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Several cash back credit cards earn up to 5% back on certain purchases. Two of the most popular 5% cash back credit cards are the Discover it® and Chase Freedom Flex℠. This head-to-head Discover it vs Chase Freedom Flex comparison lets you decide which is the better 5% cash back card.
Discover it vs Chase Freedom Flex Review
Both cards earn 5% back on the first $1500 in quarterly bonus purchases and 1% for everything else. That’s potentially $300 cash rewards back in your pocket each year. Neither card has an annual fee.
Visa vs Discover Acceptance Rate
Basically any merchant in the U.S. or world who accepts credit cards will accept a Visa credit card. The Chase Freedom Flex is a Mastercard product but it does have a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Discover credit cards have a longstanding reputation for offering some of the best purchase rewards. However, not as many merchants accept Discover as they do Visa or Mastercard. The Discover it doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee but not every country has merchants that accept Discover. When traveling abroad, merchants that accept Diners Club also accept Discover credit cards, including the Discover it.
5% Cash Back Calendar
Both cards give you 5% back on the first $1,500 on select purchases each calendar quarter. There are many overlapping categories. Note that both cards usually don’t award the 5% bonus cash for the same category in the same quarter. For instance, the Discover it gave 5% back for grocery stores in the 1st quarter of 2019. The Chase Freedom Flex did the same in the 2nd quarter.
The bonus categories vary a little bit each year. In time, you might decide to get both cards to earn 5% back on your favorite purchases for a longer time.
Chase Freedom Flex
You earn 5% back (5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent) on the first $1500 in quarterly purchases, once activated (you can usually activate via clicking on an email or in the Chase app). All spending above $1500 earns an unlimited 1% back.
- 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1% back)
- 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
- 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
- 1% on all other purchases
There isn’t an annual fee.
You earn 5% on the first $1500 in combined bonus purchases per quarter, also once activated (usually via email or an app). All other purchases earn 1% back.
Verdict: Chase Freedom Flex
What other credit cards you use may also influence which is the better card. The reason why is that your Chase Freedom Flex points might be worth more if you have another Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards. It is also one of the best Chase credit cards.
Chase Freedom Flex
Each Chase Freedom Flex purchase earns 1, 3, or 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent. Every point is worth 1 cent when redeemed for cash statement credits or bank account deposits, booking travel through Chase, or gift cards. Your points are worth 0.8 cents each for Amazon.com shopping credit or other retail partners including Apple.
There is no minimum redemption amount for cash rewards. But you will need to have a minimum balance (between $5 and $20 for most brands) for gift cards.
Travel Redemption Bonus
Here’s where the Chase Freedom Flex gets more interesting. Your points are worth 1.25 cents each if you transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card account. And if you own the Chase Sapphire Reserve, these points are worth 1.5 cents each when booking award travel.
All three cards also let you transfer your points to the Ultimate Rewards 1:1 airline and hotel partners including United Airlines, Southwest, Emirates, British Airways, and World of Hyatt.
The Discover it redemption options don’t offer a backdoor travel redemption bonus like the Chase Freedom Flex.
Your points are worth one cent each and redeemable for cash statement credits, bank deposits, charity donations, gift cards, and Amazon shopping points.
The Discover gift card options require a minimum of $20 balance. Other cash rewards start at one penny so redeeming for cash is the easier option.
Both cards offer a signup bonus where you can earn a one-time cash bonus.
Chase Freedom Flex
New Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Discover matches every penny of every reward you earn in the first 12 months. Whether you earn $1 or $500 in rewards that the first year, Discover doubles it. You have the possibility of earning more with this bonus. But you will need to spend at least $3000 in the 5% bonus categories to break even. This bonus deposits into your account as one lump-sum payment at the end of the first 12 months.
Verdict: Chase Freedom Flex. Unless you’re a big spender, the Chase Freedom Flex bonus is easier to earn and deposits into your account sooner.
Other Card Benefits
Cash back credit cards are not known for having many exciting additional benefits (though some of the best cash back credit cards do have their own perks). Here is what both cards offer.
Chase Freedom Flex
- DoorDash benefits
- Phone insurance benefits
- Contactless payments
The Chase Freedom Flex has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
- FICO credit score monitoring
- Social Security number alerts
- No late fee on first late payment
- Overnight card replacement to U.S. street addresses
- No foreign transaction fee
Although the Discover it doesn’t have an annual fee, it has less-universal acceptance across the globe than the Chase Freedom Mastercard. For international travel, consider getting one of the best credit cards for travel rewards instead.
Verdict: Tie (both are valuable for no annual fee cards)
Credit Score Needed
You will have the best approval odds for the Discover it or Chase Freedom Flex with a minimum 700 credit score. Having a 750 credit score or higher gives you the best approval odds.
Also, the Chase 5/24 application guidelines apply to the Chase Freedom Flex. If you have opened or been added as an authorized user to at least 5 credit cards in the last 24 months, Chase will most likely decline your application. This is even if you have a perfect credit score.
If you are close to the 5/24 mark, see if you prequalify for a credit card before you apply. It’s free to check and doesn’t impact your credit score.
When the Chase Freedom Flex Wins
- Own other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Like redeeming your points for cash or travel rewards
- Prefer Mastercard credit cards for near-universal acceptance
When the Discover it Wins
- Points are worth the same for cash or Amazon.com rewards
- Can use the free credit monitoring tools
- Want a card with no foreign transaction fee
Both the Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it offer 5% back on many of the same categories. The better card depends on if you already earn Chase Ultimate Rewards with another card. Also, you must decide if where you normally shop accepts either card.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.