Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Discover it® Cash Back: Consistency wins

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In a Nutshell

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® wins the head-to-head cash back battle against the Discover it® Cash Back thanks to its long-term value and straightforward earning ability. The card also offers strong everyday bonus categories, plus a good rate on all other purchases.
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This offer is no longer available on our site: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Looking to add a new cash back credit card to your wallet? See how the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Discover it® Cash Back stack up.

Could either the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Discover it® Cash Back be right for you? Let’s take a closer look at how these two cards compare when it comes to rewards points, redemption options and other perks.

Winner: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

If you’re looking for a cash back credit card with long-term value plus strong first-year incentives, Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the clear winner over Discover it® Cash Back thanks to its straightforward cash back categories, everyday rewards rate and sign-up bonus.

If you don’t want to do any additional legwork to earn bonus cash back on several different categories, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card will be a good fit for you. Plus, its base cash back rate of 1.5% means you’ll earn cash back at a decent rate even without tracking the categories you’re spending in.

That said, the Discover it® Cash Back also offers a lot of potential value. Read on to learn more about how the two cards stack up against each other.

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Discover it® Cash Back

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Chase Freedom Unlimited® vs. Discover it® Cash Back

Chase Freedom Unlimited®Discover it® Cash Back
Highest cash back rate5%5%
Everyday cash back rate1.5%1%
Sign-up bonus$200 after spending $500 on purchases in the first three monthsDollar-for-dollar match on all cash back earned in your first year

What you need to know about each card

Let’s take a closer looks at each card’s major features to see how they compare.

Cash back structure: Toss up

If you’re looking for consistent, long-term value, Chase Freedom Unlimited® is the clear winner. But comparing rates and categories side-by-side is tricker since these cards have different cash back structures.

The Discover it® Cash Back card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in qualifying purchases in categories that rotate quarterly. To earn the bonus rate, you must activate each quarter. You’ll earn 1% cash back on bonus category purchases after hitting the quarterly spending cap, as well as on all other purchases.

The value you can get from the Discover it® Cash Back card really depends on your personal shopping preferences. Since the bonus categories change quarterly, you may max out the $1,500 limit one quarter but not the next. Or, if all the shopping categories line up with your favorite places to make purchases, you might max it out every quarter.

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you won’t have to worry about rotating bonus categories or cash back caps. Instead, you’ll earn a consistent 5% cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and on gas station purchases on up to $6,000 spent in your first year. You’ll also get 3% cash back on restaurant and drugstore purchases. Plus, you’ll get 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Everyday cash back rate: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® clearly wins this one with its 1.5% flat rate on all other purchases. With the Discover it® Cash Back card, you only get a 1% rate on purchases outside of the bonus categories.

Sign-up bonus: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a generous $200 sign-up bonus that you can earn by spending $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

The sign-up bonuses between these two cards are tricky to compare because of the unique nature of the Discover it® Cash Back card’s bonus. Instead of a traditional sign-up bonus, Discover matches all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year of card membership.

This unlimited cash back match at the end of your first year with Discover it® Cash Back sounds impressive. But unless you’re maximizing your bonus-category spending, you might have to spend a lot more with Discover it® Cash Back to earn the same amount that you’d get with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® sign-up bonus.

What to consider when applying for cash back credit cards

Cash back credit cards generally focus on offering cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit rather than flashy redemption options. Some cards require you to earn a minimum amount of cash back before redeeming your rewards, though.

When looking at these cards, it’s important to consider any annual fee and whether it outweighs the total cash back you expect to earn. Thankfully, neither of these cards has an annual fee.

While higher-earning cash back bonuses and rotating categories can be important, you should carefully consider how much money you’ll actually spend in those categories to see if they fit in with your lifestyle.

Not sure either card is for you? Consider these alternatives.

Here are a few other cards that you might want to take a look at if neither the Chase Freedom Unlimited® nor Discover it® Cash Back is a good fit.

  • Citi Custom Cash® Card: If you’re a credit card rewards and travel enthusiast, you may find this card’s earning and redemption potential outweigh a cash back card’s benefits.
  • Citi® Double Cash Card: If you don’t want to mess with cash back categories, this card earns a solid cash back rate on all purchases and payments.
  • Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card: If you want control over your top cash back category, this card allows you to pick from a list of popular options every month.

About the author: Lance Cothern is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. His work has appeared on Business Insider, USA and his website, Lance holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in … Read more.