Chase Freedom Unlimited Review (2018 Edition)

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited is sort of the baby of the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program. In this post, we'll give an overview of what this card offers, why it matters for travel hacking, family travel, and Disney travel, and our thoughts on whether it deserves a space in your wallet.

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The Basics

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a Visa card without an annual fee that earns points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program. You might see it occasionally advertised as or referenced as a "cash back card." The reason for this is that to use the Ultimate Rewards points for anything other than 1 cent per point cash back, you need to hold one of the following cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred. The real power of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards is unlocked by using the right combination of them. We cover this in more detail in our guide to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program.

Earning And Using Points With the Chase Freedom Unlimited

One last time—our guide to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program goes in depth about getting the maximum value of the points you earn with the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Here's the rundown on the card, though.

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Chase Freedom Unlimited Signup Bonus

The currently publicly available signup bonus is $150 (or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) for spending $500 in three months. Here is our referral link to that bonus: 

1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards On All Purchases

When it comes to earning points, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is more straightforward than it's sibling the Chase Freedom and cousins the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Chase Freedom has rotating categories that earn 5X points for one quarter a year and 1X points on all other purchases. The Sapphire cards earn bonus points in travel and dining (and 1X points on all other purchases). The Freedom Unlimited just earns 1.5X points on all purchases.

So, in January through March 2018, the Freedom (not Unlimited) earns 5X points at gas stations. As it always does, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points at restaurants. So if you buy gas, you want to put it on your Freedom. If you visit McDonald's, put it on the Sapphire Reserve. And if you buy a snowboard from the local sporting goods store, put it on your Freedom Unlimited.

Getting 2.25 Cents Back With The Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve

We have a full post on how to get 2.25 cents back by stacking the Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve, but we'll provide a short version here. If you spend $1,000 on your Freedom Unlimited, you'll get 1,500 in Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer the points to that card. When Sapphire Reserve cardholders use their points for travel, they get 1.5 cents per point. So the 1,500 points are worth $22.50, or 2.25% of the $1,000 you spent.

Is The Freedom Unlimited Better Than 2% Cash Back?

This is a complicated question. As we covered above, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and travel enough to use your points on travel expenses, you'll get 2.25 cents back per dollar spent on the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The Chase Sapphire Preferred only gets 1.25 cents per point when booking toward travel, so if you have the Preferred and not the reserve, you'll only get 1.875 cents back per dollar spent on the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

But wait, there's more. The real value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points doesn't come from booking travel with them through the Chase portal, it comes from transferring them. With Chase's transfer partners, you can get 2 cents or more of value per point. We've gotten 7 cents per point on some international first class bookings. So, if you can use your points that way, then the Freedom Unlimited is better than a 2% cash back card.

Get This Card If...

We think the best way to get a Chase Freedom Unlimited is to "product change" from another Chase card a year after getting a signup bonus on the original card. The Freedom Unlimited is commonly offered to Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve cardholders who no longer want to pay an annual fee. That's how we got ours. Basically, if you or a partner already has one of the Sapphire cards, apply for another (and get the signup bonus) and either product change the one you have now into a Freedom Unlimited or wait a year and change the new one into a Freedom Unlimited.

It's important to remember though that you only get good value from your Freedom Unlimited by having a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred as well. Someone in your household needs one of these cards, or you need to be confident you can get one in the future before using your points.

Skip This Card If...

If you can find any better use of your Chase 5/24, do that. When all is said and done, 1.5X back on all purchases just isn't good enough to justify one of your 5/24.

Consider These Alternatives

The Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express is a good card for everyday spending, and it earns great points. If you don't have the Chase Freedom, we'd definitely get that before the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Do you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited? What do you think?