This no-annual-fee credit card offers unlimited cash back—and travel and dining perks

·9 min read
Consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited if you're looking for an easy-to-use rewards card.
Consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited if you're looking for an easy-to-use rewards card.

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a popular no-fee credit card that gives you 1.5% cash back on all spending with no restrictions.

As of September 2020, that deal is even better: New and existing cardholders will also earn an unlimited 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining, and 3% cash back on drugstore shopping. You can redeem cash back for statement credit, direct deposit into a U.S. account, gift cards, travel, or you can shop with points.

The beauty of a no cap cash-back card is that earning rewards is passive. You don’t need to activate categories or adjust your spending each quarter to maximize rewards; instead, you earn one flat rate in each spending category every time you swipe.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

  • Annual fee: None

  • Introductory purchase APR: 0% for 15 months

  • Regular APR: 14.99%–23.74%

  • Balance transfer APR: 14.99%–23.74%

  • Balance transfer fee: $5 or 5% (whichever is greater)

  • Points: 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and at drugstores, and 1.5% on everything else

  • Introductory rewards offer: An additional 3.5% cash back on Lyft through March 2022

  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Who should get the Chase Freedom Unlimited?

Thanks to the brand new 5% and 3% categories, shoppers who dine out (or order in) often, or visit the drugstore to stock up on makeup or personal hygiene items may get a lot of value from this card. The Freedom Unlimited may also be ideal for shoppers who are new to credit card rewards and those looking for a program without tons of fine print to decipher.

The process of earning and redeeming rewards is as easy as swiping, collecting points, and cashing them in for statement credits, gift cards, and more. Cash back never expires, and you can redeem it at any time no matter what your balance is.

If you have a big-ticket purchase on the horizon and need a few extra months to pay it off, you could take advantage of the intro APR offer, which includes interest-free purchases for 15 months.

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What points do you get with the Chase Freedom Unlimited?

You get an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all spending with no limits. But this is no longer a run-of-the-mill flat-rate card because you can now earn 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and 3% cash back on dining and drugstore shopping.

Plus, you can take advantage of a few introductory offers. You'll earn an extra 3.5% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides through March 2022, bringing the total rewards rate to 5%. As of this publishing, Chase will also give you a $200 bonus if you spend $500 within three months from account opening.

Cash back earned is tracked in points, and one point is generally worth one cent. While you have the option to shop with your rewards, you’ll get less bang for your buck: At checkout, one point is worth 0.80 cents.

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Freedom Unlimited

What perks do you get with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card?

You’ll currently get 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on new purchases before a variable interest rate applies. To sweeten the deal, new cardholders get a complimentary three-month subscription to DashPass, a DoorDash service that offers free delivery on eligible orders. After the three months are up, you get a 50% membership discount for another nine months.

The card also comes with Zero Liability Protection, which means you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges, and Chase monitors fraud to help you keep tabs on your account activity.

With purchase protection, your purchases are covered from damage or theft for the first 120 days (up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account), and items you buy with the card may also qualify for an extended warranty.

How does Chase Freedom Unlimited compare to other cards?

Until this point, the Chase Freedom Unlimited was up against two major competitors in the unlimited cash back realm—the Citi® Double Cash and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. However, the new rewards categories are a factor that now sets it apart.

The Citi Double Cash offers 2% cash back on all spending with no annual fee. You earn 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill. The Citi Double Cash does still give a higher rate on out-of-category spending than the Freedom Unlimited, but you’ll have to pay off your entire statement regularly; otherwise, the interest you rack up may negate the rewards.

Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Capital One Quicksilver offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back with no annual fee, and it matches the one-time bonus, offering $200 if you spend $500 within the first three months. But the Quicksilver doesn’t have the additional 5% and 3% categories for travel, dining, or drugstore shopping that Chase just rolled out. Although, if you’re looking to add a card to your wallet that has no foreign transaction fees, the Quicksilver checks that box and also offers travel accident insurance.

Another similar cash back credit card is the brand-new Chase Freedom Flex. Both have no annual fee and the same intro offer on Lyft rides and DashPass membership. The cash back offer is nearly the same as well—you earn 5% on travel booked at Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on drugstore shopping, and 3% on dining.

However, the new Chase Freedom Flex also has a quarterly 5% category that may include gas, streaming services, and more—though it is a little higher maintenance, as you will have to activate the rewards every few months. And the Freedom Unlimited gives you a bit more when you shop outside of the bonus categories: You earn a minimum of 1.5% cash back, while the Freedom Flex gives you 1% cash back on non-category spending.

What drawbacks does the Chase Freedom Unlimited have?

Although you get cash back for travel bookings, this card does have a foreign transaction fee of 3%. You may want to leave it at home the next time you go globetrotting because those fees can add up. Also, frequent travelers may be able to get better perks (like complimentary upgrades or expedited boarding) with a dedicated airline or hotel rewards card.

How does the Chase Freedom Unlimited rank in our reviews?

We recommend this as one of the best cards for new homeowners because you can maximize cash back while making your new house a home—and get a little wiggle room with interest-free purchases for more than a year. Hello, shiny new refrigerator.

It's also one of our top cards for families because it has a simple flat rate that you can use to teach teenagers how credit cards and rewards programs work.

So, should you get the Chase Freedom Unlimited?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited should be a top contender if you’re looking for a low-maintenance card. It’s free, and it’s easy to earn and redeem cash back.

You don’t have to be too strategic—just swipe the card and points will be added to your rewards balance. You don’t need to activate the 5% and 3% categories either; those rewards happen automatically. Spend outside of the top categories and you’ll still earn a nice 1.5% cash back.

While this card does cover many bases, it doesn’t give you extra points at gas stations. If you have a long commute, consider looking at cards where you can earn more than 1.5% at the pump.

Learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Please note: The offers mentioned above are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

Reviewed has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Reviewed and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Things to know about credit cards

  • Long introductory period APR rates are only a short-term incentive. Potentially high APR rates snap into effect after the card’s intro period ends, which could cost you a lot in interest if you’ve left your balance unpaid. It’s really important—especially when getting a card for a big purchase—to keep an eye on your finances and keep an eye on the calendar.

  • APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder's personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating these cards. Remember to pay your card off in full every month, so you will not be charged interest.

  • Banks have the final say on who they accept for a credit card. These recommendations were put together with the assumption that applicants would have average credit or above. That being said, banks decide who they will issue credit cards to using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual's credit score when evaluating each applicant.

How many credit cards should you have in your wallet?

  • We hate to break it to you, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The right number of credit cards for you depends on what you can responsibly manage.

  • Does having a piece of shiny plastic an arm’s length away often encourage you to spend money you don’t have? Be honest. Credit cards offer great benefits, but they also present an opportunity for overspending. You may want to think twice before applying for more credit. Carrying a balance you can’t afford contributes to interest charges, and in the long run costs you more money—money that you could’ve used for that air fryer you've been eyeing.

  • If you’re financially responsible and stick to making purchases that you can pay off, there may be some upsides to adding another card to your arsenal. If you’re a jet-setter without a card that rewards you for hitting the road, or one that skips foreign transaction fees, a travel credit card may make sense for you.

  • There are a few other things to consider before opening a new account, like adding a different payment processing network, or taking note of any annual fees.

This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Chase Freedom Unlimited review: Cash back rewards on all your shopping

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