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Everyday Cash Back
The first thing most people want to know about new rewards cards is just what those rewards entail. The Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t disappoint.
This card offers a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase, automatically. There’s no signing up for rotating categories each quarter. And there’s no remembering which categories you should use the card for. And, as you can probably guess from its moniker, this card allows for unlimited cash back that doesn’t expire as long as your account is open.
As with many new cards on the market, Chase is offering this one with a potential bonus. New cardmembers will earn a $150 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first three months of card ownership.
The Introductory APR
It’s getting more common, luckily, to see rewards cards that also have an introductory APR period. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is no exception. As of this writing, the card offers 0% APR for the first 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers.
While that introductory APR on balance transfers may be tempting if you’re trying to get out of debt, this may not be your best card for the job. The balance transfer fee is the larger of $5 or 5% of the amount transferred but for the first 60 days, that fee is actually reduced at 3%. Plus, if you eat up your whole new credit limit with a balance transfer, you won’t be able to take advantage of the cash back option as easily.
If a balance transfer is your primary objective, consider the Chase Slate. It offers a no fee balance transfer if you initiate the transfer within 60 days of account opening.
As with most cards offered by Chase, this one comes with a bevy of additional benefits that are worth considering. These include:
- No Annual Fee: This is certainly a strong benefit for a rewards-earning card like this one, but you won’t pay an annual fee ever.
- Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held liable for any unauthorized charges made with your card or account.
- Chip-Enabled Security: Protect against those possible fraudulent charges with this additional layer of security, usable everywhere there is a chip card reader.
- Purchase and Price Protection: When you use your card to make new purchases, you’re protected against damage and theft on those purchases for up to $500 per claim, for a total of $50,000 per account. You can also be reimbursed the difference if you find a better deal on a purchase you made with your Chase card within 90 days of that purchase. Reimbursement is available for up to $500 per item, and up to $2,500 per year.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Get built-in insurance when you put your rental car fees on your Chase card, for extra peace of mind.
Redeeming Your Rewards
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card makes it easy to redeem your rewards. You can use any amount of cash back at any time. Use your cash back against your credit card balance, or have it transferred to your bank account.
Alternatively, you can treat your cash-back bonus like points, and use those points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.
One option, though, is to use your card to transfer your bonus points to an airline or hotel partner through the Ultimate Rewards program. To transfer your rewards, though, you may need to use a second Chase product, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Then, you can transfer points to a variety of airline programs.
For instance, you can transfer 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 Southwest Points, which are worth around 1.4 cents per point. This means you’ll actually get 2.1% cash back on your Freedom Unlimited rewards. You can similarly boost the value of your rewards by transferring to United, Hyatt, or other high-value travel rewards programs.
Who is It For?
This card is likely to have mid-range to high credit score requirements, so don’t apply if you’re rebuilding your credit. In that case, check out a secured card or cards that cater specifically to customers with lower credit scores.
However, if you like Chase’s rewards program and plan to use it, this can be a great secondary credit card to use. For instance, the Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in each quarterly bonus category, but only 1% unlimited cash back after that.
So you could plan to your use your Chase Freedom only for purchases within that bonus category. Then, use your Chase Freedom Unlimited for everything else. Combine all your points through Ultimate Rewards to get high-value rewards from your favorite travel program, or let them accumulate into valuable cash rewards.
And, of course, if you just like Chase or already bank with them, and you’re looking for a credit card you can use without thinking about bonuses and such, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great option to consider.