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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 on gas and 2% cash back on groceries, all year round.
They both have sign-up bonuses for new cardholders, pretty long 0% introductory rates, and some other benefits too.
Read on to learn if one (or both) might be right for you.
- 5% cash back on purchases in the current category
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $150 sign-up bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
Here are the 5% cash back bonus categories from 2018, plus the 2019 categories for the first quarter:
|QUARTER||5% CASH BACK CATEGORY|
|2018: January – March||Gas Stations, Internet/Cable/Phone Services, Various Digital Wallets|
|2018: April – June||Grocery Stores, PayPal, Chase Pay|
|2018: July – September||Gas Stations, Lyft, Walgreens|
|2018: October – December||Department Stores, Wholesale Clubs, Chase Pay|
|2019: January – March||Gas Stations, Tolls, Drugstores|
Take Note: There are two things to know about the 5% cash back offer:
- You’ll need to go sign on to your account online to activate your rewards every 3 months before you will earn the 5% back.
- 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:
- Online shopping
- Home improvement/furnishings stores
- 2% cash back at:
- Grocery stores
- Wholesale clubs
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $150 sign-up bonus for spending $500 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.
These cards are very different: the Chase Freedom has rotating reward categories, while the Bank of America card has stable 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 during the 5% cash back months for gas or groceries, and the BofA Cash Rewards card the rest of the year.
Purchases are covered for 120 days against theft or damage, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
If a purchased item is found being advertised for a lesser price within 90 days, reimbursement may be provided up to $500; limited to $2,500 a year per account.
Extended Warranty Protection
Eligible warranties of 3 years or less can be extended by up to an additional year.
If a merchant won’t take back an item within the first 90 days, reimbursement will be provided to refund eligible items, up to $250 per item; limited to $1,000 a year per account.
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.
Travel Accident Insurance
Cardholders are eligible for accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $250,000 on transportation via air, train, bus or cruise transportation purchased with this card.
Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
You will be reimbursed up to $5,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels if your trip is shortened due to sickness, weather, or other eligible conditions.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
Lost or damaged checked or carry-on bags are covered for up to $3,000 per passenger, for cardholders and their immediate family members.
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
Get alerts about account information on your phone.
Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.
Send a text and get important account information.
You will not be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.
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.
Protection when you are shopping online.
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, extends their manufacturer’s warranties, and will even reimburse you if your purchases are found being sold at a lesser price.
The travel protections can help save you time and money while traveling if serious accidents happen, 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|
The Costs & Fees
|Card||Annual Fee||Intro APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers||Regular APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers||Cash Advance APR||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|Chase Freedom||$0||0% for 15 months||17.24%–25.99% Variable||26.99% Variable||3%|
|Bank of America Cash Rewards||$0||0% for 12 months||16.24%–26.24% Variable||19.24%–27.24% Variable||3%|
|Card||Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Chase Freedom||None||Up to $38||Up to $38|
|Bank of America Cash Rewards||Up to 29.99% Variable||Up to $38||Up to $27|
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 Bottom Line
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 gas and 2% back on groceries 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.
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