U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card vs. Chase Freedom Flex Card: Quarterly Rewards Categories Can Make a Big Difference in Savings

A photo to accompany a story about the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature and the Chase Freedom Flex cards Illustration/NextAdvisor
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We like all types of cash back cards — from flat rewards to tiered bonus and rotating categories, we believe the right cash back card can make a great fit for nearly any savvy shopper’s wallet.

But with so many great cash back options, your individual spending habits are often the best indicator of which card is right for you. This is especially true if you’re considering a card with varying bonus categories and rewards rates, because you may earn more (or less) in certain categories based on your spending style.

Two cards that offer some of the greatest flexibility on the market today when it comes to where you earn rewards are the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card. Both offer cash back across an array of everyday spending categories with no annual fee, but require some ongoing strategizing to fully maximize rewards.

Here’s more information about these cards’ unique rewards structures, and how you can choose the best one for your wallet:

Side by Side Comparison

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card Chase Freedom Flex
Annual Fee$0$0
Welcome Offer$200 cash bonus when you spend $1,000 within 120 days of account opening$200 bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account opening
Cash Back Rewards• 5% back on up to $2,000 in combined spending in two categories of your choice each quarter (then 1% back)

• 2% back in one additional everyday category of your choice, between grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants

• 1% back on all other spending
• 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories (then 1% back) 

• 5% back on up to $12,000 in grocery spending your first year

•5% back on travel booked through Chase and on Lyft rides (through March 2022)3% back on dining and drugstore purchases 

• 1% back on all other purchases
Other Benefits• 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%

• Visa Signature benefits such as roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services, and extended warranties 
• 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 24.74%

• World Elite Mastercard benefits including purchase protection and extended warranties, and cell phone insurance 

Bonus Comparison

These cards both offer $200 in bonus cash back. However, you’ll qualify for the welcome bonus after spending just $500 within three months of opening the Chase Freedom Flex, whereas the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature requires $1,000 in purchases within 120 days of account opening to qualify.

That means the Chase Freedom Flex bonus may be easier to earn — you’ll just need to spend at least $167 three months in a row after you sign up. By contrast, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card bonus requires about $250 per month for four months in a row.

Rewards and Benefits Comparison

Both cards offer a wide range of rewards categories, but the way you earn rewards varies.

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is different than most cash back cards. You choose the 5% and 2% rewards categories you want to earn rewards on, and have the option to change your choice quarterly. For the 5% back categories, options include: 

  • Fast food
  • TV, internet, and streaming services
  • Cellphone providers
  • Home utilities
  • Department stores
  • Electronics stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Movie theaters
  • Gyms/fitness centers
  • Furniture stores
  • Ground transportation

The 5% rewards rate is limited to just $2,000 in combined spending in two categories of your choosing every three months — for a max total of $100 in cash back each quarter. You’ll also get to choose your 2% everyday rewards category: either gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants. Other purchases earn 1% back, which is pretty standard. 

You can redeem your rewards for a statement credit, deposit to a U.S. Bank savings, checking, or money market account, or for a prepaid debit card from the bank.

The Chase Freedom Flex also offers 5% back, but the 5% bonus categories rotate quarterly, and Chase doesn’t announce new categories until a few weeks before the new quarter begins. The 5% rate applies to your first $1,500 in the combined rotating categories each quarter (for a maximum $75 quarterly). After that max, you’ll earn 1% back. Here’s an example of bonus categories throughout 2021: 

Quarter2021 Bonus Categories
Q1: January – MarchSelect streaming services, wholesale clubs, phone, cable, and internet services
Q2: April – JuneGas stations, home improvement stores
Q3: July – SeptemberGrocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), select streaming services
Q4: October – DecemberPaypal, Walmart

The Freedom Flex has some additional, fixed bonus categories, too. You’ll earn another 5% back on up to $12,000 in grocery spending the first year, 5% back on travel booked through Chase, 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% back on all other spending.

There are also more ways to redeem rewards with the Freedom Flex than with U.S. Bank. In addition to cash back or statement credits, you can redeem your rewards for merchandise, gift cards, experiences, or travel through the Chase portal.

Activating Rewards

Both cards require a bit of work to maximize your spending.

With the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature, you’ll need to log in and activate your choice categories each quarter, or all of your purchases will earn just 1%. You can activate any time within the quarter, and start earning only after activation. 

The Freedom Flex, too, requires activation. You must activate the 5% rotating bonus categories by Chase’s given deadline each quarter to earn the 5%, but as long as you activate any time before the deadline, you can earn rewards retroactively on any eligible spending within the quarter. 

Added Benefits

In terms of benefits, both cards offer some pretty nice perks, especially compared to many other cash back cards. 

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature comes with Visa Signature benefits such as roadside dispatch, travel and emergency assistance services, emergency card replacement and cash disbursement, extended warranties, and more.

Meanwhile, the Chase Freedom Flex is a World Elite Mastercard. It comes with cellphone insurance, Boxed.com benefits, a $10 Lyft credit for every five rides taken per month, a free ShopRunner membership and more. Other Chase Freedom Flex benefits include complimentary DashPass by DoorDash membership for three months (activate by Dec. 31, 2021), purchase protection, extended warranties, trip cancellation and interruption insurance and travel and emergency assistance services. 

APR

The Chase Freedom Flex has an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 24.74%. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card comes with 0% APR on balance transfers only for 18 billing cycles, followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%.

Pro Tip

If you plan to transfer a balance to the Chase Freedom Flex, make sure you do so within 60 days of account opening. After 60 days, the balance transfer fee goes from 3% to 5% of your transferred debt.

While both charge similar ongoing interest rates, the Chase Freedom Flex makes more sense if you want to avoid interest on new purchases — for example, if you have a large upcoming purchase and you want to pay it down over time. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card can be a better choice for paying down existing debt with a balance transfer, since you can benefit from the 0% introductory rate for 18 months instead of 15.

Just remember, for any 0% APR offer, make sure you have a plan to pay your balances in full by the time the intro period ends. Otherwise, your leftover balance will accrue interest at the card’s high ongoing interest rate, and can quickly lead to more debt.

Fees

Neither of these cash back credit cards charges an annual fee, but there are some other fee differences to keep in mind. 

Chase Freedom Flex charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, while the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card charges 2% to 3% on foreign transactions, depending on the currency the purchase is made in. If you plan to transfer a balance, both cards charge balance transfer fees. The Chase Freedom Flex charges a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) for the first 60 days, after which it goes up to 5% (minimum $5). However, the balance transfer fee on the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card is a standard 3% (minimum $5).

Both cards charge the same 5% (minimum $10) cash advance fee, as well as the same late payment and returned payment fees of up to $40.

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Editor’s Score: (N/A)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0*
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99%* (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site

Deciding Between U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card and Chase Freedom Flex

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

While either of these cards can help you earn cash back on a variety of everyday categories, your spending style will determine which is best for you. It’s important to evaluate your past spending when choosing any new card option, but knowing exactly where you spend most can really help you maximize your value with these cards. 

Compare your purchases over the past several months with the choice categories offered by the U.S. Bank Cash+ and previous quarterly bonus Freedom Flex categories. And don’t forget to account for the value you may get from the secondary categories, too. While an additional 2% back on popular gas, grocery, or dining spending with the U.S. Bank card can be a great money-saver, there are even more categories with the Freedom Flex you may benefit from, like 5% back on travel booked through Chase amd 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases year-round.

There are a few instances in which we can say one card may be a better choice over the other. Consider the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card if:

  • You want the chance to pick the categories you earn 5% back in every quarter and the majority of your spending is in nontraditional categories like gyms or electronics stores
  • You want a longer 0% introductory offer for balance transfers
  • You’re fine with redeeming your rewards for cash only
  • You want access to Visa Signature benefits

On the other hand, the Chase Freedom Flex may be a better fit for you if:

  • You don’t mind your 5% back categories changing each quarter, without much time to prepare beforehand
  • You want a 0% introductory period for new purchases
  • You want more options when it comes to redeeming your rewards, or you already have a Chase Sapphire card you can pair with this card for boosted rewards
  • You want access to World Elite Mastercard benefits

If you’re willing to put in a bit of tracking to maximize your savings, we like both of these cards for everyday purchases. But before you apply for any new card, consider all your cash back options to decide which rewards structure fits best with your spending habits, lifestyle, and budget.