Chase Freedom or Discover it: Who is the King of 5% Bonus Cash?

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Updated on Thursday, January 2, 2020

Chase Freedom or Discover it: Who is the King of 5% Bonus Cash?

If you’re going to use a credit card, choosing one that rewards you for spending is a given. Choosing the right card? That’s another story. With so many cards offering similar cash back programs and terms it can be difficult to choose one over another.

For example, should you get the Chase Freedom® or Discover it® Cash Back?

Both offer 5% cash back categories that change each quarter, with that 5% limited to your first $1,500 in spending on those categories each quarter. Where they differ is in the actual 5% bonus categories, the introductory bonus offer, and some fine print.

In this post, we’re going to dissect both cards and how they stack up against each other.

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

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

Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
14.99% to 23.74% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
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.

With Chase Freedom®, you can 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. Earn a $200 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Discover it® Cash Back

You earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online
shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. The 5% is limited to $1,500 spending per quarter, 1% after that.

  • January – March 2020Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
  • April – June 2020 – New! The Home Depot (June), Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and Wholesale Clubs
  • July – September 2020 – Restaurants and PayPal
  • October – December 2020 – Amazon.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com
All other purchases get unlimited 1% cash back, automatically. You can redeem cash back for gifts cards, statement credits, charitable donations, deposits to an account or merchandise.

Pros and Cons

Now, let’s dive into the pros and cons of both cash back programs.

Chase Freedom®

Pro: A competitive intro bonus for small spenders. Earn a $200 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
This sign-on bonus is great perk for new customers.

Pro: Flexible points. While you can always use your points for cash back, the Freedom earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. That means you can also use them for travel, gift cards, and other items. In addition, if you have another card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points you can combine the points for more reward opportunities.

Con: You need to activate your 5% bonus. Another negative of the Chase Freedom® card is the 5% bonus category requires activation each quarter. If you forget to subscribe to the program, you’ll only get 1% cash back for all spending, so this is a card that you’ll have to actively manage. Plus, the 5% bonus categories are announced quarterly, so it can be difficult to plan ahead.

Discover it® Cash Back

Pro: A good introductory offer for big spenders. You can get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically (new cardmembers only). That can really add up if you tend to be a big spender, though the catch is that bonus double cash back doesn’t hit your account until the very end of your first year. The Chase Freedom®‘s introductory offer hits your account after just 3 months worth of spending.

Con: You need to activate your 5% bonus. Like the Chase Freedom® card, Discover it® makes you subscribe to the 5% bonus place each quarter. You can set up email reminders, but it’s still a hassle to actively opt-in instead of being about to set that on auto pilot. So, again, this isn’t a card where you can passively earn cash back.

When to Consider Both Cards

Now, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds if it makes sense.

You can get both cards and alternate use throughout quarters so you can take advantage of both card’s 5% bonus categories to get 5% on more of your spending.

Of course, you’ll have to remember to activate each bonus category and label the cards in your wallet to know which one to use at what time.

But, if you spend in these areas anyway why not earn cash back for doing so?

There’s no annual fee for either card.

Other Cash Back Card Options

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Union

Regular Purchase APR
11.00% - 15.00% Variable
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter).

The Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card from Nusenda Credit Unionlet you Earn 3 bonus points, or 5% cash back, respectively, for every dollar they spend on purchases for movies, restaurants, and home improvements (up to $1,500 per quarter). Rates are 11.00% - 15.00% Variable APR with no balance transfer fee. There’s an intro 5% APR Intro Rate for all Balance Transfers (first six cycles after card opening).

Even better, you don’t have to activate the categories each quarter. Here are the 5% cash back categories in detail:

  • January to March – Groceries and gas expenses
  • April to June – Movies, restaurants and home improvement
  • July to September – Gas and education expenses
  • October to December – Restaurants, hotels and airfare
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Regular Purchase APR
13.99% - 23.99%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$0*
Rewards Rate
5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card has a rewards program that’s a little different than all three offers above. With this card you can earn 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases ($100 per quarter) on two categories you choose. That adds up to $400 cash back!

Which Card Will Benefit You the Most?

Overall, the Chase Freedom® and Discover it® Cash Backare similar cards. Both earn 5% cash back in revolving categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter you activate). If you’re making a choice of one over the other, your choice would ultimately depend on your spending habits, so you can use the card (or a combination of both cards) to maximize your regular purchases.

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