Chase Freedom® vs. Discover it®

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Versus

Sep 03, 2015 | Updated Jul 28, 2016

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See two of the most popular reward credit cards going head to head: the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it®.

They both offer 5% cash back in categories that rotate throughout the year, they have long 0% introductory rates, and neither has an annual fee.

Keep reading to learn how these cards compare in their reward categories, the extra perks, and the potential costs associated with them.

Chase Freedom®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 14.24%-23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Named a Best Card for Cash Back by MONEY® Magazine
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99-22.99%
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on every purchase
  • 5% Total Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like Gas stations, Restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire as long as your account is open

The information for Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Discover it®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 11.24% – 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more - up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”

The Rewards

Chase Freedom

You’ll get:

  • 5% cash back in the categories listed below, up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter (then 1% cash back)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $150 signup bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • $25 signup bonus for adding an authorized user and making your first purchase in the first 3 months
  • Access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards marketplace, where you’ll find special deals at participating retailers
Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Gas stations, Local Commuter Transportation
April – June Grocery stores, Wholesale clubs (not including Walmart® or Target®)
July – September Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs
October – December Holiday Shopping and Wholesale Clubs

You’ll need to go online and activate your 5% reward category before you can start earning points in it.

Discover it

With this card, you’ll get:

  • 5% cash back in the categories listed below, up to $1,500 in purchases every quarter (then 1% cash back)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • DOUBLE YOUR CASH BACK after your first year of cardmembership (new cardholders only)
  • Access to the Discover Deals marketplace, where dozens of retailers offer special point deals and discounts
Quarter 5% Cash Back Category
January – March Gas Stations & Ground Transportation
April – June Grocery Stores and Wholesale Clubs
July – September Restaurants and Wholesale Clubs
October – December Holiday Shopping and Wholesale Clubs

Like the Freedom card above, you’ll need to go online and activate your 5% reward category before you can start earning points in it. If you forget to activate, you’ll need to contact customer service to get your rewards added retroactively to your past purchases.

You can redeem your cash back at any time and for any amount, or you can apply your rewards directly to purchases from Amazon.com.

The Verdict

The right card for you will depend on your own shopping habits, so take a look at the cash back categories above.

I think the Discover card comes out on top here, because it tends to offer more general categories, giving you more potential retailers to earn 5% back at.

The Freedom card might be right for you if you’re a huge fan of Starbucks, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Overstock.com, but take note that you’ll only be able to get that 5% back for 3 months out of the year at those stores.

The Discover it will probably get you more rewards throughout the year, especially because Discover is doubling the cash back for the first year for new cardholders. This means you’ll eventually earn 10% cash back for purchases in those categories, and 2% cash back for every other purchase.

This offer makes the Discover it probably the most rewarding card available today, especially when you consider the extra deals you can find in the Discover Deals marketplace, which includes dozens of popular retailers.

Looking for other kinds of reward credit cards, perhaps without rotating categories? Take a look at our picks for the Best Rewards Credit Cards for 2015.

The Benefits

Chase Freedom

The Chase Freedom is available in 2 possible service levels: regular Visa, and the premier-level Visa Signature.

The service level you get will depend on your credit history and finances; the most qualified applicants will enjoy more perks with Visa Signature, but the regular Visa service is not bad at all either. (Visa Signature benefits are listed below the standard benefits)

Shopping Benefits

Purchase Protection: Covers new purchases against damage and theft for 120 days, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Price Protection: If you find an item you bought being advertised for less than what you paid within 90 days, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per item, $2,500 per year.

Return Protection: If the retailer won’t take back an item within 90 days of purchase, you can be reimbursed up to $250 per item, up to $1,000 per year.

Extended Warranty Protection: Extends an original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by up to 1 year, for eligible warranties of 3 years or less.

Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized charges.

Chip-and-Signature Technology: This card is EMV-enabled with Chip-and-Signature technology for increased security and better accessibility in foreign countries.

Travel Benefits

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: Provides help if you get into trouble away from home, including medical and legal referrals.

Roadside Dispatch (for Visa cards) / Roadside Assistance (for MasterCard cards): For Visa cards, call 1-800-VISA-TOW for any kind of help on the road, like towing or a tire change ($59.95 fee per service call). For MasterCard cards, call the customer service number on the back of your card (service fees will apply).

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against collision damage and theft for rented cards, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.

Visa Signature Travel Benefits

If you qualify for a Visa Signature-level card, you’ll also receive these benefits.

Travel Accident Insurance: Provides up to $250,000 in coverage for accidental death and dismemberment, when you pay for air, bus, or cruise transportation with your card.

Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance: Provides up to $5,000 in reimbursement for non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled or interrupted for eligible reasons, like sickness or severe weather.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Provides up to $3,000 in reimbursement if you or your family members’ checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged.

Discover it

Account Benefits

Free FICO Score: Just log into your account online and you’ll be able to see your FICO score for free (provided by TransUnion).

Spend Analyzer: A tool to help you track and understand where your money is going.

Shopping Benefits

Purchase Protection: Eligible purchases are covered against damage and theft, for 90 days and up to $500.

Price Protection: If you buy something and find it being advertised for a lesser price, Discover will refund the difference up to $500 (within 90 days of purchase).

Return Guarantee: If a retailer won’t accept your return, Discover will provide up to $500 for eligible items (within 90 days of purchase).

Extended Warranty Protection: For eligible purchases, provides up to 1 additional year to a manufacturer’s warranty of 36 months or less.

Cash at Checkout: Use your Discover it card like a debit card to get cash back when shopping at participating retailers. The extra cash will simply be added to your purchase amount, and will fall under the regular purchase APR.

Zero Liability Protection: You won’t be held liable for fraudulent charges.

Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology: EMV technology provides better security, and more accessibility in foreign countries where magnetic stripe cards aren’t accepted.

Travel Benefits

Flight Accident Insurance: You and your eligible dependents (spouse, domestic partner, children) are covered against accidental death when flying, up to $500,000.

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against collision damage to rental vehicles, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.

The Verdict

As you can see, the extra perks that come with these cards are quite comparable.

A great feature that the Freedom card lacks is the free FICO score, which would normally cost you money. This will help you monitor your credit and see how your score changes over time and in response to changes in your finances.

You’ll get basically the same shopping benefits with each card, though the Discover it also has the useful Cash at Checkout feature, which can conveniently save you a trip to the ATM.

When it comes to travel, the Freedom card has a slight edge here. It will give you some benefits that the Discover it won’t, like Travel and Emergency Assistance Services, Roadside Dispatch, and more if you qualify for the Visa Signature level. These perks can definitely be useful, especially if you travel often, but it’s also possible that you won’t ever need them.

Chase Freedom Discover it

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Price Protection
  • Return Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Zero Liability Protection
  • Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology

Travel:

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Roadside Dispatch / Roadside Assistance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Visa Signature Travel Benefits:

  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement

Account:

  • Free FICO Score online

Shopping:

  • Purchase Protection
  • Price Protection
  • Return Guarantee
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Cash at Checkout
  • Zero Liability Protection
  • Chip-and-Signature EMV Technology

Travel:

  • Flight Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Intro APR Regular APR Intro Balance Transfer APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Chase Freedom $0 0% for 15 months 14.24%-23.24% *Variable 0% for 15 months 14.24%-23.24% *Variable 25.24% *Variable 3%
Discover it $0 0% for 12 Months 11.24% – 23.24% *Variable 0% for 12 Months 11.24% – 23.24% *Variable 25.24% *Variable 0%
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Chase Freedom See Terms Up to $35 Up to $35
Discover it None $0 the first time; up to $35 after that Up to $35

The Verdict

The costs and fees of these cards are quite similar – they both have quite long 0% introductory rates, though the Freedom’s is 3 months longer (not a major difference, in my opinion). After that, the regular purchase APRs are almost identical.

Neither of these cards have a penalty APR that could be applied if you miss a payment, but only Discover will forgive your first late payment (again, not a major difference, but a nice touch).

Other than that, the only real difference here is that the Freedom card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you won’t want to bring it with you when traveling out of the country. The Discover it has no transaction fee.

The Bottom Line

The biggest differences between the Chase Freedom and the Discover it are the rewards they offer.

Check the 5% categories above: do you find yourself in those stores often? Many people do, and chances are one of these cards could help you save some money on your everyday spending.

Keep in mind that the Discover it is also doubling the cash back that new cardholders earn after their first year, making this a very rewarding card.

10% off in those categories is a great discount, especially when you take a look at the savings you’ll get during the holiday season.

Unfortunately you won’t get a signup bonus with the Discover it like you do with the Freedom, but this is a small price to pay when you consider how long you’ll be using the card and racking up savings.

If you use the Chase Freedom or Discover it card, why do you like it? Click to leave your own review of the Freedom or Discover it card for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!

Was this helpful?
  • Freedom wins out for my mind purely because of the additional 10% bonus you get from opening a Chase checking account.

    • Vance Morgan

      Don’t forget that the Discover It also offers an additional 10-25% cashback at certain online stores when you visit them through Discover’s Website. For instant right now Dell and Apple are 10% cash back. It’s separate from the normal cashback. Also, the holiday shopping category for Discover beats out the Freedom, since it’s 5% back at all online shopping, so you can use it for amazon.com, or any other online retailer.

      • Mark

        Your last sentence is what is selling me on the Discover.

  • Adam Garrett

    I may have missed it in the article, but I don’t think I saw any discussion about the big advantage of the Freedom if you couple it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. If you have the Sapphire, and add the freedom to it, it can essentially double the value of each point if you use the points to transfer them to frequent flier miles (valued at around 2 cents per mile if you play the frequent flier mile game right) by first transferring them to your Sapphire account. That is huge.

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