Chase Freedom Unlimited Review – 1.5% Cash Back + $150 Bonus

Chase Freedom UnlimitedChase has introduced a new cash back rewards card called the Chase Freedom Unlimited which earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The new card will be in addition to and separate from the existing Chase Freedom, which has 5% cash back on rotating categories every quarter and then 1% cash back on all other purchases. Here are the highlights:

  • NEW! Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic.
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn A $25 Bonus when you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same 3-month period.*
  • Redeem for cash – any amount, anytime.
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum.
  • No annual fee

1.5% cash back on all purchases might have been a great percentage number several years ago, but there are now at least a few competitors with higher effective cash back rates.

(The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Card is also similar at 1.5% cash back.)

But wait, you actually get Ultimate Rewards Points! As with the Chase Freedom card, you technically earn Ultimate Rewards points with this card, which in turn can be redeemed for cash back. 100 points = $1 in cash back, or 1 cent per point. Therefore, you could change the bullets above to the following:

  • You earn 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Earn a 15,000 Ultimate Rewards point bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn a 2,500 Ultimate Rewards point bonus when you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same 3-month period.*

Why does this matter? If you have also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (or Ink Plus business card), then you can merge your earned points together and transfer all the points in your account into a selection of hotel points and airline miles. If you value those miles/points at more than 1 cent per point, then your 1.5X rewards from this card can be significantly higher. Again, you must have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card as well. Examples:

– You could earn 1.5 United miles per dollar spent.
– You could earn 1.5 Hyatt points per dollar spent.
– You could earn 1.5 British Airways Avios per dollar spent.
– You could earn 1.5 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent.

If for example, you placed a perceived value of 1.5 cents on each United mile or Southwest Rapid Rewards point, then you’d receive 2.25 cents of perceived value per dollar spent with this card. Your actual numbers will depend on your own specific redemption choices.

There are no other credit cards with no annual fee that offer such high redemption rates on every purchase, not even from the special co-branded cards from each airline or hotel. Keep in mind though that the Chase Sapphire Preferred itself does have a $95 annual fee. But if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card already (like I do), then this card gives me 50% more points on base purchases at no additional cost.

Recap. As a straight-up cash back rewards card, the 1.5% cash back of the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be exceeded by other 2% cash back cards. However, if you or your spouse also has the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, then this card improves by allowing you to receive the equivalent of 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on every purchase. If you value other travel points like United miles, Hyatt points, or Southwest Rapid Rewards points, then by earning Ultimate Rewards you can obtain solid rewards value and flexibility from this card.

Comments

  1. Buzzkill. Chase has a 5/24 rule (no more than 5 credit card applications in the last 24 months, all issuers). I’ve run into this issue with CFU and I imagine a few others might too.

  2. I currently have the Chase Freedom. I wonder if I can switch to the Ultimate and still get the $150 bonus.

    • You could always ask Chase (worse they could say is no), but usually the sign-up bonus is not available to cardholders switching card types.

      • I called Chase last night and asked this very question! Chase confirmed you can do this, but you will be signing up for an additional line of credit. So instead of just “upgrading” to the Freedom Unlimited card, you should apply for the new Freedom Unlimited card outright, and if you accept the terms and meet the qualifying criteria, you will get the $150 bonus. Just note, if you plan to make the upgrade and no longer want to keep your original Freedom Card, you cannot transfer balances from Chase to Chase (Freedom Card to Unlimited Freedom Card). Happy hunting!

        • So what I am hearing is that you are not in fact “upgrading” your Freedom to the Freedom Unlimited (no new credit check), but are instead getting a brand new, separate Freedom Unlimited card (with new credit check) and thus getting the big sign-up bonus.

          • Correct. Although they WILL upgrade you without checking your credit , but you would be ineligible for the $150 sign-on bonus. They suggested keeping both cards (of course) and leveraging the point systems based on that card’s individual rewards as mentioned in the original article above. So, as always, there is a catch to getting free money.

          • Good to know you have the option of either converting w/o sign-up bonus or applying for an additional card w/ sign-up bonus. Thanks!

  3. Even if you don’t have the Sapphire Preferred card yourself, you can transfer the points to your spouse’s account, if they have one.

  4. If you combine the UR points earned with the regular Freedom card with those in the Chase Ink Plus, will the UR Freedom points value 20% more for travel also?

  5. I don’t know if this card would be right for me. I have a few different credit cards that rotate cash back benefits each quarter. The main benefit of the regular cash back card is that I get a rotating 5% each quarter that makes it more attractive than the few other cards I have. So I don’t know if a flat 1.5 cash back would move the needle for me and provide a benefit greater than the other points I earn.
    That being said, I can easily how a flat 1.5% cash would be appealing to those who do not have multiple cards or do not want to deal with rotating cards and having to think about which card is best at the point of purchase.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this review together!

    Bert, One of the Dividend Diplomats

    • This quarter I’m getting 5% back on groceries with my regular Chase Freedom card and that’s looking mighty good.

  6. When I first saw this, I saw it as an obvious mimic of the Capital One QuickSilver card. However, I am pleasantly surprised that it earns Ultimate Rewards, like the regular Chase Freedom cards.

    Then again, with Capital One, I can configure the account to automatically redeem rewards as a statement credit. I can’t do that with Chase. I have to manually redeem rewards as a statement credit.

    • IMHO, Capital One QuickSilver has 1 advantage over the new Chase Freedom Unlimited; Quicksilver has No Foreign Transaction fees (Chase has 3% fee) for purchases outside US. Everything else is the same so far.

Speak Your Mind

*