Discover it® Cash Back Card
vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Updated: June 21, 2024

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Both the Discover it® Cash Back Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offer enticing cash back rewards and no annual fee, making them strong contenders for your wallet. If maximizing cash back is your goal, the Chase Freedom Unlimited edges ahead with its higher overall cash back score and a generous introductory offer.

However, for those who prefer an excellent balance transfer card, the Discover it Cash Back has a competitive introductory APR offer and a unique cash back match feature in the first year. While both cards cater to the same credit score range, the Discover it Cash Back's rotating categories could be a draw for those who don't mind keeping track of the bonus rewards calendar.

Credit Card logo for Discover it® Cash Back Card
Discover it® Cash Back Card
Credit Card logo for Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
MoneyGeek Rating
3.8/ of 5
MoneyGeek Rating
3.8/ of 5

  • Regular APR
    17.24%–28.24% variable
    20.49%–29.24% variable
    0% APR Offer
    0% intro APR for 15 months
    0% intro APR for 15 months
    Intro Offer
    Matches cash back earned at the end of the first 12 months
    Earn an additional 1.5% cash back
    Rewards Summary
    Earn 1%–5% cash back
    Earn 1.5% – 6.5% cash back
    Balance Transfer Offer
    0% intro APR for 15 months
    0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months
    Balance Transfer Fee
    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)
    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
    Annual Fee
    $0
    $0
    Recommended Credit
    670–850 (Good to Excellent)
    670–850 (Good to Excellent)
    Penalty APR
    None
    Up to 29.99% (variable)
    Not sure?

Which Card Is Better for You?

You might prefer the Discover it Cash Back if you are organized and can take full advantage of the rotating bonus categories to earn higher cash back rates. The unique first-year cash back match can significantly boost your rewards, especially if you plan your purchases around the bonus categories.

You might prefer the Freedom Unlimited if you value a consistent cash back rate on all purchases and want to earn more on travel, dining and drugstore purchases without worrying about activating bonus categories. The additional cash back in the first year on up to $20,000 spent can be a substantial perk if your spending aligns with these categories.

Head-to-Head Comparison: Card Details and Features

Evaluating APRs, fees, credit requirements, rewards and other features clarifies which card aligns with your spending and financial goals. For instance, if you frequently spend on dining and travel, Freedom Unlimited's rewards structure could be advantageous. If you prefer maximizing cash back through rotating categories, Discover it Cash Back may suit your strategy.

    discount icon

    Regular APR: Discover it Cash Back

    For regular APR, the Discover it Cash Back is preferable. It offers a lower APR range of 17.24% to 28.24% than Freedom Unlimited's 20.49% to 29.24%.

    annualFee icon

    Annual Fee: Tie

    Both the Freedom Unlimited and the Discover it Cash Back offer the advantage of a $0 annual fee, making them equally appealing for those looking to avoid extra costs.

    lowInterestAPR icon

    Introductory 0% APRs: Tie

    Both the Discover it Cash Back and Freedom Unlimited offer a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. However, the Discover card has a lower introductory balance transfer fee of 3% than Chase's 3% fee that increases to 5% after 60 days. Despite this, the overall value considering the duration and terms of the 0% APR offers results in a tie.

    coins icon

    Rewards: Freedom Unlimited

    The Freedom Unlimited card is better for rewards, offering 3% on dining and drugstores, 5% on travel through Chase Travel℠ and 1.5% on all other purchases. Its effective reward rate is 4.5, which is higher than Discover it Cash Back's 3.0.

    rewards icon

    Welcome Offers: Freedom Unlimited

    The Freedom Unlimited offers a better welcome offer, with an additional 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year, potentially worth up to $300 cash back. In contrast, Discover it Cash Back matches cash back at the end of the first 12 months but with a significantly lower return on investment.

    creditApproved icon

    Recommended Credit Score: Discover it Cash Back

    Both cards cater to users with good to excellent credit scores (670 to 850). However, the Discover it Cash Back has a slightly higher accessibility rating, making it potentially better for those on the lower end of the good credit spectrum.

    autopay icon

    Penalties and Fees: Discover it Cash Back

    The Discover it Cash Back is better for penalties and fees, offering no penalty APR and no foreign transaction fees and with the first late payment fee waived.

    points icon

    Issuer Satisfaction: Discover it Cash Back

    The Discover it Cash Back card leads with Discover Bank having an issuer satisfaction rating of 4.5. Chase Bank, which issues Freedom Unlimited, has a rating of 4.1. This suggests that Discover Bank customers generally have a more positive experience.

    airplane icon

    Other Features & Perks: Tie

    Both cards offer unique perks. Discover It Cash Back offers 24/7 US-based customer service, free Social Security number alerts and online privacy protection. It also provides a $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee, which means you are not liable for unauthorized purchases. Freedom Unlimited provides high cash back rates on travel purchased through the Chase Travel℠. Chase also helps you monitor your credit with Chase Credit Journey.

Rewards Comparison

The Freedom Unlimited card leads with a strong rewards program, offering 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5% on all other purchases. Its introductory offer is particularly attractive, providing an additional 1.5% cash back on up to $20,000 spent in the first year.

While the Discover it Cash Back card doesn't match these rates on everyday spending, its rotating 5% cash back categories, which are announced quarterly, can be highly lucrative if they align with your spending patterns. These categories include spending areas such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and Amazon.com. Activation is required, so staying informed and proactive is key to maximizing the 5% cash back offer.

The table below details each card's bonus categories, helping you compare their rewards programs at a glance.

Category
Discover it Cash Back
Freedom Unlimited

Travel

1%

5% if purchased through Chase Travel℠

Dining

1%

3%

Drugstores

1%

3%

Rotating Categories

5% on rotating categories each quarter upon activation, up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%

N/A

All Other Purchases

1%

1.5%

Redeeming Rewards

Discover it Cash Back allows you to redeem cash back rewards at any time as statement credit, gift cards, donations or an electronic deposit to an account you choose. Rewards do not expire, but any accumulated cash back is forfeited if the account is inactive for 18 months or closed.

Freedom Unlimited allows for cash back redemption at any amount, with no expiration as long as the account remains open. Options include statement credits, direct deposits, Amazon's shop with points and gift cards.

Methodology

MoneyGeek evaluates credit cards like the Discover it Cash Back and Freedom Unlimited using a ranking process tailored to specific use cases. For instance, the Discover it Cash Back is assessed for its balance transfer features, while the Freedom Unlimited is gauged on its cash back rewards.

For balance transfer cards, the biggest factors influencing these scores include the introductory purchase APR and the regular APR; for cash back cards, the influencing factors are the effective reward rate and the regular APR for cash back rewards. For a deeper understanding of our comprehensive scoring system, you can explore our ranking methodology.

FAQ: Discover it Cash Back vs. Freedom Unlimited

What are the main differences in rewards between the Discover it Cash Back and Freedom Unlimited cards?
Do either of the cards have an annual fee?
Which card offers a better introductory APR period?
How do the foreign transaction fees compare between the two cards?
Can I earn a welcome bonus with either card?

About Doug Milnes, CFA


Doug Milnes, CFA headshot

Doug Milnes is a CFA charter holder with over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and the Head of Credit Cards at MoneyGeek. Formerly, he performed valuations for Duff and Phelps and financial planning and analysis for various companies. His analysis has been cited by U.S. News and World Report, The Hill, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and many other outlets.

Milnes holds a master’s degree in data science from Northwestern University. He geeks out on helping people feel on top of their credit card use, from managing debt to optimizing rewards.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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