Credit cards that offer rewards programs for card members are a smart way to earn extra cash toward purchases for savvy users. In recent years, the number of credit card rewards programs made available to qualified applicants has grown substantially, making it difficult to weed through the good, the bad and the ugly. For example the Chase Sapphire Preferred & Capital One Venture compare quite differently than marketed. And both the Chase Freedom and the Capital One Quicksilver credit cards are strong contenders for cash back rewards, but they differ greatly in terms of their rewards programs, additional card member benefits and total costs associated with owning the card. Here’s the skinny on each.
Rewards Program Breakdown
The Chase Freedom credit card offers a rotating bonus cash back schedule, on top of a flat rate rewards program. Under the rotating bonuses tier, card members earn 5% cash back on purchases made within each applicable category for the time frame defined within the cardholder agreement. For the 2016 calendar, Chase Freedom card members earn 5% cash back on purchases made from gas stations and local commuter transportation, not including parking, Amtrak purchases or tolls. The second quarter offers the same cash back bonus on grocery store purchases, not including Walmart or Target stores, while the third quarter includes restaurants. The fourth quarter is typically geared toward holiday shopping with specific retailers and online partners added as the season begins. Card members earn the 5% cash back bonus on up to $1,500 in purchases, each quarter. All other purchases made with the Chase Freedom credit card earn 1% cash back with no limit.
The Capital One Quicksilver card differs from the Chase Freedom option in that it does not offer bonuses on specific spending categories. Instead, the credit card is a flat rate rewards card that offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit. The idea behind the Capital One Quicksilver card is focused on simplicity as card members do not need to track spending in certain categories or time purchases to ensure they receive the most benefit from their card.
Card members with Chase Freedom have the potential to earn more on certain purchases than Quicksilver cardholders, but the cap on earnings with Chase makes it difficult to capitalize fully on cash back rewards. Additionally, card members have the activate each bonus cash back category at the beginning of each quarter to ensure they receive the additional rewards points. Capital One Quicksilver card members can redeem rewards in any amount at any time, while Chase Freedom account holders have to accrue $20 worth of rewards before redemption is an option. Both credit cards offer statement credits and cash deposits as options for redeeming rewards, and rewards do not expire. Chase Freedom offers additional ways to redeem rewards, including shopping directly through the Chase mobile app or purchasing gift cards directly through Chase from partner retailers.
Added Card Member Perks Comparison
Currently, new card members can earn $100 cash back bonus if $500 in purchases are made within the first three months after account opening. The Chase Freedom credit card has a $150 one-time bonus with the same spending and time frame parameters. Both cards also provide for authorized users to be added to the accounts, and no annual fee.
Both the Chase Freedom credit card and the Capital One Quicksilver card provide additional benefits and protection to card members through the following comparable features:
- Purchase protection up to certain limits
- Extended warranty protection
- Trip interruption/cancellation insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Rental card damage waiver
- Lost luggage reimbursement
In addition to these benefits, Chase Freedom also offers price protection and return protection on purchases made with the card, as well as Roadside Assistance Dispatch services. Capital One Quicksilver card members have access to a 24/7 concierge, luxury hotel discounts, sports experiences and other shopping discounts. Capital One stands out in the additional perks category by also offering free access to Credit Tracker which allows card members to access their credit score and changes to their credit profiles any time from the mobile or desktop apps. Chase Freedom does not currently offer credit information directly to card members.
Card Member Costs
Both rewards credit cards are currently offering new card members low introductory interest rates on purchases and balance transfers, although one is a stronger offer than the other. Chase Freedom has a 0% purchase APR for the first 15 months after account opening, after which time the interest rate reverts to a variable rate ranging from 14.24% up to 19.24%. Chase is also offering a balance transfer promotion for new card members that includes a 0% interest rate for the first 15 months after the balance is transferred. The balance transfer rate reverts to the same as the purchases APR after the promotional period expires. Card members should note the balance transfer fee of 5% is applied.
Capital One Quicksilver card members have access to a 0% purchase APR for the first nine months after account opening, after which time the rate reverts to a variable APR that ranges from 13.24% up to 23.24%. Balance transfers are also available through Capital One with a 0% APR for the first nine months. After the promotional period ends for balance transfer made through the Quicksilver card, card members receive a variable rate that is the same as the purchase APR assigned at the time the account was opened. The balance transfer fee for Capital One is 3%.
Neither the Chase Freedom Card nor the Capital One Quicksilver card carries an annual fee. However, Capital One does not impose foreign transaction fees on its card members, while Chase does at a clip of 3% per transaction. The late fee assessed for both cards can be as high as $35, while the fees for returned payments vary.
Both the Capital One Quicksilver and the Chase Freedom cards offer strong rewards programs to card members, but the variations may suit some spenders more so than others. For those who spend heavily in bonus categories each quarter, the Chase Freedom credit card is a no brainer. But for account holders who prefer simplicity and a flat rate rewards program, the Capital One Quicksilver card definitely takes the cake. The one-time bonus cash back offers are similar for each card, but those who want to take advantage of a 0% purchase or balance transfer APR may be drawn more toward the Chase option. Without an annual fee and no expiration on earned rewards, both the Chase Freedom and Capital One Quicksilver cards provide cost effective benefits to card members.