Cash-back can add up quickly when you’re using a rewards-earning card to make purchases you’re already making daily. Selecting the right card to ensure you’re maximizing those earnings, however, takes some effort.
The 2 cards we’ve selected for our comparison today work well for earning rewards on common purchases, but they’re also cards that come with additional protections and benefits that can add cardholder value.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® both earn well on everyday spending, but differ in their specific bonus earning categories, redemption options, and benefits.
Here’s the breakdown of all the information you need when considering one of our featured cards as the everyday card for your wallet.
Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card vs. Freedom Unlimited Card — Summary
Before we dive into the details, let’s look at a high-level view of the attributes of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and the Freedom Unlimited card, side-by-side.
|Feature or Benefit||Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Chase Freedom Unlimited®|
|Welcome Offer||Earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first 6 months.|| INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back!|
- 6% cash-back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 in purchases each year, and on select streaming services
- 3% cash-back at U.S. gas stations and on transit
- 1% cash-back on all other purchases
- 5% cash-back on travel purchased via Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
- 5% cash-back on Lyft through March 2025
- 3% cash-back on dining and at drugstores
- 1.5 % cash-back on all other purchases
- Statement credits
- Shopping at select retailers
- Gift cards
- Travel booked through Chase travel portal
- Transfer to Chase premium credit cards
- Cash-back or statement credit
- Shopping at select retailers
- Gift cards
|Travel Protections and Benefits|
- Secondary car rental insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance phone line
|Additional Travel Protections and Benefits||Access to Premium Protection car rental insurance|
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance
- Roadside Dispatch
|Shopping Protections and Benefits|
- Purchase protection, extended warranty
- Introductory 0% APR period for purchases and balance transfers
|Additional Shopping Protections and Benefits|
- Amex Offers
- Equinox+ Credit
- The Disney Bundle Credit
- Chase Offers
- Instacart membership
|Annual Fees and Authorized Users||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95, no charge to add authorized users (rates and fees)||$0 annual fee, no charge to add authorized users|
The Value of a Welcome Offer
When you’re approved for either of our featured cards, you’ll have an opportunity to earn a welcome bonus, as indicated in the tables above.
Currently, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card offers a statement credit by reaching specific spending levels on your card within a specific period.
The Freedom Unlimited card‘s welcome bonus works differently, with an additional cash-back bonus on every purchase (see terms).
Welcome bonuses vary, so always check the terms and conditions before applying for any card.
Bottom Line: The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card both offer a welcome bonus worth several hundred dollars in value. However, the amount of spending you need to complete to maximize the full bonus on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred is far less than on the Freedom Unlimited card .
While the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card earn rewards in the same way, the bonus categories for each card differ greatly. For this reason, to maximize earnings, you’ll want to select the card that closely aligns with your spending mix.
Here’s how our featured cards earn cash-back on purchases.
|Earning Category||Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card||Freedom Unlimited Card|
- 3% cash-back on transit, including tolls, parking, ride shares
- 3% cash-back at U.S. gas stations
- 1 % cash-back on all other travel
- 5% cash-back on purchases via Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
- 5% cash-back on Lyft rides through March 2025
- 1.5% cash-back on all other travel purchases
|U.S. Supermarkets||6% cash-back on up to $6,000 in purchases each calendar year (note that Walmart, Target, and warehouse stores are not considered grocery stores or supermarkets)||1.5% cash-back|
|Drug Stores and Dining||1% cash-back||3% cash-back|
|Select Streaming Services||6% cash-back on select streaming services||1.5% cash-back|
|All Other Purchases||1% cash-back||1.5% cash-back|
Calculating a quick estimate of your annual spending in each category and applying that to the earning structure of each of our featured cards can help you determine which card will earn the most rewards on your potential spending mix.
Bottom Line: The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card earn well on everyday purchases. However, your spending mix will determine which offers more rewards for your situation. If you’re spending a lot at the grocery store, on qualifying streaming services, at gas stations, and on transit, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card will have the edge. If, however, you spend a lot at the drugstore, on travel via the Chase travel portal, dining, and on non-bonused spending, the Freedom Unlimited card could be the better choice.
Cash-back is earned on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card in the form of Reward Dollars and on the Freedom Unlimited Card in the form of cash-back rewards points. Since these Reward Dollars and points can subsequently be redeemed for cash back, the cards are marketed as cash-back cards.
Other than redeeming rewards for cash back, you do have some additional redemption options with either card:
|Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card|
- Statement credits at 1 cent per Reward Dollar
- Gift cards, shopping at Amazon
|Freedom Unlimited Card|
- General statement credits at 1 cent per point
- Purchase travel via the Chase travel portal using points at 1 cent in value per point
- Transfer points to premium Chase cards for the ability to redeem for up to 1.5 cents each for travel via the Chase travel portal or transfer to airline/hotel partners for potentially greater value
- Gift cards, shopping on Amazon
Bottom Line: The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card earns Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits at 1 cent each. The Freedom Unlimited card earns points that can be redeemed for cash-back, but the points can also be transferred to premium Chase rewards cards where they become Ultimate Rewards points. These Ultimate Rewards points can then be transferred to airline and hotel partners for potentially greater value.
Travel Protections and Benefits
While neither the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card nor the Freedom Unlimited card have a long list of travel protections and benefits, you will find a few useful perks that may save you money and provide assistance during your travels.
Here are some of the travel protections and benefits you’ll find on both of our featured cards:
- Secondary Car Rental Insurance — Reserve and pay for your entire rental with your card, decline the rental agency’s CDW/LDW coverage, and have secondary coverage for damage or theft of the rental car. Secondary coverage means that you must first file a claim with any other applicable insurance before card coverage kicks in.
- Travel and Emergency Assistance — Both the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, via the Global Assistance Hotline, and the Freedom Unlimited card, via its Travel and Emergency Assistance Services, offer dedicated phone lines available 24/7 for travel or emergency assistance. Receive help securing medical and legal referrals, translation services, emergency transportation, and more.
Additional Travel Protections and Benefits
Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card
- Access to Premium Protection Car Rental Coverage — The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card comes with secondary car rental insurance at no extra charge. However, for 1 low price of $12.25 to $24.95, depending on your state of residence and coverage selected, you can select Premium Protection, which covers the entire rental period. This primary coverage means you do not need to file a claim with any other insurance before card coverage kicks in.
Learn more about the benefits of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card in this related article.
Freedom Unlimited Card
- Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption — Receive up to $1,500 per person, up to $6,000 per trip, if your trip needs to be canceled or is disrupted due to a covered event.
- Roadside Dispatch — For 1 low fee per service call, you can receive assistance with changing a flat tire, limited towing, lockout service, jumpstart service, emergency fuel delivery, and standard winching. Any additional services received will be charged to the card.
Learn about the details of travel insurance benefits found on the Freedom Unlimited card in our more in-depth article.
Bottom Line: While both the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card come with secondary car rental insurance and travel/emergency assistance, the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card gives you access to Premium Protection car rental insurance. The Freedom Unlimited card offers the additional benefits of trip cancellation, trip interruption, and roadside dispatch coverage.
Shopping Protections and Benefits
Both the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card come with several shopping protections and benefits that can save you money and/or protect eligible items purchased with your card.
Here are some of the protections and benefits you’ll find on both cards:
- Purchase Protection — Purchase an eligible item with either card and if that item is accidentally damaged or stolen you’ll have coverage.
- The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card covers an item for 90 days from the date of purchase for up to $1,000 per incident, and up to $50,000 per account, per year.
- The Freedom Unlimited card has coverage for up to 120 days from the date of purchase for up to $500 per item and up to $50,000 per account.
- Extended Warranty
- Eligible items purchased with the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card that have manufacturer’s warranties of 5 years or less will receive 1 additional year of warranty. Items are covered for up to $1,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per card.
- The Freedom Unlimited card offers 1 additional year for eligible items with manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less for up to $10,000 per claim, with a maximum of $50,000 per account.
Additional Shopping Protections and Benefits
In addition to the shopping protections and benefits the 2 cards have in common, here are some of the perks you can expect to find on each individual card.
Amex Blue Cash Preferred Card
- Amex Offers — After logging into your online card account, scroll down the home page to find Amex Offers. Review up to 100 offers and add the offers you like to your card. Once you’ve made the associated purchase with your card, you’ll receive a statement credit for the amount stated in the offer.
- Equinox Credit — Receive up to $120 each year via a $10 monthly credit toward an Equinox+ app membership. Learn more about how to utilize the Equinox credit.
- The Disney Bundle Credit — Enjoy Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ with The Disney Bundle membership. Make your purchase with your enrolled card and receive up to $7 per month, up to $84 each year, in statement credits. Purchases must be $13.99 or more each month to receive the credit.
Hot Tip: If you don’t want, or need, an Equinox+ membership, but an authorized user on your Amex Blue Cash Preferred card does, those qualifying Equinox+ membership purchases made by the authorized user will also trigger the Equinox+ app statement credit. There is still a maximum credit of $10 per month, up to $120 per year across all card accounts.
Freedom Unlimited Card
- Chase Offers — Log into your online card account and review the collection of money-saving offers. Select the offers you like, add them to your card, make the specific purchase, and receive a statement credit after the purchase posts to your account.
- Free Instacart Membership — Receive a complimentary 3-month Instacart membership plus up to $10 in statement credits each quarter for Instacart purchases. Activation is required by July 31, 2024.
Bottom Line: Both the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card come with purchase protection, extended warranty, and an introductory 0% APR period on purchases. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card comes with statement credits for Equinox+ and The Disney Bundle while the Freedom Unlimited card comes with a trial Instacart membership and up to $10 in quarterly statement credits.
Annual Fees and Authorized Users
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card charges an annual fee of $95 (rates and fees) while the Freedom Unlimited card does not have an annual fee. However, don’t let the annual fee keep you from considering the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, as just $1,584 spent at U.S. grocery stores will earn enough value to offset the annual fee.
Adding authorized users to your card can help you earn rewards faster. Neither of our featured cards charges a fee for adding authorized users.
Everything Else You Need To Know
- Qualification —Both the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card and Freedom Unlimited card require a good to excellent credit score of 670 or better to increase your chances of being approved.
- Foreign Transaction Fees — Both of our featured cards charge foreign transaction fees. The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card charges 2.7% of the transaction (rates and fees) and the Freedom Unlimited card charges 3% of the transaction.
Alternative Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases
We like credit cards with dual personalities that earn on everyday spending but also, like travel rewards credit cards, offer the opportunity to select travel when it’s time to redeem those rewards. And, in the case of these 2 alternative choices to our featured cards, you’ll also be able to earn on your travel purchases.
Here are 2 popular additional cards to consider for those purchases you make on a daily basis.
American Express® Gold Card
Earning rewards on everyday spending doesn’t get much easier than using the Amex Gold card. With 4x Membership Rewards points for each dollar spent at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases each year, the card is a strong choice if you spend a lot in those categories.
The card also shines for the traveler with its 3x earnings on travel, rewards redemption options for travel via Amex Travel, and the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel partners for potentially even greater value.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With unlimited earnings of 2 miles per dollar on every purchase you make, your earnings on everyday expenses will add up quickly with the CapOne Venture card. And, those earnings can be turned into travel via Capital One Travel or transferred to hotel/airline partners.
The traveler will also want to take advantage of the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement credit, no foreign transaction fees, and lost baggage insurance.
It’s smart to have an everyday credit card that earns rewards on frequent purchases, but it’s also important to take time to do the upfront math. You’ll want the card you select to have bonus categories that match your biggest expenses, allowing you to maximize the earning power of the card.
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card has obvious earning strength when it comes to grocery stores, select streaming services, gas stations, and on transit. The Freedom Unlimited card is more suited for drug stores, dining, Chase travel purchases, and non-bonus spending such as tuition and home improvement.
At redemption time, the cash-back you earned on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card is simple to apply directly to your card account. The Freedom Unlimited card also has cash-back redemption simplicity, but offers the additional opportunity for much greater value if you have a premium Chase credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Keep in mind, also, that 1 card may not reward your entire spending mix, have redemption options that meet every priority, or have benefits you can use. Read more about some of the best credit card combinations.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For the car rental collision damage coverage benefit of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, car rental loss and damage insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the commercial car rental company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car rental loss or damage coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. For the extended warranty benefit of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, when an American Express® card member charges a covered purchase to an eligible card, extended warranty can provide up to one extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty. Applies to warranties of five (5) years or less. Coverage is up to the actual amount charged to your card for the item up to a maximum of $10,000; not to exceed $50,000 per card member account per calendar year. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the purchase protection benefit of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, purchase protection is an embedded benefit of your card membership and requires no enrollment. It can help protect covered purchases made on your eligible card when they’re accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost, for up to 90 days from the covered purchase date. The coverage is limited up to $10,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per card member account per calendar year. Coverage limits apply. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the Global Assist Hotline benefit of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, you can rely on Global Assist Hotline 24 hours a day / 7 days a week for medical, legal, financial or other select emergency coordination and assistance services while traveling more than 100 miles away from your home. Third-party service costs may be your responsibility. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here. For the rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here.