Discover credit card vs chase freedom unlimited -
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Discover it Cash Back
If you don’t mind keeping tabs on a list of bonus categories that rotate quarterly, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back can be helpful additions to your wallet. But due to their similarities, it can be tough to choose between them.
These popular cash back credit cards both get you 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (upon enrollment, on your first $1,500 in spending per quarter, then 1%), allowing you to temporarily supersize your rewards earnings on purchases you’re already likely to make, such as gas, online shopping and groceries. Neither card charges an annual fee, both offer an attractive sign-up bonus and power users like to pair the cards with other high-yield or flat-rate rewards cards to earn as much as possible from their spending.
A closer look at the cards, though, reveals some subtle differences between these two Chase and Discover cards. For example, the Freedom Flex comes with additional year-round bonus categories missing on the Discover it Cash Back, and depending on your spending habits, the Discover it Cash Back could offer a much larger sign-up bonus if you use it for the majority of your purchases.
Deciding which card is best for you depends, in part, on what you want to get out of your credit card and how you plan to use it. Here we take a look at how these cards stack up and how to decide which is the best fit for you.
Chase Freedom Flex vs. Discover it Cash Back: At a glance
Chase Freedom Flex
Discover it® Cash Back card
|Sign-up bonus||$200 when you spend $500 in the first 3 months||100% match of your cash back at the end of the card’s first year|
|Estimated yearly rewards value (assuming maxed-out bonus categories and average spending in other categories)||$493||$399|
|Who should get this card?|
Best for first-year rewards: Discover it Cash Back
The biggest difference between the Freedom Flex and the Discover it cards comes down to their sign-up bonuses: While the Freedom Flex offers a generous upfront sign-up bonus of $200 when you spend $500 in the first three months, the Discover it Cash Back doesn’t offer an initial sign-up bonus. Instead, it matches any rewards you earned by the end of your card’s first year.
This requires you to wait for your rewards bonus, but if you have the patience and put a large spend on your card, you could be richly rewarded with a much larger prize.
Consider, for example, if you spent at least $135 in the Discover it Cash Back card’s 5% cash back bonus categories and $1,000 per month on other purchases. Thanks to the card’s first-year cash back match, you would essentially earn 10% cash back in bonus categories with the Discover it Cash Back in your first year and 2% cash back on general purchases. That would net you $201 in bonus cash by the end of your card’s first year – just beating out the bonus on the Chase Freedom card.
Bonus cash earned on $1,135 monthly spend ($135 spent in 5% bonus categories)
If you maxed out your 5% cash back categories, this difference would be even more dramatic. By spending $500 in its bonus categories each month to reach the $1,500 quarterly cap, plus an additional $1,000 per month on other purchases ($1,500 total monthly spend), you would earn $420 in bonus cash via the Discover card’s cash back match the end of the year – more than twice the value of the bonuses from the Chase Freedom Flex card.
Bonus cash earned on $1,500 monthly spend ($500 spent in 5% bonus categories)
Best for everyday spending: Chase Freedom Flex
The sign-up bonus on the Discover it Cash Back is clearly larger if you’re a heavy spender or if you use the same card for all or most of your purchases. But if you’re looking for the best long-term solution for everyday spending and travel purchases, the Freedom Flex is the clear winner. This is thanks to the year-round bonus cash back categories it tacks on in addition to its rotating categories.
With the Freedom Flex, you’ll also earn 5% back on all travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and on Lyft purchases (through March 2022), as well as 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases. The inclusion of these ongoing bonus cash back categories helps give the Freedom Flex a much higher average rewards rate of 1.72% back outside of its rotating categories (compared to just 1% back with the Discover it Cash Back).
Plus, unlike the Discover it card, the Freedom Flex card doesn’t require much spending to receive a significant bonus. To earn it, you just need to spend $500 in the card’s first three months. That comes out to about $167 a month – which is not a big threshold for such a large bonus.
With the Discover it card, by contrast, you would need to spend around $12,700 in the card’s first year to earn a $200 cash back match bonus (assuming an average rewards rate of 1.58% cash back across categories). If you spend heavily on 5% bonus categories, you may be able to get away with spending less. But you would still need to use your card fairly regularly.
If you don’t plan to spend more than a few hundred dollars here and there – or if you plan to devote most of your spending to other rewards cards – you may have trouble spending enough on your Discover it card to claim a substantial bonus.
Minimum monthly spend required to earn $200 bonus cash
Best for frequent travelers: Chase Freedom Flex
Travel is another area in which the Freedom Flex beats out the Discover card. Not only do you earn 5% back on Ultimate Rewards travel with the Freedom Flex, but you can also pair it with a Chase travel card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and convert your cash into miles. If you redeem your miles for travel using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you will earn a 25% to 50% rewards bonus, depending on the card. That could add up to big savings if you transfer a significant amount.
Imagine, for example, you earned $270 in cash back from your Freedom Flex card. If you transferred that cash to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and redeemed your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’d earn a 50% bonus and have $405 to spend on a free flight.
If you transferred it to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and redeemed it for travel, you’d earn a 25% bonus and have $338 to spend. And unlike with the Discover it card, you’d earn those bonuses every year you had the card, allowing you to rack up more rewards over time.
Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options
|Redemption option||Point value||Value of 27,000 points|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred travel redemption (25% bonus)||1.25 cents||$338|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve travel redemption (50% bonus)||1.5 cents||$405|
|Statement credit||1 cent||$270|
|Direct deposit||1 cent||$270|
|Gift cards||1 cent||$270|
|Amazon.com purchases||0.8 cent||$216|
|Chase Pay purchases||0.8 cent||$216|
If you own a qualifying card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card, you can also transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to other airlines and hotels, such as United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Air France, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott and IHG. As you can see from our table below, many of Chase’s travel partners offer even more valuable redemption options, allowing you to stretch the value of your points further:
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners
|Partner||Point value||Value of 27,000 points|
|Singapore Airlines||2.4 cents||$648|
|Southwest Airlines||1.6 cents||$432|
|United Airlines||1.5 cents||$405|
|British Airways||1.4 cents||$378|
|Korean Air||1.7 cents||$459|
|World of Hyatt||1.4 cents||$378|
|Air France||1 cent||$270|
|Virgin Atlantic||0.8 cent||$216|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1 cent||$270|
Comparing bonus categories
Despite some similarities, the Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back cards have a good amount of daylight between them when you take a closer look. That said, their bonus categories are nearly identical. Typically, the only significant variation between the cards’ cash back calendars comes down to timing and the specific retailers that earn bonuses. For example, during the last quarter of 2020, the Chase cash back calendar listed PayPal and Walmart purchases as eligible for 5% cash back upon enrollment, while the 2021 Discover cash back calendar lists Amazon.com, Target.com and Walmart.com.
Chase 5% cash back calendar
Chase only announces its categories on a quarter-by-quarter basis, but last year’s categories should give you a good idea of what to expect in 2021.
|Winter 2021||Spring 2021||Summer 2020||Holiday 2020|
|January – March||April – June||July – September||October – December|
Discover 5% cash back calendar 2021
|January – March||April – June||July – September||October – December|
If you don’t feel especially enthusiastic over the Chase Freedom Flex or Discover it Cash Back cards’ bonus categories, you may want to consider the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card*, which lets you choose which categories you want to earn 2% to 5% in every quarter. That way, you aren’t stuck with a 5% bonus category you rarely use. You might also check out how the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited stack up, as well as how the Discover it Cash Back compares to the Discover it Chrome card.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.
Kelly Dilworth is a personal finance contributor and former staff reporter at CreditCards.com. She began her career in journalism at The Atlantic in 2007, then detoured into nonfiction book publishing for several years. She returned to journalism in 2010 and since then has written about everything from 20-somethings with Herculean credit scores to the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions.
How Is Cashback Profitable for Credit Card Companies?
Credit card companies are in the business of making money, yet they often advertise incentives that feature rewards such as cash back on credit card purchases. Many consumers are inundated with online offers and mailers, promising great incentives, from zero to low introductory interest rates to one-time bonus rewards offers, to cash back deals whenever they use their cards.
Nowadays, it isn't unusual to see banks offer what seem to be very generous cash back incentives to their cardholders, even after the introductory bonus period is over. For example, Chase offers up to 5% cash back on its Chase Freedom Rewards Card, as does the Discover Card. So how can these companies offer such seemingly lucrative deals for consumers and still make a profit?
- Most cash rewards programs have an annual maximum limit, so while they may offer a generous 5% cash back reward, there may be an annual cap or maximum limit you can reach.
- When merchants accept payment via credit card, they are required to pay a percentage of the transaction amount as a fee to the credit card company.
- Additionally, credit card companies make money by charging high-interest rates on balances carried over month-to-month, and issuing late fees for payments missed or made after the stated due date.
Cash Rewards Programs: The Fine Print
First, it is important to read the fine print. Most cash rewards programs have an annual maximum limit, so while they may offer a generous 5% cash back reward, there may be an annual cap or maximum limit you can reach. Other cards only offer cash back for certain categories of purchases, such as at restaurants or gas stations.
Discover's cash back card is one of those that boasts a 5% reward on purchases. But, as of 2018, the cardholder agreement states that this offer only extends to specific categories allotted to different quarters of the year. And it comes with a limit of $1,500 in purchases per quarter. The disclosure also states that using a credit card with NFC technology or from a virtual wallet such as Google Wallet may not count toward the program.
Similarly, the Chase Freedom card also has spending restrictions and caps. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back rewards on spending in certain categories. Chase caps the spending limit each quarter at $1,500, just like Discover. Any other purchases during each quarter, and above the limit, earn 1%.
With a credit card program with a $1,500 cash back limit per year at 5%, any spending over $30,000 would not contribute to accumulating any further cash back rewards.
Because most consumers do not take the time to read the fine print, they may open a credit card account under the impression that cash back rewards programs are much more generous and universal than they actually are.
It's Not Free Cash
When merchants accept payment via credit card, they are required to pay a percentage of the transaction amount as a fee to the credit card company. If the cardholder has a participating cash back rewards program, the credit card issuer simply shares some of the merchant fees with the consumer. The goal is to incentivize people to use their credit cards when making payments rather than cash or debit cards, which earns them no rewards. The more a consumer uses a credit card, the more merchant fees the credit card company can earn.
Additionally, credit card companies make money by charging high interest rates on balances that carry over month-to-month, and issuing late fees for payments missed or made after the stated due date. The more consumers use their credit cards, the more likely it becomes that they will miss a payment or carry a balance for which they will owe fees and interest.
According to the Federal Reserve, the average credit card interest rate is 16.61% as of Q1 2020. The Federal Reserve also reported almost $1.07 trillion in outstanding revolving credit by March 2020. Approximately 45% of credit cardholders carry a balance from month to month according to the latest Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances.
Credit cards that offer the most generous sounding rewards programs also often carry the highest fees and interest rates, compared to a similar card with a lower rewards program, or none at all.
The Bottom Line
Cash back rewards sound enticing, and they can help certain consumers save a bit on credit card purchases. However, once the restrictions and qualifications are spelled out in the fine print, including any limitations on how much cash back credit card users can earn per year, these programs do not appear as generous as they may seem on the surface.
Because these programs are incentives for consumers to use their credit cards in lieu of cash or debit cards, they generate increased merchant fees for the credit card company and may also cause some consumers to increase their debt, providing yet another source of revenue for the credit card company.
In 2017, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston reported that the average transaction amount with a non-cash transaction is nearly four times greater than with a cash transaction, greatly adding to the revenue coming from merchant fees. And since cash back credit cards carry the subtle psychological incentive of earning money while you spend, people tend to spend even more on them than non-rewards cards. So, rather than draining corporate profits, cash back rewards programs actually dramatically increase credit card companies' bottom lines.
Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
We may change APRs, fees, and other Account terms in the future based on your experience with Elan Financial Services and its affiliates as provided under the Cardmember Agreement and applicable law.
1. You will earn 2 Points per dollar in eligible net purchases (net purchases are purchases minus credits and returns) that you charge. Account must be open and in good standing to earn and redeem rewards and benefits. Upon approval, refer to your Program Rules for additional information. You may not redeem Reward Points, and you will immediately lose all of your Reward Points, if your Account is closed to future transactions (including, but not limited to, due to Program misuse, failure to pay, bankruptcy, or death). Reward Points will not expire as long as your Account remains open. Certain transactions are not eligible for Reward Points, including Advances (as defined in the Agreement, including wire transfers, travelers checks, money orders, foreign cash transactions, betting transactions, lottery tickets and ATM disbursements), Annual Fee, convenience checks, balance transfers, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, overdraft advances, interest charges, fees, credit insurance charges, transactions to fund certain prepaid card products, U.S. Mint purchases, or transactions to purchase cash convertible items. The 2% cash back rewards value applies only to Points redeemed for a deposit into an eligible Fidelity account. The redemption value is different if you choose to redeem your Points for other rewards such as travel options, merchandise, gift cards, and/or statement credit. Other restrictions apply. Full details appear in the Program Rules new card customers receive with their card. Establishment or ownership of a Fidelity account or other relationship with Fidelity Investments is not required to obtain a card or to be eligible to use Points to obtain any rewards offered under the program other than Fidelity Rewards.
Because the interest and other fees charged on any outstanding balance are greater than the cash value of the rewards points, you may pay more in fees and interest than the value of the points you earn if you do not pay your bill in full each month.
To receive a deposit, you must link your eligible Fidelity® account to your card. This can be accomplished in any of following ways. 1. You may contact Elan Financial Services Customer Service at the toll-free phone number located on the back of your credit card and provide them with your eligible Fidelity® account (s) number. 2. Simply select the “Manage Reward Points” hyperlink from the credit card snapshot page on Fidelity.com and follow the easy steps. You may also watch a brief video that describes the linking process on the credit card snapshot page also found on Fidelity.com. Please note that automatic redemptions will occur on a monthly basis as long as you have reached the point redemption threshold of 2,500 Points.
Eligible accounts include most nonretirement registrations as well as Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA, SEP IRA, Fidelity Charitable® Giving Account®, Fidelity HSA®, and Fidelity®-managed 529 College Savings Plan accounts. The ability to contribute to an IRA or 529 college savings plan account is subject to IRS rules and specific program policies, including those on eligibility and annual and maximum contribution limits. Full details appear in the Program Guidelines new card customers receive with their card. Contributions to Fidelity Charitable® are generally eligible for a federal income tax charitable deduction. Please consult with your tax advisor. The list of eligible registration types may change without notice at Fidelity’s sole discretion. For more information about whether a particular registration is eligible, please call 1-800-FIDELITY (800-343-3548).
5. Certain restrictions apply to each benefit. Details accompany new account materials.
Elan Financial Services provides zero fraud liability for unauthorized transactions. Cardmember must notify Elan Financial Services promptly of any unauthorized use. Certain conditions and limitations may apply.
Cardmembers are responsible for the cost of any goods or services purchased by the Visa Signature Concierge on cardmembers’ behalf.
8. Fidelity Rewards+ generally requires $250,000 invested through Fidelity® Wealth Services, Fidelity® Strategic Disciplines, or a combination of both registered as an individual account, a joint account, or certain types of revocable trusts. Assets in other registration types, such as irrevocable trusts, partnerships, or LLCs, will not be included when determining program eligibility. Fidelity Rewards is not offered as a component of any advisory service or program through Fidelity, including, without limitation, Fidelity® Wealth Services and Fidelity® Strategic Disciplines. While there are no program enrollment fees, eligible managed accounts are charged an advisory fee.
The Contactless Symbol and Contactless Indicator are trademarks owned by and used with the permission of EMVCo, LLC.
Fidelity Charitable® is the brand name for Fidelity Investments® Charitable Gift Fund, an independent public charity with a donor-advised fund program. Various Fidelity companies provide services to Fidelity Charitable. The Fidelity Charitable name and logo and Fidelity are registered service marks of FMR LLC, used by Fidelity Charitable under license.
"Giving Account" is a registered service mark of the Trustees of Fidelity® Charitable.
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Google, Google Pay and the Google Logo are trademarks of Google LLC.
©2020 Samsung Pay is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Use only in accordance with law.
© 2021 The Kiplinger Washington Editors. Used under License.
Fidelity Go® provides discretionary investment management for a fee. Advisory services offered by Fidelity Personal and Workplace Advisors LLC (FPWA), a registered investment adviser. Brokerage services provided by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC (FBS), and custodial and related services provided by National Financial Services LLC (NFS), each a member NYSE and SIPC. FPWA, FBS and NFS are Fidelity Investments companies.
The creditor and issuer of this card is Elan Financial Services, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.
Fidelity® and Elan Financial Services are separate companies.
Visa and Visa Signature are registered trademarks of Visa International Service Association and are used by the issuer pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A., Inc.
Third-party trademarks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners. All other service marks are property of FMR LLC.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
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As any savvy consumer knows, credit cards are not created equally. Those little features that banks and credit card companies offer can make a big difference.
Herein, let us compare Chase Freedom Unlimited with Discover It.
Discover offers an incentive for new card holders that matches dollar for dollar on their cash rewards for the first year. It offers 5 percent cash back for certain categories that change every quarter and 1 percent for all other purchases. You can redeem your cash back reward at any time for any amount, and your rewards never expire. Discover also offers a unique feature in which you can apply your cash back rewards on a purchase at Amazon.com at checkout.
Chase offers a 1.5 percent cash back award on all purchases. Like Discover, you can redeem your cash back balance at any time and for any amount, and they do not expire. Chase will give you $150 bonus if you spend $500 during the first three months. You can also get a $25 bonus when you sign up your first authorized user, a spouse for example, and make a purchase within the same three months.
Rates and fees
Neither Discover nor Chase charge an annual fee, nor do they assess an over-limit fee. Discover does not charge a foreign transaction fee.
A late payment from your Discover Card will not raise your APR. The first late payment will not result in a fee.
Chase has a zero percent APR for the first 15 months for purchases or balance transfers. After that, it will assess a 14.24 percent, 19.24 percent, or 23.24 percent APR Discover also has a zero percent APR for the first year, then assesses an 11.24 percent to 23.24 percent APR.
Both Discover and Chase offer fraud protection, which means that you would not be liable for an unauthorized purchase. They both offer free overnight shipping for a card replacement. Discover has a unique feature that allows you to freeze your account if your card is lost or stolen. Discover will also alert you by text, phone call, or email when it detects a suspicious purchase. Chase has a chip-based system that provides security when read by a chip card reader.
Discover prints out your credit score on your monthly statement. Discover’s customer service is based in the United States and is available 24/7. You can pay your bill up to midnight Eastern Time on the day it is due.
Chase offers a rental car collision damage waiver feature. This means that when you rent a car with the Chase Freedom card you can decline the insurance the rental car company offers. You will be covered for collision damage or theft for most cars rented in the United States, but the coverage will be secondary to your personal car insurance.
Both cards have some attractive features. Chase would seem to have the edge if you intend to make some major purchases from the start. The rental car insurance option is also attractive. On the other hand, Discover has a service edge with domestic call centers and the instant account suspension feature.
How do I activate my Chase Freedom rewards?
Here's how to register:Head to the Chase bonus activation page.Enter your last name, last four digits of your card number and your billing zip code. ... Click “Activate Now” to register.If you have multiple Chase Freedom cards, make sure to register each one.More items...•Sep 13, 2021Chase Freedom Q4 Bonus Categories (& Previous Ones) - The ...https://thepointsguy.com › news › activate-chase-freedom-5x-earnings
What are the rewards for Chase Freedom?
From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, Chase Freedom® cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on department store, PayPal and Chase Pay purchases (up to ,500 in combined purchases) after activation. Other purchases will earn 1 percent cash back.
Is Costco included in Chase Freedom?
Chase Freedom works at Costco because it is on the Visa network. Costco only accepts Visa cards at its stores. ... The Q4 2020 bonus categories included wholesale clubs, such as Costco. Chase Freedom's 5% Costco rewards rate is not guaranteed to return because the card's bonus categories are not the same year to year.
What are the Chase Freedom 5% categories?
The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back — or 5x points — in different spending categories each quarter of the year....Also with quarterly bonus categories: Discover it® Cash BackQ1: Grocery stores.Q2: Gas stations, Uber, and Lyft.Q3: Restaurants and PayPal.Q4: Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com.Sep 13, 2021Current Chase Freedom quarterly 5% bonus categories in 2019 ...https://www.businessinsider.com › chase-freedom-card-quarterly-bonus-cate...
What is the 5 cash back on Chase Freedom?
Here's what you need to know at a glance: From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back at department stores, and on PayPal and Chase Pay purchases. The 5 percent cash back bonus is capped at ,500 in combined purchases per quarter. All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.
How do I activate my Chase Freedom 5 cash back?
Chase details Freedom Q4 bonus: 5% back with Chase Pay, PayPal and department storesHead to the Chase bonus activation page.Enter your last name, last four digits of your card number and your billing zip code. ... Click “Activate Now” to register.If you have multiple Chase Freedom cards, make sure to register each one.More items...•Sep 13, 2021thepointsguy.com › news › activate-chase-freedom-5x-earningsChase Freedom Q4 Bonus Categories (& Previous Ones) - The ...thepointsguy.com › news › activate-chase-freedom-5x-earnings
How does cash back work on Chase Freedom?
While the Chase Freedom® is advertised as a "cash back card", it earns users Ultimate Rewards points. You get 5 points per dollar on up to ,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate; all other spending get you just one point per dollar.
What are the Chase Freedom 5% categories?
The Chase Freedom card offers 5% cash back — or 5x points — in different spending categories each quarter of the year....Also with quarterly bonus categories: Discover it® Cash BackQ1: Grocery stores.Q2: Gas stations, Uber, and Lyft.Q3: Restaurants and PayPal.Q4: Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com.Sep 13, 2021www.businessinsider.com › chase-freedom-card-quarterly-bonus-catego...Current Chase Freedom quarterly 5% bonus categories in 2019 ...www.businessinsider.com › chase-freedom-card-quarterly-bonus-catego...
About the author
Quentin Fottrell is personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.