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 that are the small stones with 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 the category 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. There’s been a number of cards 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 and some argued the all-around best card for non-bonused spend.

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

Chase Freedom Unlimited

You can sign up for Chase Freedom Unlimited by using my referral link. I would appreciate it because I 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 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

There are also some limited time bonus categories:

  • 5X/5% on supermarket spending (excluding Walmart and Target) for the first 12 months or $12,000 spent.
  • 5X/5% on qualifying Lyft rides through 3/2022

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 U.S. 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 does provide some travel protections for delays and cancellations, covers purchases against damage and theft, and even provides some 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 do 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. If you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months, you’re not going to get approved.

The sign-up bonus is not available if you’re previously held the card and received a new cardmember 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’re able to transfer points to those cards. When doing so, you multiply the value of the points by 50% to over 200%. Just by booking through the Chase travel portal, you can get 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point, depending on which card you have. You also have access to the Pay Yourself Back tool to use points and cancel out 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.

HyattCentricKW

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 spend 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 expenses the Unlimited stayed in the wallet.

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

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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