan and 120,000 miles for First Class roundtrip. If flying from the West coast, you’ll need just 90,000 miles for business class and 120,000 for first roundtrip.
Which is Better? Citi Double Cash or Chase Freedom Unlimited?
That’s pretty subjective! The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a lot going for it. If you are pairing it with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeeming for travel, you will almost certainly do better with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
On the other hand, if you just want a very simple 2% cash back card with no bonus categories to think about, you might prefer the Citi Double Cash. That said, you can pair the Citi Double Cash with a Citi Premier or Prestige to get fancy with Citi ThankYou points. Read more about the Citi Trifecta.
Which is Better? Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited?
In short, they both have most of the same features. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% on non-bonus category spend while the Freedom Flex earns just 1%. However, the Freedom Flex earns 5% on up to $1,500 on rotating categories each quarter while the Freedom Unlimited lacks that feature.
Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card a Visa or Mastercard?
The no-annual fee Freedom Unlimited card is a Visa like most Chase credit cards. However, if you prefer a Mastercard, the very similar Chase Freedom Flex is issued on the Mastercard network.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Have Travel Insurance?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card does have some trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
You can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person / $6,000 per trip if your trip is canceled or cut short due to illness, severe weather and / or other covered situations. However, unlike the much more comprehensive trip insurance offered on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve, this card will only cover prepaid, non-refundable passenger fares paid with the card.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Offer Cell Phone Insurance?
No, that is a feature of the similar, but different, Chase Freedom Flex card.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Have an Annual Fee?
No, the Freedom Unlimited card does not have an annual fee.
Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Offer Contactless Payment?
Yes, you can simply “tap” to pay with your card and you can also add it to your mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. You can also add this card to your digital wallet after you are approved and before you receive it in the mail.
What Credit Score Do You Need for a Chase Freedom Unlimited?
Generally, with a FICO score of 680 or higher, you would have pretty high odds of approval, as long as you don’t run afoul of Chase’s 5/24 rule. Anecdotally, there are some reports online of people with a 640+ getting approved, but this card is designed for people with “good” or better credit.
How Do You Get a Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card?
That’s easy… click here to learn how to apply.
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You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.