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Review

Chase Freedom Review – Cash Back Reward Credit Card

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Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness May 02, 2018 | Updated Jul 02, 2020
Our rating
Min. credit level: Good
Annual Fee: $0
Regular APR: 14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Chase Freedom®

Our rating
Good Min. credit level
Apply Now

The Chase Freedom® is a popular rewards credit card, with a good cash back program for people who make a variety of purchases throughout the year.

It offers 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months, giving you a chance to earn on many different types of spending. Payment systems like PayPal and digital wallets are sometimes included, giving you a pretty wide range of eligible purchases.

Lyft purchases will also earn 5% back, through March 2022.

You’ll also enjoy a $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening, a solid bonus that’s easy to get compared to some other cards. And you can find additional discounts in the Shop through Chase marketplace.

The Freedom card is available at either a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature level. If your credit line when approved is $5,000 or above you’ll get a Visa Signature, with an upgraded set of benefits. Otherwise you’ll get a Visa Platinum with basic protections.

This card features contactless technology, allowing for quick tap-and-go payments.

Keep reading for more details on the many features you’ll find with this card, and to learn if it 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℠

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible card accounts approved from 1/1/20 through 5/31/20, the period to make eligible purchases to earn the welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 90 days.

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

We give the Chase Freedom 5 out of 5 Stars because it can provide quite a bit of cash back every year and gives you some time to pay at no interest, all for free.

Why We Like It

  • 5% cash back categories that rotate every three months
  • 5% back on Lyft purchases
  • The 5% rate will be applied to previous eligible purchases if you activate later in the quarter (not including Lyft purchases)
  • An introductory bonus of $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • No annual fee
  • If your credit limit is $5,000 or above when approved you’ll get a Visa Signature version of the card

Why It Could Be Better

  • You have to manually activate the 5% categories each quarter (except for Lyft)
  • If you don’t get a Visa Signature card you’ll get a Visa Platinum, which only has some pretty basic benefits

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • Use this card for a variety of different kinds of spending throughout the year, rather than as your go-to card for any particular types of purchases.
  • Remember to activate your 5% cash back categories each quarter. You can set up email alerts to remind yourself. Categories can be activated about 15 days before they begin, up until about 15 days before they end.
  • Keep an eye on the current 5% categories so you know where to use your Chase Freedom card to earn the most cash back.
  • Pay for Lyft rides to earn 5% cash back, through March 2022 (no activation required).
  • $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Take advantage of the long 15-month 0% intro rate on purchases to pay off large purchases at no interest before the regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR kicks in.
  • Check the Shop Through Chase shopping portal now and then, and before making big purchases. You may find a nice discount.

The Rewards

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on:
    • Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
  • 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent per quarter (then 1%), in categories that rotate throughout the year (see calendar below)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening

So you’ll earn 5% cash back on a variety of different purchases, switching every three months. Chase announces the 5% bonus categories gradually throughout the year, and we’re currently still waiting to see the categories for the last quarter.

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

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

Do you spend a lot of money at merchants like these throughout the year? It’s interesting to see that they include PayPal, Chase Pay, and other digital wallets because that gives you a pretty wide variety of eligible purchases, for both online and physical stores. Up to $75 in cash back can be earned at the 5% rate every three months, or $300 per year (not counting Lyft purchases).

You’ll need to manually activate your 5% categories for each quarter (except for the Lyft category). You can do this by logging in to your online account.

If you don’t activate the categories, you won’t earn cash back at the 5% rate. You can activate the categories early, about 15 days before each quarter starts. And you’ll be able to activate your rewards later on in the quarter. If you do that you’ll get the 5% cash back retroactively applied to all the eligible purchases you previously made.

So even if you forget for a while you can still get your 5% back. But there will still be a deadline. Usually the deadline will be around the 15th of the last month in the quarter. For example, for the April – June quarter, the deadline to activate was by June 15th. Activate by then, and you’ll get 5% cash back on all the eligible purchases you previously made in that quarter. But after that you’ll be out of luck.

It’s unfortunate that you need to personally activate your bonus categories in this way. According to Chase’s website, they “ask you to activate because [they] want to make sure you’re aware when categories change and where you can earn 5% cash back.” But it would be much easier if Chase just activated the categories automatically.

You can sign up for email alerts, however, to let you know when it’s time to activate. And it’s a good thing that you’ll get the 5% cash back applied retroactively to previous purchases. It would be pretty disappointing to spend a lot of money only to find that you’ve been earning 1% back when you thought you were getting 5%.

The Citi Rewards+ Student Card, another card with 5% rotating categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, also requires you to activate the categories but you won’t get your rewards applied retroactively. The U.S. Bank Cash+ Card lets you pick your own 5% categories. But you have to choose them five days before the beginning of the quarter, or earlier, or you won’t get the 5% rate at all for the entire quarter.

In that context the Freedom card is actually pretty forgiving. For other cards with stable bonus categories that don’t rotate, like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review), you’ll be able to earn rewards without ever needing to activate any categories.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible card accounts approved from 1/1/20 through 5/31/20, the period to make eligible purchases to earn the welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 90 days.

Redeeming

The rewards you earn are technically points, rather than cash back. Each point is worth 1 cent when redeemed normally. But in most cases it will be simplest to just refer to the rewards as cash back.

You’ll have a few different ways to redeem your cash back.

  • Cash back statement credits: This is often the best option, providing the full value for your cash back.
  • Gift cards: Gift cards will usually provide less than $1 for every $1 in cash back that you redeem.
  • Ultimate Rewards travel portal: Cash back can be used to pay for travel expenses, but the value you get will vary.
  • Pay with Points with Chase Pay: You can use your points to pay for purchases at certain merchants, like Amazon, but you’ll only get 80 cents per $1 redeemed.
  • Transfer to a different Chase card: Your cash back can be transferred to certain other cards, if they’re part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, where they’ll be worth more.

The quickest and easiest method is to redeem your cash back for statement credits. These will reduce the balance of your account.

The other options will provide less value or will take much longer to process, with the exception of transfers to other Chase cards. If you transfer your cash back to certain cards you’ll be able to redeem it for a better value. We’ll go over that next.

Transferring Rewards to a Different Chase Card

If you have another Chase card in the Ultimate Rewards program, you can transfer the cash back you earn with the Freedom card over to it. Every cent of cash back will be worth 1 point in the Ultimate Rewards program. This could end up giving you a better rewards value overall.

There are three other Chase cards that you can use to get a better value for your cash back. These cards provide a bonus when redeeming through Ultimate Rewards:

These cards also allow you to transfer points to a number of traveler loyalty programs at a 1:1 rate, including both airline and hotel partners. You can often get a better value by converting to airline miles or hotel points.

So, the basic strategy here is:

  1. Earn cash back with the Freedom card.
  2. Transfer that cash back to one of the three cards above, where it will be counted as Ultimate Rewards points.
  3. Redeem or transfer your points:
    • Redeem through Ultimate Rewards to get a point bonus of 25% or 50%, depending on which card you have.
    • Transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program where they may be worth more to you.

If you put all the rewards you earn through this process, you can effectively get more than 5% cash back with the Freedom card when spending in the bonus categories. If you end up getting a 25% point bonus you would get a cash back equivalent of 6.25%. And if you get a 50% point bonus, your cash back equivalent would be 7.50%.

The Benefits

The Chase Freedom has two possible service levels: regular Visa Platinum, and the upgraded Visa Signature. If you’re approved with a credit limit below $5,000 you’ll get a Visa Platinum. If your credit limit is $5,000 or above, you’ll get a Visa Signature. The credit limit you get will be based on your creditworthiness.

Visa Platinum cards come with a basic set of protections, while Signature cards come with extra and upgraded protections.

Chase also provides some benefits, which will come with both versions of the card.

We’ll go over the card benefits below. You can also check the Guide to Benefits for each card online:

DoorDash Membership

Cardholders can subscribe to DoorDash’s DashPass membership for free for three months, and then get a 50% membership discount for the following nine months. The membership offers free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.

Shop Through Chase

Cardholders can get more cash back at select retailers with the Shop Through Chase marketplace. You’ll find deals that come and go over time, which let you earn a good reward rate outside the bonus categories.

You’ll earn a certain number of points per dollar at these retailers, and each point will be worth 1 cent when redeemed for cash back statement credits with the Freedom card. If you have a different card in the Ultimate Rewards program you can get more per point, as explained above.

In the table below, the Points per Dollar column shows the total points you’ll get, of one base point plus some number of bonus points.

The deals available in Shop Through Chase include these offers (which are only current at the time of publication):

Merchant Points per Dollar Cash Back Equivalent
Magazines.com 16X 16%
Norton by Symantec 16X 16%
Dell Home 7X 7%
Saks.com 6X 6%
Sephora 6X 6%
Staples 5X 5%
Macy’s 4X 4%
Apple Store 3X 3%
Walmart 3X 3%

Chase Credit Journey

Chase offers the Credit Journey credit monitoring tool, providing a way to keep track of your credit from month to month. This provides your VantageScore 3.0, based on your TransUnion credit report.

This is a pretty handy tool because it charts your VantageScore over time, and tells you the key factors influencing your credit. There’s a simulator that lets you see how particular changes would affect your credit, like adding more credit cards, paying off debt, or maintaining a history of positive payments. And you can also see actual data from your TransUnion credit report, like the sum of your balances, your open and closed accounts, and the hard inquiries you’ve had in the last two years.

The Credit Journey service is free and available to anyone, whether you’re a Chase cardholder or not.

Many credit card issuers today offer some sort of credit monitoring service, although it’s not usually as comprehensive as this one. Most issuers simply provide one of your credit scores, either a FICO or VantageScore, along with some advice on how to improve it. But the Credit Journey tool presents an organized set of data from your TransUnion credit report, giving you a way to easily investigate the details on your credit report for free.

Discover provides their FICO Credit Scorecard, offering a FICO score based on your TransUnion report but not providing access to your actual credit report. Capital One has the CreditWise service, which is actually very much like Chase’s Credit Journey. It gives your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion report, and also provides information from that credit report. Both Discover and Capital One offer these services for free to anyone, cardholder or not, just like Chase. Amex, on the other hand, provides a FICO score based on your Experian credit report, and this service is only available to cardholders.

Other Visa Platinum Protections

Shopping

  • Purchase Protection: Eligible purchases are covered for 120 days against damage and theft, up to $500 per claim.
  • Extended Warranty Protection: Manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less can be doubled by up to one additional year, when eligible.

Travel

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Provides coverage for theft and collision damage of rental vehicles, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.
  • Roadside Dispatch: Call 1-800-847-2869 for towing, tire changes, fuel delivery, and other services. A flat fee will apply when eligible.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Eligible rented vehicles are covered against damage and theft, as long as the rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Visa Platinum is the basic benefit level that you’ll find on many cards. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Review) has the same setup as the Freedom card, coming as either a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature. See how the two compare here.

You’ll usually get some of these same protections even if you don’t have a Visa card. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) includes several of them like purchase protection, the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel Assistance Services, and others.

Discover is an exception here because they recently discontinued many of their card benefits.

Other Visa Signature Protections

If you get a Visa Signature version of Freedom card you’ll get the following benefits, in addition to the Visa Platinum benefits above. These benefits are a bit more rare among credit cards.

Travel

  • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption: If your trip is cancelled or interrupted for an eligible reason, you can be reimbursed up to $6,000 per trip, and $1,500 per person.

Other Benefits

This card comes with a few other features that are common to many credit cards, like:

  • Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges.
  • Fraud Alerts: Sign up to get notified of any possibly fraudulent card activity.
  • Fraud Protection: Real-time fraud monitoring software to help protect your account.

The Terms & Fees

Intro APR for Purchases Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
0% for 15 months 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$0 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None Up to $39 Up to $39

The Chase Freedom comes with some pretty favorable terms. You’ll get 15 months at 0% APR, for purchases. That’s definitely on the longer end compared to most credit cards. It gives you quite a while to either pay off your purchases with the card.

There’s no annual fee to pay for the privilege of earning cash back and having a long intro period. That means this card can be 100% free to use, as long as you avoid accruing interest charges. You can do this by simply paying off your entire statement balance in full each billing period.

Paying your full statement balance will do more than just prevent interest from accruing on purchases, helping you stay out of credit card debt. It will also keep your credit utilization lower, which is better for your credit scores overall.

What Is the Credit Limit of the Chase Freedom?

Many readers have been asking us what the starting credit limit is on the Chase Freedom. Credit limits are set based on your creditworthiness when you apply, so the answer to this question depends on your particular credit history, current finances, and rent or mortgage payments.

As explained above, the Freedom card will be issued as either a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature.

  • Visa Platinum cards will come with a minimum credit limit of $500
  • Visa Signature cards will come with a minimum credit limit of $5,000

After you’ve had the card for about 6 months, you can try requesting a credit limit increase. Chase may also choose to increase your credit limit automatically on occasion, if you show that you’re a responsible credit user.

The Bottom Line

The Chase Freedom® is a great card for people who spend a significant amount of money in the 5% reward categories. If you’re already making those purchases, why not get rewarded for them?

If you don’t spend in the 5% categories very often, you obviously won’t get very much out of this card. So your shopping habits should decide if it’s right for you. Just remember to activate those reward categories every quarter.

There’s a nice 0% interest rate for purchases for 15 months to take advantage of before the regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR starts, which is a very competitive offer compared to other cards. And with no annual fee, it doesn’t have to cost you anything at all if you can avoid being charged interest.

Reward credit cards come in many shapes and sizes, though only a few offer 5% rotating categories like the Chase Freedom. Check out those other rotating category cards below, along with some cards with stable bonus reward categories.

How to Apply for the Chase Freedom Card

You can apply for the Chase Freedom card securely on the Chase website.

Most applicants will get an instant decision, but it could take longer in some cases. Chase may contact you for more information.

You’ll receive either a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature version of this card, depending on your creditworthiness. If you’re approved with a credit line less than $5,000 you’ll get a Visa Platinum. If your credit line is $5,000 or above you’ll get a Visa Signature, with slightly better benefits.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 to apply
  • Personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number
  • Total annual income, and source of income
  • Monthly mortgage/rent payment
  • Some people report being denied for Chase cards for having five or more new credit card accounts in the last 24 months

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℠

Alternatives to the Chase Freedom Card

There are a couple other credit cards with rotating categories, as well as many cards with stable bonus categories. Here are a few other reward cards to consider.

 

Discover it® Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRSee Terms

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

The Discover it® Cash Back (Review) is another card with rotating 5% categories, but you’ll be able to earn rewards for some different purchases than the Chase Freedom.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on the first $1,500 spent per quarter (then 1%), in categories that rotate every 3 months (activation required, see calendar below)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: new cardmembers get double the cash back earned in the first year

So it’s a pretty similar rewards program to the Chase Freedom. The 5% cash back calendar for the Discover it Cash Back for 2020 is:

Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Grocery Stores, Walgreens, CVS
April – June Gas Stations, Uber, Lyft, Wholesale Clubs
July – September Restaurants, PayPal
October – December Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com

The Discover it Cash Back card provides a Cashback Match instead of a cash bonus, which means you’ll get 10% cash back in the bonus categories during the first year. Since you’re limited to $1,500 in category spending per quarter, that means you can earn up to $150 per quarter. And you’ll be getting 2% cash back on every other purchase you make, a great deal.

You have to manually activate your 5% categories every quarter, just like with the Chase Freedom. But unlike the Freedom card, the Discover it Cash Back will not apply the 5% rate to eligible previous purchases. So if you don’t activate before the quarter starts you might miss out on some cash back. This makes the Freedom card a bit more forgiving and easier to use.

Benefits

Discover doesn’t offer many extra card benefits, unfortunately. There are only a few other minor benefits.

Cardholders get Free Social Security Number Alerts, a service that will monitor thousands of risky websites to see if your SSN ever appears on one. You can get Cash at Checkout at participating retailers, a way to quickly get some cash when making purchases, much like a debit card.

There’s also the FICO Credit Scorecard, which provides your FICO 8 Credit Score based on your TransUnion credit report. It shows the key factors affecting your score, like if you have too many hard inquiries or high balances. You can also see some data from your TransUnion report, like the number of open accounts you have and your overall revolving utilization. This is a nice feature to have, though the Chase Credit Journey will show even more information from your TransUnion report.

Costs & Fees

The Discover it Cash Back has costs and fees that are very similar to the Chase Freedom. There’s no annual fee. And you’ll also get a See Terms intro APR for See Terms for purchases. After the introductory periods end, the regular APR of See Terms will apply to purchases and balance transfers.

There are no foreign transaction fees with the Discover it Cash Back, while the Freedom card charges 3%. But Discover cards aren’t accepted very widely outside the U.S., so the Discover it Cash Back won’t be very useful for traveling abroad. Check out some travel credit cards if you want to take a trip outside the country.

The Discover it Cash Back and Chase Freedom are pretty similar. You’ll be able to earn more cash back from Discover’s cashback match than with Chase’s introductory bonus, because you can get $150 in cash back per quarter with the Discover it Cash Back card. But if you’re not going to spend much in Discover’s categories that great rate won’t do you any good, so the right card for you will depend on how well you fit into the 5% categories.

Read more in our Review of the Discover it Cash Back Credit Card

 

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0*
Regular APR13.99% - 23.99%* Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn up to $550 cash back in the first year.
  • $150 bonus after spending $500 in eligible net purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category, like gas stations or grocery stores.
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible net purchases.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.
  • 0% Intro APR* on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 13.99% – 23.99%
  • No annual fee*
  • Great Offer from U.S. Bank, a 2020 World’s Most Ethical Company® – Ethisphere Institute, February 2020

Unlike the Chase Freedom or the Discover it Cash Back, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card lets you choose your 5% categories. Not only that, you also get to choose an additional 2% category, giving this card more base earning potential than either of its rotating-category competitors. This makes it fairly unique, especially among U.S. Bank’s selection of credit cards.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on the first $2,000 spent per quarter, in your choice of 2 categories that rotate every 3 months (see calendar below)
  • 2% cash back in your choice of one “everyday” category
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 90 days after account opening

So you’ll get a higher quarterly spending limit than the Chase card, $2,000 instead of $1,500. And you also get unlimited cash back at the 2% rate, in yet another “everyday” category.

The categories you can choose from are subject to change on a quarterly basis. You’ll be able to choose your categories starting 45 days before the beginning of a quarter, up until 5 days before the start of that quarter. And you can change your designated categories up to that time. But after that point, you can’t pick 5% categories — even if you were approved for the card during that time. You’ll need to wait until the next quarter to choose categories. In this way, the U.S. Bank Cash+ card is more restrictive than either the Chase Freedom or Discover it Cash Back.

Currently, you can pick any two of these:

5% Cash Back Categories
TV, Internet, Streaming Services Cell Phone Providers Department Stores Electronics Stores
Fast Food Furniture Stores Ground Transportation Gyms/Fitness Centers
Home Utilities Movie Theaters Select Clothing Stores Sporting Goods Stores

And one of these:

2% Cash Back Categories
Gas Stations Grocery Stores Restaurants

This rewards program is very flexible, offering perhaps more category options than any other credit card. Some of the categories will probably be more useful than the others, like home utilities, department stores, and ground transportation. But this will depend on what you buy the most.

If your spending habits don’t align with the rotating categories of the Chase Freedom or Discover it Cash Back, you can use this card to craft your own rewards program every 3 months. You can adjust it as you buy different things throughout the year, or stay focused on particular purchases.

That introductory bonus is very good too, and it’s identical to the Chase card’s offer.

Benefits

The U.S. Bank Cash+ comes as a Visa Signature card, so it will have a fairly good set of benefits and protections. These include many of the same protections mentioned above for the Chase Freedom, like Purchase Security and an Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.

The Cash+ also comes with some more valuable benefits, like Visa Concierge, a personal assistant to help with all sorts of non-emergency tasks. There are shopping discounts at specific retailers, and several complimentary services and amenities when booking certain hotels through the Luxury Hotel Collection.

The Chase Freedom may come as a Visa Signature, depending on your credit limit. But you’ll only get some extra protections, not these more valuable perks. So it seems like the U.S. Bank Cash+ has the superior benefits.

Costs & Fees

There’s no annual fee for the U.S. Bank Cash+ card, and foreign transactions will have a fee of 3%. That’s just like the Chase Freedom.

The Cash+ card has a 0% intro rate for 12 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*, not purchases.

Basically, the main difference here is that the Cash+ is more flexible in the rewards program. However, we’ve seen reports that its 5% categories are narrowly defined, making it hard to find merchants that qualify for them. And U.S. Bank isn’t known for having the best customer support — they’ve been coming in even lower than Chase in J.D. Power’s Credit Card Satisfaction Surveys. You can probably expect a more stable experience from Chase, in general.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) has some bonus categories, but they don’t rotate throughout the year. Instead, you’ll be able to use this card for the same purchases year-round, every year.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 on purchases per year, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 statement credit for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

So you’ll get a maximum of 3% cash back with this card, limited to $6,000 in spending per year. That comes to $180 in cash back per year at the 3% rate. And you’ll earn unlimited cash back at the 2% and 1% rates.

The cash bonus is pretty good, though it takes twice as much spending to get as the bonus from the Freedom card, which provides the same amount. But most people can probably reach the $1,000 requirement fairly easily over 3 months.

This card is focused on its three reward categories. If you make these types of purchases frequently, the Blue Cash Everyday could provide some reliable cash back year after year. It has no changing bonus categories, so it can be your go-to card every time you buy anything at grocery stores, gas stations, and department stores.

Benefits

The Blue Cash Everyday has a pretty basic set of benefits and protections. Many of them are similar to what you’ll get with the Chase Freedom, but they differ in the details.

Amex cardholders have access to Amex Offers, which is basically like the Shop Through Chase shopping portal. There are some significant deals to be found here, including merchants like Hilton, Etsy, TurboTax, and Levi’s (current offers at the time of publication).

You’ll also get guaranteed lowest hotel rates when booking through Amex Travel. And complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day shipping and returns at select online retailers. There are a few other benefits too, although these seem like the most valuable ones to us.

Costs & Fees

You’ll pay no annual fee to use the Blue Cash Everyday card. And it has a 0% intro rate for 15 months for purchases (then 13.99–23.99% Variable).

The Blue Cash Everyday and the Chase Freedom could be used together, one each for certain types of purchases. You can pay with the Chase Freedom to get 5% back in its categories, and the Blue Cash Everyday for gas, grocery, and department store spending. But sometimes the Chase Freedom card offers gas or groceries for its quarterly categories, so be sure to check and always use the card that will give you the most cash back.

Insider tip
There’s an upgraded version of the Blue Cash Everyday, called the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review). For a $95 annual fee (Rates & Fees) you’ll get 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent per year (then 1%) and 3% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. If you’re going to spend over $2,600 on groceries and $1,300 on gas per year, the Blue Cash Preferred will end up more rewarding than the Blue Cash Everyday, even after accounting for the annual fee.

Read more in our Review of the American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card

 

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer (Review) doesn’t have rotating bonus reward categories, or any spending categories at all. Instead you’ll get the same reward for every purchase you make, no matter where or when you shop.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back for every purchase you make
    • 1% back when you make a purchase
    • 1% back when you pay for that purchase

That’s it. Very simple, compared to a card with rotating categories.

A simple rewards program like this can make a great complement to the 5% categories of the Chase Freedom card. If you have both cards, you can use them together to get a decent amount of cash back no matter where you shop. Use the Freedom card whenever you’re spending in the active categories, and use the Double Cash for every other expense. That strategy gives you either 5% or 2% back for every purchase.

Benefits

You’ll get a fairly good set of benefits with the Double Cash. They’re pretty comparable to the Chase Freedom, for the most part, although there are some differences too.

The Double Cash is issued as a Mastercard, and it used to come with some popular shopping and travel benefits such as Purchase Protection, Travel Accident Insurance, and Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection, but these perks are no longer included with the card.

A Personal Concierge Service is ready and waiting for Double Cash cardholders, something you won’t get with the Freedom.

Overall, the benefits of the Double Cash are probably on par with the Freedom. But it might depend on what you’re looking for, and they probably won’t be a deal breaker either way.

Costs & Fees

The Double Cash card has no annual fee, and it charges 3% for foreign transactions. Those are the same terms you’ll find on the Chase Freedom.

You’ll get a different introductory APR offer with the Double Cash, however. It provides 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers only, not purchases, followed by a regular rate of 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable). If you’re looking to transfer a balance and pay it off over a very long time, this is one of your better options. But there are also some other great balance transfer credit cards to consider.

The Double Cash and Freedom cards have very different rewards programs, but that’s what makes them a good pair. They’re almost like two pieces of a puzzle that fit together.

Read more in our Review of the Citi Double Cash Card

 

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℠

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For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

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