Chase Freedom Unlimited Review [2021]

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has been around for a while. It held a reputation for being a simple yet versatile card with 1.5% back on all purchases. But the card got some great new bonus categories last year making it a heavyweight hitter in the points world, so lets what this card has to offer today.

The Good:

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 3% at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 3% at drugstores
  • Earn 1.5% on all other purchases
  • Points can be combined with a Sapphire account for more redemption possibilities

The Bad:

  • 3% Foreign transaction fee
  • No stand-alone option to transfer points to airlines

On its own, the Freedom Unlimited is a cashback card. However, if you have a Sapphire card you can combine your cashback points with the Ultimate Rewards Points in your Sapphire account. This allows you to unlock a lot of extra potential from those cashback points and get more value by transferring those points to airlines. In this review, I will look at this card as a standalone product and how it can fit into a spending strategy.

It is also important to note that this card has a new sister card, the Chase Flex, which offers the same permanent bonus categories. It swaps the 1.5% on everything down to 1% in return for a rotating 5% bonus category.

As a Cashback Card

The first thing to note is the great bonus cashback categories that have been added. This card has added three bonus categories on top if its 1.5 on everything:

  • Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Earn 3% at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 3% at drugstores
  • Earn 1.5% on all other purchases

That is a solid return for a no-fee card. The focus here for me is 3% on dining and drugstores. Other than the Flex, I’m not aware of a no-fee card that has this high a return. For comparison, the Sapphire Preferred with a $99 annual fee only earns 2% on travel and dining.

Being a cashback card, you are limited in your redemption options to earning a statement credit. On its own, these points cant be transferred to airline rewards where you can often get a better value redemption.

For Ultimate Rewards Members

As mentioned before, this card can be one piece of a puzzle for those who have one of the Sapphire cards. Since your point balances can be combined, having this card gives great ways for UR members to maximize their spend.

In many ways, this card has cannibalized Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card when it comes to daily spend. You will earn 3x points (vs 2 on the Preferred) on dinning and 5x points (vs 2x on the Preferred) on travel booked with Chase. Not to mention adding the 3x at drugstores which neither Sapphire card offers.

The Reserve card still stands out, matching the 3x at dinning and providing 3x on travel booked with the carrier along with its other benefits.

In the past, the Freedom Unlimited was just a way to get an extra .5 points on all purchases outside the Sapphire bonus categories. Now this card (and the Flex) offers more points than the Sapphire on every single purchase that isn’t travel booked with the airline directly. The Freedom Unlimited is no longer a way to squeeze just a few extra points. It is a mandatory card for your wallet, perhaps putting the Sapphire Preferred card in a drawer.

The Fine Print

You should always read the card member agreement and understand the fees of the card. Here are the highlights:

  • No annual fee
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Final Thoughts

With its simple, fix rate earning structure this card is a great option for earning some cashback. If you are looking for a card that earns some rewards without the effort of tracking down rotating categories or other frills, it is definitely worth considering. It also makes a great starter card for those wanting to get into the points game since you can unlock more potential by opening a Sapphire card in the future.

It is also a necessary add-on for any Sapphire Preferred cardholders to maximize spend since the new bonus categories outpace the Sapphire cards.

As someone who already had this card, getting extra bonus categories is a great addition so I’m happy to have it.


Writing about aviation and points. Specifically interested in Australia and New England regional airports.

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