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Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Capital One Quicksilver: Two Great Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

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Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Capital One Quicksilver: Two Great Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Million Mile SecretsChase Freedom Unlimited vs. Capital One Quicksilver: Two Great Credit Cards With No Annual FeeMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Keeping a no annual fee card forever makes sense because it increases the length of your credit history, which can boost your credit score.

Showdown: The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited? They are both great credit cards with no annual fee and earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

The Capital One Quicksilver card comes with a $150 sign-up bonus after meeting the minimum spending requirements. The Freedom Unlimited doesn’t currently have a traditional sign-up bonus, instead you’ll earn 3% cash back on every purchase for the first year on up to $20,000.

But there’s one major difference that can make the Chase Freedom Unlimited far superior.

If you’re looking for credit cards with no annual fee, you’ve got choices. (Photo by ImageFlow/Shutterstock)

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Capital One Quicksilver: Great Credit Cards With No Annual Fee

Capital One Quicksilver Offer

Apply here for the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our Review of the Capital One Quicksilver Card

The Capital One Quicksilver card comes with a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

You’ll also get perks like:

  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Travel accident insurance – Insurance for death or dismemberment at no extra charge when you purchase airfare using your card
  • Auto rental insuranceSecondary collision and theft insurance for you and all additional drivers on your agreement
  • Extended warranty – Additional warranty protection when you purchase items with your card
  • Price protection – Get reimbursed the difference if the price drops on eligible items within 120 days of purchase
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees

According to Capital One, this card is good for folks with excellent credit. Excellent credit, as defined by Capital One, means you haven’t been late on any bills, you’ve never declared bankruptcy and you have an established credit history.

Redeeming the cash back you earn with this card is extremely easy. You can request a check or statement credit at any time with no minimum redemption amount. Or you can set up an automatic redemption of, for example, $25 per month. Whatever makes sense for you.

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott has the Capital One Quicksilver Card. He likes how simple it is to get your cash back. In the past, he’s requested a check for only ~$18. Some other cash back cards won’t give you your money until your balance reaches a $25 or even $50 threshold. So in this way, Capital One Quicksilver is great.

And it’s nice that this card has occasional promotions to save money. Prior deals have included a promotion with Uber and a 50% discount on monthly Spotify subscriptions. Unfortunately, these are no longer available and there are no current active deals on the card (but we’ll be sure to let you know if we hear about any).

Chase Freedom Unlimited Offer

Apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Our Review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited

When you sign up for the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you’ll earn 3% cash back (3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on every purchase for the first year for up to $20,000.

After the first year (or first $20,000) you’ll continue to earn 1.5% cash back (1.5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on all purchases as long as you have the card. The card has no annual fee and the points you earn are worth 1 cent each for cash back, gift cards, or travel through the Chase portal. But they can be worth much more depending on what other cards you have in your wallet.

Note: Chase will not approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and small business cards from most, but not all, of  the major banks) in the past 24 months.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited Can Be Far Superior to the Capital One Quicksilver Card

On their own, the points you earn with the Freedom Unlimited are only worth 1 cent each for cash back or toward travel, but these same points have a lot more potential if you carry around other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

You can transfer Chase points from the Freedom Unlimited to another eligible Chase card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. This way, your points are worth 25% more toward travel through the Chase portal. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, points will be worth 50% more when you book airfare, hotels, or rental cars through the Chase travel portal.

So 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points linked to your Chase Freedom Unlimited account are normally only worth $600 in rewards if it’s the only card you have. But combining the points to another Chase card can make the same points worth $750 or $900 in travel.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is great for everyday purchases that don’t fall into a bonus category of another credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Once you’ve earned the points, you have the option to move them to your Chase Sapphire Reserve account where they’re worth 1.5 cents each toward airfare, hotels, and more through the Chase travel portal. This strategy effectively means you’re getting 2.25 cents per $1 spent on the Freedom Unlimited, which is a great deal! (The math: 1.5 points per $1 in earning + 50% bonus when combining to Sapphire Reserve and booking travel through Chase portal.)

Even if you’re not planning to apply for another Chase card for several months, it could still make sense to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited now. Then you can build up your points balance until you have the ability to combine points with another card.

Plus, when you have the Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Ink Business Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can transfer points directly to travel partners like Hyatt, Marriott, Southwest, United Airlines and many others.

When you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners to book award travel, you can get incredible value for your points. For example, Million Mile Secrets team members have booked Hyatt hotels in the past that would’ve cost $600+ per night for only 15,000 points. That’s a value of 4 cents+ per point!

International Travelers & Small Spenders Might Prefer the Capital One Quicksilver

If you’re only planning to open one credit card that gives cash back with no annual fee and you travel abroad frequently, you might be better off with the Capital One Quicksilver Card. This card does not charge any foreign transaction fees.

Unfortunately, the Chase Freedom Unlimited adds a 3% fee for foreign transactions, but the fee isn’t a deal-breaker if you carry multiple credit cards.

Also, the Capital One Quicksilver card’s sign-up bonus will make it a better deal the first year for some people. To earn $300 cash back on either card the first year you’d need to spend $10,000.

Amount SpentSign-Up BonusChase Freedom UnlimitedChase Freedom Unlimited With Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred (1.25 cents per point)Chase Freedom Unlimited With Sapphire Reserve (1.5 cents per point)
Sign-Up Bonus$150$0$0$0
$10,000 in Spending the First Year$150$300 (30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points)$300 (30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points)$300 (30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points)
Value of Rewards$300$300$375 in travel$450 in travel

But if you have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card, the break-even point can drop to ~$6,667 because the points you earn with the Freedom Unlimited can be worth 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase portal. And with the Sapphire Reserve the break-even point can be only $5,000 because your Chase points can be worth 1.5 cents toward travel booked through the Chase portal.

Also, this table assumes that you are going to use all of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book travel through the Chase portal. But in certain situations your Chase points can be worth much more than the numbers show, when you take advantage of Chase’s transfer partners. So the Chase Freedom Unlimited is usually a better choice if you want to earn credit card rewards for travel.

Bottom Line

Folks looking for a no annual fee card can’t go wrong when choosing between the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver. Some of the Million Mile Secrets team even have both cards.

You can earn straightforward cash back with both of these cards, but, if you’re planning to expand your portfolio of rewards credit cards in the future, the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be a much better option.

That’s because you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Freedom Unlimited and move them over to your Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Ink Business Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve account. This increases the value of your points when booking travel through the Chase portal. And having one of these other Chase cards gives you the ability to transfer points directly to travel partners like Hyatt, Marriott, Southwest, United Airlines, and many others.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Yep, I have both of them too :). (But I only got the Quicksilver because it came out before the Freedom Unlimited did. I should really probably remember to use the Quicksilver once in a while so it doesn’t get canceled – thanks for the reminder! These days I just keep it in a drawer, and take it out and stick it in my wallet if I’m ever traveling internationally, as a backup card in case something happens to my CSR.)

Thanks for commenting! I’m in the same boat as you. Another reason I like the Quicksilver is they approved me with a huge credit limit (~$50,000). So not using it helps me keep my credit utilization really low.