blue cash preferredchase freedom unlimited

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® aren't usually two cards we'd think to compare; however, thanks to a new bonus offer on grocery store purchases from Chase as well as additional rewards tiers these two cards now compete well for certain credit card users. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

Grocery purchases are something most of us have to make every day, so getting rewarded for them only makes sense. But that's not all of these cards have to offer. Each card is unique in how cardholders can earn rewards, but rewards are valuable with both options. Which card is the most valuable for you though will depend. Continue on to learn more about how these two cards compare to help you decide which is the better fit for your needs.

Rewards earning rates

These cards are similar in that they both earn cash back, and also in that they both earn bonus cash back on grocery purchases. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express earns 6% back on up to $6,000 spent annually at U.S. supermarkets (then 1%), while new Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases, up to $12,000 spent in the first year (then 1.5%). Both cards exclude Target and Walmart from these categories.

Though the Blue Cash Preferred® Card  rewards rate is higher, the spending cap is lower, and purchases are restricted to U.S. supermarkets. On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® spend limit is higher, but the offer is only extended to new cardholders, and is only good for the first year of card membership.

Beyond that, the cards rewards earning options diverge.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card extends the 6% cash-back bonus to select U.S. streaming subscriptions, and awards 3% back on transit purchases and at U.S. gas stations, and 1% on all other purchases. Chase Freedom Unlimited® is different in that it offers 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores and 1.5% on all other eligible purchases. 

Given how different these categories are, you could make an argument for carrying both, but there are some other factors to consider.

New cardholder welcome bonus

Welcome bonuses aren't always a guarantee, but in this case, both cards offer decent rewards to new cardholders who meet certain spend requirements within their first few months of card membership.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, new cardholders who spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account can earn $200 cash back. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express welcome offer is a bit more at $300 back for a limited time, but the spend threshold is also a bit higher to earn it: $3,000 spent in six months (offer expires 12/10/20).

We never recommend choosing a card simply for a welcome bonus offer, but these offers never hurt, especially if two cards are otherwise neck-in-neck in your decision-making process.

Intro 0% APR period

Another thing these cards have in common is that that both offer an intro 0% APR period on new purchases. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 12 months 0% APR on new purchases, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR (See Rates and Fees), while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a slightly longer period of 15 months before a regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR applies.

This can be an invaluable perk if you have a large purchase on the horizon and need a little extra time to pay it off. Having a 12-15 month interest-free period is huge, and can offer some financial relief if you find yourself having difficulty paying your credit card balance in full each month. Just be sure to pay off any balances before the promotional periods expire, as you'll be charged a regular APR on any unpaid statements you may have upon promotion expiration.

Annual fees

Annual fee costs will likely be a big deciding factor in determining which of these two cards is a better fit for your needs.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card does not have an annual fee; however, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express charges $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 each year (offer expires 12/10/20) (See Rates and Fees). If you spend a lot in the Blue Cash Preferred® categories, though, the annual fee may well be worth it.

Think of it this way: if you spend just $132 at U.S. supermarkets each month earning 6% cash back, at the end of the year you'll have easily earned enough rewards to cover the annual fee. Considering the fact that many households far exceed this amount, offsetting the annual fee should be a breeze for most cardholders. And this doesn't even take the bonus or other rewards into account.

If you don't anticipate heavily using your card though, or just want it for "other" purchases that don't normally earn bonus rewards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® could be a great fit for you as it does not charge an annual fee.

To learn more about how these two cards match up, check out the table below to compare their various rewards, benefits, features, and fees.

Blue Cash Preferred® vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Annual Fee 
Limited time offer: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 (offer expires 12/10/20)
$0
New Cardholder Bonus Offer

For a limited time earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 in the first six months of opening an account (offer expires 12/10/20)

$200 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months after opening an account. Plus, earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent at grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart) for the first year)

Rewards

Earn 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually, 6% on select U.S. streaming services, unlimited 3% back at U.S. gas stations and transit purchases, and 1% back on everything else

Earn 5% back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores and 1.5% cash back on your other purchases.

Redeeming Rewards

Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Cash back rewards do not expire so long as account is open and there is no minimum for redemption. Rewards can be redeemed for cash back as a statement credit or direct deposit, gift cards, travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Amazon purchases, and Apple Ultimate Rewards® Store purchases.

Intro 0% APR

Enjoy 0% intro APR for the first 12 months on new purchases, then 13.99% - 23.99% Variable

Enjoy 0% intro APR for the first 15 months on new purchases, then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees

2.7% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

Travel Benefits
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance

  • Global Assist® Hotline can help you prepare for your trip with customs information and more, and while you're traveling more than 100 miles from home, coordination and assistance services such as lost passport replacement assistance, translation services, missing luggage assistance, and emergency legal and medical referrals are just a phone call away.

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

  • Travel and emergency assistance services

  • Roadside dispatch

Purchase Protection
  • If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won't take it back, American Express may refund the full purchase price excluding shipping and handling, up to $300 per item, and up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per card account.
  • If there is a fraudulent or incorrect charge on your statement, American Express will work with you to help resolve the issue.
  • Zero liability protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Purchase protection for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per year
Account Protection
  • Dispute resolution

  • 24/7 access to customer service specialist

  • Embedded chip technology

  • Fraud alerts

  • Fraud protection

  • Paperless statements

For a full synopsis of each card, see our review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.

See Rates and Fees for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card

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