By  Wed Dec 11, 2013

Comparing Chase Freedom vs. Discover It Cash Back Credit Cards

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Chase Freedom and Discover It are two cash back credit cards that are often compared against one another because of their similar features. In addition to having no annual fees, both cards offer 5% cash back on purchases in certain categories that change every quarter. However, if you’re considering one of the two cards, their 2014 cash back calendars and slight differences in card benefits will drive your decision.

The Chase Freedom and Discover It card programs require cardmembers to sign up to receive 5% cash back on quarterly-rotating categories, which are typically appropriate for the corresponding season. (Both cards provide 1% cash back on all other purchases.)

By knowing the bonus cash back categories for any particular quarter, cardmembers can plan their purchases to maximize the amount of cash back that they receive from shopping.

Chase released the 5% cash back categories for the entire 2014 year while Discover only reveals the cash back categories in the months before a new quarter begins. However, Discover hinted at the themes — through images on its website — for bonus cash back categories for 2014. Compared to 2013’s quarterly categories, it appears that 2014’s quarterly categories will be the same. (Note: Discover can change these categories at any time.)

Compare the two cards’ 5% cash back categories for 2014:

2014 Quarter Chase Freedom Discover It
Q1 (Jan. - March) Gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks stores Restaurants and movies
Q2 (April - June Restaurants and Lowe's home improvement stores *Image: Paint roller (2013 - Home improvement)
Q3 (July - Sept.) Gas stations and Kohl's *Image: Car's gas meter (2013 - Gas stations)
Q4 (Oct. - Dec.) Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select department stores *Image: Gift ribbon (2013 - Online shopping)

Chase is offering 5% cash back on gas for two quarters of the year, which may be attractive to if you drive often. Additionally, Chase offers 5% cash back at Amazon.com during the holiday season — with a large potential for gift-givers.

Unlike Chase, Discover doesn’t usually limit their 5% cash back categories to specific retailers, which could come as a benefit to certain shoppers. For instance, if you want to shop at a home improvement store, but not Lowe’s specifically, you can still earn 5% cash back.

Both cards have a $1,500 maximum spending on 5% cash back categories per quarter. So, the total cash back that you can earn through those categories is $75 per quarter. Spending in excess of that amount will earn the standard 1% cash back.

Benefits beyond cash back programs

If the cash back programs don’t play into your decision process, then other card benefits will help guide you to your choice between the Chase Freedom and Discover It cards.

Chase Freedom offers a 10% bonus on the amount of cash back that you earn when you also have a Chase checking account.

Discover It does have not penalty APRs, no fee for the first late payment and no foreign transaction fees. One cool perk is a free FICO credit score every month.

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Add Your 2 Cents

  • Dijon Red

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  • Roger

    You missed to note that Discover also offers huge shopping bonuses on Amazon and other retailers when Credit Card users use their Discover cashback bonus shopping through the Discover site… sometimes up to 30% at a wide range of retailers, all year around.