Chase Freedom Unlimited
This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule. While this card is marketed as earning cash back, that cash back is awarded in the form of Ultimate Rewards points, which are redeemable for $0.01 each through Chase or can be combined with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards.
FM Mini Review: Great to earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards in categories with no bonuses. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred!
Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum
Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases ⚬ 5X Lyft
Noteworthy perks: Free DashPass for up to 3 months upon activation
See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide
The no-fee Freedom Unlimited card is a great choice for those who also carry a premium Ultimate Rewards card such as the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Business Preferred.
The Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5 points per dollar for all spend. By itself, it is simply a 1.5% cash back card. But, when paired with a premium card, the Freedom Unlimited makes it possible to earn 1.5 transferable Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. That means you can earn 1.5 airline miles or hotel points per dollar, for all spend.
The card does charge foreign transaction fees, so leave it at home when traveling internationally. But within the US, the Freedom Unlimited is a great choice for all spend in which you do not earn 2X or more with another card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Application Tips
Chase Application Tips
Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status
If you have or plan to get the Sapphire Reserve card, then yes the Freedom Unlimited makes sense to get. Use your Sapphire Reserve to earn 3X for travel & dining, and use the Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5X on all other spend. Move your Freedom Unlimited points to your Sapphire Reserve account to get at least 1.5 cents per point value from all points. When you earn 1.5X with the Freedom Unlimited and redeem at 1.5 cents value with the Sapphire Reserve, you get a combined 2.25% return on your spend.
To get this card you must be under 5/24.
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. The easiest option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
How to apply
You can find the current best welcome bonus offer and application link at the top of this page: Chase Freedom Unlimited.
After you apply, call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status.
If your application is denied, I recommend calling for reconsideration (1-888-270-2127). It’s surprising how often denials can be changed to approvals just by asking.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Perks
- Auto Rental Coverage: Chase offers secondary auto rental CDW (collision damage waiver) when renting within your country of residence (presumably it is primary for rentals in other countries).
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption Insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels.
Extended Warranty: “Extends the time period of U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.”
Damage and Theft Protection: “Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.”
Chase Freedom Unlimited Earn Points
The welcome bonus for this card is advertised as cash back, but the rewards are actually delivered as Ultimate Rewards points. Here’s the current offer:
Earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards points for all spend.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Redeem Points
Cardholders can redeem points for 1 cent each either as statement credits or as cash back. Cash back can be taken as a statement credit or via check or ACH transfer.
Redeem points for travel: 1.5 cents per pointThis option requires that someone in your household has the ultra-premium Chase Sapphire Reserve card. First move (combine) points from your no-fee card to the Sapphire Reserve account. Next, log into Chase under the Sapphire Reserve account, and go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book your travel. A $500 flight would usually cost 50,000 points if you used points attached to the no-fee card, but with the Chase Sapphire Reserve it would cost only 33,333 points.
Redeem points for travel: 1.25 cents per pointThis option requires that someone in your household has a premium Ultimate Rewards card: Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred. First move (combine) points from your no-fee card to one of these premium cards. Next, log into Chase under the account that now has the points, and go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book your travel. A $500 flight would usually cost 50,000 points if you used points attached to a no-fee Ultimate Rewards card, but with the Chase Sapphire Preferred it would cost only 40,000 points.
Details about booking travel through ChaseYou can use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book airfare, hotels, cruises, activities, and car rentals. Airfare purchased through the portal still earns airline miles and elite qualifying miles. Hotels booked this way do not earn hotel rewards. Worse, hotels booked through the portal often won't offer you elite benefits even if you have status. Unfortunately, Chase switched to an Expedia-backed portal and removed some ultra low cost carriers. For example, you can no longer book Spirit Airlines or Southwest through Chase Ultimate Rewards. There is a work-around for some carriers though. Please see this post for details: How to book the cheapest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Travel protections applyWhen you pay with points for travel, Chase's automatic travel protections do apply. So, you can be covered for things like car rentals, trip delays, trip cancellation & interruption, lost luggage, etc. The coverage you receive will be based on which card's rewards were used to book the trip. For example, if you have both a Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Sapphire Reserve, you would want to move your Ultimate Rewards points from the Preferred to the Reserve and then use the Reserve points to book your trip. You will get both better value (1.5 cents per point) and better travel protections. See: Sapphire Reserve Travel Insurance.
Move points to premium or ultra-premium card firstYou cannot transfer points directly from a no-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards card to airline and hotel partners, but you can move points first to a premium card (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, for example) or ultra-premium card (Sapphire Reserve) and then transfer the points to airline or hotel partners. Points can be transferred to the loyalty accounts of the primary cardholder or any authorized user on the account. Points can also be transferred to the loyalty account of a joint business owner, but they do need to be an authorized user on the associated business account.
|Rewards Program||Best Uses|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.|
|Avios||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower than when booking through British Airways. Aer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.|
|Emirates Skywards||Emirates has different award charts for each airline partner. Sometimes they allow one-way awards, sometimes they do not. In general, award prices are fairly high, but there are a few sweet spots such as New York to Milan for 90K round trip in business class.|
|Hyatt||Use for Hyatt free nights or points + cash nights. Hyatt points are often worth at least 1.7 cents each towards free nights, but they’re sometimes worth far more. One hidden bonus: award nights are not subject to resort fees.|
|JetBlue||JetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one or both cards.|
|Marriott Bonvoy||5th Night Free awards|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||Award flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.|
|United MileagePlus||Even though Singapore Airlines miles have a number of advantages over United miles for booking Star Alliance flights, United has advantages too. For one, it is possible to book most Star Alliance awards online at United.com. Additionally, United awards sometimes cost fewer miles with United than with Singapore (especially premium awards on United’s own flights). And, most importantly, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. In some cases, United is far cheaper than Singapore Airlines for this reason alone.|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Virgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.|
You can also use points to pay some merchants directly (Amazon.com, for example or via Chase Pay). Don't do this. These options offer very poor value. Further, they may compromise the security of your account (i.e. if someone hacks into your Amazon account, they might spend your Ultimate Rewards points - causing you a headache in getting your points reinstated).
Chase Freedom Unlimited Manage Points
If you intend to cancel a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, you should first combine your points with a card you intend to keep active. Once you cancel, you will forfeit any unused points in that account (See: My 90,000 Ultimate Rewards Points mistake). A product change should not affect your balance, but some people prefer moving points before a product change as well just to be safe.
Why this is valuable:
- You earn points with the card offering the best return on purchases and then use points with the card offering the best redemption rate.
- Only one member of your household needs to maintain a premium card for transferring to partners or booking travel (though note that the primary cardholder can only transfer points to partner loyalty programs in the name of the primary cardholder or authorized users).
Transfer difficulties? Create a loopIf you have trouble transferring between accounts, some users have been able to combine points between their own accounts — like from Bob’s Ink Business Cash to Bob’s Sapphire Reserve — via secure message.
However, you may run into an issue if you try to connect more than one of your cards to a single card that belongs to someone else. Chase allows you to combine/transfer to someone else who lives in your household (or a co-owner of your business for business cards), but I’ve had complications with this from time to time.
For example, let’s say that Joe and Suzy live in the same household and are joint owners of a business and have the following accounts:
Joe first combines points from his Freedom Unlimited to Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve. Later, he logs into his Ink Business Cash account and tries to combine points with Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve. Joe may run into an error adding Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve card to combine points. This has happened in our household several times. In that case, Joe should log into his Freedom Unlimited account and remove Suzy as a household member (click “remove saved card). About 24 hours later, he should be able to add Suzy to his Ink Business Cash in order to combine his points to her account.
The easy solution I’ve found is to create a loop. In the example scenario they should transfer like this:
Joe’s Freedom Unlimited —> Joe’s Ink Business Cash —> Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve —> Joe’s Freedom Unlimited
Creating a loop chain has solved that problem in my household. As noted, it took 24 hours after removing accounts to re-add them to other cards, so be aware of that limitation.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Lifecycle
How to meet minimum spend requirements
Keep, cancel, or product change?
Is this card worth keeping in the long run? Yep. It has no annual fee and it offers 1.5X for all spend. If you decide to cancel anyway, make sure to first redeem any remaining points or move them to another Ultimate Rewards card.