Table of Contents In this article

Why You Can Trust CNET Money

CNET Money’s mission is to help you maximize your financial potential. Our recommendations are based on our editors’ independent research and analysis, and we continuously update our content to reflect current partner offers. How we rate credit cards
Advertiser Disclosure

CNET editors independently choose every product and service we cover. Though we can’t review every available financial company or offer, we strive to make comprehensive, rigorous comparisons in order to highlight the best of them. For many of these products and services, we earn a commission. The compensation we receive may impact how products and links appear on our site.

Chase Freedom Flex vs. Discover it Cash Back

Both rewards credit cards feature revolving bonus categories, but which one is better?

CNET'S PICK
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Learn More

Chase Freedom Flex℠

9.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
$200 Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee
$0
APR
20.49% - 29.24% Variable
Rewards rate
1% - 5% 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!; 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Rewards
Introductory APR
Card perks
Travel benefits
5%
5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
5%
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
3%
3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
1%
Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Best for
Rewards
Introductory APR
Card perks
Travel benefits
Discover it® Cash Back
Learn More

Discover it® Cash Back

7.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual fee
$0
APR
17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR
Rewards rate
1% - 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.; Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Welcome offer
Introductory APR
5%
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
1%
Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Best for
Welcome offer
Introductory APR

The Chase Freedom Flex℠* and Discover it® Cash Back* are both rare cards that offer a rotating rewards category on popular purchase categories. But while the Discover it Cash Back might be a better option for those who travel abroad and want to avoid the cost of foreign transaction fees, the Freedom Flex offers more year-round reward categories and extra perks -- making it a better option for most people.

Rewards

Winner: Freedom Flex

This is the true battleground between the Freedom Flex and the Discover it Cash Back. Both feature revolving quarterly cash-back categories. Both cards need you to manually activate the bonus category quarter. 

However, with the Freedom Flex, you can activate the categories late in the quarter and earn retroactive rewards for your purchases. For example, for the first quarter of 2024, as long as you activate by March 14, 2024 you will earn the 5% for category purchases dating back to January 1, 2024. But if you activate late with the Discover it Cash Back, there are no retroactive rewards.

Past bonus categories are pretty similar across both cards, including grocery stores and gas stations Here’s the current reward offering for each card:

  • Freedom Flex: Grocery stores (excluding Target and Walmart), fitness clubs and gym memberships, and self-care and spa services
  • Discover it Cash Back: Restaurants and drug stores

Both cards have a quarterly spending limit of $1,500 for their 5% cash back categories before rewards fall to 1% cash back. That means you can only earn a maximum of $75 with either card each quarter before the rewards rate drops.

The rewards programs are comparable, but the Freedom Flex has an edge thanks to its addtional 3% cash back for dining and drug stores and 5% cash back for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Neither category has a spending limit. 

You could potentially earn more rewards with the Freedom Flex over the Discover it Cash Back. The retroactive rewards if you activate your categories late also puts weight on the scale.

Welcome bonus

Winner: Discover it Cash Back

Take a look at each welcome bonus:

  • Freedom Flex: You earn $200 after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening
  • Discover it Cash Back: You’ll earn an Unlimited Cashback Match™, which means Discover will essentially double the cash back you earn at the end of your first year with the card.

Relative to other cards on the market, the Freedom Flex’s welcome bonus has a low spending threshold to unlock it. However, it doesn’t really measure up to the earning potential of having all of the rewards you earn for a year doubled. But you will have to be patient to earn the Unlimited Cashback Match™, as it won’t be distributed to your account until after the year is up.

Introductory APR

Winner: Tie

The introductory APR offers are nearly identical:

  • Freedom Flex: 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 20.49% to 29.24% variable)
  • Discover it Cash Back: 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 17.24% to 28.24% variable). 

While both cards allow cardholders to either make a large, planned purchase or transfer a balance to avoid interest charges, they differ slightly in their terms surrounding balance transfers.

The Freedom Flex has an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 minimum) so long as any transfers are made within 60 days, otherwise it’ll be 5% ($5 minimum). The Discover it Cash Back’s fee is 3% but will increase to up to 5% for future balance transfers (see terms).

So both cards are on pretty equal footing here. However, neither card is exactly suited to a balance transfer. There are balance transfer credit cards specifically designed to help eliminate some credit card debt, and even some without balance transfer fees.

Travel

Winner: Freedom Flex

While neither card is billed as a travel card, both share some aspects with them. The Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and features auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, plus travel and emergency assistance services. However, it’s hampered by its foreign transaction fees.

The Discover it Cash Back on the other hand features no foreign transaction fees which makes it a better choice for people traveling abroad. You’ll be able to save an average of 3% on each overseas transaction thanks to the lack of foreign transaction fees, though there are no other travel perks.

Additional card perks

Winner: Freedom Flex

There’s no contest in this category. The Discover it Cash Back offers nothing more than the standard fraud protections, while the Freedom Flex also provides cardholders with:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Cell phone protection

Between its strong rewards and impressive selection of benefits for a card without an annual fee, the Freedom Flex is hard to beat.

How Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back compare to other cards

CNET’S PICK
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Learn More

Chase Freedom Flex℠

9.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
$200 Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee
$0
APR
20.49% – 29.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Rewards rate
1% – 5% 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!; 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Discover it® Cash Back
Learn More

Discover it® Cash Back

7.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Cashback Match™ Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
Annual fee
$0
APR
17.24% – 28.24% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 15 months
Rewards rate
1% – 5% Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.; Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Learn More

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Earn a $200 bonus Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee
$0
APR
20.49% – 29.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Rewards rate
1.5% – 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; 1.5% on all other purchases

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a versatile cash-back credit card to add to your wallet, choose the Freedom Flex. The Discover it Cash Back certainly gives it a run for its money, but it can’t compete with its expansive rewards program and additional card perks, despite having one of the best welcome bonuses in the industry.

FAQs

You can activate the rotating quarterly rewards category by heading to your account page with either issuer.

You could, but there is a lot of redundancy between the Discover it Cash Back and the Chase Freedom Flex. There are also implications to applying for multiple credit cards at once.

rewards credit card typically puts more emphasis on providing a strong return on your general spending, whether that be for gas, groceries, streaming services, or dining. Travel credit cards typically include additional card perks like annual statement credits and airport lounge access. Their rewards can typically be used to cover airfare or other travel expenses.

*All information about the Discover it Cash Back, Chase Freedom Flex, and Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.