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Credit Cards

Looking to make a big purchase? Here's how the Chase Freedom Unlimited can help with that

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a 15-month 0% intro APR that allows you to pay off big purchases over time with no interest. CNBC Select reviews all of the card's benefits so you can decide if it's right for you.

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The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers cardholders a lot of perks for a card with no annual fee. Beyond a great rewards program, cardholders can get a DoorDash DashPass membership (which gets you free delivery on orders over $12 and lower service fees from hundreds of restaurants) free for the first three months and half-off for the next nine months. (You must activate by Dec. 31, 2024.) They can also benefit from earning 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2025.

Cardholders can also take advantage of 0% intro APR for the first 15 months from account opening on new purchases (then a 20.49% - 29.24% variable APR) So, if you're wanting to open a new credit card because you're planning to buy a big ticket item soon, this is the card to use.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down the Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards, benefits and fees to help you decide if it's the right card for you.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 3% cash back on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    20.49% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Member FDIC. Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Rewards can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards card
  • Generous welcome bonus

Cons

  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions

Chase Freedom Unlimited review

Welcome bonus

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is currently offering a generous welcome bonus of an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy on up to $20,000 spent in the first year. That's worth up to $300 cashback.

Benefits and perks

Cardholders can take advantage of a three-month complimentary DashPass membership through DoorDash and earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides. These perks are great for cardholders who are regularly ordering food or taking ride-hailing services.

Witthaya Prasongsin | Moment | Getty Images

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a contactless card issued by Visa. You'll receive either a Visa Platinum or a Visa Signature card, depending on creditworthiness. Cardholders can benefit from purchase protection, extended warranty protection and auto rental collision damage waiver.

You can also get access to an online shopping portal that provides extra rewards on purchases made through a special Chase-provided link.

How to earn and redeem cashback

Earning

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns cash back at the following rates. For the first $20,000 spent in the first year, you'll earn:

  • 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025)
  • 4.5% back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services)
  • 4.5% cash back at drugstore purchases
  • 3% on all other purchases

After your first year or $20,000 spent, you'll earn:

  • 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2025)
  • 3% back at drugstores
  • 3% back on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services)
  • 1.5% on all other purchases.

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use their Chase Freedom Unlimited®. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).

Here's a breakdown of how much cash back you can roughly earn in each category, annually (this does not include any extra cash back from the welcome bonus in the first year):

  • Groceries: $78
  • Gas: $33
  • Dining out: $110
  • Travel: $112
  • Utilities: $73
  • General purchases: $59
  • Total: $466

Using this same budget and incorporating the welcome bonus, a cardholder could expect to earn about $797 in the first year and $2,661 total over five years.

Redeeming

The rewards don't expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem cash back. Plus, the rewards can be converted into transferrable Ultimate Rewards points if you have another Chase-Ultimate-Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, allowing you to potentially receive more value from your rewards. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

Rates and fees

There is no annual fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, but there is a 3% fee charged on foreign transactions. (Check out CNBC Select's best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.)

New cardholders can take advantage of a 15-month 0% intro APR offer from account opening on new purchases and balance transfers (then a 20.49% - 29.24% variable APR). There's an intro balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, it's either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

Card comparison

Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Rewards

    5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on drugstore purchases and on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    20.49% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Member FDIC. Terms apply. Information about the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ shares many similar features to the Freedom Unlimited, such as no annual fee, discounts with DoorDash DashPass and a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months from account opening on on new purchases and balance transfers (after, 20.49% - 29.24% variable APR). The main difference lies in their reward rates.

With the Freedom Flex, you'll earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Check out the full Chase Freedom cash-back calendar for more rewards information.

Flex cardholders can also take advantage of World Elite Mastercard perks, which provide more premium benefits like cell phone protection and Mastercard Priceless experiences.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Citi Double Cash® Card

Citi Double Cash® Card

  • Rewards

    Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    For balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening, an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies; after that, a balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Fair/Good/Excellent

  • See rates and fees. Terms apply.

If you want to earn a higher cash-back rate on everyday purchases, consider the Citi Double Cash® Card, which offers 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24

The card is also good for anyone looking to consolidate their debt: The Citi Double Cash® Card offers an introductory 0% intro APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% variable APR). There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first four months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Plus, if you forget to pay your card, Citi will waive your first late fee. (Though we recommend you pay off your credit card balance on time and in full each month to avoid interest charges.)

Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited right for you?

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is ideal for anyone looking for a simple way to maximize cash back on everyday spending. Its rewards become even more valuable when paired with another Chase Travel℠ or Ultimate Rewards® card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, so it's especially great for those seeking to maximize rewards within the Chase system. And this card has no annual fee, it won't cost you anything except a credit inquiry.

Bottom line

The simple 1.5% cash-back program offered by the Chase Freedom Unlimited card makes it easy to use, and its 0% APR offer sets the card apart from other cards. You don't have to worry about paying the balance in full because you can pay it off over time. Just make sure you make at least the minimum payment on time and have a repayment plan set up.

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Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every credit card review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of credit card products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best credit cards.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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