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 is unique among Chase’s Ultimate Rewards cards in that you’ll earn a minimum of 1.5 points per dollar for all spend while also earning 3 to 5 points per dollar within specific bonus categories. Chase advertises the Freedom Unlimited as a cash back card, but it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points. When paired with a premium card, the points earned with the Freedom Unlimited card become more valuable. You can freely move your points to a premium card in order to get better than 1 cent per point value for travel. For example, if you move points to a household member’s Sapphire Reserve card, you can get 1.5 cents per point value. In that situation, the Freedom Unlimited earns between 2.25% (1.5 cents per point X 1.5 points per dollar) and 7.5% in rewards! See our Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide for details.
This card does charge foreign transaction fees, so leave it at home when traveling internationally. Within the US, though, the Freedom Unlimited is an excellent choice both for its category bonuses and as an “everywhere else” card which earns a minimum of 1.5 points per dollar.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Application Tips
Chase Application Tips
Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status
In my opinion, the Freedom Unlimited is a good choice in many cases, but it’s especially good if you or a household member has (or plans to get) the Sapphire Reserve card. Use the Freedom Unlimited to earn 5X for travel booked through Chase, 3X for drugstores and dining, and 1.5X on all other spend. Move your Freedom Unlimited points to the 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 apply for the Freedom Unlimited card, you must not currently have the same card (it’s okay to have a different Freedom card), and you must not have received a welcome bonus for the Freedom Unlimited in the past 24 months.
Additionally, to get this card you must be under 5/24.
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:
|Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)|
The Freedom Unlimited card offers surprisingly strong earnings for a fee-free card: 5X travel booked through Chase, 3X dining and drugstore, and 1.5X everywhere else. At the time of this writing, the Freedom Unlimited and Freedom Flex are the only nationally available credit cards in the United States that I’m aware of which offer a great bonus for drugstore spend. It’s also unusual for cards with strong bonus categories to earn better than 1X for all other spend, yet that’s what the Freedom Unlimited offers.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Redeem Points
Pay Yourself Back
It appears that Chase will change the eligible categories every few months. When using this feature, Sapphire Reserve cardholders get 1.5 cents per point value and all other eligibile cardholders get 1.25 cents per point value. Plus, cardholders earn points on the same purchases! More details about Chase's Pay Yourself Back feature can be found here.
Cardholders can cash out points for 1 cent each. Cash back can be taken as a statement credit, 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|
|Aer Lingus Avios||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. See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Redeem for Star Alliance flights and/or flights with Air Canada partners (such as Etihad). No fuel surcharges; $39 CAD award booking fee; 5,000 points to add stopover on one-way award. See: Air Canada Aeroplan: Everything you need to know.|
|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.|
|British Airways Avios||While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Excellent value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, and Aer Lingus. See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.|
|Emirates Skywards||The best use of Emirates miles is to fly Emirates itself. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip.|
|Hyatt||Use for Hyatt free nights, free suite nights, lounge upgrades, or suite upgrades. Hyatt points are often worth at least 1.5 cents each, but they’re sometimes worth far more. One hidden bonus: award nights are not subject to resort fees.|
|Iberia Avios||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 when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, and Aer Lingus. See also: Complete guide to Avios - British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.|
|IHG||IHG dynamically prices their awards and sometimes offer very good value. IHG credit cards can increase value: IHG Select Card (no longer available to new applicants) offers a 10% rebate on awards. IHG Premier and IHG Traveler Cards offer fourth night free on award stays.|
|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 of these cards.|
|Marriott Bonvoy||5th Night Free awards. Opportunities to get outsized value exist but can be hard to find.|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members), Alaska Airlines economy awards, or for Star Alliance awards (including United Airlines).|
|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||Like Avianca and Aeroplan, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. Unfortunately, United usually charges more miles for the same awards that are bookable with other Star Alliance miles. One good use of miles is to make use of United's Excursionist Perk awards. United no longer charges change or cancellation fees on awards cancelled at least 30 days prior to booking.|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Virgin Atlantic offers quite a few sweet spot awards including ANA first class between the US and Japan for as low as 110K points round-trip; and US to Europe on Delta One business class for only 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).|
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. With no annual fee and strong earning power, why not? If you decide to cancel anyway, make sure to first redeem any remaining points or move them to another Ultimate Rewards card.
Ultimate Rewards Consumer Cards
|Card Offer and Details|
Ultimate Rewards Business Cards
|Card Offer and Details|