Updated on 05.05.17

Cash-Back Battle: Discover it® Cashback Match™ vs. Chase Freedom®

If you love the idea of earning cash back for each dollar you spend, any of the top cash-back credit cards are worth considering. Still, two cards – the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cashback Match™ – tend to remain incredibly popular despite other competing offers.

While a lot of cash-back cards offer 1% to 2% back, the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cashback Match™ work differently. Both cards offer the standard 1% cash back on all purchases, but each card includes a “bonus category” that rotates each quarter. With either the Chase Freedom® or the Discover it® Cashback Match™, you’ll earn 5% up to the quarterly maximum in bonus categories that change every three months. Best of all, neither card charges an annual fee.

Chase Freedom®

Highlights:

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

Discover it® Cashback Match™

Highlights:
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:

  • You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Chase Freedom® vs. Discover it® Cashback Match™

Which card should you choose? At the end of the day, these two rewards cards have more similarities than differences. Still, one card could leave you better off; it all depends on your personal spending habits and preferences.

Before we go any further, check out this chart to see how both offers stack up:

 Chase Freedom® Discover it® Cashback Match™
Annual Fee$0$0
Earnings StructureEarn 5 percent back in categories that rotate every quarter, plus 1 percent back on all purchasesEarn 5 percent back in categories that rotate every quarter, plus 1 percent back on all purchases
Foreign Transaction Fee3%0%
Redemption OptionsCash back, statement credits, gift cards, travel, or merchandiseCash back, gift cards, and purchases made through Amazon.com
Signup Bonus$150 after you spend $500 on your card within three months of account openingNo
Ongoing Bonus?NoDiscover will double your cash back earned the first 12 months

When you compare benefits side-by-side, it’s easy to see why both offers are popular. Both cards make it easy to earn cash back without an annual fee, and both let you redeem your points in more than one way. Earning 1% back is standard for a no-fee card, but earning 5% back in certain categories is stellar. Of course, your ability to benefit from this perk hinges on which categories each card offers.

So, what do they offer? Here are the 2016 bonus categories for both the Chase Freedom® and the Discover it® Cashback Match™:

Chase Freedom® 2016 Categories:

  • January – March: Gas stations and local commuter transportation
  • April – June: Grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • July – September: Restaurants and wholesale clubs
  • October – December: Department stores, wholesale clubs, and drugstores

Discover it® Cashback Match™ 2016 Categories:

  • January – March: Ground transportation
  • April – June: Restaurants and movies
  • July – September: Home improvement and Amazon.com
  • October – December: Amazon.com, department stores, and Sam’s Club

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ has also released its bonus category for the first quarter of 2017: gas stations, ground transportation, and wholesale clubs. Stay tuned to find out the full calendar of 2017 categories for both cards as they are released.

While the 5% bonus categories can play a big part in which card is best for your wallet, there are other factors to consider as well. If you want a signup bonus, for example, the Chase Freedom® is the clear winner. If you don’t mind waiting to earn extra rewards, on the other hand, the dollar-for-dollar cash back match offer that comes with the Discover it® Cashback Match™ is a huge benefit.

Here are a few signs you might be better off with either card:

You should get the Discover it® Cashback Match™ if…

  • You want to earn double rewards your first year. With Discover’s double cash promotion, you’ll earn double the cash back at the end of your first year. So, when you max out those 5% cash-back categories, you’ll wind up with 10% back after 12 months.
  • You love shopping on Amazon.com. Discover included Amazon.com in its bonus categories for the entire second half of 2016. If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon.com or are an Amazon Prime member, this is huge.
  • You want to use your cash back for gift cards, and purchases made through Amazon.com. Discover lets you redeem your cash back for Amazon.com purchases, and gift cards. If you love these options, this card will leave you in good shape when it comes to actually redeeming your rewards.
  • You don’t want to pay foreign transaction fees. Since the Discover it® – Cashback Match™ doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, it’s a handy card to have on overseas trips.

You should get the Chase Freedom® if…

  • You want to earn a signup bonus. The Chase Freedom® offers a $150 bonus after you use your card to make just $500 in purchases during the first three months of card ownership.
  • You want flexible options when it comes to redeeming your points. This card makes it easy to redeem points for cash back, gift cards, purchases made through Amazon.com, and travel.
  • You don’t plan to use your card for purchases made overseas. This card is a good option if you don’t plan to travel overseas, or if you have another credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees to use when you travel.
  • You have a premier Chase travel credit card. If you travel often and carry a premier Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Freedom® might be a better option. With both cards, you can pool points in your Preferred account and score optimal travel redemption options.

Other Benefits to Consider

Beyond the obvious, there are other benefits to consider with both cards. If you shop online often, for example, you’ll be happy to know that both cards offer a shopping portal that lets you earn additional points.

With the Chase Freedom®, you can earn additional points just by clicking through the Ultimate Rewards shopping mall before you buy something online or book travel. On the flip side, Discover it® Cashback Match™ gives you access to Discover Deals – a card-centered rewards mall that helps consumers save on every online purchase they make.

Chase Freedom®’s consumer protections also give it a leg up. By signing up for this card, you’ll score purchase protection, extended warranty protection, auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside assistance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and travel accident insurance.

Discover, on the other hand, offers price protection, guaranteed returns on certain items, extended warranties, purchase protection, travel accident insurance, and auto rental collision damage waiver. They skimp, however, when it comes to trip cancellation/interruption insurance and lost baggage reimbursement.

Discover does offer your free FICO score when you check your account online, which is a huge perk if you’re watching your credit closely.

Final Thoughts

The Chase Freedom® and Discover it® Cashback Match™ are solid rewards cards that many consumers rely on. With no annual fee, plenty of ways to earn extra rewards, and a slew of consumer protections, it’s no wonder people sign up for these cards in droves.

If you’re trying to decide between the two, it really boils down to your spending habits and goals. While you can’t go wrong with either card, it’s possible one card would leave you with more rewards over time. Which one? Only you can decide.

Do you have either of these cards? How did you pick?

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