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Chase Freedom Unlimited Review

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Chase Freedom Unlimited

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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 $150 if you spend $500 on purchases with your card during the first three months. Plus, every time you shop, you earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months. That APR applies to both purchases and balance transfers, giving you ample time to chip away at any debt you transfer from other credit cards. After the intro period the standard 16.74% - 25.49% 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 certain categories of purchases, such as gas or groceries, you might prefer a card that gives you a higher percentage cash back on those purchases. But if you’re looking for an all-rounder, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a solid bet.

Smart Features

0% introductory APR – 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 applies to new purchases and to old balances you transfer to the card. After the introductory period is over a variable APR of 16.74% - 25.49% 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.

1.5% Cash Back – Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with your card, with no limits to the amount you can earn. 

$150 Bonus - Earn a one-time welcome bonus of $150 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 rotating categories. Some competitor cards offer 1% cash back on most purchases and then special offers of 2%, 3% or 5% on special categories. Does that sound like a hassle to keep track of? Then stick with a flat-rate card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card.

If you have debt from other cards, you might be drawn to the 0% introductory APR on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. And it is a generous offer. Keep in mind, though, that the card does charge a balance transfer fee. If you’re fee-averse, you might be better off with a card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee. If you’re transferring a balance of $10,000, the 3% balance transfer fee on the Chase Freedom Unlimited card will cost you $300 – not exactly small change. After the first 60 days, that fee goes up to 5%, and will cost you more to transfer a balance.

Compare Similar Cash Back Offers

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 $150. In addition, every time you swipe your card, 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 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater for the first 60 days. After that, a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% will apply. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, your APR on purchases and transferred balances will be 0% for your first 15 months with the card. After that, your you will pay 16.74% - 25.49% 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 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 3% of your balance for the first 60 days and $5 or 5% after that constitutes a catch. Depending on the size of the balance you have to transfer, you might prefer a card that offers fee-free balance transfer.

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 fees – 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 3% of each balance transferred, whichever is greater for the first 60 days. After that, the fee will be $5 or 5% whichever is greater. Your intro APR on any transferred balances will be 0% for 15 months. 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.

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How It Stacks Up

If you’re looking for a balance transfer card and you have hefty balances to transfer, you might prefer the Chase Slate card, which offers a fee-free transfer if you complete within 60 days of opening an account. However, the Chase Slate card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus or cash back.

If you’re looking for a cash back card that lets you maximize your earnings, you might prefer the Chase Freedom card because it offers 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.

Interest Rates

Annual percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

0% for 15 months. After the intro period ends a 16.74% - 25.49% Variable APR will apply, based on your credit-worthiness. 

APR for Balance Transfers

0% for 15 months. After the intro period 16.74% - 25.49% Variable APR will apply, based on your credit-worthiness. 

APR for Cash Advances

Pay 26.74% 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

None

Fees

Annual Fee: 

$0

Transaction Fees

  • Balance Transfer: Intro fee of 3% or $5 for the first 60 days. After that 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 each transaction in U.S. dollars

Penalty Fees

  • Late Payment: Up to $39

  • Returned Payment: Up to $39

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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.

Next Steps

  • Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • One of the best ways to improve your immediate and future financial situations is to make sure you have a strong savings account. If you don't know where to look, check out SmartAsset's best savings accounts for 2019.

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