Chase Freedom Flex vs. Discover it Cash Back: Freedom Flex Offers More Ways to Save

An image to accompany a story about the Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back cards Getty Images
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Rotating cash back credit cards with quarterly bonus categories can make great financial tools to save money across the everyday categories you spend most. And while categories that change quarterly might require more strategizing than other types of cash back cards, these cards often offer boosted rewards rates to help you maximize spending. 

Two of the most popular cards in this category are the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Discover it® Cash Back. Both offer 5% back in rotating bonus categories upon activation (up to $1,500 in quarterly spending, then 1%), an introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers, and other benefits to help put more cash back in your wallet. 

But if you’re considering a rotating cash back card, there are distinct differences that can help you determine which of these options is a better fit for you. Here’s what you need to know to decide between the Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back cards.

Side by Side Comparison

Chase Freedom FlexDiscover it Cash Back
Annual Fee$0$0
Welcome Offer$200 bonus when you spend $500 within three months of account openingCashback Match: Discover will double all your rewards after the first year
Cash Back RewardsEarn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating categories (then 1% back)

Earn 5% back on the first $12,000 you spend at grocery stores the first year (then 1% back)

Earn 5% back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Lyft rides (through March 2022)

Earn 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases

Earn 1% back on other spending
Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating categories upon activation (then 1% back)

Earn 1% back on other spending
Other Benefits• 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%

• 3 months of DashPass membership from DoorDash (must be activated by 12/31/21)

• Cell phone protection

• Extended warranties

• Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

• World Elite Mastercard benefits like a ShopRunner membership, credits for Lyft rides and more
• 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, followed by a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99%

Bonus Comparison

These cards each have lucrative welcome bonuses, but the offers are much different.

With Chase Freedom Flex, you can earn $200 in bonus cash when you spend $500 within three months of account opening — a solid welcome offer from any cash back card.

Discover it Cash Back, on the other hand, has a more unconventional offer. At the end of your first year, you’ll automatically double the rewards you’ve earned so far with a dollar-for-dollar match from Discover. 

Depending on how much you plan to spend, the Discover welcome bonus could be worth more. For example, say you max out rotating categories each quarter of your first year, earning 5% cash back on $1,500 in quarterly spending upon activation, for a total $300 cash back (then 1% back). With the match bonus, you’d get an additional $300 at the end of the year. 

But if you’re looking for a more traditional bonus that you can earn more quickly, the Chase Freedom Flex might be a better choice. You only have to spend $500 within three months (or at least $167 on your card for three months in a row) to earn $200, and Chase doesn’t make you wait a full year to receive your bonus — the card’s terms and conditions say you’ll get your bonus cash within six to eight weeks after qualifying.

Rewards and Benefits Comparison

Both of these cash back credit cards offer 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories upon activation, then 1% back. 

But a few differences can change how you use each card in practice. For one, Discover announces its entire Discover Cash Back calendar for the year in advance, whereas Chase reveals new quarterly Chase Freedom bonus categories only a few weeks before a new quarter begins. And while you must activate quarterly categories with both cards, Chase gives a bit more flexibility. As long as you activate your Chase Freedom Flex categories by the deadline, any eligible spending within the quarter will earn the 5% bonus rate, even retroactively. With Discover it Cash Back, only eligible spending on your card after you activate the quarterly categories will apply.

Pro Tip

The Chase Freedom Flex also offers added perks through its World Elite Mastercard designation. You’ll get benefits like cell phone protection, a ShopRunner membership, credits for Lyft rides and more.

Specific quarterly categories for both cards change from year to year, but generally involve everyday spending, such as groceries and gas, and specific retailers that may often be excluded from other cash back categories, like Walmart and Target. Here’s an overview of each card’s 2021 rotating bonus categories:

Chase Freedom FlexDiscover it Cash Back 
January – March 2021Select streaming services, internet, cable, and phone services, wholesale clubsGrocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April – June 2021Gas stations, home improvement storesGas stations, wholesale clubs, select streaming services
July – September 2021Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), select streaming servicesRestaurants and PayPal
October – December 2021Walmart, PayPalAmazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com

In addition to 5% back in rotating bonus categories, the Chase Freedom Flex earns more bonus rewards in additional categories that don’t change. You’ll get 5% back on the first $12,000 you spend at grocery stores the first year (then 1% back), 5% back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1% back on other purchases. Through Dec. 2021, you can earn an additional 5% back on your top spend category for the quarter, after you activate quarterly categories. Eligible top spend categories include travel (including transit), dining, home improvement stores, grocery stores (not including Target or Walmart), drug stores, gas stations, select live entertainment, select streaming services, and fitness clubs.

Discover it Cash Back earns just 1% on all spending not eligible for the 5% quarterly categories.

APRs

Both cards offer an introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers, making both cards good options for paying off a large upcoming purchase over time or paying down an existing debt balance. 

The intro APR from Chase lasts for a slightly longer 15 months, compared to 14 months with the Discover it Cash Back. After the initial 0% APR period, both cards charge comparable variable APRs — 14.99%-24.74% for Chase Freedom Flex, and 11.99%-22.99% for Discover it Cash Back. 

Fees

Neither of these cards charge an annual fee. You won’t pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases made abroad with the Discover it Cash Back, but the Chase Freedom Flex charges a 3% foreign transaction fee when you use it for purchases outside the United States.

If you’re looking to take advantage of either card’s 0% APR balance transfer offer, you’ll incur a fee on your balance. With the Discover it Cash Back, you’ll pay a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) through Feb. 10, 2022. The fee for balance transfers goes up to 5% after that. Similarly, the Chase Freedom Flex charges a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) on balances transferred during the first 60 days, after which the fee goes up to 5%.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site
Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    11.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Editor’s Score: (4.7/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99% – 24.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Apply Now externa link icon At Chase’s secure site

Deciding Between Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

Both the Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back can make an excellent choice for people looking for flexible rotating cash back cards with 5% rewards, but the Chase Freedom Flex is our winner. It has additional bonus categories to boost your cash back earnings, a slightly longer 0% APR offer, and a solid welcome offer. 

With that being said, one major advantage of the Discover it Cash Back is knowing each of the upcoming year’s quarterly categories in advance, so if you prefer to plan your budget early, this card could be a better option for you.

With either card, be prepared to strategize your spending so you can maximize the rotating bonus categories each quarter and get the most from your spending. Rotating bonus category cards are also well-suited for pairing with other cash back cards — a card with flat 2% rewards, for example, can make a great backup for all of your non-bonus spending. Before you apply, take time to compare all the top credit card offers to find the right fit.