Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card Review – 1.5% Cash Back

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Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a cash back credit card with no annual fee, a very good sign-up bonus, a long intro 0% APR promotion, and a flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back earning rate on most purchases. It shares many similarities with the original Chase Freedom card and its successor, the Chase Freedom Flex card, which also lacks an annual fee and comes with generous sign-up and intro APR promotion.

The biggest distinction between Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex is that Freedom Unlimited does away with Freedom Flex’s rotating cash back categories. Those categories allow cardholders to earn up to 5% cash back on select purchases, up to a quarterly spending cap, in addition to a 1% baseline earning rate on all other purchases. However, they are frequently criticized as being annoying to activate and track.

Chase Freedom Unlimited is comparable to a number of other cash back cards with flat, unlimited earning rates on most purchases: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (1.5%) and Citi Double Cash Card (1% on purchases and 1% on bill payments above the minimum) are 2 noteworthy examples. It’s also comparable to cash back cards with tiered or rotating cash back categories, such as the American Express Blue Cash Everyday.

Key Features

Sign-up Bonus

Earn $200 bonus cash when you spend at least $500 in eligible purchases during the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart), up to $12,000 spent during the first year.

Earning Cash Back Rewards

Chase Freedom Unlimited earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on most purchases, with no caps, restrictions, or spending categories. Certain other purchases earn cash back at higher rates:

  • 5% cash back on eligible travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • 3% cash back on eligible drugstore and dining purchases (including takeout and deliver)
  • 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides earn through March 2022

Cash back is tracked via Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth $0.01 apiece – therefore, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points equals $100 in cash. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your points do not expire.

Redeeming Cash Back Rewards

You can redeem your accumulated cash back for cash equivalents (such as statement credits and bank account deposits), gift cards, travel and general merchandise purchases made through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, and merchandise purchases made direct with online retailers (such as Amazon). Chase Freedom Unlimited allows cash redemptions in any amount, but merchandise redemption minimums vary based on item cost.

Points Transfer to Other Chase Credit Cards

If you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($95 annual fee) travel rewards card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card ($95 annual fee) business card, you can transfer points earned through Chase Freedom Unlimited to those accounts.

Once transferred, you can redeem your points for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal and receive a 25% bonus (for instance, boosting the value of a 50,000-point redemption to $625), or transfer your points at a 1-to-1 ratio to approximately 10 frequent traveler programs.

However, having a Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t automatically qualify you for Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, and you’re not eligible for the redemption bonus or 1-to-1 point transfer if you only have Freedom Unlimited.

Important Fees

There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%.

Introductory APR

This card has a 15-month 0% APR purchase promotion.

Regular APR

Once the introductory period ends, Chase Freedom Unlimited’s regular purchase APR ranges between 14.99% to 23.74% variable, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The balance transfer APR is the same from the day you open your account. There is no penalty APR.

Additional Benefits

This card comes with a number of additional cardholder benefits, including:

  • Purchase protection against loss or damage for 120 days from purchase, up to $500 per item
  • Complimentary collision and damage insurance for rental cars paid for in full with the card
  • A free credit score, updated weekly, with Chase Credit Journey
  • A complimentary subscription to DashPass DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service, for 3 months. After that, enjoy DashPass for 50% off for the next 9 months. DashPass benefits include unlimited delivery fee waivers on DoorDash orders over $12. You must activate your DashPass subscription by December 31, 2021.

Credit Required

This card requires good to excellent credit. Any notable blemishes on your credit record are likely to disqualify your application.

Advantages

  1. No Annual Fee. Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have an annual fee, which is great news for cardholders who don’t earn points fast enough to offset the potential cost of a recurring charge.
  2. Great Intro APR Promotion. This card’s 15-month 0% APR purchase promotion is among the best in the no-annual-fee cash back category. Competitors such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card offer 0% APRs for 12 months or less.
  3. Very Good Sign-up Bonus. Freedom Unlimited’s sign-up bonus is significantly better than most competing no-annual-fee cash back cards.
  4. Cash Redemptions in Any Amount. You can redeem cash back earned with Freedom Unlimited at any time and in any amount.
  5. Wide Range of Redemption Options. Thanks to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal, you can redeem your accumulated rewards for virtually anything (including travel, merchandise, and purchases made directly with third-party retailers), and usually at a flat $0.01-per-point rate. This is a big perk relative to competitors such as Barclaycard CashForward, which limits redemption methods to cash equivalents.
  6. No Rotating Categories. Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t have tiered or rotating spending categories. This removes one of the biggest knocks against the Chase Freedom Flex card, which requires users to manually activate 5% bonus cash back categories each quarter. With Freedom Unlimited, you don’t even have to think about earning cash back – the card automatically maximizes your earnings for you.
  7. No Penalty APR. This card doesn’t charge penalty interest. That’s good news for cardholders who occasionally miss payments.
  8. Doesn’t Require Perfect Credit. Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t require perfect credit. Still, this card isn’t designed for people with poor or fair credit, but a good to very good score isn’t sure to disqualify your application. Some cash back cards require legitimately excellent credit.

Disadvantages

  1. Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, which is a major bummer for people who frequently travel outside the United States.
  2. No Redemption Bonus. Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer a redemption bonus under any circumstances. This is a notable disadvantage relative to some competing cash back cards, which offer across-the-board 5% or 10% bonuses at redemption.

Final Word

Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers some faint hope that credit card issuers actually listen to their cardholders’ concerns. Why? Because this card, first issued years after original Freedom’s debut, addresses the cardholding public’s biggest complaint about its predecessor: those pesky rotating 5% categories, which require manual activation each quarter – and mental effort to remember.

Freedom Unlimited’s flat, unlimited 1.5% earning rate on most purchases is much easier to manage. And that’s welcome news for busy cardholders who don’t want to think twice about which card to use in any given circumstance.

 


Originally posted at https://www.moneycrashers.com/chase-freedom-unlimited-review/

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