Credit card showdown: Capital One Quicksilver vs Chase Freedom Unlimited

Aug 26, 2020

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Whether you’re a newbie to the credit card universe or a seasoned veteran, it’s always good to have a solid flat-rate card in your wallet for everyday spending that might not fit into bonus categories on other cards. There are a number of great choices on the market that can help you earn rewards on every purchase.

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Two of the top no-annual-fee cards are the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. Both offer 1.5% back on purchases and a lot of the same benefits. So — which card is best for you?

In This Post

Comparison overview

Card Chase Freedom Unlimited Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Annual fee  $0 $0
Sign-up bonus $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months $200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
Rewards rate  5% on Lyft (through March 2022)

5% on grocery store purchases for your first year; excluding Walmart or Target (up to $12,000 spent for the first year)

1.5% back on all other purchases

1.5% back on all purchases
Intro APR offer 0% APR for 15 months on new purchases (14.99% – 23.74% variable APR after intro period ends) 0% APR for 15 months on new purchases (15.49% – 25.49% variable APR after intro period ends)
Other perks Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Three months of complimentary DashPass

Car rental insurance

Travel accident insurance

Extended warranty

Concierge service

Access to Capital One experiences

Foreign transaction fee 3% None

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the basic offers of these two cards, and a few key differences.

Who should get the Capital One Quicksilver?

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Here are the situations when it makes more sense for you to apply for the Quicksilver:

You plan to use your card abroad

The Capital One Quicksilver doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited charges a 3% fee when you swipe abroad. That 3% fee completely eliminates any rewards you would earn with the card outside the U.S., so the Quicksilver is the better option if you are planning to use it on international trips.

You don’t have a travel card with travel insurance

The Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t offer travel insurance protection, but the Quicksilver comes with secondary car rental insurance, travel accident insurance and access to concierge services. Those protections can be invaluable when you’re traveling and something goes wrong, which makes the Quicksilver the better option if you don’t already have a card with those benefits.

You are over 5/24

Chase has an unpublished rule known as the 5/24 rule — if you have opened five or more personal credit card accounts across issuers in the last 24 months, you’ll most certainly be denied approval for a Chase credit card. If you have already surpassed 5/24, you most likely won’t be able to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited. In this case, the Quicksilver offers a great alternative that still gives you 1.5% back on every purchase and no annual fee, plus the added benefits of travel protections and no foreign transaction fees.

Related reading: Capital One Quicksilver card review

Who should get the Chase Freedom Unlimited?

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Here are the cases when the Chase Freedom Unlimited will provide more value:

You have (or plan to have) a Chase Ultimate Rewards card

This is where the Chase Freedom Unlimited really shines. Chase allows you to pair the card with its Ultimate Rewards points-earning credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred CardChase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. When you do that, your 1.5% back turns into 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred to one of Chase’s partners. TPG values Chase points at 2 cents each, so your return on spending is essentially doubled when you have one of those cards in your wallet alongside the Chase Freedom Unlimited. You can also redeem your points through the Chase travel portal for either 1.25 cents or 1.50 cents per point, depending on which UR card you have.

For this reason, I recommend credit card beginners who plan to eventually move into travel rewards stick with the Freedom Unlimited. It’s a card you’ll be able to utilize in conjunction with other Chase cards in the future and is, therefore, a better long-term investment in my mind.

You use Lyft frequently

Because of Chase’s partnership with Lyft, cardholders are eligible to get 5% back on Lyft purchases from now through March 2022. If you’re spending a good chunk of change on the ride-share service each month, that additional 3.5% back on every purchase can really rack up over time and will make the Freedom Unlimited the more valuable rewards credit card to have in your wallet.

Related reading: Chase Freedom Unlimited card review

Bottom line

Each card is built for a different audience. Beginners to the points-and-miles game can use the Chase Freedom Unlimited to supplement a Chase Ultimate Rewards card (it is a member of the Chase Trifecta). On the other hand, the Quicksilver is arguably the better stand-alone credit card with its list of travel protections and no foreign transaction fees.

No matter which one you choose, make sure you’re following our 10 commandments for rewards credit cards so that you’re getting the most out of your new card.

Featured image by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.