Chase Freedom vs. Capital One Quicksilver

Which card is best for you?

Chase Freedom vs. Capital One Quicksilver

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When trying to decide between cash back cards, the first question you should ask yourself is: What kind of cardholder am I?

Are you a rewards maximizer who doesn’t mind tracking purchases and outlining a spending strategy to earn as much cash back as possible? If so, you’d probably get a lot of value out of a classic rotating bonuses card, such as the Chase Freedom, which offers 5 percent cash back in categories that rotate quarterly – up to $1,500 – and 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Or, do you prefer a lower maintenance “set it and forget it” card that doesn’t require you to do anything but charge purchases to your card and collect the cash back when you’re ready? In that case, you’re better off with a flat-rate cash back card, such as the Quicksilver card from Capital One. Rather than offer bonuses on select purchases, the Quicksilver card offers a flat 1.5 percent rate on every purchase.

Which card is right for you?

If you’re only interested in one credit card, then deciding between the Chase Freedom and Capital One Quicksilver should come down to what kind of cardholder you are and what kinds of purchases you tend to charge.

The Chase Freedom card offers more opportunities to earn a larger amount of cash back. But if you don’t plan to take the time to monitor the rotating bonuses and strategically align your spending, then you’ll probably get more value out of the Quicksilver card.

Here’s what else to consider when comparing the two cards:

Chase Freedom vs. Capital One Quicksilver

  Chase Freedom card
Chase Freedom card
Quicksilver card
Quicksilver card
Rewards rate
  • 5% cash back on rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on general purchases
1.5% cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • $150 when you spend $500 in the first 3 months
$150 cash back when you spend $500 in the first 3 months
Annual fee
$0 $0
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900) $239 $288
Pros
  • Good sign-up bonus for a no annual fee card
  • Generous 5% cash back rate for bonus categories
  • Bonus categories are broad and typically include popular spending categories, such as gas, restaurants and groceries
  • Can combine cash with other Chase card earnings
  • Can also redeem cash for gift cards, merchandise, experiences or travel
  • Cash back doesn’t expire
  • Good sign-up bonus for a no annual fee card
  • Good rewards rate for every purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Rewards don’t expire as long as account is active
  • No limit on the amount of cash back you can earn
  • No restrictions on how much cash you can redeem
Cons
  • Must opt in to receive a 5 percent bonus
  • You have to track quarterly spending categories
  • You don’t get a rewards bonus when you book travel with Freedom card rewards
  • You can’t transfer your cash back to airline or hotel partners
  • You can’t transfer cash to other rewards programs
  • You can’t earn a bonus rate on different spending categories
Who should get this card?
  • Someone who wants to earn as much cash back as possible on everyday purchases
  • Modest spenders
  • Rewards maximizers
  • Someone who wants more flexibility with their bonus purchases
  • Someone who wants a low-maintenance rewards card

Best for someone who wants to earn as much cash back as possible on everyday purchases: Chase Freedom card

If you don’t mind monitoring the Freedom card’s bonus calendar and opting into 5 percent bonus categories each quarter, then the Chase Freedom card is a great card to have in your wallet.

If you align your spending so that you regularly max out the Freedom card’s spending bonus – or at least come close to spending $1,500 per quarter – you will almost certainly earn more cash back using the Freedom card than if you relied solely on the Quicksilver card.

Let’s say, for example, that you average $500 per month on groceries. If you use your Freedom card to earn 5 percent cash back during the three months that groceries qualify for a bonus and 1 percent cash back the rest of the year, you’ll earn $120 by the end of the year. With the Quicksilver card, you’ll earn around $90.

Cash back earned on $500 monthly grocery spend

Chase Freedom card Quicksilver card
($500 x 3 months x 5%) + ($500 x 9 months x 1%) = $120 $500 x 12 months x 1.5% = $90

If you maximize your spending in the bonus categories each quarter – by making $1,500 in combined purchases – you’ll also earn more with the Freedom card. For example, if you regularly spend $500 a month on a purchase category that earns a 5 percent bonus, then you’ll close out the year with at least $300 just from bonuses alone. 

Cash back earned on $500 in Chase Freedom bonus categories and $1,000 in other categories per month

Chase Freedom card Quicksilver card
($500 x 12 months x 5%) + ($1,000 x 12 months x 1%) = $420 $1,500 x 12 months x 1.5% = $270

Savvy cardholders can earn more on year-round purchases by strategically shifting their spending based on the Freedom bonus calendar. For example, if you typically spend around $1,500 a year on clothes, you can wait until Chase offers the 5 percent bonus at department stores – a category that Chase often includes on its calendar – and purchase $1,500 in gift cards. You can then use those gift cards throughout the remainder of the year to buy clothing.

You can pursue the same strategy for restaurants and other bonus categories that offer gift cards, making it easier to maximize your rewards earnings.

Cash back earned on $1,500 annual clothing spend

Chase Freedom card Quicksilver card
$1,500 x 5% = $75 $1,500 x 1.5% = $22.50

View Chase’s 2018 cash back calendar here.

Best for modest spenders: Chase Freedom card

Even modest spenders tend to earn more overall with the Chase Freedom card. You don’t necessarily need to max out the Freedom card’s spending bonus to make it a better option for everyday purchases. If you only charge around $200 per month on groceries, for example, you’ll still eke out more using the Freedom than you would with the Quicksilver card. With the Freedom card, you’ll earn $48. With the Quicksilver card, you’ll get $36.

Cash back earned on $200 monthly grocery spend

Chase Freedom card Quicksilver card
($200 x 3 months x 5%) + ($200 x 9 months x 1%) = $48 $200 x 12 months x 1.5% = $36

Similarly, you’ll earn more with the Freedom card if you’re a modest spender overall, but expect to charge at least $100 a month on purchases that earn a 5 percent bonus. For example, if you typically budget $600 a month for purchases, but expect to buy just $100 worth of bonus purchases, on average, you’ll earn roughly $120 a year using the Chase Freedom card. If you spent the same $600 per month on a Quicksilver card, you’d earn $108.

Cash back earned on $500 in general purchases and $100 on bonus purchases per month

Chase Freedom card Quicksilver card
($100 x 12 months x 5%) + ($500 x 12 months x 1%) = $120 $600 x 12 months x 1.5% = $108

Best for consumers who want more flexibility with their bonus purchases: Quicksilver card

That said, the Chase Freedom card isn’t a great pick for everyone. Earning a substantial amount of cash back with the Freedom card only works if you make enough purchases in bonus categories each quarter.

If you think you’ll be able to max out at least two or more Freedom bonus categories, then you may still be better off with the Freedom card, since just one quarter’s worth of 5 percent spending can net you up to $75. But if you don’t think you’ll spend that much – or if you just want more flexibility overall – then go with the Quicksilver card.

Best for consumers who want a low-maintenance cash back card: Quicksilver card

The Quicksilver card is easier to use overall. With the Freedom card, you need to opt into the bonus categories every three months to earn 5 percent cash back. This means you need to monitor the cash back calendar – which changes every year – and plan your purchases around it if you want to maximize your earnings. You also have to track which card you’re using for certain types of purchases, which can be a pain – especially if you just want to pull a card out of your wallet and move through checkout as quickly as possible.

With the Quicksilver card, by contrast, you don’t have to worry about any of that since the 1.5 percent bonus on every purchase is automatic. The only thing you need to do is decide when you’re ready to collect your earnings.

Best for rewards maximizers: Chase Freedom card paired with the Quicksilver card

If you don’t mind carrying multiple cards, you may want to consider adding both cards to your wallet: one for maximizing rewards purchases and the other for everyday spending. A 5 percent cash back card, such as Chase Freedom, is great to use for everyday purchases, such as gas, groceries or restaurant purchases – but only when those purchases are earning the bonus. When they’re not, you’d be better off using a higher earning flat rate card, such as the Capital One Quicksilver card. The savviest credit card users often keep a couple different cards in their wallets and alternate them, based on what they’re buying.  

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a card that delivers a large amount of cash back without charging an annual fee, the Chase Freedom card is a great option. In most cases, you’ll earn more overall using the Freedom card than you would if you only used the Capital One Quicksilver card. But if you don’t want to bother with rotating bonus categories or tracking your spending, the Quicksilver card is a better option.

If you plan to pay your purchases in full, you may also want to consider the Citi Double Cash Card. This card offers the same, maintenance-free perks as the Quicksilver card. But instead of 1.5 percent cash back, it delivers 1 percent cash back on every purchase when you buy, plus 1 percent cash back when you pay. 

See related: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which card is best for you?, Capital One Quicksilver vs. Capital One Platinum: Which card is best for you?


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Updated: 11-16-2018