The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is a popular new entry among the best cash back credit cards out there. Unlike the original Chase Freedom® card, which offers extra cash back on rotating “bonus categories,” this version offers a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make.
A healthy signup bonus, plenty of perks, and the potential to transfer points earned with this card to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program also add to this new card’s utility for both cash-back and travel rewards enthusiasts. Keep reading to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, how its rewards program works, and how it compares to similar cards.
Money360’s Key Takeaways
- Earn a flat 1.5% back on all of your purchases. If you hate keeping track of rotating categories, this card’s flat rate of 1.5% back on all purchases is a smart choice.
- Transfer points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to redeem points for travel. When you pair both cards, you can transfer points to popular loyalty programs or redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for 25% more value.
- Never pay an annual fee. Although this card offers an enticing 1.5% back on all purchases, you’ll never pay an annual fee. Keep this card and earn unlimited rewards forever, then redeem them for cash back, gift cards, or purchases made through Amazon.com
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Review: Top Cash Back Card for Anyone – But Especially Ultimate Rewards Enthusiasts
Since most cash-back credit cards offer a base rate of 1% back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has quickly become a popular choice. Without bonus categories to keep track of, you can earn a flat 1.5% back on every dollar you spend. If your aim is earning as much cash back as possible, it’s hard to find a better deal. And the fact that you won’t be charged an annual fee means you’ll have no out-of-pocket costs provided you don’t carry a balance or pay interest on your purchases.
The real value of this card, however, comes when you pair it with a card that earns points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, you can maximize points with both cards but pool all of your points into your Preferred account. From there, you can transfer points to a slew of top loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio or book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for 25% more value. Some of the most popular Chase transfer partners are Marriott Rewards, Southwest Rapid Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, Hyatt Gold Passport, Ritz Carlton Rewards, and IHG Rewards.
If you’re a Chase Ultimate Rewards fan already, you know just how awesome this deal really is. With both cards in your wallet, you get the best of both worlds – a premier travel card and the ability to earn at least 1.5% on every purchase you make.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Where It Falls Flat
I have to admit, it’s hard to fault a card that offers 1.5% back on all purchases and doesn’t charge an annual fee. However, there are a few areas where this card is less than stellar.
First, this isn’t a great card for travel unless you also carry a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. If your goal is earning points for travel and you only want one card in your wallet, you would be much better off perusing our list of the top travel credit cards on the market.
And since this card doesn’t offer any categories that let you maximize your earnings, you’re stuck earning a flat 1.5% on everything. If you want the option to earn a lot more points in at least one category, you’ll be out of luck. The original Chase Freedom® card offers 5% back on your first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate every quarter, which might make it a better option for some people. If you’re really able to make the most of those bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card might leave you wanting more.
Lastly, Chase has instituted some new rules that make it difficult to get approved for this card if you’ve had more than five credit cards within the last two years. If you have a ton of cards, you might want to consider a similar card from a different issuer (we’ll suggest some below).
Who This Card is Good For:
- Anyone who wants to earn more than the standard 1% cash back
- Someone who hates paying an annual fee
- People who have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card already and want to maximize the amount of points they earn for travel
Who Should Pass:
- Someone who has more than five credit cards already and might not qualify for this card
- Anyone who wants “bonus categories” to rack up more points
- Frequent travelers who might benefit more from a travel credit card
How Does It Compare to Other Cash-Back Cards?
To see how it stacks up, we wanted to compare the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to a similar rewards card from an entirely different issuer. Due to its awesome bonus categories, I chose the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. The chart below highlights some of each card’s key details:
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express|
|Annual fee||$0||$95 ()|
|Earnings Structue||Earn a flat 1.5 percent back||Earn Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms Apply.|
|Redeeming points||Redeem points for cash back, gift cards, or travel if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Only earn cash back|
As you can see, there are several key differences in how each of these cards work. Let’s start by analyzing the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. With this card, you’ll earn 6% back on your first $6,000 in U.S. supermarket purchases every year (then 1%), 3% back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on everything else.
If you’re able to maximize these categories, you can earn a lot more cash back over time. And the cash back you earn could easily overshadow the extra half a percent you would get on all purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card.
Where the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express falls flat, however, is in its annual fee (See Rates & Fees). In addition, you can only earn cash back with this card. There are no points to transfer to a different card to redeem for travel like you could if you had both the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Comparing these two cards shows how the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card’s offerings are much more straightforward. There are no bonus categories to keep track of, and that leaves you earning a flat 1.5% on every purchase you make. Since there’s no annual fee, however, you won’t ever have to weigh the value of this card’s rewards to see if it’s worth keeping. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, you can use it as often or as seldom as you want, and never pay a single cent to keep it for the long haul.
At the end of the day, neither of these cards is really better than the other. But since one might be a better fit for your needs, it’s crucial to compare your options before you sign up.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Best Strategy With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card: Pair It With a Card That Earns Ultimate Rewards
With both the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (or the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card) in your wallet, you’ll be in the best position to really optimize your rewards. Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for dining and travel to earn two points per dollar spent, and focus the rest of your spending on the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn at a flat 1.5% rate.
Once you’re ready to redeem for travel, you can transfer all points to the account associated with your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. From there, you can transfer to loyalty programs like the British Airways Executive Club, Marriott Rewards, IHG Rewards, and Southwest Rapid Rewards. If you don’t want to transfer points, you can also use them to book any type of travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Want More than 1.5% Back in Certain Categories? Try This Card
While the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a smart choice for nearly anyone, some people will benefit more from the traditional Chase Freedom®. With this card option, you’ll earn an amazing 5% back on your first $1,500 spent in certain categories that rotate every quarter. And on all other purchases (and after the first $1,500 spent in bonus categories), you’ll earn the standard 1% back.
Since this card also comes without an annual fee, you have almost nothing to lose provided you never pay interest on your purchases. Plus, you can also transfer points earned with this card to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you have one.
You can’t really go wrong with a cash-back credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee. As long as you only charge what you can afford and never pay interest on your purchases, the “free money” you’ll earn is truly free.
Still, there are plenty of other credit cards on the market as well. If you want to browse more options, check out a few of our in-depth guides:
Cash Back Credit Card Directory
If you’re interested in browsing other cash-back cards, you should also check out our card directory below.
Sign up Bonus Tier Level
Good Signup Bonus
Great Ongoing Rewards
No Annual Fee
No APR for 12+ Months
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.
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