Capital One Quicksilver versus the Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which 1.5% cash-back card is better?

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  • The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® both offer 1.5% cash back with no annual fee.
  • However, starting on September 15, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® will earn extra cash back on eligible travel, grocery, and drugstore purchases. 
  • Other than that, the biggest differences are that the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is offering a better sign-up bonus, while the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers more travel coverage and waives foreign transaction fees.
  • With the Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 spent on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) in the first year, in addition to $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening.
  • See Business Insider's list of the best cash-back credit cards »

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Chase Freedom Unlimited®Capital One Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee
Regular APR
Credit Score
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  • 4.15 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating

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    Annual Fee

    $0

    Regular APR

    15.49% – 25.49% variable APR

    Credit Score

    ExcellentA five pointed star

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    Featured Reward

    One-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months

    Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 15 monthsChevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
    • One-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
    • 0% intro APR for 15 months; 15.49% – 25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees
    • Travel Accident Insurance
    • Push notification each time a new purchase is approved on your account
    Pros
    • Earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase
    • Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
    • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
    Cons
    • Other cards earn more cash back

    If you want to earn cash back without worrying about rotating categories or bonuses on specific purchases, both the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are potentially good options.

    Both offer a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee. Or, at least they did until recently. Starting on September 15, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® will offer 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. It will continue to offer 1.5% cash back on everything else.

    If you're deciding between the two cards, consider how much you spend on dining, drugstore purchases, and travel booked through Chase. If the answer is a lot, you'd likely earn more cash back with the Freedom Unlimited. If not, you'll have to look beyond those core features to pick the right one for your wallet.

    We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

    Capital One Quicksilver versus the Chase Freedom Unlimited: The biggest differences

     Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit CardChase Freedom Unlimited®
    Annual fee$0$0
    Sign-up bonus$150 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months of account opening 

    $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening

    Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases* on up to $12k spent in the first year

    Earning cash back1.5% back on every purchase

    5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards**

    3% back on dining and drugstore purchases**

    1.5% back on everything else 

    Using cash backCheck, statement credit, reimburse recent purchases, gift cards, Amazon.com purchases, experiencesDirect deposit, statement credit, gift cards, Amazon.com, travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards
    Intro APR offer for purchases0% intro APR for 15 months, then 15.49% – 25.49% variable APR0% intro APR for 15 months, then 14.99%–23.74% variable APR
    Foreign transaction feesNone3%
    Other benefitsTravel accident insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, extended warranty, roadside assistance, travel assistancePurchase protection, extended warranty protection

    *not including Target or Walmart purchases

    **starting on September 15

    Sign-up bonus

    Both cards feature a cash back sign-up bonus that you can earn after spending $500 within the first three months of opening a new card.

    With the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn a bonus worth $150 in cash back after hitting the $500 mark in new purchases.

    With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you earn $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening. That's 33% more cash back to get you started.

    The winner here is the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. And that's not even factoring in the recently added cash-back element to the card's sign-up bonus.

    For the first year, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card will earn new cardholders 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart) on up to $12,000 in purchases (then 1.5%). That could be worth up to $600 in cash back, which is pretty huge for the first year. However, not everyone will spend an average of $2,000 per month on groceries to earn the full $600.

    Earning cash back

    Until Chase announced an update to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, both that card and the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offered a flat 1.5% cash back rate. Starting on September 15, however, the Freedom Unlimited will introduce some new bonus categories. You'll earn 5% cash back when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. You'll continue to earn 1.5% cash back on everything else.

    With the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, it doesn't matter where or when you use it, you can earn the same 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the winner here, offering up 5% cash back compared to a maximum of 1.5% cash back with the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. If you spend money on dining (including both restaurants and delivery services), drugstores, and travel (booked though Chase Ultimate Rewards), you can earn even more cash back with the Freedom Unlimited.

    Using cash back

    Both cards give you a list of flexible ways to redeem your cash back, but for most people, the best way to redeem is either a check, direct deposit, or a statement credit. After all, cash is cash. But if you want to use your rewards for fun purchases, you can certainly do that as well with either card.

    The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card gives you a bunch of different ways to redeem cash back. Those include a check, statement credit, paying for recent purchases, gift cards, Amazon.com purchases, and experiences like VIP meals, concerts, and sporting events. With the ability to redeem cash back to reimburse yourself for any purchase, you can redeem for purchases including travel or anything else you buy with the card.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® gives you the ability to redeem for a direct deposit, statement credit, Amazon.com purchase, gift card purchase, or redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

    The option to redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards is even more lucrative if you also have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. If you do, you can combine cash back with your rewards points in those accounts at a rate of 1 cent to one point. Points are worth more than 1 cent depending on the Ultimate Rewards card you have, so that's an opportunity to turn your Chase Freedom Unlimited® cash back into more valuable travel rewards.

    Intro APR offer

    Both cards offer identical introductory APR terms. With both cards, you'll pay 0% on new purchases made within the first 15 months. After that, regular purchase APR kicks in.

    This can be useful for a big home-improvement project or other planned expense that you're able to pay off before the 0% intro period ends. Just make sure to pay it off completely by that point, as interest costs can add up fast and often cost more than the rewards you earn from card purchases.

    Foreign transaction fees

    For avoiding foreign transaction fees, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the winner. You can use Quicksilver anywhere in the world the card is accepted and you won't pay any additional foreign transaction fees or charges.

    With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, there's a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you're a frequent international traveler, that cost could be a deal-breaker for this card — or it might require you to keep a second card for international trips. If you want just one card and don't want any foreign transaction fees, Capital One Quicksilver is the better choice.

    Purchase protection and warranty

    Both the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offer above-average benefits for a card with no annual fee. However, depending on your priorities, each has its own strong suit.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited® includes purchase protection that covers new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days. This is worth up to $500 per claim and has a $50,000 lifetime limit per account. It also includes extended warranty coverage that gives you an additional year of protection on eligible warranties of three years or less.

    The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has a similar extended warranty benefit but does not have purchase protection. Instead, it has stronger benefits for travel including an auto rental collision damage waiver (secondary rental car insurance), travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, and 24-hour travel assistance.

    The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a bit strong when it comes to purchase protections and Capital One is definitely better for travel.

    Which card should you get?

    Both the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can be a great choice. If you like to eat out or order delivery and spend money on drugstore purchases, you can earn more cash back with the Freedom Unlimited.

    Not only does the Chase Freedom Unlimited® now offer bonus categories, but this Chase card also offers a better sign-up bonus and bonus rewards rate for groceries the first year. 

    For benefits, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a little better for purchase protections but the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers more for travel and is better overall. That includes no foreign transaction fee compared to a 3% fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

    Sign-up bonuses and benefits can change, but as of today, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the winner thanks to a bigger sign-up bonus, new categories for earning bonus cash back, and the potential to get more out of your rewards when redeeming for travel. But the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has better travel benefits, plus no foreign transaction fees, so don't forget to weigh these benefits as you make your decision.

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    Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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