Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Citi Double Cash

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Citi Double Cash

May 12, 2016         Written By Jason Steele

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Do you prefer cash back to earning points and miles as credit card rewards? Many reward credit card users find that cash back offers them unparalleled flexibility compared to the restrictions imposed on points and miles earned with travel providers. Their cash back rewards can be spent or saved in any way, while the use of travel rewards are often limited by blackout dates, capacity controls and arbitrary changes to award programs.

The new and the  are two of the most competitive cash back reward cards offered, but they are still quite different from each other. Let’s take a look at the features and benefits of these cards, and see which one is right for you.

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The standard Chase Freedom card has been one of the most popular reward cards for some time, and it has offered customers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter at featured retailers and on select categories of merchants that change each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. However, some cardholders do not want to keep track of rotating bonus categories that they have to register for each quarter.

To offer cardholders a choice, Chase recently introduced its that trades the rotating bonus categories for a higher level of cash back on all purchases. Freedom Unlimited cardholders receive 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no cap on the amount of spending that is eligible. Rewards can be redeemed for cash back in any amount and at any time, and your rewards never expire.

In addition, new cardmembers can earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Furthermore, new applicants receive 0% APR introductory financing for 15 months on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. Once the promotional financing rate expires, the standard interest rate of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable will apply, depending on your creditworthiness when you applied. As with most credit cards, this is a variable interest rate that can change with the Prime Rate.

There is no annual fee for this card.

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The offers you the chance to earn cash back twice, once when you make a purchase and again when you pay. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases at the time of the transaction and another 1% when payment is made for a total of 2% cash back. This card also offers 18 months of 0% APR introductory financing on balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. Once the promotional financing rate expires, a standard interest rate of 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) will apply to the remaining balance, which is a variable rate based on the Prime Rate. There is no annual fee for this card.

Which card is right for you?

If you focus strictly on the rate of return for cash back, the  appears to be the better offer, with up to 2% cash back on all purchases versus the 1.5% for the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Nevertheless, there are a myriad of other factors to consider. For example, the Freedom Unlimited is offering a sign-up bonus of up to $150, which makes up for the maximum difference in cash back earning during the first $30,000 of spending.

If a balance transfer is important to you, both cards have a 3% balance transfer fee in the first 60 days of becoming a cardholder. But after that, the Freedom Unlimited balance transfer fee rises to 5%. In addition, Citi’s 18 month 0% offer on balance transfers is clearly superior to the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s offer of 15 months.

Finally, the has one interesting advantage for some cardholders. Points are earned in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program and cardholders can transfer their rewards from their Freedom Unlimited account to a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus account, where those rewards can be transferred to airline miles and hotel points or redeemed for travel reservations at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.

Depending on how you plan on using your cash back rewards card, either the or the could be best for your needs.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of May 12, 2016. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a freelance journalist and an expert on the credit card industry. He contributes to several of the top personal finance sites, and his work is syndicated to mainstream outlets such as MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, and Business Insider.
View all posts by Jason Steele
Top Features : No Annual Fee, Bonus Offer, Cash Back
Top Features : 1.5% cash back on all purchases; $150 bonus after spending $500 in first 3 months
Top Features : Earn cash back twice. 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay; 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Top Features : 4% cash back on dining & entertainment, 2% at grocery stores; $300 bonus after spending $3000 in first 3 months
Top Features : No annual fee; 3% cash back on dining & entertainment; 2% on groceries; $150 cash bonus after spending $500 in first 3 months
Top Features : 1.5% cash back on every purchase; access to higher credit line after making first 5 monthly payments on time