REVIEW: Chase Freedom Unlimited (2021)

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If you are looking for a card with no annual fee and easy earning potential, the Chase Freedom Unlimited might be a good fit for you. The Freedom Unlimited card is a great starter card that still holds a spot in my wallet due to its straightforwardness and ability to pair with other Chase cards.

Current Offer

It's all about simplicity with the Freedom Unlimited. You can earn $200  (or 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards) cash back after spending $500 in your first three months. Additionally, for a limited time, you earn 5% or 5x UR on all grocery spend, up to $12,000 spent in the first 12 months. You also earn 1.5% back on all purchases without paying an annual fee.  Recently, Chase added 3% back on restaurants and drugstores.  Additionally, through March 2022, you can earn 5% (an additional 3.5%) on all Lyft rides. There is no limit to the amount of cash back that can be earned. Cash back remains valid as long as your account is open.

Earn Rate and Redemption Potential

While you can earn cash back with the Freedom Unlimited, you can also use your points for travel. This is even more valuable if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Ink Business Preferred. Because Chase Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve and Ink Preferred are all part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you can transfer your cash back as points between these accounts. Once points are in a Sapphire or Ink Preferred account, you can transfer 1:1 to a host of airline and hotel partners.

If you use points to book travel directly through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you benefit from an additional 25% or 50% bonus with the Sapphire Preferred/Ink Preferred or Sapphire Reserve, respectively. For example, if you redeem the $200 or 20,000 point signup bonus in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, it is worth $250 (Sapphire Preferred/Ink Preferred) or $300 (Sapphire Reserve).

Analysis

As this card has returned to the $200 or 20,000 point sign-up bonus offer with the addition of 5% back or 5x on grocery spend, up to $12,000 in the first 12 months, this card is near the top of our favorite cards to grab while under 5/24.  While it continues to be a great everyday card with 3% back on restaurants and drugstores (seen also on the Chase Freedom Flex) and 1.5% back on all other purchases, I'm not sure it beats a Chase Freedom Flex. I would prefer grabbing a Chase Ink Unlimited or downgrade from the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve to finish off the Chase Trifecta, rather than applying outright. However, if you find it hard (or forget) to maximize rotating quarterly bonus categories, this is the Freedom to have in your wallet.

With no annual fee, I never question the value proposition of the Chase Freedom Unlimited. I appreciate that I can use my Freedom Unlimited and earn a consistent rate (1.5%) with every single purchase. Nothing to overthink.

The Freedom Unlimited is best for everyday purchases that do not fall within a bonus category.

Final Thoughts

The Chase Freedom Unlimited will always have a spot in my wallet due to its ease of use, flexibility in redemption and lack of an annual fee.   Although there is a solid cash back option, the ultimate value comes from pairing the card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve for travel.  With Chase removing the 5% back on grocery spend up to $12,000 for the first year, personally, I would go back to make certain you think through your entire plan before applying for the Chase Freedom Unlimited as it requires one of your valuable Chase 5/24 slots.

 

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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