A Cash Back Contender
Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
Chase is on a roll with its credit card business these days. While the company may be most famous for its rewards cards, it also offers solid cash back options. The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of them.
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited you’ll now earn a one-time bonus of $200 if you spend $500 on purchases with your card during the first three months. Shopping at the grocery store will earn you 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. However, this 5% cash back category does not include Target or Walmart purchases. If you make a travel purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you will earn 5% cash back. Earn 3% cash back with drugstore purchases and restaurant dining (including takeout). On all other purchases, you will earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. After the intro period, the standard 14.99% - 23.74% Variable will apply.
There’s no annual fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, and no penalty APR if you miss a payment. In short, the Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you the opportunity to earn a bonus after signing up and offers a high rate on your cash back. Bonuses are relatively rare in the world of cash back cards, so if you’re looking to earn cash back and you don’t want to have to worry about rotating cash back categories, take a look at the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
If you spend a lot on other categories of purchases, such as gas or department store, you might prefer a card that gives you a higher percentage of cash back on those purchases. But if you’re looking for an all-rounder, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a solid bet.
0% introductory APR – The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card comes with a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months after you get approved for the card. The 0% APR only applies to new purchases you make with the card. After the introductory period is over a variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% will apply.
No annual fee – You won’t have to worry about an annual fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
No penalty APR – Unlike many cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t bump you up to a penalty APR if you miss a payment.
5% Cash Back - Earn 5% cash back on grocery purchases up to $12,000 in the first year - Target and Walmart not included. Plus, earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
3% Cash Back - Earn 3% cash back on drug store purchases and on dining purchases.
1.5% Cash Back – Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with your card, with no limits to the amount you can earn.
$200 Bonus - Earn a one-time welcome bonus of $200 when you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months with the Freedom Unlimited card.
Who It Benefits
Consumers who want a generous cash back rate without having to pay an annual fee will appreciate the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The card is also good for people who don’t want to keep track of categories that change every quarter. Does that sound like a hassle to keep track of? Then stick with a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
How It Works
In the first three months with your card, if you make $500 worth of purchases you can earn a one-time bonus of $200. In addition, every time you swipe your card, you will earn 5% at the grocery store in the first year on up to $12,000 spent. You can also earn 5% on travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% cash back at the drugstore or at restaurants. On all other purchases, you will earn cash back rewards at a rate of 1.5%.
If you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you can take your rewards in the form of points instead of cash back or gift cards. You can use your points with Chase’s hotel and airline partners to effectively boost the value of your rewards points.
The total amount of your balance transfers, including fees and interest charges, cannot exceed your available credit or $15,000, whichever is lower. There’s a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. There is not an intro rate, so the standard APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable will apply from date of transfer. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, your APR on purchases will be 0% for your first 15 months with the card. After that, you will pay 14.99% - 23.74% Variable, depending on your credit score. It’s a variable rate, which means it can change with the Prime Rate.
What's The Catch?
As a cash back card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a high rewards rate and a tempting sign-up bonus. The 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on purchases is another enticement to consumers looking for value.
If you’re planning on executing a balance transfer, the balance transfer fee of the greater of $5 or 5% after that constitutes a catch. Plus there is no 0% introductory time period on balance transfers. Depending on the size of the balance you have to transfer, you might prefer a card that can offer a better balance transfer deal.
If you want to use your credit card abroad, the 3% foreign transaction fee is a definite catch. You’d have to stomach the fee or use another card – one that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee – during your travels. There are also restrictions on who can qualify for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.
Just The Math
The Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. If you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn extra rewards if you add the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to your wallet. Why? Because instead of redeeming what you earn on the Chase Freedom Unlimited for cash, you can transfer your earnings to Ultimate Reward points and use Chase’s proprietary rewards system.
Chase points are worth $0.01 each, unless you redeem for travel, in which case they’re worth $0.0125. Converting the rewards you earn on your Chase Freedom Unlimited card to Ultimate Rewards points instead of cash back lets you access Chase’s 25% travel bonus by redeeming your points for travel or booking with partner reward systems like United MileagePlus. Combining the Chase Freedom Unlimited with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card increases the rewards rate on the Freedom Unlimited. Each point you earn is worth $0.0125 instead of $0.01.
If you transfer a balance to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card you’ll pay either $5 or 5% of each balance transferred, whichever is greater. The total amount of your balance transfer requests, including fees and interest charges, can’t exceed your available credit or $15,000, whichever is lower. You can’t transfer balances from another Chase account.
How It Stacks Up
If you’re looking for a cash back card that lets you maximize your earnings, you might prefer the Chase Freedom Flex. While it is similar in some of the offerings that the Freedom Unlimited has, it differs with 5% cash back (up to $1,500) in rotating categories each quarter you activate, plus an unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
If you’re looking for a flat-rate cash back card you might prefer the Citi Double Cash card, which offers unlimited 1% cash back when you make a purchase and a further 1% when you pay your bill. That would give you 2% cash back compared to 1.5% with the Chase Freedom Unlimited
However, if you’re planning on using the Chase Freedom Unlimited in combination with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you can get great returns by transferring your rewards and redeeming them for travel through Chase or its airline and hotel partners.
Annual percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases
0% for 15 months. After the intro period ends a 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR will apply, based on your credit-worthiness.
APR for Balance Transfers
14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR will apply, based on your credit-worthiness.
APR for Cash Advances
Pay 24.99% Variable for cash advances. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.
How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases
Your due date will be a minimum of 21 days after the close of each billing cycle. You will not be charged any interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month.
Minimum Interest Charge
Balance Transfer: Either 5% of the amount transferred or $5 whichever is greater.
Cash Advance: $10 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Foreign Purchase Transaction: 3% of the amount of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Late Payment: up to $39
Returned Payment: up to $39
The Bottom Line
Looking for a cash back card with no annual fee, a solid rewards rate, and an introductory bonus? Chase Freedom Unlimited is a solid choice. Its rewards are even more impressive when combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
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