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At one point, there wasn't much daylight at all between the $0-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the $0-annual-fee Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Both used to feature an identical 1.5% cash-back rate on all purchases — but times have changed.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has undergone a significant overhaul and now clearly delivers more value, including a much more lucrative bonus offer as well as tiered rewards categories, to go with its flexibile redemption options.
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, meanwhile, has stayed largely the same, and while a flat 1.5% back on all spending remains the industry standard, it can't hold a candle to what the Chase Freedom Unlimited® now offers.
How they compare at a glance
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® does still feature 1.5% back on "everything else." But that refers to spending that falls outside of its rich Year One incentive on grocery store purchases, and outside of its ongoing bonus categories, which include restaurants, drugstores and travel purchased via Chase.
Here's how the cards stack up:
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases; variable APR after that
0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR
1.5% cash back on all purchases.
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% back at restaurants; 3% back on drugstore purchases; and 1.5% on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fees
3% per transaction.
Why the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is better for most
As long as you don't plan to use the card while traveling abroad, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® easily wins on every count. Some standout features include:
A much richer incentive for new cardholders
For new cardholders who spend the bulk of their budget at grocery stores, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® far outshines the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.
That's because as of July 24, 2020, new Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardholders can earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases for the first year, up to $12,000 in spending. Grocery delivery services such as Instacart, Shipt and Peapod all qualify for the bonus. Purchases at wholesale clubs and big-box retailers like Walmart and Target don't. (All other purchases beyond the scope of the offer earn 1.5% back.)
If you were to max out that $12,000 spending limit at grocery stores, you could earn $600. And that’s on top of the card's traditional upfront sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
In total, that welcome offer could be worth $800. On a card with a $0 annual fee, that's stupendous.
By comparison, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers no bonus rewards at grocery stores in the first year. So if you were to spend that same $12,000 at the supermarket in Year One, you'd net only $180 with the card, on top of its sign-up offer: One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
More generous rewards
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a much broader, richer rewards structure than the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. It earns both a decent flat rate on non-bonus purchases, and elevated rewards in common categories.
Cardholders get 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% back at restaurants; 3% back on drugstore purchases; and 1.5% on all other non-bonus-category purchases.
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card simply can't match that.
Rideshare incentives and delivery discounts
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is also a much better deal when it comes to ridesharing expenses.
Through March 31, 2022, all cardholders can earn an extra 3.5% back per $1 spent on qualifying Lyft products and services purchased through the Lyft mobile app. This is in addition to the 1.5% back that the card already offers on all purchases, for a total of 5% back on Lyft purchases — including car rides; bike and scooter rides; and subscription and membership products.
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers no such rewards boost on rideshare services.
What's more, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® also offers cardholders a free three months of access to DoorDash's subscription delivery service, DashPass, which grants you $0 delivery fees on qualifying orders from eligible restaurants. This subcription usually costs $9.99 a month. After the first three months, you'll be automatically enrolled in DashPass at half off for the next nine months. (You must activate this offer by Dec. 31, 2021.)
You'll get no such offer on food delivery services from the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card.
This distinction might not matter if you're just looking for cash back, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited® provides more flexibility in redemption options.
With the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you get cash back, which you can take as an account credit, use to buy gift cards or receive in check form. Unlike with many other cash-back cards, there is no minimum redemption. If you want to redeem $50 or 50 cents' worth of cash back, you can do it.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® lets you redeem for account credit, for gift cards or as an electronic deposit into your bank account. It, too, has no redemption minimum. But what you earn on this card isn't technically cash back. It's actually Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Those points are worth 1 cent apiece, so the effect is the same.
However, you can also transfer these points to other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards® points. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase, or you can transfer those rewards to several airline and hotel loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.
The multiple redemption options are another point in favor of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® — assuming you have other Chase cards and are determined to squeeze every fraction of a penny's worth of value out of your points.
» MORE: What is the 'Chase trifecta'?
When to consider the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
There's one area where the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a winner over the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and that's when it comes to foreign transaction fees.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on every purchase you make while abroad. Over several purchases, that can add up and dip into your travel budget.
The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card doesn’t charge this fee, making it a more ideal option if you frequently travel abroad.
Information related to the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been provided or reviewed by the issuer of this card.