Analysis

Which Is Better for Rotating 5% Rewards?

With most cash back cards, the bonus categories don’t change. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Discover it® Cash Back are two of the most popular exceptions. They inject a little spontaneity into their credit card rewards programs with rotating quarterly 5% categories.

Both cards have useful perks. But between the two, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers more value for most cardholders. Keep reading to find out why, and to see one situation where the Discover it® Cash Back could have the edge.

The Chase Freedom Flex has rotating and fixed bonus categories

The Discover it® Cash Back offers rotating bonus categories — and that’s pretty much it. This card earns 5% back in different categories every quarter when you activate, up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 in purchases. It earns 1% on other purchases.

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That used to be a competitive rate. Then, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ came along and blew it out of the water. It earns:

  • 5% in bonus categories each quarter that you activate, on up to $1,500 in combined purchases
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel
  • 5% on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025
  • 3% on dining, including at restaurants, takeout, and orders through eligible delivery services
  • 3% at drugstores
  • 1% on other purchases

You’re almost sure to earn more cash back with Chase. The quarterly bonus categories vary, but both credit cards have good rotations of useful categories. And with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you’re also earning bonus cash back on Chase Travel bookings, Lyft rides, dining, and at drugstores.

It also offers complimentary protections that Discover® doesn’t

Another area where this Chase credit card has a huge advantage is its extra protections. Here are protections that come with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ but not the Discover it® Cash Back:

  • Purchase protection covering new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • Extended warranty protection adding one year to the U.S. manufacturer’s original warranty, on eligible warranties of three years or less
  • Cellphone protection against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellphone bill with this Chase card, up to a maximum of $800 per claim and $1,000 per year ($50 deductible per claim, maximum of two claims per 12-month period)
  • Auto rental damage collision waiver for theft and collision coverage on most cars in the United States and abroad, when you decline the rental company’s collision coverage and charge the entire cost to this Chase card

These are all benefits that you hopefully won’t have to use too often — if at all. But they’re nice to have.

Benefits like this give you peace of mind. I always feel better about paying for an expensive new item with a card that has purchase protection. And in a worst-case scenario where a new purchase gets stolen, or an item breaks down right after the original warranty ends, protections like these could save you a lot of money.

The Discover it® Cash Back could be better for big spenders, at least in the first year

So far, it has been a clear win for Chase. But there is an area where Discover may offer more value than Chase: Welcome offers.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months. Nothing to complain about there. It’s a valuable offer, and it’s easy to earn.

Discover credit cards, including the Discover it® Cash Back, have an Unlimited Cashback Match. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. If you’ve earned $200, Discover will reward you with another $200 — the same amount you would have earned with the Chase Freedom Flex℠.

Since that’s unlimited, it could end up being worth much more. If you earn $600 cash back, then you’ll be getting another $600 from Discover. But this benefit only affects the card’s first-year value, not its long-term value.

The Chase Freedom Flex has more to offer

I have both of these credit cards. Of the two, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ is the one I use more often, and it’s the one I’d recommend.

The Discover it® Cash Back is a quality option, as well. It has an excellent welcome offer, and Discover is known for top-notch customer service. But after the first year, it doesn’t have nearly as much value outside of its rotating bonus categories. Because the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has so many bonus categories, it maintains its value over time much more.

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