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Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: An Extremely Powerful No Annual Fee Credit Card

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Chase Freedom Unlimited Review: An Extremely Powerful No Annual Fee Credit Card

Harlan VaughnChase Freedom Unlimited Review: An Extremely Powerful No Annual Fee Credit CardMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: With Chase cards, the power is in the pairing. Put the Chase Freedom Unlimited with a premium Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve to make the points you earn worth even more.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a rewarding no-annual-fee credit card. This card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points you can redeem for cash back or move to other eligible Chase cards to save on amazing travel experiences.

If you’re a savvy consumer, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card can be a much better pick than competing 2% cash-back cards. Keeping it at the top of your wallet is a straightforward way to continuously earn points on everyday purchases.

And right now when you open the card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year, on up to $20,000 in spending (then 1.5% cash back). If you make the most of this promotion, that could mean up to $600 cash back (or 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) in your account — not bad for a card with no annual fee.

You can apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card here.  

Earn valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Freedom Unlimited to save money on travel to fun destinations like California. (Photo courtesy of bpperry/iStock)

Chase Freedom Unlimited Bonus

When you sign up for the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year, up to $20,000 in spening, and 1.5% cash back thereafter.

You don’t have to worry about bonus categories and there’s no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

You can redeem for cash back, gift cards, or travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1 cent per point. For example, if you have 10,000 points, that equals $100 in cash back, gift, cards, or travel. Or you can get 0.8 cents per point toward Amazon purchases.

There’s no right or wrong way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but Million Mile Secrets team members and readers typically use these valuable points to save money on travel.

Just note, the Freedom Unlimited is subject to the Chase “5/24 rule.” Chase will not approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and other business cards) in the past 24 months.

Benefits and Perks of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Points Pooling With Other Eligible Chase Cards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns cash back in the form of Ultimate Rewards points. On their own, these points can be redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal for 1 cent per point. But if you have another Chase card that also earns Ultimate Rewards points, you could pool the points to get even more value. That’s because Ultimate Rewards points redeemed through certain cards are worth more through the Chase Travel Portal.

Here are some other Chase cards you can pool your points with:

This is why the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, make a fantastic credit card combination. You can earn 1.5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase, then move your points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve to get 1.5 cents per point.

Let’s say you spend $10,000 per year on the Freedom Unlimited. This means you’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($10,000 X 1.5x per $1). Moving these points to the Sapphire Reserve makes them worth 1.5 cents each toward travel through the Chase portal. So you can get $225 worth of travel (15,000 points X 1.5 cents per point). With this strategy you’re earning 2.25 cents per $1 with the Freedom Unlimited ($225 worth of rewards/$10,000 in spending).

In addition, when you  combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with one of these other card accounts, you’ll have the ability to transfer points directly to Chase transfer partners, including Hyatt, Marriott, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines and more.

Purchase Protection

If you purchase an eligible item brand new, it’ll be covered against damage or theft for 120 days, up to a limit of $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

You’ll be covered as long as you made at least part of the purchase with your card.

To take advantage of this perk, you’ll need to contact Chase within 90 days after the loss, damage or theft. They’ll let you know what documentation they’ll need, which could include a copy of the store receipt, police report or anything else that substantiates the claim.

Certain items are not eligible for this coverage, such as animals, antiques, computer software and medical equipment. You can check the Guide to Benefits for a complete list of excluded items.

Extended Warranty Protection

Eligible items purchased with your Chase Freedom Unlimited could have the original manufacturer’s warranty extended by up to one additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less. Coverage is limited to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.

You’ll qualify for this extended-warranty coverage if you made at least part of the purchase with your card.

Taking advantage of this benefit is fairly straightforward. You’ll want to contact Chase within 90 days of the product failure and provide any supporting documentation they require, such as copies of repair invoices, the original warranty, etc.

The extended-warranty perk saved me several hundred dollars when my out-of-warranty laptop needed a new keyboard. As I recall, the claim process was very easy. I contacted the credit card company, provided a copy of my original purchase receipt and repair invoice. I was promptly mailed a paper check reimbursing me in full for the cost of parts and labor.

There are some items that are excluded from coverage, and you can find the full list in the Guide to Benefits.

Trip Interruption/Cancellation Coverage

If you’ve booked a trip and charged at least part of it to your card, you’ll be covered ifyou have to cancel because of an unforeseen event.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited provides coverage to reimburse you for certain eligible non-refundable expenses up to $1,500 per person, up to a maximum of $6,000 for all covered persons traveling together on the same trip.

Qualifying events include changes in military orders, severe weather, sickness affecting you or a traveling companion and more. And you could be reimbursed for expenses related to airline, cruise line, railroad, other common carrier fees, change fees and ground transportation expenses.

A complete list is available in the Guide to Benefits.

If the unexpected happens and you do have to file a claim, you can expect to follow this general process:

  • Contact Chase at 888-320-9656. It’s recommended that you do this within 20 days of finding out you won’t be able to make your travel plans.
  • You’ll be sent claim forms which will need to be signed and completed.
  • You may need to provide supporting documentation such as copies of your travel itinerary and documents supporting your trip cancellation, such as medical documents or death certificate.

Travel Emergency Services

If you need help but don’t know where to turn or who to call, travel emergency services is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

  • Outside the US, call: 804-673-1691
  • Inside the US, call: 888-320-9656

They provide a wide range of services, but it’s important to note that they provide only assistance and referral. You will be responsible for the cost of any services or goods provided.

Here are some examples of services they can provide referrals for:

  • Medical assistance
  • Legal assistance
  • Emergency transportation
  • Emergency ticket replacement
  • Lost luggage locator
  • Emergency translation
  • Prescription assistance

Roadside Dispatch

Tacking on roadside assistance to your car insurance can be pricey, so if you’ve opted out of that on your personal insurance policy, the roadside dispatch offered on the Chase Freedom Unlimited could serve as a great alternative or backup.

And there’s no separate enrollment process. Once you’re a card member, you’re automatically enrolled. Just call 800-847-2869 and you can get help for the following services:

  • Towing (up to five miles included)
  • Tire changing (you must provide a good, inflated spare)
  • Jump-start/battery boost
  • Lockout service (no key replacement)
  • Fuel delivery (up to five gallons; cost of fuel not included)
  • Winching (within 100 feet of paved or county-maintained road only)

Once you call, the dispatcher will stay on the line with you while they arrange for a local towing or service provider to come to you. It saves you the hassle of having to find a local company yourself, and the fees will be billed directly to your credit card account.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (Auto Rental CDW)

When you decline a car-rental agency’s Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)/Loss Damage Waiver (LDW), you’ll get secondary coverage when you pay for your car rental with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Coverage is global and is eligible with most private passenger vehicles. Covered losses are:

  • Physical damage and theft of the vehicle
  • Valid loss-of-use charges while the damaged vehicle is out of service
  • Reasonable and customary towing charges

You can find much more information starting on Page 2 in the Chase Guide To Benefits.

Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited Worth It?

You might overlook this card because it doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus, but that would be a mistake. This card deserves a place in your free-travel strategy. Some of us on the MMS team use it almost every day because it’s one of best tools for earning our favorite kind of credit card rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

An earning rate of 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 may not sound like a lot. After all, other cards earn much more than that:

But on those cards, spending outside each card’s bonus categories earns just 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1. That means the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the perfect card to use when you’re making a boring purchase that doesn’t fall into a bonus category

Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited Have a Foreign Transaction Fee?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited does charge foreign transaction fees, so it isn’t a good choice for use overseas.

Cards Similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom card is the most obvious competitor to the Freedom Unlimited. The Chase Freedom® is also a no-annual-fee card and it currently comes with a $150 cash bonus (15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

With the Chase Freedom, you’ll earn 5% cash back (5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1) on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in categories which rotate each quarter when you activate the bonus. And 1% cash back (or 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 spent) on everything else.

You can read our review of the Chase Freedom card here.

Another similar card is the Discover it® Miles card. There are no bonus categories, so every dollar you spend with your card will earn you 1.5 miles toward future travel rewards. The earning is unlimited, so you can spend as much as you want and continue to earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent.

The Discover it Miles doesn’t have a welcome bonus, but after your first 12 billing cycles, Discover will match the miles you earned during the first year of card membership. There is no limit to how much you can earn during this introductory offer.

This means that during your first year of having the card, you are effectively earning 3 miles per dollar (or 3% back) on all purchases for an entire year. Here’s an in-depth review of the Discover It Miles program.

Bottom Line

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a popular no-annual-fee rewards credit card. When you sign up, you’ll earn 3% cash back on all purchases for the first year on up to $20,000 spent. And 1.5% cash back after that. These points add up quickly!

On their own, points linked to the Freedom Unlimited are worth 1 cent each toward cash back, gift cards, or travel through the Chase portal. But pairing the Freedom Unlimited with certain Chase Ultimate Rewards point-earning credit cards, like the Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred, can make your points more valuable.

You can combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with one of these other card accounts. Then you’ll have the ability to transfer points directly to Chase transfer partners, including Hyatt, Marriott, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines and more.

For more information about earning and using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, check out these guides:

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. A Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Struggling big time deciding to put a large purchase on my CFU or Hilton Surpass to get the free weekend night certificate…