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

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Jun 26, 2016 | Updated Aug 26, 2019

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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 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.

The Rewards

Chase Freedom

You’ll get:

  • 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 recent 5% cash back bonus categories, plus the 2019 categories up to the third quarter:

QUARTER 5% CASH BACK CATEGORY
2018: October – December Department Stores, Wholesale Clubs, Chase Pay
2019: January – March  Gas Stations, Tolls, Drugstores
2019: April – June Grocery Stores, Home Improvement Stores
2019: July – September Gas Stations, Streaming Services (includes Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Vudu, FuboTV, Apple Music, SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify)

Take Note: There are two things to know about the 5% cash back offer:

  1. 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.
  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 sign-up 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 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.

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

The Benefits

Chase Freedom

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.

  • ShopSafe®

    Protection when you are shopping online.

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
  • ShopSafe® online shopping 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 and Balance Transfers Regular APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Chase Freedom $0 0% for 15 months  16.99% - 25.74% Variable 26.99% Variable 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Bank of America Cash Rewards $0 0% for 12 billing cycles  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.

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 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.

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? Click here to leave your own review of the Chase Freedom card, or click here to leave a review for the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card.

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