The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Reviewer: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Chase Freedom Unlimited® Review

Rated 4.9 /5.0 ★★★★★

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is an excellent rewards card that will appeal to credit newbies and veterans alike. You receive a high earnings rate without having to fork over an annual fee. It works well as your everyday credit card and is even better when you pair it with a Chase Sapphire card.

Let’s take a close look at this card and three competitive alternatives. One may be the perfect card for your lifestyle.

Highlights of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® caters to consumers who want good perks and a simple rewards program. The card offers new cardmembers an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers, along with generous tired rewards, depending on the merchant category. Rewards don’t expire while the account remains open.

The card doesn’t charge an annual fee or penalties for returned checks or over-limit spending. But it does charge fees on foreign transactions and late/returned payments.

This card has an interest-free grace period between the statement end date and the payment due date. The card will not charge you interest on new purchases if you pay your balance each month by the due date. You don’t want to miss a payment, lest you fall victim to the card’s high Penalty APR.

How to Qualify & Apply

You must have good or excellent credit to qualify for this card. That translates into a minimum FICO score of 670.

In addition, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Live in the United States
  • Have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Earn enough income to make the monthly minimum payments

You can access the application on Chase’s website by clicking the “Apply Now” button below:

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

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CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • 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 Travel, 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 travel purchased through Chase Travel, 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 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • 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, alerts, and more.
  • Member FDIC
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
20.49% - 29.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

You may be ineligible if you run afoul of the notorious Chase 5/24 Rule, which limits the number of new credit accounts you can have on your credit reports and still receive approval for most Chase credit cards. Specifically, if you open five or more new bank card accounts within 24 months, Chase will likely reject your application.

The 5/24 Rule applies to any credit account, not just ones from Chase Bank. You may have a valid reason for opening five credit accounts in 24 months, but Chase Bank is not interested in why.

Benefits & Drawbacks of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®

There’s a lot to like (and little to dislike) about this card. Let’s map it out:

Benefits

  • No annual fee
  • Various travel insurances and protections
  • Multiple reward tiers
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
  • Special promotions for DoorDash, Lyft, GoPuff, and Instacart
  • Purchase protection covering damage or theft of eligible purchased items for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • One additional year of extended warranty coverage on purchased items that have a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less
  • Secondary car rental insurance when you decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card

Drawbacks

  • The 20.49% - 29.24% Variable APR is about average, but you can avoid it by paying your entire balance every month.
  • The card charges fees for foreign transactions, cash advances, balance transfers, and late/returned payment fees, which also trigger a high Penalty APR.
  • Card approval is subject to the Chase 5/24 Rule.

All things considered, the card’s benefits greatly outweigh its drawbacks.

Similar Cards Worth Considering

Here we compare other leading cash back cards that give the Chase Freedom Unlimited® some stiff competition. The following three cards are similar but different enough that one may make better sense for your wallet, depending on your spending habits.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% Intro APR Period 18 months on Balance Transfers
19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good, Fair

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

The Citi Double Cash® Card provides ThankYou Points you can redeem for cash rewards through a direct deposit, statement credit, gift card, or check. Other card benefits include a $0 annual fee, special access to thousands of entertainment events, 24/7 customer support, compatibility with digital wallets, and contactless pay.

The card offers new cardmembers an introductory 0% APR promotion for balance transfer transactions. It supplies one of the highest flat rewards rates you can get without an annual fee in the credit card industry, plus a bonus rate on select Citi Travel bookings.

Protection features include 24-hour fraud protection, $0 liability on unauthorized charges, Citi Identity Theft Solutions, and Lost Wallet Service. Most Citi Double Cash® Card reviews give it high marks.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Enjoy up to 6 months of complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Consumers who want a simple rewards arrangement will find the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card appealing. The flat cash back rate covers every type of purchase without favoring certain merchant types over others. You earn a bonus rate when you book through Capital One Travel.

The card provides features with great general appeal, including travel accident insurance, redemptions through PayPal, and extended warranties. There is no limit to the rewards you can earn, and you can prequalify for the card without affecting your credit score. Note that prequalification does not guarantee final approval.

The signup bonus is modest, but so is the spending requirement. The card charges no annual or foreign transaction fees. It offers new cardmembers an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers. You also get a free Uber One membership.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn $250 back in the form of a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership
  • 3% cash back on groceries from U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 3% cash back on U.S. online retail purchases (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%)
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 1% back on other purchases
  • Introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate applies
  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card or other offers in as little as 30 seconds
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
19.24% - 29.99% Variable
$0
Good

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is an excellent choice for online, gas, and grocery purchases. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers relatively high credit limits.

Blue Cash Everyday provides an attractive introductory 0% APR promotion on purchases and balance transfers but imposes a hefty Penalty APR if you miss a payment. This card regularly offers an attractive signup bonus that’s relatively easy to obtain.

You need good credit to get approved for the card and can prequalify in less than a minute. You can create Buy Now, Pay Later plans with a fixed monthly fee for specified purchases.

FAQs: What is the Card’s Credit Limit?

The minimum credit limit on the Visa Signature version of the card is $5,000. Much higher limits are possible: A FICO forums contributor claims a $29,400 credit limit, but other cardmembers may have higher spending caps.

Credit limits on Visa Platinum versions of the card start at $500. Whether you’re approved for the Signature or Platinum version of the card depends on your creditworthiness.

How Do the Card’s Rewards Work?

The card’s marketing material uses the phrase “Cash Back rewards.” But in fact, Chase tracks your rewards as points. Each $1 in Cash Back rewards is equal to 100 points, and you can easily cash out your points at any time and in any amount.

Rewards Structure

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card has three reward tiers. You earn the highest rate on each dollar you spend on travel purchases through Chase Travel. The middle tier rewards you for drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

Chase Freedom Reward Categories
How rewards are denominated in the first year of ownership.

The standard rewards rate applies to all other eligible purchases, which excludes balance transfers, cash advances and other cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers, and several other exceptions.

Reward Redemptions

You can redeem your points for any available reward option, including cash, gift cards, travel, and Pay with Points for purchases through the program or directly from third parties. Redemption values for reward options vary.

Your points don’t expire as long as your account remains open. However, you will immediately lose all your points if you or Chase closes the account.

What Travel Protections Does It Offer?

Chase is known for providing robust travel insurance, and this card’s no exception. It provides several perks for travelers and consumers at a remarkable value, given the lack of an annual fee.

Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption

The travel insurance benefit reimburses you for eligible (i.e., non-refundable, prepaid) travel expenses due to covered losses. The coverage amount tops out at $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip. You also receive up to $250 if your interrupted trip results in ground transportation expenses.

The benefit covers you and family members traveling with you. Covered losses for cancellations and interruptions are those arising from the following:

  • Accidental bodily injury
  • Loss of life
  • Sickness
  • Severe weather or named storm warning
  • Changes in military orders
  • Strikes affecting public transportation
  • Terrorism warnings or incidents

Various conditions and exclusions apply, so you’ll have to read the card’s benefits guide to understand your coverage limits.

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

Emergencies can quickly escalate when you’re traveling away from home. Something relatively straightforward when you are at home, such as replacing prescription medication, can become complicated when you must navigate local laws or language barriers.

The card’s Travel and Emergency Assistance Services help you if an emergency occurs while you are traveling away from home. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can call the Benefit Administrator to access assistance.

The benefit provides assistance and referral for medical, legal, transportation, and other urgent problems. The service can also deliver emergency messages to interested parties. You are responsible for the costs of the services you receive.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)

The insurance benefit reimburses the cost of rental car theft or collision damage. The CDW provides secondary coverage, which means it supplements other policies. You also receive coverage for towing and loss-of-use expenses (i.e., the rental company’s loss of revenues due to the car’s unavailability).

The CDW doesn’t cover other types of loss, such as personal liability or theft of personal belongings. For example, it excludes injuries to other people and damages to any property other than the rental car. To receive coverage, you must use your card to pay for the rental and decline the rental company’s CDW.

The CDW doesn’t apply to certain vehicles, including high-value motor vehicles, exotic and antique cars, cargo vans, vehicles with open cargo beds, limousines, trucks (other than pick-ups), mopeds, motorcycles, motorbikes, recreational vehicles, and passenger vans with seating for more than nine people.

Roadside Dispatch

Roadside Dispatch is a pay-per-use roadside assistance program that provides you with security and convenience when you travel. You can receive help 24/7 by making a toll-free phone call (1-800-847-2869).

You don’t need any membership or pre-enrollment to receive aid. The service has no annual dues or usage limits.

For a set price per service, the program provides you with:

  • Fuel delivery of up to five gallons, plus the fuel cost
  • Jump starts
  • Lockout service — not key replacement
  • Standard towing of up to five miles
  • Standard winching
  • Tire changing — you must have a good, inflated spare

You may have the option to save money using Chase’s pre-negotiated rates.

How Does It Compare to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a bigger signup bonus with points that gain 25% more value when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You’ll also receive an annual hotel credit, and you can transfer your points to hotel and airline partner loyalty programs.

Each account anniversary, you earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases from the previous year. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card charges a $95 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. This card is geared more toward travelers than the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is.

The following chart compares the Chase Freedom Unlimited® with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card:

Feature Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee $0 $95
Rewards You earn 5% on travel through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other eligible purchases. You earn 5x on travel bought through Chase, 3x on dining, 2x on all other travel purchases, and 1x on other eligible purchases.
Sign-up Bonus New cardmembers have an introductory offer to earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) You can earn a lump sum of bonus points based on spending within a specified time (the terms of this bonus change regularly)
Intro APR 0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months N/A
Foreign Transaction Fees Yes No
Travel Benefits Basic travel insurance, including travel interruption/cancellation insurance and CDW for rental cars. Travel benefits are extensive, including primary CDW for rental cars, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and baggage and trip delay insurance.
Additional Perks You are eligible for benefits from DoorDash, Lyft, and Instacart. You also get purchase protection and extended warranty protection. You get a free DoorDash subscription (one year), a $50 annual hotel credit, and Lyft rewards. You also get a 10% anniversary bonus, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection.
Credit Score Required You need good credit (670+) You need good to excellent credit (670-850)
Redemption Options You earn points for cash back, gift cards, travel, and products/services You earn points for travel, point transfers to partner loyalty programs, gift cards, cash back, and Chase experiences
APR 20.49% - 29.24% Variable 21.49%-28.49% Variable
Point Value Increase No increase Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25x when redeemed for travel.

Both Chase cards provide excellent value. The moderate annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card buys you extra benefits and redemption options. If you are a Chase customer, you may want to own both cards.

Can I Combine Rewards With Other Chase Cards?

One of the benefits of owning a Chase Freedom Unlimited® and a Chase Sapphire card is the ability to move reward points between the two. This benefit is compelling because the points on Chase Sapphire cards are worth more when you redeem them for travel through Chase’s portal.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points can increase in value by 1.25X. The more expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides a 1.5X value increase. These value increases apply to the points you earn on the Sapphire cards and the points you transfer from Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

A points transfer to a Sapphire card also gives you more redemption options, such as 1:1 point transfers to partner travel programs. You can also pay with points on eligible purchases from Amazon.com and Apple.

Main Takeaways

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a great choice if you want a card that delivers straightforward rewards without hassling you with spending limits or rotating categories. It also boasts pretty good benefits, which is why we think it’s a candidate for the best credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee. If you have good credit, this Visa card deserves your careful consideration.

About the Author

Eric Bank
Eric Bank Finance Expert

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Eric Bank