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Wells Fargo Active Cash Card vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited has a tiered rewards structure and more perks, but the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card's competitive flat rewards rate is great for users looking for simplicity.

CNET'S PICK
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
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Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

8.8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
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On Wells Fargo's secure website
Intro Offer
$200 cash rewards Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
Annual fee
$0
APR
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR
Rewards rate
2% Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Annual Fee
Welcome offer
2%
Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Best for
Annual Fee
Welcome offer
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Learn More

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

7.4/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Up to $300 cash back Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
Annual fee
$0
APR
20.49% - 29.24% Variable
Rewards rate
1.5% - 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; 1.5% on all other purchases
Annual Fee
Card perks
Rewards
Rewards redemption
5%
Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
3%
3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
1.5%
1.5% on all other purchases
Best for
Annual Fee
Card perks
Rewards
Rewards redemption

If you’re looking for a simple cash-back credit card with no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card should be at the top of your list. Both of these credit cards offer generous earning rates with no spending threshold or rewards limit. And if you need to pay down high-interest credit card debt, both cards offer an introductory APR period. 

That said, these two cards are pretty different when it comes to their rewards structures. Where the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with a baseline 1.5% cash back on all purchases and elevated rates on several bonus categories, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card offers a 2% flat cash rewards rate.

Still, the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes out ahead due to its boosted rates on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards and dining and drugstore purchases. We like the flexibility of the Chase Freedom Unlimited, making it a solid, no-frills option. If you’re wondering how and why the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes out ahead of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, read on to learn more.

Comparing annual fees

Winner: Tie

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  • $0
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • $0

Both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card come with a $0 annual fee. This means you can keep either card for the long run without worrying about how much you use it or if you’re getting enough benefits and rewards to justify paying a fee each year.

Welcome offer

Winner: Wells Fargo Active Cash

WINNER
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months. Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) -- worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

The Freedom Unlimited offers a slightly larger reward by letting you earn an extra 1.5% on purchases, but you have to spend $20,000 in the first year to earn the maximum bonus of $300. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card has a much lower spending requirement, letting you earn $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first three months.

Rewards and redemption

Winner: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
WINNER
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • Earn 1.5% on all other purchases

When it comes to the rewards these cards earn, comparing their rates can be rather complicated. That said, the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes out ahead due to its exceptional bonus rewards categories and redemption flexibility.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited, cardholders can earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% back on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025), 3% back on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, 3% back on drugstore purchases and 1.5% on everything else. Though the card is advertised as a cash-back card, your rewards take the form of Ultimate Rewards points, which come with a variety of redemption options. You can redeem your rewards for a statement credit or direct deposit into most US checking and savings accounts. You can also redeem rewards for gift cards or shop with points at Amazon.com. But you can get the most out of your points if you pool them onto a premium Chase card and redeem them for travel. 

If you only have the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can redeem your points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1 cent per point -- the same value as redeeming them for cash back. But if you have a premium travel card from Chase like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer your points to either and boost their value to 1.25 cents apiece for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 1.5 cents apiece for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when redeemed for travel through Chase Travel℠. More importantly, you can take advantage of those cards’ travel partners and transfer your points to various hotel and airline loyalty programs for potentially greater value. 

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card, on the other hand, offers a generous flat rate of 2% cash rewards on purchases. However, where this card falls short is in redemption. You can only redeem your cash rewards for “cash” in $25 increments over the phone or online, and at a minimum of $20 at a Wells Fargo ATM. But you can redeem your rewards for particular purchases as small as $1 as long as you have enough cash rewards to cover the purchase in full.

You can redeem your cash back in the form of a statement credit, direct deposit to a checking or savings account, mortgage or mailed paper check. Alternatively, you can redeem your rewards as gift cards, charitable donations, travel, merchandise or gift cards (in $25 increments). You can also redeem your rewards to pay for purchases via PayPal.

Card perks

Winner: Chase Freedom Unlimited

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
  • Cell phone protection against damage or theft worth up to $600 (subject to a $25 deductible)
  • Visa Signature® perks, including complimentary 24/7 concierge service and access to the Luxury Hotel Collection privileges
WINNER
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Complimentary 3-month DashPass membership

The Chase Freedom Unlimited also comes out ahead when it comes to the cardholder perks. The card comes with purchase protection against damage or theft worth up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per account and one year of additional extended warranty coverage on eligible purchases that come with a manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less. 

Trips booked with the card are eligible for trip cancellation and interruption insurance worth up to $1,500 per person and up to $6,000 per trip, secondary auto rental coverage and travel emergency assistance services. Finally, the card comes with three months of complimentary membership of DoorDash DashPass (activate by December 31, 2024) and Instacart+ (enroll by July 31, 2024).

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card comes with a less generous suite of benefits that include 24/7 concierge services, access to the Visa Signature Hotel Collection and cell phone protection against damage or theft worth up to $600 (subject to a $25 deductible) when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your card.

The bottom line

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited inches out slightly ahead of the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card in this comprehensive card comparison, the difference is narrow and either card would be a worthwhile addition to your wallet. The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is a very attractive card in its own right, particularly for those who want to earn a higher flat rate of rewards on spending with no bonus categories to keep track of.

 

At the end of the day, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a more robust rewards rate overall, more flexibility when it comes to redeeming points and a slew of helpful and protective cardholder perks to boot. For people who plan to use a cash-back credit card for the majority of their spending throughout the year, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is hard to beat.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert and writer who covers rewards and loyalty programs, budgeting, and all things personal finance. In addition to writing for publications like Bankrate, CreditCards.com, Forbes Advisor and Investopedia, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You'll Love."