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 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, 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® signup deal kicks off your account with $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Chase Freedom® enables cardholders to sign up for quarterly bonus offers. Those opt-in deals offer 5 percent 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 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months.
Chase Freedom®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit cards appeal to different kinds of consumers, but they all run on the same engine: Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Remember how we said that you could possibly benefit from having Chase Freedom®, Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in your wallet? Here's the deal:
When you pair Chase Freedom® with Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you can earn an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase – it's automatic (as opposed to just 1 percent 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 percent more value when they redeem points for travel through Ultimate Rewards®, the points you earn with your Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Unlimited® cards are worth more.
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 percent rewards. If you don't want to give you credit card usage that much thought, a flat-rate or tiered rewards credit card might be a better bet for you.
Additionally, Chase Freedom® has a $0 annual fee, but you will pay 3 percent of each transaction in U.S. dollars that you make while traveling outside the United States.
And when it comes to balance transfers, the zero-percent intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months is a great feature, but you will pay either $5 or 5 percent 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 percent balance transfer intro period is shorter for Discover it® Cash Back – 14 months as compared to 15 months with Chase Freedom®, but the balance transfer fee with Discover it® Cash Back is $3 or 3 percent as compared to the $5 or 5 percent of the amount of each transfer charged by Chase Freedom®. If you don't need a full 15 months to pay off your balance, you could save with that lower balance transfer fee.
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 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. Keep in mind, however, what those categories are: 3 percent on gas and 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 combined spending on gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent on your other purchases . If you don't do a lot of spending in those categories, you won't realize the maximum rewards.
Both Chase Freedom® and Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card are $0-annual-fee cards and have 0 percent intro APR offers, though you'll only have 12 billing cycles of 0 percent interest with Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then, 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on balance transfers), so you'll be better off with Chase Freedom® if you need extra time to pay off your balances. Furthermore, you stand to earn more rewards with Chase Freedom® if you are diligent about the rotating categories.
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser) offers cardholders the opportunity to earn 3 percent cash back on their purchases at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in spending annually, then 1 percent) and 2 percent back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores as well as 1 percent on other purchases. This card is designed for people who don't want to keep track of rotating categories, but do spend disproportionately at supermarkets and gas stations.
Chase Freedom® cardholders could certainly stand to earn more rewards by spending in the 5 percent categories if they're willing to keep up with the rotating categories and actually spend money in the bonus locations.
By the way, the 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers with Chase Freedom® is equal to that offered by the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express at 15 months. (14.99% - 25.99% Variable after that for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. Terms apply. See Rates and Fees).
Chase Freedom® is an excellent $0-annual-fee card for you if you're wanting to maximize your rewards and are organized enough with your spending and credit card use to sign up for the quarterly 5 percent categories. As always, you'll want to pay off your balance each month (after that 15-month intro period) so interest charges don't eat into your rewards.