Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Discover it® Cash Back [2024]: Travel Rewards vs. Cash Back

CREDIT CARDS - CREDIT CARD REWARDS
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is meant for travelers, while the Discover it Cash Back is a great everyday cash back card.
Updated April 9, 2024
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We recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you want to earn travel rewards and take advantage of travel benefits. But it has a $95 annual fee.

We recommend the Discover it® Cash Back if you want to earn cash back with a $0 annual fee.

Let’s compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred versus Discover it Cash Back to see which one is the best fit for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Discover it Cash Back are both rewards credit cards, but they’re meant for people who want different types of rewards.
  • We recommend the Sapphire Preferred for travel rewards, while the Discover it Cash Back makes sense for earning cash back.
  • One of the primary benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can redeem these points for travel through the Chase travel portal, transfer partners, cash back, and more.
  • One of the primary benefits of the Discover it Cash Back earning a high rewards rate on rotating categories each quarter.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Discover it Cash Back comparison

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

4.9

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

4.7

Card type Travel Cash back
Credit card issuer Chase Discover
Credit card network Visa Discover
Annual fee $95 $0
Welcome offer Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Earning rate Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases. 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.
Redemption methods
  • Travel
  • Transfer partners
  • Dining
  • Combine points with eligible Chase cards
  • Cash back (mailed check or statement credit)
  • Pay Yourself Back
  • Gift cards
  • PayPal
  • Amazon
  • Statement credits
  • Direct deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants (Amazon and PayPal)
Intro APR None
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).
Foreign transaction fee None 0%
Credit needed Excellent, Good Excellent, Good
Read full review Read full review

Our verdict

If you want a rewards credit card that’s focused on helping you travel more, choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred. However, keep in mind that it comes with a $95 annual fee. If you want opportunities to earn a high rate of cashback rewards on everyday expenses, choose the Discover it Cash Back. This card has a $0 annual fee.

Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits and drawbacks

Pros
  • 25% bonus to travel redemptions through Chase Travel℠
  • Up to $50 hotel statement credit for stays purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • $95 annual fee

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can take advantage of a generous welcome offer and earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases.

You can also earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Additionally, you receive these travel benefits:

  • Travel redemptions
  • A 25% bonus to travel redemptions, including flights, hotel stays, and rental cars, made through Chase Travel℠
  • Travel insurance
  • Up to $50 in statement credits each anniversary year for hotel stays booked through Chase Travel℠
  • No foreign transaction fees

Learn more in our Chase Sapphire Preferred review.

Discover it Cash Back benefits and drawbacks

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • High rewards rate
  • Intro APR offers
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • You have to keep track of rotating categories

The Discover it Cash Back has a $0 annual fee and 0% foreign transaction fees. You can 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.

Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

You can also take advantage of these intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).

Learn more in our Discover it Cash Back review.

What both cards excel at

  • Welcome offers: Both cards provide welcome offers that new cardholders can take advantage of.
  • Earning potential: You can earn rewards on eligible purchases with either card. There are also bonus categories for earning more rewards on specific purchases.
  • Foreign transaction fees: You don’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Discover it Cash Back.

7 important differences between Chase Sapphire Preferred and Discover it Cash Back

1. Rewards rates

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases.

With the Discover it Cash Back, you can 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.

There’s no clear winner because these are different types of earning rates. If you prefer travel rewards, the Sapphire Preferred makes more sense. If you prefer cash back, the Discover it Cash Back makes more sense.

Winner: It’s a tie because the better rewards rate depends on your spending habits and preferences.

2. Redemption options

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has these redemption options:

  • Travel
  • Transfers to airline and hotel partners, such as Southwest, United, and World of Hyatt
  • Dining
  • Cash back (mailed check or statement credit)
  • Pay Yourself Back

The Discover it Cash Back has these redemption options:

  • Statement credits
  • Deposits to eligible checking or savings accounts
  • Gift cards
  • Charitable donations
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus at select merchants (Amazon and PayPal)

Overall, the Sapphire Preferred has more redemption options.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred because it offers more flexibility with its higher number of redemption options.

3. Annual fees

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, while the Discover it Cash Back has a $0 annual fee.

If you want to avoid annual cardmember costs, the Discover it Cash Back makes more sense.

Winner: Discover it Cash Back because it has a $0 annual fee.

4. Card protections

The Chase Sapphire Preferred provides these coverages and protections:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Travel and emergency assistance services

One of the only noteworthy card protections that the Discover it Cash Back offers is online privacy protection. This is a service that can help remove your personal information from certain websites.

Overall, the Sapphire Preferred provides more and better protections to cardholders.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred because it provides more card protections.

5. Introductory APR offers

The Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t provide intro APR offers to help you avoid paying a high interest rate for a certain amount of time.

The Discover it Cash Back provides these intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).
  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 17.24% - 28.24% Variable).

In general, many Discover credit cards provide intro APR offers. Travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, don’t typically have intro APR offers.

Winner: Discover it Cash Back because it has excellent intro APR offers.

6. Card benefits

You can take advantage of these benefits with the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • Earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Travel℠.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. That means 60,000 points are worth $750 toward if you book travel through the Chase travel portal.
  • Each account anniversary, earn bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases from the previous year. For example, spending $25,000 nets you 2,500 points.

The Discover it Cash Back doesn’t provide much in the form of additional unique benefits. That’s common on cards without annual fees.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred because it has more perks and benefits.

7. Card network

The Chase Sapphire Preferred uses the Visa credit card network, while the Discover it Cash Back uses the Discover network.

For overall card acceptance, Visa and Mastercard are better than Discover. For example, Visa is accepted in over 200 countries and territories worldwide, while Discover doesn’t provide that same kind of reach. But if you don’t plan to travel abroad, either network should work just fine.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred because Visa is the superior network in terms of worldwide acceptance.

Which credit card should you choose?

When you should choose Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • You already have a relationship with Chase Bank.
  • You want to earn travel rewards.
  • You want to take advantage of travel perks and benefits.
  • You want to combine points with other eligible Chase credit cards.
  • You want more international card acceptance.

When you should choose Discover it Cash Back

  • You already have a relationship with Discover.
  • You want to earn a high rate of cash back on quarterly rotating categories.
  • You want a $0 annual fee.

What factors to consider before choosing

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a travel credit card that provides travel rewards and benefits. That doesn’t mean you have to be a frequent traveler to get value from this card, but the Sapphire Preferred makes a lot of sense for people who want to travel more.

The Discover it Cash Back is a cash back credit card that provides cashback rewards on eligible purchases. It has a $0 annual fee, making it an easy card to hang onto year after year. This card doesn’t earn travel rewards, so it makes sense if you want a simple card for earning cash back on everyday purchases.

FAQ

Can you get cash back with the Chase Sapphire Preferred?

Yes, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points, it provides multiple cashback options, such as receiving a statement credit or a mailed check.

You can also redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Chase portal, transfers to travel partners, Chase Dining experiences, gift cards, certain online purchases, Pay Yourself Back options, and combining points with other eligible Chase cards.

Is Chase Sapphire Preferred worth the annual fee?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred can typically be worth the $95 annual fee if you’re able to take advantage of its many benefits. That includes up to $50 statement credits each anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase Travel℠.

You can also combine points from other eligible Chase cards onto your Sapphire Preferred and they’ll be worth 25% more for travel redemptions through Chase Travel℠.

Is Discover it Cash Back a good first card?

It’s an excellent first card because it provides high cashback earning potential while giving you the opportunity to build your credit history at the same time. And you don’t have to stress about an annual cost since the Discover it Cash Back has a $0 annual fee. Keep in mind that the Discover it Cash Back is best for people with average to excellent credit scores, which typically means a FICO score of 670 or higher.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Discover it Cash Back: bottom line

We recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you want to earn points that you can redeem for travel. If you would rather earn cash back with a $0-annual-fee card, consider the Discover it Cash Back.

Compare credit cards to find the right credit card offer for you.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

+

Why we like it

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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