Credit card showdown: Chase Freedom vs. Blue Cash Preferred

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Both cards are excellent for day to day purchases

The Chase Freedom Card and the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express are both very good cards to carry in your wallet. But which one is better?

Like many things, that's going to depend a lot on how you use a credit card. And since we are in the midst of March Madness, it might be appropriate to match the two credit cards in some head to head competition.

Chase Freedom Card

One of the nice things about the Chase Freedom Card is the very low spending threshold to earn an initial bonus. Spend just $500 during the first three months the account is open and you earn a $150 bonus.

In addition, you get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of the purchases you make in bonus categories. Those categories include the kinds of places you are most likely to spend money, like restaurants, gas stations, and online retailers. You get 1% cash back everywhere else.

The card is also useful for balance transfers. There is an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers during the first 15 months. Getting 0% for more than a year is exceptional.

What could make it better? Not having an annual fee – and it doesn't.

Blue Cash Preferred Card

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express matches up well against the Chase Freedom, with an initial $150 bonus – but you'll have to spend twice as much to get it. However, there is a chance to get an additional 10% – up to $200 – back when you use the card at wireless telephone providers in the U.S. this year.

The day to day bonuses are also generous. The card pays 6% cash back at supermarkets, limited to $6,000 in spending per year. If you exceed that amount, the bonus drops back to 1%.

You can also use the Amex card for balance transfers. It offers an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, three fewer months than the Chase Freedom.

The card gives you free access to your FICO score, which is a plus – but it has a $75 annual fee, which definitely isn't.

Close call

In this bracket, the contest between Chase Freedom and Blue Cash Preferred just might go to overtime. For consumers who buy gas and groceries, Blue Cash Preferred provides one of the best rewards out there.

But coming down to the final buzzer, Chase Freedom's three extra interest-free months, and the lack of an annual fee, allows it to escape with a narrow win.

Still, for consumers who don't need to rack up travel rewards, both are rewarding ways to pay for everyday expenses.

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