Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom

Which cash back card has your ideal cash flow?

BoA Cash card vs. Chase Freedom

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While the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card and Chase Freedom®  have a similar cash back bonus and low intro APR, there are subtle differences that reveal themselves once you start spending beyond the introductory period. One card provides more returns in rotating categories and the other gives you more for everyday spending. Which one holds more overall value? Let’s take a closer look.

Bank of America Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom 

 

Bank of America Cash card
Bank of America Cash Rewards

Chase Freedom card
Chase Freedom
Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus
$150 online cash rewards if you spend $500 in first 90 days
$150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Annual fee
$0 $0
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends the quarterly bonus limit and no more) $318 $313
Pros
  • High cash back rate on groceries and a category of choice
  • Flexible rewards that can shift with your spending 
  • Better than average sign-up bonus
  • High overall earning rate thanks to generous bonus categories
  • High quarterly cap on bonus categories
  • Automatically deposit cash back to an account of your choice
  • Very high 5% cash back rate on rotating categories each quarter
  • Can transfer rewards as points to other Ultimate Rewards cards
  • High overall earning rate thanks to 5% spending bonus
Cons
  • Can’t transfer rewards to other cards
  • There are other simple cash back cards with higher cash back rates
  • Have to activate categories each quarter to earn the 5% bonus
  • $1,500 quarterly cap on purchases for 5% bonus
Who should get this card?
  • Cardholders who want a simple cash back card that earns a high rate of cash back
  • Cardholders looking for a flexible rewards bonus category to pair with other cards
  • Bank of America members with more than $20,000 in a checking or savings account who qualify to enroll in Preferred Rewards
  • Cardholders looking to pair a 5% category card with other cards
  • Ultimate Rewards members
  • Cardholders willing to put some maintenance into tracking and activating bonus categories each quarter

Similarities

  • Annual fee and credit score. Earning rewards with no annual fee is always a plus, and both of these cards offer that to you. They both also require average to good credit (689-690). This gives you some wiggle room to be able to take advantage of either of these cards, even if you don’t have excellent credit. 
  • Sign-up bonus. Both the Bank of America Cash Rewards card and the Chase Freedom offer a $150 intro bonus when you spend $500 in the first three months (90 days for Cash Rewards card). 
  • Intro APR. Bank of America Cash Rewards offers a 0 percent introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers, then, a variable 16.24 percent - 26.24 percent. Chase Freedom offers a 0 percent intro APR for 15 months on both balance tranfers and purchases. After that, the card comes with a variable APR of 17.24 to 25.99 percent.

Differences

  • Rewards rate. The Bank of America Cash Rewards card gives you some good cash back rates on everyday spending – 3 percent on a category of your choice, 2 percent on groceries and at wholesale clubs, and 1 percent on all other purchases. The Chase Freedom gives you 5 percent cash back, but on rotating categories that you must activate and monitor each quarter. You earn 1 percent on all other purchases, similar to BoA. 
  • Spending limit. The BoA has a combined spending limit of $2,500 on 2 percent and 3 percent categories each quarter. The Chase Freedom has a $1,500 spending limit each quarter. The $1,000 difference between the two can determine what you spend and where. 

If you spend moderately on the bonus categories you can choose from and groceries and want a good return, choose Bank of America Cash Rewards

With no annual fee and a substantial cash bonus within the first 90 days, it’s easy to get comfortable with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card. Its strength is allowing you to earn through everyday spending, without making you break the bank or having to keep track of rotating categories. Plus, you can change your bonus category once per calendar month to keep up with changes in your spending. So if you spend more on gas one month and dining the next, you can still earn great rewards.

If you’re a cardholder with a Bank of America checking or savings account and a substantial bank balance, you can also enroll in Preferred Rewards. Preferred Rewards cardholders earn additional bonuses as high as 25 percent to 75 percent. So if you have good credit, spend moderately and value cash back over points, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card is a solid choice.

If you want high-rate rewards, choose Chase Freedom 

If you have experience with rotating categories, the Chase Freedom packs good value. A 5 percent return in rotating categories and 1 percent back on all other purchases with no annual fee is an enticing deal. And there is some flexibility when it comes to redeeming what you earn – whether it’s cash, merchandise, travel bookings or gift cards. 

This card also comes with some security benefits such as purchase protection, extended warranty, auto rental insurance, roadside assistance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance and travel accident insurance. So if you’re a traveler who wants some benefits and no annual fee, the Chase Freedom is the one you want.

The Chase Freedom card offers another benefit that gives it an edge over the Bank of America Cash Rewards card: Your rewards can transfer as points to certain Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. If you are in the game of collecting and maximizing points, the Chase Freedom is a great card to have.

The bottom line 

Both of these cash back cards are for somewhat modest spenders with less than excellent credit. Something to keep in mind is that both the BoA Cash Rewards card and the Chase Freedom card have spending limits, which keep them from reaching some of the rewards value heights of other cards. But, you’ll see some pretty good returns that match your lifestyle. Your choice between these two should ultimately come down to whether you’re a fan of rotating categories, or want cash back with little hassle.  

See related: Guide to the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, Earn 15,000 bonus points with the Chase Freedom cards, How to maximize the current Chase Freedom categories


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Updated: 02-23-2019