My first ever credit card was a Chase Slate that I later decided to upgrade to a Chase Freedom. When I made the call to upgrade, I mentioned to the customer service rep that it would be nice to have a card that earns UR points at a flat rate. I even said that I would rather upgrade to a card like that than the Freedom.
I think someone at Chase’s Headquarters must have heard my wish. The Chase Freedom Unlimited (CFU) was released in February 2016, about six months after my call.
Bonus categories are great because you can earn more points faster within the categories. Who doesn’t love that? But some purchases don’t fall into a category and thus only earn one point on most cards. The CFU is one of a few personal transferrable points earning card that solves this problem.
The Freedom Unlimited is a simple card. It earns 1.5x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points (or 1.5% cash back) per dollar on all purchases. As its name suggests, the Freedom Unlimited has no spending caps or limits on its elevated earning rate. That makes it a great complement to other UR earning cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The CFU’s potential can be maximized if you have multiple UR-earning cards. If you have a Chase Sapphire card or a Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can transfer the points from your CFU account to one of those accounts. This feature is the most powerful that Chase has to offer as it’s vital for many earning strategies.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a sign-up bonus of 15,000 UR points (or $150 cash back). You will earn the points after spending just $500 in the first 3 months.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Chase has multiple options for points redemption:
Cash Back & Gift Cards
If you have the CFU by itself, cash back is one of just two redemption options. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back.
The other option is to redeem for gift cards at 1 CPP. Sometimes, Chase discounts some of their gift card options, enabling cardholders to redeem for more than 1 CPP. This is the best-case scenario if you have the CFU by itself.
If either of these options sounds better than points, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is not for you. At 1.5%, this card does not have the highest flat earning rate among cash back cards.
Transfer partners are by far Chase’s most valuable redemption option. But they are only available if you also have either Sapphire card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred. Chase has just 13 travel partners (compared to American Express’ 21).
- World of Hyatt
- Aer Lingus
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Rules & Regulations
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is subject to the 5/24 Rule. This rule was enacted by Chase to prevent “churners” from scoring their sign-up bonuses too many times.
The 5/24 rule states that you will not be approved for any UR-earning card if you were approved for five or more new accounts in the last 24-months. Some Chase co-branded cards also fall under this rule as well.
Try these alternatives if the CFU is not for you:
Despite the similar name, this card is more complicated than its simple “sibling”. The Freedom earns 5x UR points on quarterly rotating categories. It also comes with the same sign-up bonus as the Chase Freedom.
The Everyday Card has a different earning structure. It earns 2x Membership Rewards (MR) points per dollar at grocery stores and 1x on everything else. If you use your card at least 20 times per month, you will receive a 20% points bonus. With a little work, you can earn 2.4x points at grocery stores and 1.2x points on everything else.
This card has no-annual fee and a public sign-up bonus of 10,000 MR points. It can be earned after spending just $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Discover It Miles
This card is Discover’s answer to the CFU. It earns 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent. Discover Miles are equivalent to cash back because each mile is worth 1 CPP. In other words, this is another 1.5% cash back card.
This card has no sign-up bonus but Discover doubles your miles earned at the end of the first year. For example, if you earned 10,000 Miles in one year, Discover will gift you with another 10,000.
Discover It Miles also comes with an annual $30 in-flight Wi-Fi credit. Those who want some benefits but can’t afford a premium card would like this card.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a balanced alternative to its sibling, the Chase Freedom. It’s also great complement to the Chase Sapphire cards and Chase Ink Business Preferred card. If you are looking for just one card or for cash back, the Freedom Unlimited is not the best option. But as part of a wallet with multiple Chase cards, it’s fantastic.
I was thrilled to hear about the CFU’s release in early 2016. But I had to wait a year to get it because I was having trouble finding a job after college. As I let my existing accounts age, my credit file became more robust. After I got my first post-college job, I was approved for a decent starting limit.
Since then, the Freedom Unlimited has become my “workhorse card”. It has also helped me earn more UR points, raising the balance of my primary points “currency”. I will never get rid of it because it plays such an integral role in my wallet.