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Chase has carefully tailored its positioning so that its various rewards credit cards are best suited to different types of consumers.
With that said, all of the cards' rewards come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards®, so the points are interchangeable and you could very well benefit from holding a couple of Chase cards that you use strategically to maximize your points. (We'll explain more below.)
While the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card resonates with jet-setters who love luxury experiences, Chase Freedom®'s brand aligns with frugal Americans who love to uncover extra cash in their daily activities. Plus, with Chase's current deal, you have the opportunity to earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
In addition, new cardholders are offered a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 16.49% - 25.24% Variable), so Chase Freedom® stands to benefit cardholders who have a large purchase on the horizon or need to consolidate some existing credit card debt as they work to pay it off.
Chase Freedom® is a rotating categories cash-back card. Here's what that means:
If you're strategic with your spending, you could stand to earn a substantial amount of cash back – and you can do it with a $0 annual fee.
The Chase Freedom® kicks things off with a $150 bonus for new cardholders who spend at least $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Greater still, Chase Freedom® enables cardholders to sign up for quarterly bonus offers. Those opt-in deals offer 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.
On paper, other cash back cards offer slightly bigger rebates than Chase Freedom®; however, those cards often come with annual fees in the high double digits, and it's no fun to see your rebate evaporate at renewal time. With a $0 annual fee, Chase seems willing to bank on your long term loyalty with Chase Freedom®. If the lack of annual fee and chance to rack up rewards aren't enough, remember that new card members enjoy a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 16.49% - 25.24% Variable). There is a 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5, but this is common for balance transfer credit cards. Plus, thanks to the $150 bonus, you can easily help to cover or offset any balance transfer fees you might have to pay.
Remember how we said that you could possibly benefit from having all three of these cards in your wallet? Here's the deal:
When you pair Chase Freedom® with Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it's automatic (as opposed to just 1% with Chase Freedom®).
Then, if you also carry the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points between the cards. Since Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders receive 25% more value when they redeem points for travel through Ultimate Rewards®, the points you earn with your Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Unlimited® could be worth more.
|Cash Back on Gas||Cash Back on Groceries||Cash Back on Other|
|1-5%||1-5%||Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories every 3 months you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.|
Chase Freedom® offers cardholders many attractive benefits. However, when the time comes to travel overseas, for business or pleasure, this card is one you will probably want to leave home as it charges a 3% fee on all foreign transactions.
What does that mean in terms of real expense? Say you take even just one international trip a year, and spend $3,000 on that trip. You'll be looking at an extra $90 on top of that expense because of foreign transaction fees.
Think about if you take a few trips like this a year— you could end up spending hundreds of dollars in fees. This is another reason why it makes good sense to carry the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card as well— it charges no foreign transaction fees. Plus, it offers two points on travel and dining purchase worldwide.
Chase Freedom® isn't commonly thought of as a travel rewards card, especially given the bit we just covered above. Though it may not be great for international travel, that doesn't mean this card isn't beneficial for travelers at all. There are a few notable travel benefits Chase Freedom® cardholders have to look forward to, including:
There's great potential to earn points for cash back, travel and more with Chase Freedom®, but you'll only maximize those rewards if you keep up with the quarterly categories and spend accordingly. Remember, too, that you have to sign up each quarter to reap the 5% rewards. If you don't want to give your credit card usage that much thought, a flat-rate or tiered rewards credit card might be a better bet for you.
When it comes to balance transfers, the 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months is a great feature, but you will pay 3% when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5. Then, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. If you're primarily looking for a card to use for a balance transfer, take a look at our "Best Balance Transfer Cards" for some options that might be a better fit.
These cards are both rotating categories cash-back cards with $0 annual fees. The rotating categories for the two cards differ, so it would make sense to check out each card's offerings before deciding which is right for you.
Furthermore, the 0% balance transfer intro period is shorter for Discover it® Cash Back – 14 months (then 13.49% - 24.49% Variable) as compared to 15 months with Chase Freedom®, so that one month could make a difference for you.
Discover also offers some planning opportunity that the Chase card doesn't since the full year's 5% calendar has been released at the start of the year for the past few years. That means you can look ahead and decide whether those categories align with your spending. For 2019, the bonus caregories are: January-March: grocery stores; April-June: gas stations, Uber and Lyft; July-September: restaurants and PayPal; October-December: Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com.
Lastly, if you want to use your card abroad, Discover it® Cash Back doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a no annual fee tiered-rewards credit card, meaning you won't need to keep up with rotating categories in order to earn bonus cash— so it could be a better option if you aren't willing to strategize with your credit-card spending.
This card also features a unique offering in that you can maximize your cash back in the category of your choice between: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishing. Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the mobile banking app or online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
The Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards are both solid cash back earning rewards credit cards from Chase with great bonus opportunities for new cardholders and no annual fees. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is also currently offering $150 cash back to new cardholders who spend $500 within the first three months of account opening.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers flat rate 1.5% uncapped cash back earning without activation or rotating categories. However, for those who prefer the ability to earn higher cash back rates and don't mind keeping up with rotating categories, the Chase Freedom®'s' 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in quarterly bonus categories and 1% on all other purchases might be the way to go.
The new cardholder bonus offer isn't stellar, but this card also doesn't charge an annual fee, which easily makes up for this. Especially because it offers cardholders the opportunity of 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. In short, if you're the type of person who doesn't mind keeping up with rotating categories to maximize your rewards, this is a great card. However, it's likely not the best option for someone looking for a card to use while abroad, due to the 3% fee charged on foreign transactions.