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Discover More: A 5% Cash Back Credit Card That’s Still Not Worth It

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The Discover More is a pretty solid 5% cash back card. We didn’t always think so, but the More has made a couple salubrious alterations to its diet, making it a relatively healthy choice for rewards hunters. But despite recent improvements, we still can’t call it king. That title is reserved for its archrival and longtime adversary, the Chase Freedom. We’ll walk you through the perks and rates of the Discover More, tell you why it’s a good card and demonstrate why it can’t quite catch the Freedom.

Intro APR

Let’s begin with the basics. The More comes bearing a 15-month introductory APR on both purchases and transfers. Cardholders have over a year to spend without accumulating further interest—ideal if you’re anticipating large purchases in the near future or could use some time to pay down debt. After the intro period, the ongoing APR kicks in at a standard variable rate—nothing extraordinary there.

Rewards battle

The More does not charge an annual fee, which means reward earnings are pure profit right from the get-go. Cash back accumulates at a 5% rate in rotating calendar categories. For example, you earn 5% on restaurants and movies April through June and 5% on gas stations, movies and theme parks July through September. Keep in mind, while these categories are fairly consistent year-to-year, they do change annually. Category earnings are generally capped at $1,500 spent quarterly, a bonus earning potential of $75 per quarter or $300 per year.

All purchases that do not qualify for 5% rewards earn cash back at a .25% rate for the first $3,000 charged. After $3,000, the base rate is bumped up to an unlimited 1%. This is a good place to begin our comparison with the Chase Freedom. Like the More, the Freedom is a no-fee credit card offering 5% back in bonus categories up to $1,500 spent quarterly. But rather than starting with a .25% base rate, the Freedom offers a solid 1% right off the bat—the crucial difference between these foes. The first $3,000 spent with the Freedom will earn $30, whereas the first $3,000 spent with the More will earn a mere $7.50. The initial base rate is a particularly important factor if you don’t plan to charge much more than $3,000 a year.

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The Freedom also comes with a $100 signing bonus when you spend $500 in the first 3 months. The More currently offers nothing of the sort. In truth, there are 2 and only 2 reasons you might choose the More over the Freedom: 1) You need the 15-month 0% APR and/or 2) The More’s rotating 5% categories are more closely aligned with your personal spending habits. Again, the introductory APR can be a boon for those making substantial purchases or grappling with debt. The More and the Freedom have similar rewards calendars, but there are a number of differences that may sway your decision either way. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of 2012 bonus categories.

Discover More and Chase Freedom 2012 bonus categories

5% Cash Back Months Discover More Chase Freedom
January – March

Gas Stations / Movies /Museums

Gas Stations / Amazon.com

April – June

Restaurants / Movies

Grocery Stores / Movie Theaters

July – September

Gas Stations / Movies / Theme Parks

Gas Stations / Restaurants

October – December

Department Stores / Electronics / Toy Stores

Hotels / Airlines / Best Buy & Kohl’s

 

5% cash back quiz: Which card is best for me?

Juggling the multifarious cash back categories can get confusing. Here’s a quick quiz to simplify your choice. Answer the four questions and add up the corresponding numbers.

Where will you spend more money through the end of March?

               1 Movies and Museums
               2 Amazon.com

Where will you spend more money April through June?

               1 Restaurants
               2 Grocery Stores

Where will you spend more money July through Septmeber?

               1 Movies and Theme Parks
               2 Restaurants

Where will you spend more money October through December?

               1 Department Stores, Electronics and Toy Stores
               2 Hotels, Airlines, Best Buy and Kohl’s

Add up your total. If you scored a 4 or 5, consider the Discover More. If you scored a 6, 7 or 8, the Chase Freedom will serve you best. If you scored less than 4 or more than 8, don’t get discouraged. Access the calculator function on your computer or phone and try again.

Discover More Vs. US Bank Cash+

US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card
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Another no-fee, cash back option is the US Bank Cash+. Unlike the Discover More’s initial base rate of 0.25% on the first $3,000 spent, the Cash+’s base rate is the standard 1% – significantly better than the More’s already. But, accumulate $100 worth of rewards, and that rate jumps to 1.25%. That’s $125 back if you wait to redeem until you’ve spent $2k in bonus categories or $10k in non-bonus categories.

Also, the Cash+’s accelerated rewards are customizable to suit your spending habits. Choose two 5% back bonus categories from a quarterly selection, and get 2% back on gas, groceries or drug store purchases. Factor in the $25 bonus on redemptions of $100 or more, and your accelerated rewards rates reach 6.25% on your 5% category and 2.5% on your 2% category.

The More is the king of APR promotions, however, with its six-month 0% purchase APR and 18-month 0% transfer APR. The Cash+ has no intro purchase APR promotion and 0% transfer APR for only six months. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little rewards for a little reprieve from interest, you may prefer the More.

Chase Freedom®U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
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US Bank Cash+(TM) Visa Signature(R) Card Credit Card
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Signing Promo
Get a $100 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.None
Intro APR Promo
0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Purchase:None
Bal Trans:0% for 6 mos
Annual fee
$0$0
Details
  • Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn a $25 Bonus after you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, a variable APR of 13.99-22.99%
  • 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases between 1/1/15—3/31/15 at grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases), movie theaters, and Starbucks® stores
  • You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like restaurants, gas stations, and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
  • Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee and rewards never expire as long as your account is open
  • Earn 5% cash back on two categories that you choose, like department stores, restaurants...plus many more
  • Earn 2% cash back on gas, groceries or drug stores - choose one
  • Earn 1% cash back on everything else
  • Get a $25 Cash+ Bonus each time you redeem $100 or more cash back in a single redemption
  • No Annual Fee