Chase Freedom Unlimited review: $200 bonus (and cash back on all purchases)
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The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a rewarding credit card with no annual fee, or one that gives you cash back. This card earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem for cash back or transfer to other eligible Chase cards to save on amazing travel experiences. If you’re a savvy consumer, the 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.
Right now, this card offers an easy-to-attain cash back bonus of $200 (20,000 Chase points) after you spend $500 in purchases within three months of opening the account. What’s more, you’ll earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, as well as 3% cash back on drug store and dining purchases (including takeout and select delivery services). And all other purchases will earn you 1.5% cash back. Unbelievable deal for a no annual fee card.
Often, those who apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited are seeking a card with no annual fee and that earns cash back rewards on any and all purchases.
Be sure to read our guide on common mistakes people make with cashback credit cards to get the most from this card.
Who is the Chase Freedom Unlimited for?
You might overlook this card because it doesn’t come with a massive sign-up bonus, but that would be a mistake. Some of us on the MMS team use it almost every day — it’s one of best tools for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. We think this card deserves a place in your award travel strategy.
As mentioned, the Freedom Unlimited has an earning rate of 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards (5 Chase points per dollar), 3% on dining and drugstore spending (3 Chase points per dollar), and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases (1.5 Chase points per dollar). By way of comparison:
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 2 Chase points per dollar on dining and travel
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Chase points per dollar on dining and travel (excluding $300 travel credit)
- The Chase Freedom Flex℠ (and Chase Freedom, that’s no longer available to new applicants) earns 5% cash back (5 Chase points per dollar) on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories each quarter when you activate the bonus
With these three other cards, spending outside each card’s bonus categories earns 1 Chase point per dollar, or 1% back. That means the Freedom Unlimited is the perfect card to use when you’re making a purchase that doesn’t fall into a bonus category. Note, the Freedom Unlimited is subject to the Chase “5/24 rule,” which means Chase will not approve you for this card if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and some other business cards) in the past 24 months.
When you sign up for the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll earn a $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, you’ll earn 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on drugstore and restaurant purchases, and 1.5% back on anything you buy outside these categories.
What’s more, through March 31, 2022, you’ll earn 5% back on select Lyft services made through the Lyft mobile app. Examples of qualifying purchases are rides that are taken in modes like Classic, Shared, Lux, or XL, as well as rides on bikes and scooters.
Benefits and perks
For a full look at this card’s perks, check out our post on Chase Freedom Unlimited benefits. It’s worth pointing out at the start that the Freedom Unlimited card imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., you should bring along one of the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
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, contact Chase within 90 days after the loss, damage or theft. They’ll explain the documentation (i.e., a copy of the store receipt or police report), which will be needed to substantiate the claim.
Items not eligible for this coverage include animals, antiques, computer software and medical equipment.
Extended warranty protection
Eligible items purchased with your Chase Freedom Unlimited could have the original manufacturer’s warranty extended by up to one 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. Contact Chase within 90 days of the product failure and provide any supporting documentation, such as copies of repair invoices or the original warranty.
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 easy. I contacted the credit card company, provided a copy of my original purchase receipt and repair invoice. I promptly received a paper check reimbursing me in full for the cost of parts and labor.
Trip interruption/cancellation coverage
If you’ve booked a trip and charged at least part of it to your card, you’ll be covered if you have to cancel because of an unforeseen event. The 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. You also could be reimbursed for expenses related to airline, cruise line, railroad, other common carrier fees, change fees and ground transportation expenses.
If the unexpected happens and you need 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, travel emergency services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year by calling:
- Outside the U.S.: 804-673-1691
- Inside the U.S.: 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 examples of referral services:
- Medical assistance
- Legal assistance
- Emergency transportation
- Emergency ticket replacement
- Lost luggage locator
- Emergency translation
- Prescription assistance
Tacking on roadside assistance to your car insurance can be pricey, so if you’ve opted out of that expense on your personal auto insurance policy, the roadside dispatch offered on the Chase Freedom Unlimited could serve as a great alternative or backup.
There’s no separate enrollment process. Once you’re a cardmember, you’re automatically enrolled. 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.
Auto rental collision damage waiver
When you decline a 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
How to redeem points
You can redeem for cash back, gift cards or travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of one 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 MMS team members and readers know that the best way to use Chase points for maximum value is for travel. I’ll explain shortly.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns cash back in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. On their own, these points can be redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal for one cent per point. But if you have another Chase credit 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:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (points are worth 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for travel through the Chase Travel Portal)
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (points are worth 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through the Chase Travel Portal)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (points are worth 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through the Chase Travel Portal)
So you can effectively earn 2.25% back toward travel on every purchase if you have the Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Pairing the Chase Freedom Unlimited with other cards
The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, make a fantastic credit card combination. You can earn 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on purchases, then move your points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve to get 1.5 cents per point toward travel (effectively 2.25% back towards travel).
Let’s say you spend $10,000 per year on the Freedom Unlimited. This means you’ll earn 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. 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.
And for the first year, you’ll earn 5% back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Move those points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and you’re getting a minimum return of 7.5% towards travel.
In addition, when you combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with one of these other card accounts, you can transfer points directly to Chase transfer partners, including Hyatt, Marriott, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines and more. Utilizing transfer partners is often the best way to use Chase points.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a popular rewards credit card with no annual fee. When you sign up, you’ll earn $200 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening — plus 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
On their own, Chase points associated with the Freedom Unlimited are worth one cent each toward cash back or gift cards. That’s good to know during the this coronavirus lock down, when you may be more concerned about paying rent than traveling. 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 after you begin traveling again.
Combine your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with one of these other card accounts so you can transfer points directly to Chase transfer partners, including Hyatt, Marriott, Singapore Airlines, Southwest or United Airlines. And by the way, because it doesn’t have an annual fee, you can keep it open so that your Chase Ultimate Rewards points won’t expire.
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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! :)