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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: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Jul 30, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the Chase Freedom® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

If you want the highest cashback rates 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 offer 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories. But which one is the best fit for your spending?

We’ll compare the cards by cashback categories, signup bonuses, and more, to help you decide.

In this article:

Chase Freedom® vs. Discover it® Cash Back At a Glance

Chase Freedom® Discover it® Cash Back
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.
Signup bonus Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*
Annual fee $0 $0
Foreign transaction fee 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars None
Regular purchase APR 17.24% - 25.99% Variable 14.24% - 25.24% Variable

5% Cashback Categories

If you’re looking to plan your spending ahead of time, you’ll like that the Discover it® Cash Back rotating categories rewards calendar is available for all of 2019.  In contrast, the Chase Freedom® rotating categories are published throughout the year. Here are the categories announced so far this year:

Chase Freedom® Discover it® Cash Back
January – March
  • Gas stations
  • Tolls
  • Drugstores
  • Grocery stores
April – June
  • Grocery stores
    (not including Walmart and Target)
  • Home improvement stores
  • Gas stations
  • Uber and Lyft
July – September
  • Gas stations
  • Select streaming services
  • Restaurants
  • PayPal
October – December
  • TBA
  • Amazon.com
  • Walmart.com
  • Target

During 2019, both cards offered 5% cash back for grocery store and gas station spending. The Chase Freedom® even made gas stations a 5% quarterly category twice. The Discover it® Cash Back allows cardholders to 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, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Signup Bonuses

Chase Freedom®: Earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Discover it® Cash Back: Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*

Both of these credit cards offer good signup bonuses. Still, if you’re looking to get your signup bonus early, then the Chase Freedom®’s will appeal to you. However, if you’re more interested in getting the maximum value out of your signup bonus, the Discover it® Cash Back’s has the potential to be worth significantly more — as long as you use this card for most of your purchases during the year.

  • 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

More Info

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

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

More Info

  • 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. $0 foreign transaction fees.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options

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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $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✓®

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

More Info

In addition, the Chase Freedom® 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% United States-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 interest rates and fees? Here’s the breakdown:

Interest Rates

The Chase Freedom® offers 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months. After that, it’s 17.24% - 25.99% Variable for purchases and 17.24% - 25.99% Variable for balance transfers.

The Discover it® Cash Back intro offer is 0% for 14 months on purchases and 0% for 14 months on balance transfers. Afterward, it increases to 14.24% - 25.24% Variable for purchases and 14.24% - 25.24% 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 card charges 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars and the Discover card 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 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 one has the quarterly categories more aligned 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 for a 5% cashback card. You can earn an excellent value by taking advantage of the fact that Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.*

But whichever 5% cashback card you apply for, it’s worth pairing with a flat-rate rewards card such as the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer or the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card so you earn a higher rate than 1% on purchases that don’t fall into your rotating quarterly categories.

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

  • 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*

  • 15.99%– 25.99% (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 15.99%– 25.99% based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99%– 25.99% based on your creditworthiness.*

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

More Info

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

  • 0% for 15 Months on Purchases and Balance Transfers

  • 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; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% 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

Check out our list of best flat-rate cashback and rewards cards to see which one might best fit your needs!


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