Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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  • If you have more than one Chase credit card, you can earn more by transferring points and splitting your spending between the two cards
  • Freedom and flexibility: the flat 1.5% cash back rate isn't limited to a specific category
  • The bonus offers are easily attainable and include a $150 bonus after spending $500 within 3 months after opening. Plus, you'll earn a $25 bonus after you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the same period.
Card attributes
  • Variable APR
    16.24% - 24.99%
  • Cash Advance APR
    26.24%
  • Rewards Rate
    1.50%
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Intro APR
    0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Bonus Offers
    Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Highlights
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening, plus a $25 authorized user bonus.
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.24 to 24.99%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • No annual fee

Our Detailed Review

There's a lot to love about the Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card. It provides a high rewards rate with no nonsense in terms of rotating spending categories - just a flat 1.5% back on every purchase you make with the card. With responsible use, you won't have to pay a penny to use this card, as there's no annual fee. 

As far as actually getting the cash back you've earned, there's no minimum required for redemption, and cash back earnings can be redeemed for any amount (unlike the Chase Freedom card, which requires a minimum $20). On top of that, there's a relatively small minimum spend required to earn the lucrative account opening bonus.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn't offer any specific bonus categories, due to its nature as a flat-rate cash back credit card. So those who know their high-spending categories (like groceries, for example) may want to opt instead for a cash back credit card that caters to their spending habits.

While going through this list, you'll also notice that it's not the highest flat-rate cash back card around. There's also a foreign transaction fee, so if you want a credit card specifically for international travel you should look into opening a credit card that caters specifically to travelers. 

Details

Application Process: Online, over the phone, or at a branch. Online is the easiest method, but it's nice to know that you have options!

Annual Fee: No annual fee! How's that for maximizing the money in your pocket? Balance transfer fees are $5 or 5% of the transferred amount (whichever is greater).

APR: 0% for the first 15 months, then a variable APR of 16.24% to 24.99%. 

RewardsYou can redeem your rewards as cash back in the form of:

  • Bank account deposits
  • Statement credits

Or, you can also redeem rewards using the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each and may be claimed through the Ultimate Rewards portal for:

  • General merchandise purchases made through the portal, or third-party retailers (such as Amazon)
  • Travel purchases 

Bonus Offers: Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500, within 3 months after opening a new account. Additionally, you can also earn $25 if you opt to add an authorized user of the card, and that person makes their first purchase within the 3 month period.

Faveable Review

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is Faveable’s best overall cash back credit card, and for good reason. It’s combination of a big sign-up bonus and a high ongoing rewards rate make it a good credit card for just about any type of spender.

And if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you could get even more value out of the card. Read on to learn how.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® review - Chase Freedom Unlimited® highlights

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers two bonuses when you first sign up. You’ll get a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months — that’s only $167.67 per month, making it easy for even the smallest of spenders to qualify.

You’ll also get a $25 bonus if you add an authorized user to your account and make a purchase in the same three-month period. On top of that, you’ll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back.

Also, if you want to make a large purchase or transfer a balance from a high-interest card, you’ll get a significant amount of time to pay it off.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® rewards and perks

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is rewarding upfront and in the long run, especially if you don’t spend a lot of money. And there’s no need to keep track of rotating bonus categories like you would with its sister card, the Chase Freedom®.

Also, there’s no minimum redemption amount — most cash back credit cards have a minimum of $20 or $25.

But if you are a big spender and plan to hold onto the card for a long time, you might want to also consider the Citi® Double Cash. The card offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase then another 1% back when you pay it off. It doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus, though.

To give you an idea of which card is better, let’s say you spend $500 per month. Here’s what you’d earn over five years:

Credit Card

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Total

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

$265

$90

$90

$90

$90

$625

Citi® Double Cash

$120

$120

$120

$120

$120

$600

So, for small spenders, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® should make more sense. But let’s say you spend $1,000 per month instead. Here’s how the numbers change:

Credit Card

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Total

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

$355

$180

$180

$180

$180

$1,075

Citi® Double Cash

$240

$240

$240

$240

$240

$1,200

With this example, you’d be better off with the Citi® Double Cash in the long run. In fact, you’d earn more in rewards with the card by the end of year three than you would with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

So, carefully consider your spending habits and long-term goals before choosing a card.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® benefits

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card’s main attraction is its rewards program, and it could get even better if you pair the card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

That’s because while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns cash back, it does so in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And if you have more than one card that earns these points, you can transfer points between cards.

Now, here’s the best part: the Chase Sapphire cards boost your point value if you use them to book travel through your Ultimate Rewards account — that’s 25% for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and 50% for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

So, if you earn rewards with your Chase Freedom Unlimited® and then transfer them to one of the other cards, your effective rewards rate could be as high as 2.25%, which is even better than you’d get with the Citi® Double Cash.

The card has other great benefits, too. For example, the 0% APR promotion is one of the best in the business: 0% APR for 15 months, then 16.24% to 24.99% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness.

Chase Freedom Unlimited® costs and fees

With all of the card’s perks, it’s a surprise that it doesn’t charge an annual fee. But depending on how you use it, the card could cost you.

For example, while you’ll get 15 months to pay off a balance transfer interest-free, you’ll have to pay an upfront balance transfer fee of 5% of the transfer, with a minimum of $5. That’s on the high end of balance transfer fees, which are typically 3%. Some cards even waive the fee upfront.

Also, once the 0% APR promotion is over, you’ll pay a 16.24% to 24.99% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness. That’s on the high end, considering the average credit card interest rate is 14.99%, according to the Federal Reserve.

Does the Chase Freedom Unlimited® make sense for me?

If you don’t spend a lot every month and want a solid sign-up bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a great option. But if you’re a bigger spender, the Citi® Double Cash might be better — at least if you don’t have one of the Chase Sapphire cards.

The card also makes sense if you plan to use its 0% APR promotion for new purchases. There are very few 0% APR cards that offer rewards, so you could get the benefit of no interest for 15 months and earning big rewards on your purchase.

If you want a balance transfer, though, take a look at some other balance transfer cards to see if you can get a better deal on the fee.

No credit card is perfect, but we think this one gets pretty close.

 

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