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The Chase Freedom vs. The Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card

5 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Jun 26, 2016 | Updated Jul 02, 2020

Let’s take a look at two popular rewards credit cards of different types: the Chase Freedom and the Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card.

The Freedom card offers 5% cash back for different types of purchases, which change throughout the year. The Bank of America card, on the other hand, offers 3% cash back in your choice of one category each month and 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale clubs, all year round.

They both have sign up bonuses for new cardholders, pretty long 0% introductory rates, and some other perks too.

Read on to learn if one (or both) might be right for you.

Chase Freedom®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.24%–26.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • 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
  • No expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% – 75% more cash back on every purchase

The Rewards

Chase Freedom

You’ll get:

  • 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on purchases in the current categories
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $150 introductory bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months

Here are the current and recent 5% cash back bonus categories:

Quarter 2019 Categories 2020 Categories
January – March
  • Gas Stations
  • Tolls
  • Drugstores
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
  • Internet, Cable, Phone Services
April – June
  • Grocery Stores
  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Streaming Services
  • Fitness Club & Gym Memberships
July – September
  • Gas Stations
  • Streaming Services
  • Amazon
  • Whole Foods Market
October – December
  • Department Stores
  • PayPal
  • Chase Pay
TBA

Take Note: There are two things to know about the 5% cash back offer (except for the Lyft category):

  1. You’ll need to activate your rewards every three months before you will earn the 5% back.
  2. The 5% cash back is limited to $1,500 in purchases every 3 months. After that, 1% cash back is provided.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

This card provides:

  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $200 cash rewards introductory bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days (online applicants only)

Take Note: Similar to the Freedom card above, your 3% and 2% categories are limited to the first $2,500 in purchases every quarter. After that, you’ll earn 1% cash back for those purchases.

The Verdict

These cards are very different: the Chase Freedom has rotating reward categories, while the Bank of America card has relatively stable, but flexible, reward categories.

They each offer rewards for gas and groceries, some of the most popular spending categories. If you’re thinking about getting one of these cards, check your spending habits and ask yourself: Would you rather get 5% back for those purchases for 3 months out of the year, or would you rather get a smaller amount back year-round?

You could even consider getting and using both of these cards. Then, you could use the Freedom card whenever you’ll get 5% back, and the BofA Cash Rewards card everywhere else.

Insider tip

Worried about having too many credit cards? Rather than a problem, this can actually be a good thing. Click here to watch our Q&A Video: Is There A Reason To Carry Multiple Credit Cards?

The Benefits

Chase Freedom

Dining

  • DoorDash Membership

    A free DoorDash membership (DashPass) for three months, and then a 50% discount for the next nine months; DashPass provides free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.

Shopping

  • Purchase Protection

    Purchases are covered for 120 days against theft or damage, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

  • Extended Warranty Protection

    Eligible warranties of 3 years or less can be extended by up to an additional year.

Travel

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

    Provides a number of emergency services, 24/7.  Services include sending emergency messages, providing medical and legal referrals, ticket and document location, and translation services.

  • Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance

    You will be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares, if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations.

  • Roadside Dispatch/Roadside Assistance

    Assistance, such as a locksmith, tire change, or towing service, is provided in a roadside emergency for $59.95 per service call. (Additional fees may apply.)

  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

    Collision and theft damage is covered on most cars in the U.S. and abroad, provided that the cardholder purchases the rental with their card and declines the rental company’s collision insurance.

Bank of America Cash Rewards

Account Management

  • Account Alerts

    Get alerts about account information on your phone.

  • Mobile Banking

    Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.

  • Text Banking

    Send a text and get important account information.

Security

  • Fraud Protection

    You will not be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.

  • Overdraft Protection

    Link a Bank of America account to your card and prevent declined purchases and return checks if you take out too much money from your account.

The Verdict

When it comes to the extra benefits, as you can see it’s pretty one-sided. The Freedom card has the more valuable shopping and traveling protections, which can help you out when something goes wrong with items you buy or while on a trip.

The shopping benefits provide refunds if your eligible purchases are stolen or damaged and extends their manufacturer’s warranties.

The travel protections can help save you time and money while traveling if something happens on the road, as well as for minor problems like lost bags or canceled trips.

Each card also features benefits provided by Visa. You’ll need to check your Guide to Benefits, which arrives with your card, to learn what benefits are available to you.

Here’s an overview of the benefits offered by each card:

Chase Freedom Bank of America Cash Rewards

Account

  • Account alerts
  • Mobile banking
  • Text banking

Security

  • Zero-liability Protection
  • Fraud Protection
  • Overdraft Protection

Shopping

  • Purchase Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection

Travel

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
  • Roadside Dispatch/Roadside Assistance

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Intro APR for Purchases Intro APR for Balance Transfers Regular APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Chase Freedom $0 0% for 15 months N/A  14.99% - 23.74% Variable 24.99% Variable 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Bank of America Cash Rewards $0 0% for 12 billing cycles 0% 16.24%–26.24% Variable  19.24%–27.24% Variable 3%
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Chase Freedom None Up to $39 Up to $39
Bank of America Cash Rewards Up to 29.99% Variable Up to $39 Up to $28

The Verdict

The costs and fees of these cards are quite comparable. Neither has an annual fee, the 0% intro periods are almost the same length, and the APR’s are very close. They will both charge a fee for foreign transactions.

The biggest difference here is the Penalty APR: the Chase Freedom does not have one, while the Cash Rewards card does. This penalty interest rate can be applied if you make a late payment with the Cash Rewards, but you won’t have to worry about that with the Freedom card.

You shouldn’t be planning on making late payments, of course, but this is a nice feature of the Freedom card if you do make a mistake.

The next is the intro balance transfer APR, or the lack of one on the Chase Freedom, because there is no introductory balance transfer offer. If you’re planning on using one of these cards for a balance transfer and you need more time to pay it off, the BoA Cash Rewards card offers 12 billing cycles before your balance will start accruing interest.

Insider Tip: 0% intro APRs are great, but take note that if you make a late or returned payment you could lose it before it officially ends, leaving you with the high penalty APR!

The Bottom Line

The Chase Freedom and Bank of America Cash Rewards Card are both valuable rewards credit cards, providing their cash back for some of the same types of purchases.

The Freedom card will give you 5% back on different types of purchases throughout the year. Check out the categories, and if you spend a lot at those kinds of stores this could be a great card for you. Keep in mind that Chase will be adding some more retailers throughout the year.

Or, consider the Bank of America card to get 3% cash back on your choice of a category each month, and 2% back on groceries and at wholesale clubs year round. Does this suit your lifestyle and spending habits better? Don’t be afraid to do a bit of math to really grind out the details.

Finally, consider using both of these cards if you see a real need for them. You can use the Freedom card whenever you’ll get the 5% cash back category, and just use the Cash Rewards card when the Freedom won’t give you that 5%.

Want to apply for or learn more about one of these cards? Just click the card’s name below.

Chase Freedom®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99% - 23.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it’s automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.24%–26.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • 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
  • No expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% – 75% more cash back on every purchase

Not the cards for you? Click here to learn more about Reward Credit Cards and see our picks for the best cards!

Do you use one of these cards? How do you like it? Leave your own review of the Chase Freedom or Bank of America Cash Rewards Card below!

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