This No-Fee Credit Card Now Comes With up to 6.5 Percent Cash Back on Travel

The Chase Freedom Unlimited’s relaunch offer comes with a big cash-back boost on all purchases, from travel to takeout.

View from plane window overlooking its wing at sunset

With this new offer, you could earn up to 6.5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Travel for up to $20,000 spent in the first year.

Courtesy of Eva Darron / Unsplash

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Most travel credit cards lure new customers with welcome offers and earnings structures that promise plenty of points. But the recently relaunched, no-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® speaks to those who are seeking cash over points. The card’s revamp brings new—and surprisingly high—cash-back rates as part of its introductory offer: 6.5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5 percent on dining and drugstores, and 3 percent on all other purchases up to $20,000 in the first year of card membership. After that, the rates drop 1.5 percent across the board, but that’s still, for example, a 5 percent rebate on all travel purchased through Chase Travel. For those who feel cash is king—and want to earn big without paying an annual fee—the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a wise option. And, interestingly enough, it can also lead to the earning of beaucoup points thanks to a clever workaround. Here’s all you need to know about this lesser-known travel credit card.

A clever introductory bonus

Since relaunching in March 2024, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is courting new cardholders with an enticing welcome offer. Beyond the card’s already high earnings rates, you’ll earn an extra 1.5 percent on all purchases up to $20,000 spent in the first year (that’s worth up to $300 cash back).

Here’s how those rates break down by each category:

  • 6.5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 4.5 percent on dining and drugstores
  • 3 percent on all other purchases

The card carries no annual fee and goes as far as granting a zero percent intro APR for 15 months from account opening on both purchases and balance transfers. (Afterwards, it’s a variable APR of 20.49 percent to 29.24 percent.)

Earnings rate

After hitting $20,000 in your first year or simply reaching year two of membership, the cash-back rates drop but remain high for subsequent years:

  • 5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 3 percent on dining and drugstores
  • 1.5 percent on all other purchases

The annual fee remains $0, and there’s no minimum to redeem for cash back. All cash back earned is banked as Ultimate Rewards points with bonuses incorporated into the amount that hits your rewards account. They can then be redeemed as a direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts or as a statement credit. As long as the account remains open, the Ultimate Rewards points do not expire.

Watching the cash pile up

If maximized with $20,000 in spending, the introductory bonus alone is valued at $300. But say you spend that first $20,000 through Chase Travel. With a rate of 6.5 percent, that’s cash back of $1,300 ($1,000 through standard 5 percent plus $300 through the 1.5 percent introductory bonus). That’s a solid rate of return to say the least. Even after hitting the spend threshold, getting $500 back for every $10,000 spent on Chase Travel is still exciting.

Thankfully, the cash back doesn’t end with Chase Travel. The rates for the dining and drugstores are triple that of most cash-back cards with no annual fee, and the rate for all other purchases is 50 percent higher than most competitors.

From cash to points, huh?

Although the draw of the Freedom Unlimited is the prospect of cash, it’s a good card, too, for those who prefer accruing points and miles. How so? You can combine the cash back of the Freedom Unlimited with a more premium Chase card that earns more dynamic Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Those with just the Chase Freedom Unlimited can use their Ultimate Rewards solely for cash back. However, Ultimate Rewards earned by Chase’s premium cards have more redemption options. Namely, you can transfer them to the Ultimate Rewards program’s travel partners like United, Southwest, Hyatt, and Marriott.

When you have multiple Chase cards, it’s entirely possible to transfer Ultimate Rewards from one account to the next. That means the rewards earned by the Unlimited can be redeemed through the Sapphire cards.

Let’s clarify using the previous example: I spend $20,000 in year one on Chase Travel with my new Chase Freedom Unlimited. I then bank 130,000 Ultimate Rewards, which I can cash out for $1,300. However, since I also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I can transfer the 130,000 points from the Unlimited to my Ultimate Rewards account with Preferred through the “Combine Points” feature in the Chase portal. Once transferred, I can now use those 130,000 points in more ways than just cash, including my favorite: Transferring to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio and landing 130,000 World of Hyatt points.

Freedom solo or together?

If you’re simply looking for a great rate of return, and feel cash is king when it comes to credit card rewards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is for you. We do, however, strongly recommend having other cards in your portfolio if you’re looking for travel perks like airport lounge access, travel insurance, and elite status bumps. And don’t forget, you can earn big on the Freedom Unlimited and then move those Ultimate Rewards to your account with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve if you’d rather use them as points instead of cash back.

Finally, if you’re already a Chase cardholder and are wondering about bonus and card eligibility, the short answer is yes—you can get the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s introductory rate and you are indeed allowed to have multiple, different Chase cards, just not two of the same. So, if you don’t already have (or have previously had) the Freedom Unlimited, you’re in the clear to start earning these incredible cash-back rates and boost your bank account or your points balances.

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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