Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers easy cash back on every purchase. However, is it a little too simple? Find out how it stacks up against other cards.

The Verdict

The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card gives a little bit of cash back on everything

A no-frills card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a simple card that earns you points worth 1.5% cash on every purchase.

That means there's no need to go fumbling through your wallet looking for the right card that earns you the highest amount at a gas station, restaurant, or pharmacy.

You just pay and get a little money back.

Other cards have bigger rewards. The tradeoff for this simplicity means missing out on rotating reward categories that could earn you 5% back like other cards Chase offers.

Also, other straight cash back cards offer higher rewards, like 2% back on every purchase.

Pairs best with other Chase cards. However, using this card in conjunction with other Chase credit cards lets you potentially make what you earn go further – as in 50% further.

A little pricey. Its APR is also a little high once its introductory offer expires. This can be a drawback for those that carry a balance.

Solid overall perks. With that said, this can be a good card for everyday purchases for most people – especially if they already have other cards from Chase.

This Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card review will help you decide whether this card belongs in your wallet.

Chase Credit Cards Rewards Spending is on the Rise

Why You Should Consider This Card

Get points on all your purchases and combine with other Chase cards for maximum rewards

Part of the family. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is part of the Ultimate Rewards family of credit cards, which is basically a portal intoa virtual land of free stuff you should take advantage of.

That means if you don't think the Freedom Unlimited card is right for you, one of these other cards, like the Chase Freedom or Sapphire Preferredmight better fit your spending habits.

Know if this card's for you. To tell whether the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is worth your consideration, see if you:

  • Already have a Chase Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve card
  • Have a credit score above 680
  • Want a cash back card for everyday expenses

Why People Love This Card

The card offers simple rewards on everything

1.5% back on all purchases. Spending a dollar gets you $0.015 back in points. That's the easy option Chase offers for cash back and rewards with its Freedom Unlimited card.

That means if you spend $100, you'll get $1.50 back in points that can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, or other items through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Good intro offer. Spending $500 in three months after signing up for this card will net you $150.

No APR for 15 months. This card carries a 16.49%–25.24% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

However, you won't pay any APR for the first 15 months with the introductory offer for the Freedom Unlimited.

That means you would avoid a charge for between $23.99-$37.11 for a $150 balance transfer during this time, depending on your interest rate.

No annual fee. Unlike other cards, like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from Amex (with its bundle of perks) or the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards from Chase (with their killer intro offers), the Freedom Unlimited card doesn't charge an annual fee.

Rewards don't expire. Your points won't expire with this card as long as your account is in good standing with no delinquent or missed payments.

No minimum to redeem. You can trade your points in for cash back or other rewards without having to earn a minimum amount.

How Frequently Cash Back Rewards are Redeemed (2016)

Biggest Consumer Complaints

The Chase Freedom card's rewards are a little too simple

A little too simple. While 1.5% back on everything is nice, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn't feature spending categories where you can earn extra points.

For instance, the Chase Freedom card or Discover it card offers 5% back on certain spending categories throughout the year.

That means a $60 charge in one of these categories would earn you $3 with the Chase Freedom card, but only $0.90 with the Freedom Unlimited.

Bad for carrying a balance. Carrying a balance is a bad idea on any credit card, but especially the Freedom Unlimited.

This card charges 16.49%–25.24% APR for both purchases and balance transfers.

That means carrying an $100 balance would result in between $16.49-$25.24 in interest.

While that's nothing extravagant, it still can range higher than the average cash back card interest rate of 20.90%.

Don't charge abroad. You get charged a 3% foreign transaction fee for every purchase made in a country other than the U.S.

If you bought an item worth $25 USD while traveling abroad, using the Freedom Unlimited card would mean paying an extra $0.75 due to the foreign transaction fee.

That makes it a poor choice for globetrotters.

Questionable customer service. While the credit card services from Chase Bank hold an A+ ranking from the Better Business Bureau, the organization has also received 1,812 past consumer complaints.

Many of these center around long wait times to speak with a representative and an inability to resolve complaints.

While this level of complaints is normal for organizations of such size, you should still understand what cardholders have found lacking with Chases Bank's service.

The Competition

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card competes with the Citi Double Cash card

Similar in many ways. The Freedom Unlimited card's biggest challenger is the Citi Double Cash card.

Like the Freedom Unlimited, it doesn't charge an annual fee.

It also offers a simple rewards structure without special spending categories for earning extra cash back or points.

Earns you more. Unlike the Freedom Unlimited, the Citi Double Cash card earns you 2% back on every purchase.

You earn 1% when you initially charge a purchase on the card, and then 1% back when you pay off the balance.

That means if you bought something worth $25, you would earn $0.50 total with the Citi Double Cash card.

With the Freedom Unlimited, you would earn just $0.25.

Longer introductory APR for balance transfers. The Citi Double Cash card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. That's three months longer than the Freedom Unlimited.

But no introductory purchase APR. This offer doesn't extend to regular purchases. You'll pay 14.49%-24.49% for carrying a balance from the start.

And no intro bonus. You don't get any sort of sign-up bonus with the Double Cash card. Meanwhile, the Freedom Unlimited offers $150 for spending $500 in the first three months.

The rewards come with limits. Unlike the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, the points you earn with the Citi Double Cash card can expire. If you don't use the card for a year, they're gone.

Finally, you have to earn at least $25 in points to redeem them.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn't come with any minimum threshold for redeeming your points.

How the card compares to its top competitor

Chase Freedom Unlimited Citi Double Cash Card
How high of a credit score do you need? >680 >700
Average APR? 16.49%–25.24% 14.49% to 24.49%
Annual fee? N/A N/A
How big of a sign-up bonus do you get? $150 N/A
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus? $500 within three months N/A
How much cash back do you get for every dollar? $0.015 $0.02
Any restrictions? None None
If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars? $1.50 $2
How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)? N/A N/A

Here are three other competitive cards to consider

For Chase fans. The Freedom card has the same APR, intro APR, and sign-up bonus as the Freedom Unlimited.

However, it features rotating spending categories that earn up to 5% cash back. These can include gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies.

All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

For those looking for the max cash back. The Discover it card gets you 1% back on all purchases. It also features spending categories with a 5% return.

Separating the Discover it from the rest is the Discover Match program. At the end of the first year, Discover will match all the cash back you earned.

That means if you racked up $100 in rewards, Discover will also kick in an additional $100.

For those needing lower APR. The Capital One Quicksilver card resembles the Freedom Unlimited card in several ways.

It offers a $150 intro bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. The card also features 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

However, its APR is only 13.99–23.99%, a little lower than the Freedom Unlimited.

The Question Everyone's Asking Now

"How can I get the most value out of the Freedom Unlimited card?"

Combine for more points. The best way to maximize your earning potential with the Freedom Unlimited card is through combining it with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.

This can be done through with the Chase Freedom card or the Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cards.

There's no transaction fee or penalty for moving points from one card to another. You can swap your points around for maximum value as much as you want.

Earn more points with Chase Freedom. By combining the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards, you can earn more points than you would with either card on its own.

The trick is using your Freedom card for the rotating categories offering 5% cash back, and your Freedom Unlimited for 1.5% on everything else.

For instance, say you spent $50 at a grocery store and $50 at a gas station. In this example, we'll say gas stations were a spending category offering more points with your Freedom card.

Using just your Freedom card, you would earn $0.50 at the grocery store and $2.50 in cash back at the gas station for a total of $3.

Using just your Freedom Unlimited card, you would earn $0.75 on each expense for a total of $1.50.

Alternatively, using your Freedom Unlimited card for the grocery store and switching over to your Freedom card for the gas station would earn you the highest amount of $3.25.

Redeem for more points with a Sapphire card. You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points between cards.

That offers big opportunities for maximizing the value of your points by transferring them to either the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred cards.

Both of these cards offer higher redemption rates when spending Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases.

Your points redeem for 25% more on travel when you use the Sapphire Preferred card, and 50% more with the Sapphire reserve.

For example, that means you could transfer $100 worth of points to the Sapphire Preferred card and redeem them for $125 worth of travel expenses.

How Frequently Travel Rewards are Redeemed (2016)

How the Card Works

The card offers modest rewards for no annual fee

Get what you pay for. The 1.5% rewards from the Freedom Unlimited card are nothing to sneeze at, but they pale in comparison to other cards Chase offers.

Both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve card offer two to three times the points for travel and dining expenses.

However, both of these cards come with an annual fee of $95-$450.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn't have an annual fee.

Take advantage of the intro APR. Your balance won't accrue interest for purchases or balance transfers for the first 15 months. Take advantage of this time period.

You could use this interest-free time to make an expensive purchase and then pay it off over time.

Alternatively, you could switch over the existing balance from a card with a higher APR onto your Freedom Unlimited card.

However, take note of the fine print for balance transfers. Chase won't let you move the balance from any loan or account it issued onto this card.

That means you can't transfer the balance from your Freedom card onto your Freedom Unlimited card, for instance.

Higher-than-average APR. The upper limit for the Freedom Unlimited's APR is 25.24%. That's more than what other cards charge.

For instance, the Capital One Quicksilver card gets you the same cash back and introductory offer with a maximum APR of 24.49%.

Granted, a 0.75% difference in rates isn't that much.

Still, it might make sense for you to get the lowest possible APR if you don't have any other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards that let you redeem your points at a higher level.

Pick the reward right for you. Remember, you don't have to opt for a cash reward when redeeming your points.

You can redeem your points for experiences like concerts, book travel arrangements, or gift cards through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Make sure to transfer points earned on your Freedom Unlimited card to your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, if you have them.

That way, you can redeem your points for 25%-50% more for travel purchases.

Key Digital Services

Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal makes it easy to redeem your points

Accessible online. Redeeming your points is easy as logging on to Chase's Ultimate Rewards website.

There, you can see how many points you've earned.

You can also redeem them for cash back, statement credit, travel, and other items or experiences.

A good app. You can also access your Ultimate Rewards account through the Chase app.

The app features all of the same functions as the online portal. It currently has pretty good reviews on the iTunes store with 4.6 stars out of 5, and on Google Play with 4.2 stars out of 5.

Consumer Interest in App Features is Growing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • How do I get started?

    You can apply online at Chase's website or app. You can also visit any of Chase's brick-and-mortar locations.

  • What's the best way to speak to a human?

    If you want to make sure you'll talk with a person, visit a Chase branch location.

  • How do I cancel my card?

    Cancel by calling 1-800-432-3117.

  • Do I get any perks for having a Freedom Unlimited card and Chase Bank checking or savings account?

    No. While the company used to have the Chase Exclusives program that offered account holders more points on purchases, it was discontinued in 2014.

  • What can I use my credit card for?

    Any purchases where Chase cards are accepted.

  • Where and what stores can I use my credit card for?

    This will vary by store. However, most large companies accept Chase cards.

  • How long does it take the company to refund my credit card?

    Refunds can take up to seven days to process.

  • How can I redeem my cash back rewards?

    Through the Chase app or Ultimate Rewards website.

  • What can I redeem my cash back rewards for?

    You can redeem them for travel, entertainment, merchandise, and gift cards through the Ultimate Rewards portal, or opt for cash or statement credit.

  • Is there any travel insurance on the card?

    No.

  • How can I check my credit card balance?

    By using the Chase app or website, or visiting a Chase location.

  • Can I withdraw money from my credit card?

    Yes, but you'll pay a fee of 25.99%.

  • Can I get a cash advance and are there any related fees?

    Yes, but you'll pay a transaction fee of 25.99% for cash advances.

  • Can I pay for the credit card with a gift card or different kind of credit card? What about Paypal?

    Your credit card payments are drawn directly from your checking account.

    You can transfer your balance from one credit card to another using a balance transfer.

  • Can I use my credit card without the card?

    Yes, but typically through online retailers that only require the card's information.

  • How can I add an authorized user?

    Call 1-800-432-3117 or visit a Chase location.

  • Are there any upgrades on this card?

    No.

  • How soon can I use my credit card once I receive it?

    Immediately.

  • How can I contact Chase credit card services or report a stolen card?

    By calling 1-800-432-3117.

  • What credit score will I need to be approved?

    Typically above 680.

  • What credit score do I have to maintain so my account doesn't close?

    Chase does not publicly list this information. However, keeping your credit score above a 650 minimum should keep your card active.

  • Will my credit score drop if I miss a payment?

    Yes.

  • Which credit bureaus does Chase report to?

    These can include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

  • Can I build my credit score with this card?

    Yes, by paying it off each month.

  • Is there an expiration date for this card?

    Yes. Chase will automatically send you a new one when your card is close to expiration.

  • Is there a credit insurance program that can cover me if I lose my job?

    No. Chase ended this in 2014.

  • Can I have two credit cards from Chase at the same time?

    Yes.

  • Can I transfer money from my Chase credit card to another card?

    Yes.

  • Is it hard to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited card?

    While it does require a credit score of 680, the lack of an annual fee puts this card well within reach of many people.

  • How long does it take to receive the card once I have been approved for it?

    You will typically receive your card in a few weeks.

  • How do I get more rewards points?

    You can maximize your rewardspoints by combining this card with a Chase Freedom card.

    Alternatively, you could also combine it with the Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card.

  • Does this credit card cover rental car insurance?

    No.

The card gives you cash back on every purchase

Simplified rewards. You won't see a lot of money from the Freedom Unlimited card's 1.5% cash back.

Still, it's nice knowing that you'll earn a little bit of money from every purchase.

Watch out for high APR. The APR on purchases and balance transfers is a little higher than other cards. While it won't break the bank, be aware and don't carry a balance.

Perfect match with other Ultimate Rewards cards. If you already have a Chase Freedom or Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, this card is a natural addition to your wallet.

Pooling your points among these cards allows you to earn more rewards, and redeem points for up to 50% higher on travel.

Do you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card?

How has it worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.

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