Home Credit Cards Credit Card Review: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Credit Card Review: Chase Freedom Unlimited

by joeheg

Picking which credit cards to have in your wallet is like building a stone wall. Some cards you get are the larger rocks that earn bonus points and perks in major categories, such as travel or dining. Other cards are smaller rocks with specific uses like earning large multiples for your cell phone bill or gas expenses. Then there are the cards which are the small stones that have a particular use, like providing primary rental car insurance or access to special perks when visiting Disney.

Finally, you need to have the mortar to hold everything together. That’s the card you use for all of your non-bonused spending. This may be where you spend the most, so it makes sense to pick a card that maximizes the number of points you’ll get. Previously you’d have to settle to earn one point per dollar for these expenses but not anymore. Many cards have been introduced that allow you to earn at least 2% back or more for your non-bonused spending.

Chase launched the Freedom Unlimited card in 2016 and it instantly became the best card to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards for everyday spending; some argued it was the all-around best card for non-bonused spending.

There’s been much competition in this space from other banks and Chase has improved the value of the Freedom Unlimited card by adding bonus categories. Do these changes keep Freedom Unlimited towards the top?

Chase Freedom Unlimited

You can sign up for Chase Freedom Unlimited by using our referral link. We’d appreciate it because we get 10,000 bonus points for everyone who gets the card. Thanks!

Annual Fee

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Sign Up Benefits

This card currently has a 20,000-point sign-up bonus if you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. You can redeem 20,000 points for $200 cash-back but they are worth much more if you have a premium Chase card. We’ll get to that later.

Spending Bonus Categories

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns bonus points in the following categories:

  • 5X/5% on travel purchases booked with the card by using the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
  • 3X/3% at drugstores and dining at restaurants (including take-out and delivery)
  • 1.5X/1.5% on all other expenses

3% Foreign Transaction Fees

The Freedom Unlimited is not a card to travel internationally with since you’ll pay a 3% fee on any charges not made in US dollars. Try to use a card that avoids these fees when traveling overseas or making charges in a foreign currency.

Travel and Purchase Protections

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card provides some travel protections for delays and cancellations, covers purchases against damage and theft, and even provides extended warranty coverages. The card also provides secondary rental car protections for rentals in the US. This isn’t the card I’d be thinking about when making those purchases, but if you need these coverages, they’re there.

Not Everyone Can Get The Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule. You will not get approved if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months.

The sign-up bonus is unavailable if you previously held the card and received a new card member bonus within the last 24 months.

Maximize Your Ultimate Rewards Points

The Freedom Unlimited earns points you can redeem for cash. But if you hold another premium Chase card such as the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer points to those cards. When doing so, you multiply the value of the points by 50% to over 200%. By booking through the Chase travel portal, you can get 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point, depending on your card. You can also access the Pay Yourself Back tool to use points and cancel out select charges at the same increased value as booking travel.

You’ll get the best value for your points if you transfer them to one of Chase’s partners. There’s no limit on the value you can get. That’s how we stayed at the Hyatt Centric Key West.


Check out this article about how and why you should pool your Chase points into the most valuable account (you plan to keep.)

Final Thoughts

A card that earns a solid return on non-bonused spending is a must-have in any wallet. Freedom Unlimited was already a leader in the category but it had some limitations. There’s a seemingly endless list of cards that give bonus points for every category of spending and for those purchases the Unlimited stayed in the wallet.

By adding permanent multipliers for dining and drugstores, Freedom Unlimited is looking to earn a spot at the top of your wallet.

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