Chase Cash Back Credit Cards: What’s Best For You?
Chase's four main cash back credit cards fit different needs for different people. Use this guide to determine which one might be right for you.
You'd like to get cash back rewards for everything you buy, wouldn't you?
Would you buy more in a certain category or from a certain store if you knew you could get more cash back rewards for it?
Everyone has different spending habits, so wouldn't it be great to have a credit card that gave you cash back rewards for the most common purchases you make?
Or would you just like a good cash back rate no matter what you buy?
A credit card company usually offers cash back bonus point rewards as an incentive for people to sign up for their cards.
They also know that some people are willing to adjust their spending areas if it means more cash back rewards.
Others are more likely to appreciate a card that has a good basic cash back rate for all purchases.
Then there are the folks who know what areas they spend in and therefore look for cards that give cash back rewards for spending in those zones.
The five different cash back credit cards available through the credit card company Chase give different options for cash back rewards that can suit all of these different people.
The 5 Cards
Chase cash back credit cards are designed to reward you for your spending by giving you a percentage of your purchase amount back in the form of points. These reward points can then be redeemed for cash.
There are five different Chase credit cards that offer cash back rewards.
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, you earn 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases. And there's no limit to the amount you can earn.
With the Chase Freedom credit card, you earn 1% on purchases.
But you can also earn 5% cash back rewards on purchases up to $1,500 if they are in a specific rotating bonus category and you register each quarter.
There are also two credit cards from Chase that connect you with partners.
One is the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card. With this credit card account, you can earn up to 5% cash back rewards on purchases made through Amazon.com if you're an Amazon Prime member. You can spend the cash at Amazon or elsewhere.
The second partner card is the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Credit Card from Chase.
Members of the AARP get 3% cash back rewards on restaurant and gas station purchases. They can use their points to pay for their annual AARP membership.
If they redeem the points for travel booked through Chase they are worth 10% more than cash.
Finally, the fifth card offered by Chase that gives cash back rewards is the ChaseInk Business Cash credit card.
This credit card account is for business spending. It rewards 5% for some common business purchases up to $25,000 (including office supply store purchases as well as internet, cable and phone expenses).
2% cash back is given for purchase at restaurants or gas stations up to $25,000. And 1% is available as cash back rewards for all other unlimited expenses.
Cash Back Rates for Each
There are different cash back rates for the different Chase cash back cards.
The Chase Unlimited Freedom cash back card gives you 1.5% cash back rewards on all purchases.
There aren't higher rates for different spending categories.
There is no limit to the amount you can earn cash back on. So you get 1.5 points for each dollar spent no matter what you spend it on.
You don't earn higher cash back rates for purchases in categories like gas or restaurants, so you don't have to register every quarter for new categories like with other cash back cards.
The Chase Freedom cash back card offers 5% cash back rewards on purchases that are in specific categories.
You register for different rotating categories every quarter (every three months). These seasonal categories include common purchases like gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores. They also include select merchants.
You earn 5% in these bonus categories until your spending hits up to $1,500. Then it goes to 1% cash back. On all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back rewards.
The 1% cash back is automatic, you don't have to register.
Chase's Amazon Rewards Visa Signature cash back card gives you 3% cash back rewards on all purchases through Amazon.com.
However, if your Amazon account is eligible for an Amazon Prime membership you get 5% on purchases through Amazon.
You get a cash back rate of 2% when you purchase at drug stores, gas stations, and restaurants. You get 1% cash back on all other purchases.
There are no spending limits for these rates.
The AARP Credit Card from Chase also lets the cardholder earn unlimited cash back rewards.
Seniors who qualify for the card get 3% cash back rewards on all restaurant purchases – whether it's fine dining or fast food!
The cardholder gets 3% on all purchases at gas stations. There is no need to sign up for these spending areas each quarter.
All other purchases earn 1%. There are no limits on any of these earning rates.
For business, the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card lets you earn 5% cash back rewards on some common business expenses. These include shopping at an office supply store, as well as internet, phone and cable services.
The 5% applies to the first $25,000 spent in these areas over each twelve month period after you open the account.
2% is earned on expenses at restaurants and gas stations. This also applies to the first $25,000 spent in these areas during every twelve month period after opening the account.
Other expenses (and expenses in the previous two areas after you spend $25,000) earn 1% cash back rewards on all purchases. There is no limit to the amount your business can earn at the 1% rate.
Compared to Other Cash Back Cards
Chase's cash back cards, in particular, the Chase Freedom cash back card, do well compared to other cash back cards.
For example, the 5% cash back rewards offered by Chase Freedom in certain categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases) ranks among the highest cash reward rates.
But some other credit cards have really good cash back rewards programs too.
The Discover It Cashback Match credit card also has 5% cash back rewards for various categories each quarter. Like the Chase Freedom card, it has 0% introductory APR, but it is for 14 months (one month less than Chase Freedom).
The feature that makes the Discover It Cashback Match better than the Chase Freedom credit card is that they match your cash back earnings dollar for dollar for the first year.
If you maxed out the quarterly limits for the categories that earn 5%, you would get $400 cash back at the end of your first year.
The BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card also has a 0% introductory APR, but it is only for 12 months. The reward categories don't change by the month or quarter.
The BankAmericard Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 1% cash back rewards on purchases, and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale buying clubs. 3% is offered on gas (up to $2,500 in combination with the 2% grocery and wholesale club purchases).
But this card rewards you mostly for your loyalty to the Bank of America.
If you redeem your cash back by depositing it into a Bank of America checking or savings account it gets you a 10% bonus.
If you are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client that bonus can be increased to 25% all the way up to 75%.
The Citi Double Cash Card is unique because it gives you 1% cash back rewards on your purchases, and then another 1% when you pay them off.
So you actually earn cash back rewards twice on everything you buy. You also get 0% on balance transfers for the first 18 months.
According to reviews, you need to have a good credit score to get a Chase Freedom cash back card. 645 is the minimum credit score reported to get the Chase Freedom card.
But in general, you should have a "Good" (700+ Fico score) or an "Excellent" (750+ Fico score) credit rating if you expect to be accepted.
Most people who get approved for the Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card also have "Good" to "Excellent" scores.
But for those with scores in the 600s, you will be more likely to get approved for the Chase Freedom Unlimited than the Chase Freedom card. That said, your credit limit will also be low.
The same is true for the Amazon and AARP cash back cards. Getting approved with a credit score in the 600s isn't impossible but your credit limit will remain low until you build your score up.
For the Chase Ink Business Cash credit card, the minimum reported score that got approval is 597, but the average is 734.
Best Features for Each Card
Each card has a sign-up bonus.
For opening Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited accounts, you get a $150 cash bonus (15,000 points) for signing up if you spend $500 in the first three months. You get an extra $25 if you add another user to the credit card account during that 3 month period.
For opening an Amazon Rewards Visa Signature credit card account you get a $70 Amazon gift card immediately upon approval.
When you open an AARP Credit Card from Chase you get a sign-up bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months.
With the Ink Business Cash credit card account, the sign-up bonus is $300 cash back when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Some of the Chase cash back credit cards also have an intro rate of 0% APR. For Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited, the 0% APR intro rate is for 15 months. It includes balance transfers and all purchases.
For the AARP Credit Card from Chase, there is a 12 month 0% APR intro period. The Ink Business Cash credit card has the same promo of one year at 0% APR.
However, for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature credit card accounts there is no 0% intro APR.
There is a $5 or 5% balance transfer fee for Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited. But the balance transfer APR is 0% for the first 15 months for both credit cards.
The annual fee for both of these cards is $0. In fact, there is no annual fee for any of the Chase cash back credit cards.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card gets good marks for its high basic reward rate and no annual fee. But the lack of opportunity to get higher reward rates for spending in specific zones is a problem for some.
For the Chase Freedom cash back credit card, the main problem for some is the rotating 5X categories.
It's hard to keep track of where you are getting the best cash back bonus rewards rate. The fact that you have to activate them every quarter is also annoying.
The interest rates are somewhat high, and the initial credit limits people are offered are low.
For the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card the cash back bonus rewards are only 5% if you are an Amazon Prime member.
To become an Amazon Prime member it costs a $99 annual fee, so there is a hidden cost you have to keep in mind if you're thinking about getting it.
For the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature credit card the balance transfer fee is $5 or 5%, however, there is no 0% intro APR rate on the balance transfer like there is with the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited Cards.
Negative feedback for the AARP Chase Visa is that there are too few bonus categories with the highest cash back rate. There is also no sign-up bonus.
The Chase Ink Business cash back card has a high interest rate so the cash back is only worth it if you aren't going to carry a balance.
The fact that the 5% cash-back bonus rate on typical business purchases only applies up to the first $25,000 spent is a problem. That's only $2,000 a month and many businesses spend more than that.
All of the cash back credit cards have a cash advance fee. The cash advance fee is $10 or 5% for all of them.
Using Cash Back to Pay Your Balance
For all the Chase cash back credit cards you can use the cash back you earn to pay your monthly balance. Or you can have the cash deposited directly into your bank account.
You can also redeem all of the cash reward points you earn by shopping at Amazon.com. Booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Reward program is another option for redeeming cash back reward points.
Chase Cash Back Credit Cards For College Students
None of the Chase cash back credit cards are designed just for college students.
But the standard 1.5% cash back offered by the Freedom Unlimited card is simple for first-time credit card users.
And the $0 annual fee is easy on the student wallet. There's no minimum students have to earn before they can redeem their cash back.
The reviews for the Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back card are mainly very positive.
Cardholders say that its biggest strength is that it is simple:
- You don't have to figure out categories
- You don't have to sign up each quarter to get bonus rates
- You don't have to decide which credit card to use in what store
- You don't have to keep track of your limits (because no matter what you purchase, the cash back rate is 1.5%)
The reviews for the Chase Freedom card are also really positive.
These cardholders like the high 5% cash back rate. Many don't seem to mind registering for the rotating bonus categories.
Some say the need to activate categories every season is a fault. Some also think that it is too confusing to keep track of categories. Other than that, the reviews for the Chase Freedom cash back credit card are very good.
The reviews for the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card are mostly positive.
People who shop frequently on Amazon as Amazon Prime members appreciate the 5% cash back bonus rate. And the $70 Amazon.com gift card you receive as a sign-up bonus appeals to cardholders.
Reviews for the AARP Chase Visa are mixed.
For those who travel, the cash back bonus rewards in categories like gas stations and restaurants are appreciated. But some reviewers seem to have problems with unexpected rate changes and poor customer service issues.
The Chase Ink Business Cash credit card reviewers are quite positive.
The fact that the cash back bonus rewards are maxed for purchases that are common for businesses is appreciated. The $0 annual fee is also noted as a plus by customers.
If you are a person who is not interested in putting in any work to earn cash back bonus point rewards, you are the perfect fit for the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card - it's just 1.5% across the board, no matter what.
But if you feel you'd like to earn more than that, and you're willing to activate bonus categories every season, then the Chase Freedom offer of 5% cash back for purchases in special areas is for you.
If you're a business that plans to spend over $2,000 per month then the $25,000 limit on the 5% cash back rate for typical business purchases through the Chase Ink Business Cash card might not be the right choice.
The AARP Chase Visa cash back card earns decent points for purchases common to retirees.
The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature cash back card is a fit for Amazon Prime members as long as they were already planning on spending the $99 annual membership fee for Prime.
Each of these cash back cards from Chase fit different people's lives and habits. The biggest feature that all of them share is something anyone would want: a cash return on what you spend.