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Choosing between the Chase Freedom® and the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card comes down to which of the two cards have reward categories that best line up with your budget. The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card gives users more control. You get to choose which stores and shops will earn you its coveted 5% rewards rate. With the Chase Freedom® you are stuck with whatever bonus categories happen to fall on a given quarter—something the bank decides. When it comes to long-term reward potential, we give the edge to the Chase Freedom®. The card can be combined with other Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards, which enables users to optimize and supercharge their rewards.
Table of Contents
- Comparing 5% Cash Back Potential
- Chase Freedom® vs U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: In-Depth Comparison
- Combining the Chase Freedom® and U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
- Which Card is Better on an Average Budget?
Relevant Differences Between Chase Freedom® and U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
|Chase Freedom®||U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||3%||3%|
|APR||16.74% - 25.49% Variable||14.99% to 23.99% (V)|
|Intro APR||0% Intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles that your Account is open||0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days from account opening|
|Sign-up Bonus||$150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||$25 Cash+ Bonus the first time you redeem $100 or more in a single redemption|
5% Cash Back Opportunities
As we pointed out in the opening, the chief differentiating factor between these two credit cards has to do with when and how you're awarded cash back. The Chase Freedom® awards 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. These categories can include grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and more. Everything else gets you an unlimited 1% cash back. On the other hand, the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has a set list of 5% cash back categories and you pick two each quarter that will apply to your account. With the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, you also get to pick one everyday category in which you get unlimited 2% cash back. All other spending you do on the card gives you 1.5% cash back—significantly better than the measly 1% awarded by the Chase Freedom®.
Chase Freedom®:Categories Rotate Each Quarter
|U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: You Pick Two|
The most noticeable difference between the two lists above is the lack of wholesale clubs and grocery stores on the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card. These are two areas where consumers tend to spend a lot. The Chase Freedom® is missing some minor categories, including gym/fitness centers and sporting goods stores. You need to consider how much of your budget is made up of these these categories. For example, if your monthly budget consists mostly of fast food and movie theater purchases get the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card.
In-Depth Analysis of Chase Freedom® & U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
If you're not satisfied with quick takeaways and want a deeper dive into each of these cards, and what they can provide, this section will deliver that. We not only look at the rewards offered by each card, but also their interest rates and long-term potential.
The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card: Good For Those With a Predictable Budget
The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is great for people who tend to shop at the same spots while retaining full control over their rewards. It excels in this area because it lets you select the categories where you earn the most cash back. The 5% cash back categories on the card are very fragmented, with things like furniture stores, car rentals, movie theaters and bookstores each listed separately. This isn't necessarily a negative, as long as this restriction lines up with how you spend your money month-to-month.
Another great thing about the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card is the addition of the 2% cash back category. Cardholders can pick between gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. Once you choose, you earn unlimited 2% cash back in one of these. While the rewards are significantly lower, they're still a nice way to put extra money in your pocket. In comparison, the Chase Freedom® is is made up of two extremes. You either get 5% cash back or 1% with nothing inbetween.
The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card comes with a zero percent interest offer on balance transfers that can be helpful for people currently struggling to pay down their debt. You get 0% introductory APR for the first 12 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days of account opening. While the perk is nice, it's not extraordinary. You can get significantly better deals on balance transfers with cards that specialize in it, and even through the Chase Freedom®, which we will detail more in the next section.
Chase Freedom®: Best for Optimizers
The Chase Freedom® offers you less control over where you earn 5% cash back, but makes up for that through a better initial bonus and a significantly more flexible rewards program. The Chase Freedom® offers $150 to those who manage to spend at least $500 within the first 3 months of account opening. Not only is this better than what you get through the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, but it's one of the best sign-up bonuses on all cash back credit cards. For readers who are interested in optimizing for short-term rewards, the Chase Freedom® is the clear winner.
You should also be aware that the Chase Freedom® earns points called Chase Ultimate Rewards. You get 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, and one point per dollar on everything else. When you have just the Chase Freedom® in your wallet, these points are mostly good for simply earning cash back. But if you were to ever pair the card with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you could exchange those points for much better rewards, such as travel bookings. If you trade in, the rewards rate on the Chase Freedom® can be significantly better than just 5%. The only problem is that you will have to be willing to open more credit card accounts and pay an annual fee.
The Chase Freedom® is much better at helping cardholders manage debt than the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card. Users get a 0% intro APR on both balance transfers purchases for the first 15 billing cycles that their account is open. Therefore, it's possible to skip interest payments for over a year on both existing debt and future debt, so long as you fit inside the 15 billing cycle window.
Combining the Chase Freedom® and the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
Since both the Chase Freedom® and U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card have no annual fee, a valid strategy involves applying for both. There is only one downside to considering this approach. The two separate applications will result in two 'hard pulls' on your credit report, resulting in a temporary dip in your credit score. A hard pull happens whenever a lender, like a bank, looks into your credit history to determine if you can qualify for their loan. Most credit score models view multiple hard pulls as a bad thing. To them, it seems like a person with multiple pulls in a short period of time is desperately trying to get credit, and therefore their financial situation may be shaky. This is, of course, not true in all cases. FICO, the folks responsible for generating most credit scores, simply make this assumption for their model.
Which Card Is Better for the Average Consumer?
The average consumer will be better off choosing the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card. We base this on the average expenditures data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This government body catalogs how much U.S. consumers spend each day, and in what categories. When you match those up with purchases that can be charged to a credit card, we can estimate the rewards provided by each card.
The average consumer expenditure for our model consumer was the following:
- Groceries (food at home): $330
- Gas (gasoline and motor oil): $200
- Dining (good away from home): $230
- General (All other expenditures, entertainment, apparel and services): $670
In total, our model cardholder would earn $296 with the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card during their first year, and $276 per year going forward. The Chase Freedom® user would earn $412 in the first year, and roughly $262 annually moving forward.
Assuming your spending breaks down similarly to the above example, you will be better off choosing the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card in the long-run. For everyone else, it’s worth taking the time to inventory how you spend your money throughout the year. As you can see from the above example, the difference can be quite substantial between the two cards.