Is Chase Freedom Unlimited the best all around card?

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The benefits and points and miles earned from using this or that company’s credit card can present dizzying options. How much cash back do I get? What purchases qualify? Do qualifying purchases change from time to time and how can I keep track? 

Instead of having to go from card to card to get the benefits right, the best would be a solution where one card offered the best-of, or a matrix of, all the best cash back and other incentives that are available on the market. Chase’s Freedom Unlimited may be just such a card.

This card comes hot out of the gate. First and foremost, no annual fee. Boom. Next is the cash back benefit, which is stupidly simple: 1.5% on all purchases. No limit. (See why they call it ‘Unlimited’?) This is a half percent better than the popular Apple Card, although Apple offers a rotating cast of 2%, and always 3% when you buy from Apple.

Unlike Apple, the Freedom Unlimited card also offers rewards that are worth 2.25% or more when used for certain travel and other expenses. These points never expire and can be combined with points obtained using other Chase cards. In addition to having no annual fee, Chase also provides a $150 sign-up bonus that is yours after spending $500 in the first three months. 

What is truly unique about the Freedom Unlimited is the degree of control it puts into the cardholders’ hands. You can just set it and forget it and really enjoy the unlimited cash back at 1.5%. For those who desire a more hands-on experience, there are options that can be activated in lieu of the basic cash back arrangement. Instead, card holders also have the option to use their rewards to purchase gift cards, which are often available at a discount. For example, one prior promotion involved a gift card for $100 at Whole Foods. Normally this would cost 10,000 points, but during the promotion it was available for 8,500 points.

As mentioned above, there are also particular benefits related to travel. These come in the form of discounts available on flights and hotel bookings. To the extent you can line up your plans with the timing of promotions, there is a great deal of money to be saved here.

By having this degree of flexibility, Chase is able to present a full buffet of options. And with just a little fiddling, the basic benefits can be significantly expanded for maximum savings.

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