When chosen correctly, cash back credit cards give you what is essentially free money. Cash back cards usually have some caveats, gotchas and limits. For example, Chase Freedom advertises a lucrative 5% cash back but only on certain "bonus" categories (which change every 3 months), and only up to $1,500 in spending. Capital One's Quicksilver card, on the other hand, offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Often the hidden costs of cash back cards are annual fees, foreign transaction fees and high APRs. The Capital One Quicksilver card has no annual fees or foreign transaction fee. Chase Freedom doesn't have an annual fee, but has 3% foreign transaction fee.
edit How to Choose a Rewards Credit Card
While rewards cards may announce their most attractive features to get your clientele, it's the consumer's responsibility to read the fine print and compare cards. This video guides you on what to look for in a rewards cards and make a choice that's best for you:
Do keep these points in mind as you consider fees, rewards and other features of the two cards compared below.
edit Annual Fee
Neither Capital One Quicksilver nor Chase Freedom have an annual fee, but need excellent credit rating to be able to apply for the card. Quicksilver One, a variation of the Capital One Quicksilver, accepts average credit rating for application, but has an annual fee of $39.
edit Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The Chase Freedom card seems to be a better option at a 0% APR for a longer duration of time. It offers a 0% APR for the first 15 months of opening the account and a variable APR between 13.99% to 22.99% thereafter. Capital One Quicksilver has a 0% APR for one year, and an APR of 12.9% to 20.9% after that.
edit Balance Transfer
edit Balance Transfer APR
Balance transfer APR is the same as APR above. Chase Freedom is still a better option for balance transfers at a 0% APR for the first 15 months and an APR of 13.99% to 22.99% thereafter. The Capital One Quicksilver currently has a 0% balance transfer APR for a year and after that an APR of 12.9% to 20.9%.
edit Balance Transfer Fee
Both cards charge a balance transfer fee in addition to the balance transfer APR, Chase freedom charges $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater and Capital One Quicksilver comes in close with a fee of 3% of the transfer amount.
edit Cash Advance
edit Cash Advance APR
There is not much of a difference between the Cash Advance APR for the two cards. Capital One Quicksilver charges 24.9% variable APR and Chase Freedom charges 23.99% variable APR.
edit Cash Advance Fee
Both cards charge the same cash advance fee of $10 or 3% of the amount whichever is greater.
Chase Freedom offers 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on purchases made in certain "bonus" categories, which change every 3 months and tend to include gas stations, restaurants, department stores, online stores and movie theaters on a rotating basis. The 5% cash back rate only applies to the first $1,500 spent on these purchases in that quarter. The screen-shot image below lists Chase Freedom's bonus categories for 2014 (note that "activation" is required every 3 months, which means the consumer is required to take this action and the cash back rewards are not automatically assigned):
The Capital One Quicksilver does not have rotating categories and offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limit to the amount of cash back earned. The Capital One Quicksilver does have better flexibility and ease of use when it comes to earning cash back rewards.
edit Reward Redemption
Capital One Quicksilver and Chase Freedom offer similar ways to redeem rewards. Both offer account credit, gift cards and check as a way of redemption. But Chase Freedom additionally offers direct deposit which is convenient over cashing a check.
edit Minimum Amount for Redemption
Capital One Quicksilver does not impose a minimum amount to redeem cash back; cash back can be redeemed anytime and can be any amount. Chase Freedom does require a minimum of $20 to redeem cash back.
edit Other perks
Chase Freedom and Capital One Quicksilver are both Visa Signature cards, which means they offer extra perks like extended warranty protection on purchases, rental car collision damage waiver, 24-hour emergency assistance, roadside assistance dispatch and travel accident insurance.
edit How to Make the Most of a Rewards Card
Once you choose the card that is best for you, you can enhance your rewards advantage by optimizing the rewards opportunities. Follow these tips in the video below to make the most of your cash back rewards card: