Oftentimes, when I’ve given advice to friends and family about “the best card for [insert reason here],” the choice comes between two cards. “Which one should I choose?” they ask. It’s an entirely individual question that each of you, dear readers, must answer for yourselves (though feel free to ask me anything in the comments below). One common one that I am frequently asked is deciding between the Chase Freedom® card, which for a limited time has an offer of $200, and the Discover It cards, both similar and different in ways. Let’s see how they compare, category by category, below.
One major category of benefits that is important to cardmembers is the annual fee for opening the credit card. There is good news in this category for both cards: there is no annual fee. So, any benefits you earn could potentially be “free” if you manage your expenses well and not pay interest on a revolving balance each month. Advantage: Tie.
An introductory APR is important for some, since opening up a new credit line may be for a new, large purchase that will take time to pay off. With an intro APR, you have interest-free lending for a specific amount of time. For the Chase Freedom credit card, you’ll have fifteen months of 0% APR, and then between 13.99 and 22.99 percent after that. For the Discover It credit card, the period is 14 months, with an APR of 10.99 and 22.99 percent after that. Advantage: Chase Freedom.
Another big draw for customers, the sign-up bonus is that beautiful mannequin in the window to draw you in. For these no-fee credit cards, bonuses are not as high as other credit cards. For the Chase Freedom card, you’ll earn $100 cash back with $500 in spending over three months! For the Discover It credit card, there actually is no sign-up bonus! Advantage: Chase Freedom®
These two credit cards are unique, in that they each offer “bonus categories” that rotate four times a year. Each card offers 5% cash back for each category, up to $1,500 cash back. At the time of writing, the Discover It card has only published the first category of bonuses for January-March, which is for restaurants and movies. In addition, the Discover It card has an online shopping mall offering 5%-20% cash back for purchase.
For the Chase Freedom, gas stations, Starbucks and movie theaters are the category bonus for January-March, restaurants and Lowe’s for April-June, gas stations and Kohl’s for July-September, and Zappos, Amazon, and select department stores for October-December. Winner: the Discover It card, with its online shopping mall option.
You will also receive bonus points for regular spend. Each card offers you one point per dollar of regular spending, so this category is a tie.
The Chase Freedom doesn’t really have any other “bonus” benefits to speak of. However, the Discover It card offers free FICO scores every month, and no foreign transaction fees, which are valuable benefits in my book. Advantage: Discover It.
It’s hard to make a choice between the two, so I actually won’t render a verdict here. If you value shopping over, say, travel, I would push you towards the Discover It credit card. It has many more spending bonuses in those categories. If you enjoy immediate rewards, the sign-up bonus for the Chase Freedom is a nice added perk. Analyze your spending you think you’ll have in 2014, and make a decision! Feel free to ask questions below!