If there is one card I would recommend go in your wallet, from beginner to seasoned user, it would be the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It has recently undergone some changes, and they are to your benefit. I own the card myself, and if you sign up via the affiliate link, we both get rewarded.
A solid cash back card will not carry an annual fee, deliver solid rewards, and be simple to understand. The Freedom Unlimited delivers on all fronts.
If you have never owned a credit card before, read my advice on credit cards for beginners. In that post I listed a handful of questions you should consider before choosing a card. I’ll answer those questions here:
What is the APR?
After a fifteen month introductory period of 0%, the card features a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%.
How much will you pay in late fees?
You could pay up to $39, but check your credit card terms for the most-up-to-date information.
How much will you pay if you take out a cash advance?
You could pay $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater. Note my advice not to use any credit card to take out cash advances.
Are there annual fees?
There are no annual fees.
What perks will the card give you?
- $200 welcome bonus if you spend $500 within the first 90 days of opening
- Complimentary three months of DashPass and 50% discounted DashPass for nine months when you activate by December 21, 2021
- 5% cash back on grocery store purchases not including Target® or Walmart® on up to $12,000 spent in the first year
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 5% cash back on qualifying Lyft rides purchased through the Lyft app until March 31, 2022
- 3% Cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
- Zero liability, extended warranty and purchase protection
One area where the Freedom Unlimited shines is in your ability to leverage the Ultimate Rewards program, arguably one of the best, if not the best, point redemption program. This is usually a better exchange as opposed to redeeming your points via a statement credit or a gift certificate. For crying out loud, do not redeem your points via gift certificates! Do not be tempted to redeem your points on Amazon either! That exchange rate is less than 1%.
If you match the Freedom Unlimited with the Sapphire Preferred® Card or a Sapphire Reserve®, you can combine your points and get 25% and 50% higher value. This can turn your $200 welcome bonus, for example, into $250 and $300 respectively.
Speaking of its Preferred and Reserve cousins, it’s worth noting the Freedom Unlimited carries a 3% foreign transaction fee. To reiterate the point, you do not want to use this card while on international travel. If your travel is mostly domestic, it’s a moot point.
Another potential negative to some is that the Freedom Unlimited does not feature revolving bonus categories. That point initially gave me pause, but I opted to get this card anyway, because I would rather rely on a good baseline year round without having to manually activate whatever bonus happens to be available per quarter. Also, the fresh update to the card almost renders this a negligible point.
For blind consumers, the Chase website is very accessible. The same is true of the mobile app. Customer service on the phone, on the two occasions I’ve needed extra help, was prompt and efficient.
I love things that are set it and forget it. That sort of arrangement lets me focus on more important things going on in my life. For people new to keeping track of credit card points, this is by far an excellent card to get you started. If you think points are a sham, I was able to use points to fully pay for a round trip from DC to Texas earlier this year without any issues.
If I can answer any questions, feel free to ask in the comments. Otherwise, consider signing up now! I am an active user and have zero regrets.