Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card vs Chase Freedom®: Which Is the Better Cash Back Option?

Oct 04, 2016 | Be First to Comment!

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Earning cash back on the things you buy is always rewarding and the savings can add up quickly with the right card. The Chase Freedom® card and the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card offer two different ways to put money back in your pocket.

One card offers unlimited cash back while the other features tiered bonus categories but both can be extremely valuable for everyday spenders. We compare the two cards head-to-head so you can decide which is right for you.

Best Cash Back Program: Tied

  • Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®: Unlimited 2% cash back on every $1 in net purchases
  • Chase Freedom®: 5% cash back each quarter in rotating bonus categories, up to the first $1,500 in combined purchases; 1% cash back on all other purchases

The cash back program is the highlight of each card and you need to understand how each of them work. If you pick the wrong cash back card, you could end up missing out on big rewards.

Earning cash back with the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card is pretty straightforward. This card pays unlimited 2% cash back on every $1 in net purchases. Rewards are actually earned as points but they’re converted to cash when you deposit them into a qualifying Fidelity account, like a brokerage account or retirement account.

You can also redeem your points in other ways. For example, you trade them in for gift cards, merchandise or statement credit. There’s a hitch, however, since Fidelity reduces the points value if you choose one of these options. To get the most mileage out the card, stick with redeeming cash back into a Fidelity account.

Rotating quarterly 5% categories

Chase’s cash back program with the Chase Freedom® card looks very different by comparison. With this card, members earn 5% back each quarter in bonus categories that change every three months. For example, you may get the bonus at grocery stores and gas stations, then it’ll switch to movie theaters and department stores.

You have to activate the bonus each quarter and it’s not unlimited. You only get 5% back on the first $1,500 in combined purchases. If you max out the bonus every quarter, that adds up to $300 a year in cash back.

Once you hit the $1,500 limit, you’ll still earn unlimited 1% back on everything you spend. That’s the same amount of cash back you earn on purchases that don’t fit into one of the bonus categories.

Ways to redeem cash back

When it comes to redeeming your cash back, Chase Freedom® gives you more options. For instance, you can redeem it for cash, gift cards, shopping at Amazon, travel or even use it to pay for purchases from your smartphone at more than 30 stores, restaurants and movie theaters. Your cash back value varies based on how you use it.

To put how the two cards compare in perspective, you’d have to spend a minimum of $15,000 with the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card to earn that same $300 cash back. On the other hand, if you forget to activate the bonus each quarter, you’re stuck earning 1% on everything with the Chase Freedom® card.

Both cash back programs have their strong points, based on how you spend.

Annual Fee: Tied

  • Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®: $0 annual fee
  • Chase Freedom®: $0 annual fee

Neither the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card nor the Chase Freedom® card charges an annual fee. That’s good news for spenders who are concerned about a fee eating into their cash back rewards.

Fees for cash advances, balance transfers and foreign transactions

As far as other fees associated with each card go, they’re fairly similar. Fidelity charges a fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, for cash advances and balance transfers. There’s also a 1% foreign transaction fee for international purchases.

Chase charges $5 or 5%, whichever is greater for balance transfers. The fee for cash advances climbs to $10 or 5%, whichever is greater so those two transactions would cost you more with the Chase Freedom® card. The foreign transaction fee is also higher, at 3%.

If you do a lot of traveling abroad, the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® may be the better choice for trips.

You’ll win with either card where the annual fee is concerned.

Best Interest Rates: Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®

  • Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®: Variable APR for purchases and balance transfers is 14.24%; the variable APR for cash advances is 24.24%
  • Chase Freedom®: Variable APR for purchases and balance transfers ranges from 14.24% to 23.24%, based on creditworthiness; variable APR for cash advances is 25.24%

The annual percentage rate is one of the most important things to consider when opening a new credit card account. The APR determines how much the card will cost if you carry a balance.

With the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®, the same variable APR of 14.24% applies to purchases and balance transfers. If you take a cash advance, the rate jumps by 10%.

With the Chase Freedom® card, the purchase and balance transfer APR can climb as high as 23.24%, based on your credit. The cash advance APR is set at 25.24%.

The Chase Freedom® card is going to be more expensive for someone who’s assigned a higher APR because they don’t have excellent credit. If you end up carrying a high balance, the interest you’re paying could effectively wipe out the value of the cash back you’re earning.

Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card allows you to lock in the lowest rate right from the start.

Best Perks: Tied

  • Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®: Visa Signature® benefits, including shopping and travel discounts and 24/7 concierge service
  • Chase Freedom®: Purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, roadside assistance, auto rental collision coverage

Being a Visa Signature member means getting the VIP treatment when it comes to travel, shopping or dining out. With the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card, you enjoy perks like:

  • Purchase security
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Car rental damage insurance
  • Travel and emergency assistance services
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Roadside assistance
  • $250,000 in travel accident insurance

Members also get emergency card replacement if their Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® card is lost or stolen. Exclusive access to food and wine events, round-the-clock concierge service, discounts on shopping, advance ticket access to sporting and entertainment events and discounts on museum memberships is thrown in at no extra cost.

The Chase Freedom® card serves up a similar list of benefits, including purchase and extended warranty protection, roadside assistance and auto rental damage collision coverage. If you qualify for Chase Freedom® Visa Signature status, trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and travel accident insurance are also included at no additional charge.

Best Protections: Chase Freedom®

  • Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature®: EMV chip technology, zero fraud liability
  • Chase Freedom®: Zero liability protection, EMV chip technology, fraud alerts

Having your credit card hacked can be a nightmare and credit card companies are stepping up their game to make sure their customers’ information is protected.

Chip security and fraud liability

Both the Fidelity ®Rewards Visa Signature® card and the Chase Freedom® card come with built-in EMV chip technology. That means if you use your card at a chip reader terminal in-store, you’ve got an added layer of security protection.

Both cards also offer zero fraud liability in case your card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases. If you’re worried about becoming the victim of fraud, the Chase Freedom® card allows you to set up alerts any time suspicious activity occurs on your account.

Being able to get fraud alerts on your smartphone or other mobile device gives Chase the edge.

Final Verdict: Tied

Both the Chase Freedom® card and the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® have a lot to offer to anyone who wants to earn a generous amount of cash back.

Instead of picking just one card as the champ, we would recommend getting one of each. That way, you can use the Chase Freedom® card to earn 5% back in the bonus categories and then switch over to the Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® to get 2% back on the rest of your spending.

Because there’s no annual fee with either one and the card perks are virtually identical, having both cards is a win-win. Just remember that with either card, you’re better off spending only what you can afford to pay in full each month to avoid the interest charges.

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