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Chase Freedom vs. Discover It – Which is the Best 5% Cashback Credit Card?

Chase Freedom vs. Discover It – Which is the Best 5% Cashback Credit Card?

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Dec 26, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

If you want high cashback rates that you can earn with a credit card, you probably want to take a look at either the Chase Freedom® or Discover it® Cash Back. Both charge no annual fee and offer 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories when you activate. But which is the best fit for you? We’ll compare them by cashback categories, sign-up bonuses and more, to help you decide.

In this article:

Chase Freedom® vs. Discover it® Cash Back

Here’s a quick look at how the two cards stack up:

Chase Freedom® Discover it® Cash Back
Sign-up bonus Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. For new cardmembers, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*
Rewards Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Annual fee $0 $0
Foreign transaction fee 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars None
Regular purchase APR 16.49% - 25.24% variable 13.49% - 24.49% variable

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months

  • 16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Highlights
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey?

See additional details for Chase Freedom®

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  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically*

  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*

  • Any amount, any time. Cash back rewards never expire*

Highlights
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Cash Back

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5% cashback categories

If you’re looking to plan your spending throughout the year, you’ll like that the Discover it® Cash Back rotating category rewards calendar for 2020 is available. In contrast, the Chase Freedom® rotating categories are published quarterly throughout the year.

Here are the 2020 5% cashback categories announced so far:

Chase Freedom® Discover it® Cash Back
January — March 2020 Gas stations, internet, cable and phone services, select streaming services Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April — June 2020 TBD Gas stations, Uber and Lyft, wholesale clubs
July — September 2020 TBD Restaurants and PayPal
October — December 2020 TBD Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target

And for historical reference, here’s what the 2019 5% cashback categories were:

Chase Freedom® Discover it® Cash Back
January — March 2019 Gas stations, tolls, drugstores Grocery stores
April — June 2019 Grocery stores (not including Walmart and Target), home improvement stores Gas stations, Uber and Lyft
July — September 2019 Gas stations, select streaming services Restaurants, PayPal
October — December 2019 Department stores, PayPal, Chase Pay Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target

As you can see from both years, gas stations are a popular category. The Chase Freedom® even offered gas stations as a 5% category twice in 2019.

Sign-up bonuses

For the Chase Freedom®, earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. For the Discover it® Cash Back, if you’re a new cardmember, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*

Both of these are solid sign-up bonuses. If you’re looking for one you can earn quickly and with a low spend amount, you may like the sign-up bonus offered by the Chase Freedom®. But if you’re aiming to maximize your sign-up bonus cash back, the Discover it® Cash Back offers the potential to earn more (especially if you’re putting the bulk of your spending on this card throughout the year).

Additional benefits

Chase Freedom®

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, here’s some great news — you can transfer rewards earned on the Chase Freedom® to your Sapphire card, then redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal for additional value.

  • 60,000 bonus points

  • 2X points on travel and dining

  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No delivery fees for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with a DashPass subscription from DoorDash -over a $100 value. Activate with your Chase Sapphire card by December 31, 2021.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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However, make sure you’re aware of the Chase 5/24 rule before applying. This is an unwritten rule which, boiled down, says that you may not be approved for any Chase credit card if you’ve been approved for five or more credit cards from any issuer in the past 24 months.

The Chase Freedom® also comes with the following benefits:

  • Zero liability protection
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Fraud protection
  • Fraud alerts

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back comes with the following benefits:

  • Use the website or mobile app to freeze your card and to prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers if the card is lost or stolen.
  • Free FICO® credit score
  • Customer service is 100% U.S.-based
  • No late fee for the first missed payment
  • $0 fraud liability

APRs and fees

Both cards offer generous rewards. But how do they stack up when it comes to annual percentage rates (APRs) and fees? Here’s the breakdown:

APRs

The Chase Freedom® offers 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. After that, the APRs are 16.49% - 25.24% variable for purchases and 16.49% - 25.24% variable for balance transfers.

The Discover it® Cash Back intro APR offer is 0% for 14 months on purchases and 0% for 14 months on balance transfers. Afterward, the APR increases to 13.49% - 24.49% variable for purchases and 13.49% - 24.49% variable for balance transfers.

Fees

With a $0 annual fee for the Chase Freedom® and a $0 annual fee for the Discover it® Cash Back, both cards are head-to-head. When it comes to foreign transaction fees, the Chase Freedom® charges 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars and the Discover it® Cash Back charges none. However, it’s worth noting that Discover isn’t as widely accepted in some countries as Visa and Mastercard credit cards.

The Chase Freedom® charges a balance transfer fee of 3% when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5. The Discover it® Cash Back‘s balance transfer fee is a 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*.

The bottom line

Both of these cards offer excellent value, so the one you choose to apply for will likely be influenced by which credit card has the quarterly categories more compatible with your spending patterns.

If you already have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, that might sway you in favor of the Chase Freedom® to maximize your Ultimate Rewards earnings. However, if you’re not a Sapphire cardholder, we lean toward the Discover it® Cash Back. You can earn an excellent value by taking advantage of the fact that (for new cardmembers) Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*

Whichever 5% cashback card you apply for, it’s worth pairing with a flat-rate rewards card so you can earn a higher rate than 1% back on purchases outside the 5% quarterly categories. One good option for earning flat-rate cash back is the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer. You can earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.

  • 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers

  • 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

Highlights
  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

See additional details for Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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Another good option is the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. You can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day when using this card.

  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day

  • 0% intro on purchases for 15 months and 0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months

  • No minimums for redeeming and cash back won't expire for the life of the account

Highlights
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.49%-25.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees

See additional details for Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

More Info

If you’re not sure either of these two fits your needs, take a look at our list of best flat-rate cashback and rewards cards to see which one might be the best choice for you!


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