What’s in My Wallet: Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a simple card and I use it whenever I’m not using the Sapphire Reserve or working towards an intro bonus elsewhere. There’s no annual fee and 1.5x points on every category is about as straightforward as it gets.

There are other cards that offer better return on spending in non-bonus categories, but when the Freedom Unlimited is paired with the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred it becomes a great combination for accruing valuable Ultimate Rewards points.

If you’re not ready to dive head first in a points program, it can still be a good stand-alone card that leaves flexibility to pair it with other Ultimate Rewards cards later.

Universal credit card caveat: Pay your statement balance off completely every month. If you can’t do so or having a credit card invites you to overspend, don’t open the door to more debt. More of the basics here.

If you decide to apply for this card based on my opinion, please consider using my referral code. You get the same intro bonus, and I get a $100 bonus.

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Cost

Intro Bonus

Spend $500 on the card in the first 90 days and get a 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

Annual Fee

Nope. $0

Foreign Transaction Fees

I only use this card in the US since there’s a 3% fee and recommend against using the card internationally.


Benefits

Earn Rates

  • 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for every $1 spent on all categories

Intro Bonus Points

The Intro Bonus is 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points, but advertised as $200 because you can use 100 UR points to get $1 cash back. So 20k points means $200 cash back. That’s a great return for spending $500, but you can get more value by combining them with a Sapphire Reserve or Preferred.

Insurance

The card comes with damage and warranty protection, but nothing out of the ordinary.


The Math

At minimum, you could spend $500 at 1.5x earn rate to get the intro bonus and end up with 20,750 points. If you use them on cash back that’s a 41% return on $500. And with no annual fee eating into your rewards.

But if you pool these points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and, for example, spend them at the Chase travel portal they’re worth $311 (62% return). With the Sapphire Preferred they’re worth $259 (52% return).


In Sum

I’m a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x points on Travel and Dining, but only 1x on everything else). So using the no annual fee Freedom Unlimited to get 1.5x on those “everything else” purchases and then pooling the points together is an easy win.

But, if you’re not interested in Ultimate Rewards or prefer the simplicity of a cash back card, you may want to consider a different card.

If you’re thinking about applying but have questions before you do so, let me know.


Alternatives to Consider

  • The Chase Freedom card is the Unlimited card’s twin sibling. It earns 1x on all categories, except for rotating quarterly bonus categories where it earns 5x. For example, this October through December, the Chase Freedom card earns 5x at Department Stores and on PayPal or Chase Pay purchases. It’s $0 annual fee and can be owned along side the Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred cards.

  • The Amex EveryDay credit card is the American Express analog to Chase’s Freedom cards. If Membership Rewards is your program of choice, this no annual fee card is worth getting.

  • Capital One’s Quicksilver Rewards card is essentially the same as the Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1.5% cash back on all purchases, no annual fee. Except the intro bonus is for $150 on $500 spending.

  • The Citi Double Cash card couldn’t be much more straightforward: 1% cash back at purchase + 1% cash back at payment for all categories. No annual fee.