Chase Freedom Unlimited® review: $300 cash back bonus review


Rating as of Jul. 18, 2019 based on a review of services April 18, 2022.

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Poor 500-599
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Our Bottom Line:

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® opens up with a terrific intro offer; earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! Tack on a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (standard 17.99% – 26.74% Variable APR) add to that a strong everyday rewards program and it’s a terrific option for anyone looking to save a ton of money on everyday purchases.

Intro APR Purchases 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Intro Term Purchases 15
Intro APR Balance Transfers 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Intro Term Balance Transfers 15
Regular APR 17.99% - 26.74% Variable
Annual Fee $0
  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.99% - 26.74%.
  • No annual fee – You won’t have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more.
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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers plenty of value to customers. It provides an intro offer to earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review Key features

  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!
  • 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% on dining and drugstore purchases; and an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
  • Zero annual fees
  • Several ways to redeem rewards
  • No minimum redemption amount
  • Simple to use
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. Then, the APR rate ranges between 17.99% - 26.74% Variable.
  • Great travel rewards on Chase Freedom Unlimited® travel portal
  • Transfer rewards to partner loyalty programs for more travel benefits
  • 3% foreign transaction fee on each transaction in U.S. dollars   

Taking a closer look at Chase Freedom Unlimited®

$300 Cash Back Bonus

The impressive introductory cash bonus of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is valid only for new cardmembers. Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!

Many redemption options

Customers also get several options for redemption. As with most credit cards, you can redeem your rewards the conventional way through a check or statement credits. 

Along with gift cards, you can redeem your rewards by booking a trip through the Chase Freedom Unlimited® travel portal.

You can even transfer these rewards to other credit cards from Chase. Therefore, this credit card provides several valuable options for redemption.   

No limit on rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited®  has no limits on rewards. 

As its name suggests, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® gives you tons of freedom. You’ll earn a huge amount of rewards, ranging from 5% on travel (purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) to 3% on dining and drugstores, all the way to the unlimited 1.5% back on all other purchases. 

Use other Chase cards to earn more rewards

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers many decent rewards by itself, you can use the card with other Chase cards to obtain even more exceptional rewards and value. 

Chase Freedom Flex℠

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The Chase Freedom Flex℠, for example, offers 5% cash back on all the same categories as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, but adds on an additional 5% on rotating bonus categories you activate each quarter. If you’re spending fits neatly into those extra 5% cash back categories, you should use the Chase Freedom Flex℠. 

If you don’t want to worry about rotating categories, use Chase Freedom Unlimited®. It’ll still provide you with some stellar 3%-5% cash back categories, and a larger 1.5% back on all other purchases. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

For better redemption options and rewards, transfer your rewards to The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. When you redeem rewards with the Chase travel portal, you can earn way more rewards. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 1.25 cents per point (when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®). The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card provides 1.5 cents per point (when you redeem for travel) – this is even better. You can transfer these points to the loyalty programs of Hyatt, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. 

Another essential thing to remember is there is no minimum redemption amount. Under the previous rewards structure, you needed at least $25 in rewards for redemption. You can redeem any amount under the new conditions, no matter how small. This is a rare benefit for cash back cards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Rates & fees

Intro APR

There is a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. Many other cards offer an introductory APR, which is limited to 12 months. 

After the introductory period is over, the APR will become 17.99% - 26.74% Variable.

Balance transfer fee

The balance transfer fee will be $5 or 3% (whichever is greater) on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that the fee is $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

No annual fee

Another fantastic feature of this card is that you will not have to pay any annual fees. This feature brings great convenience to customers as it simplifies card spending. 

But several other credit cards charge a steep annual fee. With these cards, you have to spend a certain minimum amount annually, which can be substantial. 

As you can see, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® provides some reasonable introductory offers. 

Foreign transaction fees

Note that the Chase Freedom Unlimited® charges 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars for foreign transaction fees.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review Rewards & benefits

Here are more rewards and benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®:

  • Cash back rewards do not expire. This is one of the best benefits of the card. With many credit cards, the rewards expire if they are not redeemed within a specified period. This card does not have that problem.
  • Zero liability for unauthorized use. You won’t have to pay anything for unauthorized or fraudulent use of this card.
  • Coverage for purchases. Products and services purchased with this card are protected against theft or damage for 120 days, immediately after the purchase date. The coverage has a maximum amount of $500 per claim. The maximum protection benefit offered on one account is $50,000. 
  • Amazon shopping. You can redeem rewards on Amazon with this card. You will first have to link your Chase Freedom Unlimited® account to your Amazon account. Your rewards can pay for Amazon purchases, including shipping and taxes. 
  • Longer warranty. You can increase the manufacturer warranty of goods by one year if you buy them with this credit card. This benefit applies to US-based warranties that are not over three years long. 

Security Features

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® protects its customers. Online monitoring tools carry out continuous surveillance for suspicious account activities.

Chase staff may call you if they notice something wrong. They may even place your account on hold and request you to confirm your recent account activity. 

Chase offers the following security features:

  • Multiple authentication checks – If you access your account with a new device, Chase will first carry out multiple authentication checks to confirm authorized use. It will request for your username, password, and identification code sent via text or email. Once you supply this information, you may access your account with your new device. 
  • Industry-standard 128 bit SSL encryption -This technology keeps your personal data and transactions safe due to the high level of encryption.

Alerts

Chase offers enhanced security by sending email and text messages in several risky situations. The credit card company will send you alerts of:

  • transactions
  • payments
  • suspicious account activity
  • low balances
  • and more

Above all, you can even choose the alerts you would like to receive. In case of unauthorized use of your credit card account, you will be alerted immediately. 

Customer support

Chase offers 24/7 customer support through live chat, mail, and telephone. Here are the phone lines for personal credit cards:

  • Customer Service: 1-800-432-3117
  • TTY: 1-800-955-8060
  • International: 1-302-594-8200

Chase Freedom Flex℠ vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards differ in a few small but significant ways.

Here’s a quick table that shows the main differences.

 Chase Freedom Flex℠Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Cash back- 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter on select categories
- 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
- 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Intro Offer$200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 monthsEarn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (up to $20,000 in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
APR17.99% - 26.74% Variable17.99% - 26.74% Variable
Annual Fee$0$0

As you can see, there are important differences between the cards. If you’re the kind of person who will pay close attention to your plastic (you’ll follow the quarterly categories all year round and spend accordingly), the Chase Freedom Flex℠ will be the card for you.

But if you don’t want to spend your time and mental resources thinking about your card and are looking for a more simple rewards structure, go for the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Which card is your better bet?

Let’s look at a few scenarios. Let’s assume you spend an average of $1,500 a month on your rewards card. If you were to use the Chase Freedom card, we’ll assume that $500 a month of that spending will be in the 5% cash back categories. That will get you to the $1,500 per quarter maximum on 5% back.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ (Maximized 5% categories)

  • $1,000 a month x 1% x 12 months = $120
  • $500 a month x 5% x 12 months = $300
  • Annual cash back on $18,000 annual spend = $420

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • $1,500 a month x 1.5% x 12 months = $270

So this is surprising. On the surface, you might think that 1.5% cash back trumps 1% cash back plus a limited amount of 5% cash back.

But with Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you’ll earn 3% to 5% cash back in select categories, like dining and drugstores (3%) and travel (5%). For other purchases, you’ll earn 1.5%. So you’ll save even if you aren’t spending in special categories.

Chase Freedom Flex℠ (50% utilization of 5% categories)

  • $1,000 a month x 1% x 12 months = $120
  • $250 a month x 5% x 12 months = $150
  • Annual cash back on $18,000 annual spend = $270

So if you only end up using the Chase Freedom Flex℠ 5% cash back categories half of the time, you end up even with Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Who should apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited®?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is ideal for consumers who want to earn cash back that doesn’t expire without worrying about keeping track of rotating categories or enrolling in quarterly promotions.

Aggressive wallet hackers could also couple the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, and perhaps even the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, using the Chase Freedom Flex℠ only for purchases that qualify for 5% cash back.

Doing so using the above assumptions would net an additional ~$60 a year. When redeemed through high-value partners via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, that could be closer to $500 in annual rewards-–just for spending an average of $1,500 a month.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Nice first year bonus — Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (up to $20,000 in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Decent regular cash back rate — 5% back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fees — There is no annual fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
  • Plenty of robust security features — Chase will send emails and text messages to alert you of any suspicious activity on your card.
  • Flexible redemption — There are multiple ways you can redeem your rewards.
  • Excellent introductory APR — The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a 0% APR on purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. Then, a variable APR rate of 17.99% - 26.74% Variable.

Cons

  • Not the best cash cash back rate — The card doesn't have the highest cash back flat-rate.
  • Foreign transaction fees — There is a 3% foreign transaction fee on each transaction in U.S. dollars   

Another card worth considering

Here’s an alternative to Chase Freedom Unlimited®:

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is unique among cash back credit cards, as it offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% back when you pay off that purchase – equaling 2% cash back in total on all of your purchases.

There’s also an introductory APR offer. Cardholders will recieve a 0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers, with an APR of 17.74% - 27.74% (Variable) thereafter. There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5) when completed in the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer ($5 min.). You’ll get all of these perks with no annual fee!

Summary

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card is suitable for you if you want:

  • 15 month 0% intro APR on purchases and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • $0
  • Decent cash back rate on all purchases
  • Great introductory offer

The card’s introductory offers are excellent. This card is rewarding in its own right. But for maximum benefits, you can try using other Chase cards, as discussed above.

Overall, I think it’s a great cash back card, especially if you spend heavy in the first year to get the full reward.

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About the author

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Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.