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Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card review: A $200 bonus, up to 5% cash back, and great perks with no annual fee

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Chase Freedom Unlimited®Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Review: Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited the best credit card for you?

If you're looking for a no-annual-fee credit card that offers a solid return for your everyday spending, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is an excellent choice. You'll earn at least 1.5% back on your purchases with no spending caps, and the card's useful bonus categories can give your rewards earning a big boost.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a welcome bonus of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening. In addition, new cardholders can earn 5% cash back (5x points) at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending during the first year of account opening (then 1x).

While it's marketed as a cash-back credit card, it actually earns rewards in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth 1 cent apiece when you redeem them for cash back. So the $200 welcome bonus is worth 20,000 points, 1.5% cash back is worth 1.5 cents per dollar, and so on.

Read more: The best Chase credit cards

Beyond the bonus, you'll earn 5% cash back (5x points) on travel booked through Chase, 3% back (3x points) on dining and at drugstores, and 1.5% back (1.5x points) on all other purchases. Along with redeeming points for cash back, you can also use them to book travel through the Chase portal, trade them in for gift cards, or pay with points at Amazon and other participating merchants.

Before you decide on the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, be sure to have a look at its sibling, the Chase Freedom Flex℠, which has the same welcome bonus and doesn't charge an annual fee. There's also the Citi® Double Cash Card to consider — while it doesn't offer an intro bonus, you'll effectively earn 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay). 

Comparison: Chase Freedom Unlimited vs other Chase credit cards

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee

$0

Chase Freedom Flex℠

$95

Rewards rate

5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards

3% cash back (3x points) on dining and drugstore purchases

1.5% cash back (1.5x points) on everything else

5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards

5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter in rotating bonus categories when you activate, then 1%

3% cash back (3x points) on dining and drugstore purchases

1% cash back (1x points) on everything else

 

5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022

3x points on dining and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)

3x points on select streaming services

2x points on all other travel purchases

1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Welcome bonus

$200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

5% cash back (5x points) at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending during the first year of account opening (then 1x).

$200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

5% cash back (5x points) at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending during the first year of account opening (then 1x).

60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Card benefits

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Car rental insurance (secondary in the US, primary otherwise)

Trip interruption/cancellation insurance

Travel and emergency assistance services

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR

Cell phone protection

Car rental insurance (secondary in the US, primary otherwise)

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Travel and emergency assistance services

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then a Chase Freedom Flex℠ variable APR

Primary car rental insurance

Trip interruption/cancellation

Trip delay insurance

Baggage delay insurance

Lost luggage reimbursement

Extended warranty

Purchase protection

Travel and emergency assistance services

Travel accident insurance

Roadside dispatch

No foreign transaction fees

Review

 

Chase Freedom Flex card review

Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs other cash-back credit cards

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Discover it® Cash Back

Citi® Double Cash Card

Annual fee

$0

Discover it® Cash Back

$0

Rewards rate

5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards

3% cash back (3x points) on dining and drugstore purchases

1.5% cash back (1.5x points) on everything else

5% cash back in categories that rotate each quarter on up to $1,500 in combined spending when you activate (then 1%)

Discover It Cashback rotation

1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

 

1% cash back when you buy, plus 1% cash back when you pay your bill

Welcome bonus

$200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

5% cash back (5x points) at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending during the first year of account opening (then 1x).

None, but Discover will dollar for dollar match all the cash back you earned after the first 12 months

N/A

Card benefits

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Car rental insurance (secondary in the US, primary otherwise)

Trip interruption/cancellation insurance

Travel and emergency assistance services

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR

Free FICO score

No late payment fee on your first late payment (then up to $40)

0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months, then a Discover it® Cash Back APR

No foreign transaction fees

Access to Citi Entertainment 

0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable) APR

 

 

Discover it Cash Back card review

Citi Double Cash card review

How to earn rewards with the Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a straightforward earning structure, and no matter the category, you'll earn at least 1.5% back (1.5x points) on every purchase.

Cardholders earn:

  • 5% back (5x points) on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (including airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and activities)
  • 3% back (3x points) on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services)
  • 3% back (3x points) at drugstores 
  • 1.5% back (1.5x points) on everything else

In addition, new cardholders earn 5% cash back (5x points) at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 in spending during the first year of account opening (then 1x).

Read more: Cash-back card face-off: The Citi Double Cash versus the Chase Freedom Unlimited

How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points 

One of the reasons the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is so popular is because the rewards it earns are so flexible. Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options include:

  • Cash back (1 cent per point)
  • Gift cards (1 cent per point)
  • Airfare, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (1 cent per point)
  • Apple purchases (1 cent per point)
  • Pay Yourself Back (1.25 cents per point toward eligible charities through December 31, 2022, and 1.1 cents per point on eligible department store and wholesale club purchases, up to a maximum of $500 in spending per category, from November 1 to December 31, 2021)
  • Amazon purchases (0.8 cents per point)

The last option should be avoided — you're better off paying for an Amazon purchase with your card and using points at 1 cent apiece for a statement credit. Otherwise, you'll get inferior value when you pay with points at Amazon checkout.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a great card on its own, but you can actually boost the value of your rewards when you pair it with certain other Chase credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Chase allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points between accounts, and by moving your points to one of these cards, you'll unlock more valuable redemption options — including the ability to transfer points to Chase's airline and hotel partners. You'll also have more ways to redeem points through Chase's Pay Yourself Back program.

Read more: I use the Sapphire Reserve to increase the value of all my Chase points, and you can use the same strategy to effectively get up to 7.5% back on your spending

For example, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when you book travel through the Chase travel portal or redeem through Pay Yourself Back (including toward grocery store, home improvement store, dining, and eligible charity purchases). Pairing a Chase Freedom card with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best ways to get the most from your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, especially if you like to use points for travel.

Benefits and features

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® comes with good purchase and travel protection benefits, some of which you don't normally see from cards with no annual fee. 

Purchase protection

When you pay for an eligible new purchase with your Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you'll be covered for damage or theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Read more: Chase credit cards offer purchase protection if a new item is damaged or stolen — here's how to file a claim

Extended warranty

Eligible items you purchase with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, with a manufacturer's warranty of three years or less, can receive an additional year of extended warranty coverage.

Car rental insurance

When you decline the rental company's collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card, you're covered for theft and collision damage on most cars. In the US, coverage is secondary to your personal insurance — otherwise, it's primary insurance.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

If you pay with your Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you're covered for up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip if your trip is canceled or shortened because of illness, severe weather, or other eligible events. 

Read more: The best credit cards with travel insurance

Bonus points on Lyft purchases

You'll earn 5% cash back (5x points) on purchases made with Lyft through March 2022.

Complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership

Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders receive a complimentary three months of DashPass, which gets you $0 food delivery fees and reduced service fees on orders of $12 or more with DoorDash and Caviar. After that, you'll receive a 50% discount on your DashPass membership for the next nine months. Activation is required by March 31, 2022.

Travel and emergency assistance services

If you're away from home and run into trouble, you'll have access to a travel and emergency assistance hotline that can help arrange things like legal and medical referrals, prescriptions, translation services, and more. Keep in mind any third-party costs are your responsibility.

Monthly Gopuff credits

Through December 31, 2023, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers $10 per month in Gopuff credits when you add your card as the default payment method to your Gopuff app. Gopuff is a service that offers fast delivery of everyday items like food, alcohol, electronics, and medicine.

Read more: Eligible Chase cardholders now get $10 a month per card in credits for Gopuff's rapid delivery service — find out if your card qualifies

You'll receive the credit automatically when you make a qualifying purchase with Gopuff. There's a minimum order amount of $10.95, and a flat $1.95 delivery fee per order.

Fees and costs

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has no annual fee, but you will pay foreign transaction fees, so it's not a good choice for international purchases. 

Read more: The best no-annual-fee credit cards 

New cardholders can take advantage of an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then a 14.99%–23.74% variable APR). This is handy if you have a large purchase coming up you want to pay for over time without incurring big interest charges. You should only do this if you have the means and a plan to pay off the balance before the introductory APR period expires, otherwise, you could end up with a bunch of high-interest debt.

As with most other cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® charges fees for late and returned payments, cash advances, and balance transfers.

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