Chase Credit Cards - Which Is Right for You?
Finding a credit card that meets your spending needs and offers rewards points for travel, cash back or other things is easy with Chase credit cards.
It has 29 types of rewards credit cards that are targeted at students, businesses, travelers, dining enthusiasts, cash-back fans, and consumers who don’t want to pay an annual fee, among other categories.
Here are some of the best Chase credit cards we recommend, based on several categories that can help you turn your spending into rewards that should save you money. With all of these, factor in the annual fee into the savings you expect to get in a year of using a card.
- Overview of the best Chase credit cards
- Summary of the best Chase credit cards
- The bottom line
Overview of the best Chase credit cards
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Drugstore cash back|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Travel rewards|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Luxury travel|
|Chase Freedom Flex||Rotating categories|
|Chase Freedom Student||Students new to credit|
|World of Hyatt||Hyatt hotels customers|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold||Marriott customers|
|United Explorer||United Airlines customers|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus||Southwest Airlines customers|
|Amazon Prime Rewards||Amazon shoppers|
|Disney Visa Card||Disney shoppers|
Chase cash back credit cards
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of Chase’s most popular credit cards. It’s well known for its cash back rewards, which don’t expire as long as the account is open.
It pays 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and at drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
It also has an easy welcome bonus to hit: $200 after spending $500 in the first three months of opening an account. A second sign-up bonus is for shopping at grocery stores: earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, excluding Target or Walmart purchases.
What especially caught our eye was the 3% cash back for drugstore purchases. Many credit cards reward users for restaurant, supermarket and travel purchases, but getting more than the basic reward rate for drugstore purchases is unusual.
Chase Freedom Flex
The Chase Freedom Flex credit card has rotating categories that pay 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter. You must activate these bonus categories, which is enough to do online, but requires thinking ahead a little about what you use the card for.
For example, if you’ve got your eye on a big purchase at a wholesale club such as Costco, and the bonus categories for the first quarter include wholesale clubs, then you may want to make that purchase now with this credit card instead of waiting until the spring so you can earn 5% cash back instead of the normal 1% at such stores.
For the first three months of 2021, the 5% quarterly cash back payment is for the bonus categories of wholesale clubs; internet, cable and phone services; and some streaming services. Each quarter’s rotating categories can be activated online about two weeks before the quarter begins.
The card also pays 5% cash back on travel, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% elsewhere.
Along with the $200 bonus for spending $500 on qualifying purchases in the first three months, the card pays 5% cash back on grocery store purchases in the first year, up to $12,000. Target and Walmart purchases are excluded.
Chase travel credit cards
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The $95 annual fee makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred card an affordable credit card to earn travel rewards.
A 60,000 points bonus is given after spending $4,000 in the first three months, equating to $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards, its program where rewards points can be redeemed for travel purchases such as flights and hotel stays, and other benefits. Points used through the Chase rewards website are given 25% more redemption value, according to Chase.
The card also has travel rewards such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, car rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, and travel and emergency assistance services. It also pays 5X points on Lyft rides
Chase Sapphire Reserve
For luxury travelers or frequent fliers, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card does its best to make up for its $550 annual fee in a few ways.
The main one is the $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases. Through June 30, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases also count toward earning the travel credit.
The card pays triple points on restaurants and travel, and one point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
While the Sapphire Preferred card pays 25% more when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Sapphire Reserve card doubles that to 50%.
Its travel rewards include free entry to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world, and $100 statement credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees charge to your card.
Chase hotel credit cards
World of Hyatt
If you prefer Hyatt hotels over other hotel chains, the World of Hyatt credit card can make your stays more valuable. It pays 4X points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels, and gives one free night every year upon your account anniversary. Spend $15,000 during your cardmember anniversary year and get a second free night at a Hyatt hotel. You can also earn extra rewards by joining Hyatt’s loyalty program.
The 50,000 sign-up bonus is split into two parts. Cardholders earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 after three months, and another 25,000 after $6,000 total in purchases within six months.
Like many credit cards, it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. Spend $5,000 internationally and you’ll avoid $150 in foreign transaction fees, according to Chase.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card doesn’t have an annual fee, and the card gets only better by paying triple points at more than 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy rewards.
The card also gives cardmembers 15 elite night credits per year, qualifying them for Silver Elite status at Marriott hotels.
Cardholders get free use of the Visa concierge service to find tickets to the top sports and entertainment events, make dinner reservations, and even get help sending the perfect gift.
Chase airline credit cards
If the United Explorer card is only used for its free checked baggage perks, it’s still worth the $95 annual fee after the first year, and definitely worth the $0 fee for the first year.
The primary cardholder and one companion traveling on the same reservation each get their first standard bag checked for free for each way of their flights. It normally costs $35 to check a bag on United Airlines, so checking two bags roundtrip saves the United Explorer cardmember $140 in checked bag fees.
And the travel rewards get better from there. The travel card pays 2X miles on United Airlines purchases, at restaurants and on hotel stays. Other travel benefits include:
- 25% back on United inflight purchases
- $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
- Priority boarding
- Two one-time passes to United Club, United’s airport lounges
- Free flight upgrades
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
There are five Chase credit cards tied to Southwest Airlines, and one of the best is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. Some have slightly higher bonus points and lower or higher annual fees, but this card’s $69 annual fee is lower than most and still offers a high welcome bonus and reward points.
Earning 80,000 bonus points requires two actions. Spend $2,000 in the first three months and get 50,000 bonus points. Spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months and get 30,000 more points.
The card pays 5X points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases through March 31, 2021, up to $2,000 per month. Cardholders also receive 3,000 bonus points after their account anniversary.
Chase student credit cards
Chase Freedom Student
Building credit isn’t easy, especially for students. The Chase Freedom Student credit card gives students a free credit report score at any time, doesn’t have an annual fee, and cardholders earn a credit limit increase after making five monthly payments on time within 10 months from opening an account when meeting credit criteria.
To make it a little easier on new cardmembers, it pays a $50 bonus for making one purchase within three months of opening an account, and $20 is given on every account anniversary for up to five years.
Currently, the variable APR is set at 14.99% for all cardmembers, which is the lowest APR for other Chase credit cards for customers with great credit.
The card pays 1% cash back on all purchases. There’s no minimum to redeem for cash back, which can come as a statement credit or direct deposit to your bank account. Cash back rewards can also be redeemed at Amazon, for booking travel, and for gift cards.
Chase shopping rewards credit cards
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
Are you shopping a lot at Amazon during the pandemic? You may want to get an Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card from Chase. At the very least, a $50 Amazon gift card is instantly loaded into your Amazon account upon credit approval.
It doesn’t have an annual fee and pays 5% cash back on Amazon and at Whole Foods Market if you have a Prime membership. Non-prime members get 3% back. Cardholders also earn 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores. All other purchases pay 1% cash back.
Rewards earned on the credit card can be redeemed at Amazon to pay for part of all of a purchase. There’s no minimum rewards balance to redeem, and rewards can also be redeemed for cash, gift cards, and travel through Chase.
Disney Visa Card
The Disney Visa Card is another Chase card without an annual fee that can encourage you to shop. You don’t want to go into debt just to earn a Disney vacation, but if you’re a big Disney fan anyway and pay off your credit card bill on time and in full each month, this card may benefit you plenty.
A $50 statement credit is given after your first purchase with the card. Cardholders earn 1% in Disney Dollars on all card purchases with no limits to how much can be earned. Disney Dollars can be redeemed for most anything at most Disney locations, including Star Wars merchandise, theme park tickets, resort stays and shopping and dining at Disney properties.
Some Disney store and online purchases are 10% off for cardholders.
For Disney vacationers, the credit card offers 0% intro financing APR for six months on select Disney vacation packages. After that, the variable APR is 15.99%.
Summary of the best Chase credit cards
|Card||Annual Fee||Welcome Bonus||Reward Rate||Intro APR||Regular APR|
|Freedom Unlimited||$0||$200 / spend $500 in 1st 3 mos||5% travel, 3% drugstores||0%||14.99% - 23.74%|
|Sapphire Preferred||$95||60k / spend $4k in 1st 3 mos||2X dining and travel||None||15.99% - 22.99%|
|Sapphire Reserve||$550||50k / spend in 1st $4k 3 mos||3X dining and travel||None||16.99% - 23.99%|
|Freedom Flex||$0||$200 / spend $500 in 1st 3 mos||5% bonus categories||0%||14.99% - 23.74%|
|Freedom Student||$0||$50 after 1 purchase||1X everything||None||14.99%|
|World of Hyatt||$95||50k / spend $6k in 1st 6 mos||4X Hyatt hotels, 2X restaurants||None||15.99% - 22.99%|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold||$0||30k / spend $1k in 1st 3 mos||3X Marriott hotels, 2X travel||None||15.99 - 22.99%|
|United Explorer||$0 / $95||70k / spend $6k in 1st 6 mos||2X United, 2X restaurants||None||16.49% - 23.49%|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus||$69||80k / spend $10k in 1st 9 mos||5X Southwest Airlines, 1X other purchases||None||15.99% - 22.99%|
|Amazon Prime Rewards Visa||$0||$50 Amazon gift card||5% back at Amazon and Whole Foods||None||14.24% - 22.24%|
|Disney Visa||$0||$50 after 1 purchase||1% Disney $ on all purchases||0%||15.99%|
Why get a credit card with no annual fee?
Paying an annual fee for a credit card usually gets you more benefits and rewards. Who doesn’t want that? Maybe you if you don’t travel often or spend enough money to make the rewards and annual fee worthwhile.
If you only stay in a hotel or take a flight once or twice a year, then a credit card tied to a hotel chain or airline may not be worth the annual fee. However, some Chase credit cards with travel perks have no annual fee that can make trying them out for a year or so worthwhile and then you may be able to upgrade to a card with better perks. Almost every airline affiliated with Chase has at least one credit card with no minimum fee.
For everyday spending, a card such as the Chase Freedom Flex doesn’t have an annual fee, so you won’t feel like you have to spend in a certain category to get the best rewards and try to make a fee worth the cost.
Regular shoppers at Disney and Amazon may get the most benefit from a Chase card with no annual fee. They’re rewarded with points that can be spent at the retailers, or on travel, dining and other things that can be experienced instead of more consumer goods in your home.
Do my rewards expire?
Most credit cards allow earned rewards to stay with the customer until their account is closed. Some may have expiration dates for rewards for current customers, such as a year or two, but most don’t allow them to expire as long as your account is open.
For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn’t allow cash back rewards to expire for open accounts.
Another thing to check is if a minimum amount of rewards must be redeemed for cash or anything else when you decide to use them. Most Chase cards don’t have a minimum but read the fine print in the offer details before signing up for a card.
Will a rewards credit card get me to spend more?
Yes, though that’s true for any type of credit card when used instead of cash. Research has shown that as much as 83% of people are willing to spend more when paying with a credit card instead of cash.
We can only assume that a rewards card, where you earn money and points to redeem for goods and services by charging more to the card, can cause you to spend more than you normally would.
Just getting 10% off Disney merchandise with a Disney Visa Card could convince you to buy more than you normally would, so it’s an enticement that should remind you to think twice about what you buy.
At the very least, a rewards card should be a strong reminder to pay your credit card bills off on time and in full each month. Not doing so could cause your credit score to drop, and that would make getting a credit card in the future more difficult.
Pros and Cons
A credit card’s value can be different from one person to another. You may like having cash back so you can spend it on anything you want, though since cash back rewards often come in a statement credit, you’ll have to buy what you want with that credit card to get the cash benefit.
Someone else may want a travel card so they can use bonus points to get free stays at their favorite hotel. Travel credit for free flights, car rentals, discounts at gas stations, Lyft rides, and free entry to airport lounges are some of the other uses for bonus points in a rewards program.
Rewards credit cards with annual fees can be worthwhile, though they usually won’t pay as much in rewards as cards with annual fees of $100 or so. If you get a card with an annual fee, be sure that the rewards or statement credits at least cover the cost of the fee, and that they’re rewards you’ll actually use.
One of the biggest potential downsides to getting a credit card, whether it’s a rewards card or not, is that it could convince you to spend more.
Having cash in your pocket is a natural way to stop spending more money because it’s real and you can see it leave your hands. A credit card is just a piece of plastic or a phone app that pays for what you want, but you don’t have to pay the bill until a month later.
If your budget is tight and you barely have enough money to pay your bills, a new credit card probably isn’t the best solution for you. It won’t help you manage your money and the rewards it offers could be enticing enough that you’ll spend more than you can afford. Don’t spend money just to earn a reward.
The bottom line
Few people want to turn away a freebie. Free flights, hotel stays, dinners, rental cars, gift cards, clothes and many other things are some of the things that reward credit cards will dangle in front of you to get you to sign up for their cards.
If you can avoid carrying a credit card balance from month to month, then these perks can be worthwhile. Otherwise, you’re paying interest for rewards that now have less value. Add an annual fee to the card, and the value drops more.
Compare credit cards as you would any other purchase. If a card fits your spending habits and you expect to pay it off each month, then getting a free hotel room every now and then, or another reward you’d like to have can be a good reward for spending money you were going to spend anyway.