Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

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Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Best Cash Back Credit Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site
Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

  • Intro bonus: $200
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.99% – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is NextAdvisor’s pick for the best cash back credit card for its impressive rewards and flexibility for everyday spenders. But the card’s value goes beyond its primary rewards structure. A standout first-year bonus, introductory interest offer, and boosted redemption options make this card one of the best available on the market today.

At a Glance

  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards (includes hotels, flights, and car rentals, among others) 
  • 3% cash back on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery) and drugstore purchases
  • Flat 1.5% cash back on every other purchase
  • $200 bonus after spending $500 within three months of account opening
  • 5% first year bonus on grocery store purchases (on up to $12,000 in purchases)
  • 0% introductory interest offer on purchases for the first 15 months after account opening, variable 14.99 – 23.74% interest thereafter

Chase Freedom Unlimited Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Flexible, hybrid rewards structure made up of tiered categories and flat cash back

  • No annual fee

  • Easily obtainable cash bonus plus ongoing first-year grocery store bonus category

  • Competitive intro APR period can be useful for paying off upcoming purchases over time

Cons

  • No balance transfer introductory offer and 5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) applies

  • Not a great choice for international travelers — you’ll incur a 3% foreign transaction fee

Additional Card Details

Chase recently revamped the Freedom Unlimited, and those changes took it from a great everyday credit card to the unequivocal go-to choice for cash back rewards. 

While the card has always earned a competitive 1.5% flat cash back, the introduction of tiered rewards in travel, dining, and drugstore categories make it a unique hybrid of some of the best characteristics of cash back credit cards.

In addition to Freedom Unlimited card-specific benefits, perks from Chase and its partners bring added value.

You’ll earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022, plus a complimentary 3-month subscription to Doordash’s DashPass followed by 50% off DashPass for 9 months. You can also access Chase benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranties, auto rental insurance, and trip cancellation or interruption insurance.

Should You Get This Card?

If you’re looking for a straightforward rewards card that’s going to earn on every purchase you make and put a little bonus cash in your hand in the short-term, this is a great card.

If you value simplicity, Chase Freedom Unlimited can serve as the only card you need to maximize everyday purchases. But if you’re someone who puts a lot of thought into your credit card strategy, Freedom Unlimited can also fit among the other cards already in your wallet — especially more premium cards within the Chase ecosystem. We believe nearly any responsible credit card user looking to maximize everyday spending can benefit from this card.

How to Use Chase Freedom Unlimited

Maximizing the Chase Freedom Unlimited is relatively easy; getting the best value pretty much relies on using this card for every purchase you make. 

First, make sure you score the $200 cash bonus by spending $500 within the first three months of account opening. Then, continue using it every time you buy groceries for the first year (or until you reach the $12,000 spending cap). After the first-year grocery bonus ends, you may want to switch to a card with ongoing grocery rewards to continue maximizing your weekly supermarket sweeps.

Maximize the other tiered categories by swiping this card whenever you dine out, order in, or pick up essentials at the drugstore. If you don’t have a travel rewards card, you can also maximize your travel spending through Chase Ultimate Rewards with that 5% category. If you do carry another travel rewards card already, compare how 5% stacks up against what you can earn with that card.

And the best thing about the Freedom Unlimited’s flat cash back is you can guarantee a cash back bonus on any purchase you make, anywhere. While it’s not the highest flat rewards earn available, whenever an item or service doesn’t align with other bonus categories, or you’re unsure how the merchant may be coded, Freedom Unlimited will guarantee you get at least 1.5% in savings.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Rewards

Let’s say you spend an average of $15,000 per year, or $1,250 each month on your credit card. Of that, you spend $4,000 on groceries, $3,000 on dining out, $1,200 on travel, and $1,000 at drugstores annually. Here’s what you could earn with Chase Freedom Unlimited over time:

SpendFirst Year RewardsSubsequent Year Rewards
Groceries (5% first year, then 1.5%)$4,000$200$60
Travel (5%)$1,200$60$60
Dining (3%)$3,000$90$90
Drugstores (3%)$1,000$30$30
Other (1.5%)$5,800$87$87
Total$15,000$467$327

Note: These spending values are based on average consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Totals are not exact and not all potential spending categories are accounted for. Your individual rewards earned may vary.

Pairing Chase Freedom Unlimited with Other Cards

Even the best cash back rewards won’t outweigh sky-high credit card interest rates. Before using rewards and cash back to maximize your purchases, eliminate your debt balances and establish healthy credit habits like timely payments, paying balances in full, and low credit utilization. Using those habits to build a great credit score can not only help you qualify for the best credit cards, but also give you a foundation to maximize your spending without taking on debt.

Another lucrative bonus feature of this Chase card is the extra rewards boost you can get using it in tandem with one of Chase’s Sapphire card offerings: the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 

The Sapphires are both travel cards, with rewards and benefits focused primarily on travel you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards and associated purchases. They’re also unique in that the points they earn are boosted when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

While converting your cash back to points with the Freedom Unlimited on its own will yield a value of 1 cent per point, you can transfer points earned with the Freedom Unlimited to your Sapphire Reserve to boost each point’s value to 1.5 cents or to the Sapphire Preferred for a value of 1.25 cents per point, when redeemed for travel via the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Compared to Other Cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

  • Intro bonus:
    $300
  • Annual fee:
    Limited Time Offer: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95. Offer Expires 12/10/2020
  • Regular APR:
    13.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site
Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Intro bonus:
    No current offer
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    740-850 (Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site

Note: All information about the Citi Double Cash Card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The Bottom Line

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

Across multiple categories, we believe Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the best credit cards available today. It’s at the top of our list for best cash back credit cards and its competitive intro offer earns a spot among our favorite 0% interest cards, too.

Highly valuable cash back rewards on everyday spending, a 15-month introductory 0% interest period on new purchases (then 14.99 – 23.74% variable APR), great welcome bonus, and always-evolving long-term benefits — all for no annual fee — combine to make this a great credit card. 

Whether you strategize your monthly spending across multiple rewards cards each month or you’re looking for a catch-all card you don’t have to think about too much, this card can maximize everyday value for nearly every cardholder.

Frequently Asked Questions

We believe Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of the best rewards credit cards currently on the market. Between great rewards across everyday spending categories, a long introductory period, and valuable welcome bonus, this card is simple to use and can add value to nearly every purchase you make.

The recommended credit score for Chase Freedom Unlimited approval is 670 or higher, a credit rating of good to excellent. If you have bad credit or little credit history, consider taking steps to build your credit score before applying for this card.

Chase uses information on your application and credit report to determine your individual credit limit. After approval, your Chase Freedom Unlimited card may be issued as a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature card. Visa Platinum recipients will receive a credit line of at least $500, while Visa Signature recipients receive a minimum credit limit of $5,000.