Two stellar cash-back rewards cards
The peace of mind provided by flat-rate cash-back rewards cards cannot be overstated. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you are able to easily rack up cash-back rewards without having to keep an updated calendar of the rotating bonus categories or enroll every quarter in order to receive bonus cash back. Both cards earn uncapped 1.5% cash back on every purchase made, have no annual fee, and provide enticing member privileges including 24/7 concierge service. The simplicity and excellent benefits that these cards provide, along with their introductory bonus offers, makes them two of the most popular cash-back rewards credit cards on the market.
While they share many similarities, including uncapped cash back earning potential, as you compare the two side by side there are some notable differences between them.
Cash back redemption options
Both cards have the ability to redeem cash back anytime with no minimums, as well as the option to redeem for a variety of gift cards. In addition to cash back options, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® also includes the opportunity to redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
When used as a standalone card, Chase Freedom Unlimited® points are worth 1 cent per point when redeemed for travel including hotel stays and airfare, but when points are combined with one of Chase’s personal premium travel rewards credit cards, the redemption value has the potential to increase substantially. Specifically, when combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, every point earned is worth either 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents respectively through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. Additionally, when combined with either of these premium travel rewards cards, points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to one of Chase’s airline or hotel travel partners.
If you carry either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, adding the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® card to your wallet is a solid choice. You can redeem for straight cash back, sure, but if you’re strategic, or want to use your rewards for travel instead of cash back, this option allows you to maximize the benefits of multiple Chase cards.
On the other hand, one of the biggest benefits of a flat-rate cash-back credit card is that it doesn’t require you to be strategic. Sometimes it’s a reward just knowing you’re earning cash back each time you swipe your card— which you’ll do with both the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. If you’re looking for a bit of strategic play though, the above plan isn’t a bad option to consider.
Bonus cash back and earning rates
Another noteworthy difference between these two cards is the sign up bonus. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. As far as ongoing rewards go, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase made, with no limit to the amount you can earn. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, on the other hand, is currently offering 3% cash back on all purchases in the first year on up to $20,000 spent, a rewards earning potential of up to $600, with 1.5% earned on all purchases after that.
The comparison between these two bonuses isn’t as simple as $150 versus $600, though. One reason being that the Capital One card has a minimum spend requirement for the $150 bonus while the Chase card earns a flat 3% on every purchase up to $20,000.
If your card spending will not exceed $500 in the first three months, this is something to keep in mind while evaluating these bonus offers. Additionally, the difference in value of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® 3% cash back offer is most noticeable as spending grows in the first year. For instance, if you spent the maximum $20,000 in the first year with the Chase card you would earn $600 in cash back versus if you spent that same $20,000 with the Capital One card you would earn a maximum of $450, combining the $150 bonus and 1.5% earned on your purchases. However, if you made a total of $6,000 in purchases within the first year with either of the two cards (and at least $500 in the first three months with the Capital One card), you would earn $180 cash back with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® versus $240 cash back with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. After the first year, the playing field is the same.
Foreign transaction fees
For international travelers, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card does include an added benefit of no foreign transaction fees, allowing you to make purchases overseas without incurring extra costs. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, so keep that in mind when traveling abroad.
To put that in perspective, if you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card on an international trip, and you spend $3,000 on foreign transactions, you’ll end up paying an extra $90 on fees. If you use the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, however, you can spend freely knowing you won’t have to later worry about any extra costs.
When deciding between these two cards, ultimately it comes down to your spending habits and how you plan to use the cash back you earn.
To learn more about how these two cards match up, check out the table below to compare the various rewards, benefits, features, and fees associated with each card.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
For a full synopsis of each card, be sure to check out our Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card reviews.