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Discover it® Cash Back Review

Excellent, Good

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What Discover says about this card

This card is no longer available.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • No annual fee.

By Brooklyn Lowery Site Editor  Updated Apr 7, 2019

Discover it® Cash Back Essentials

When Discover it® Cash Back (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) says it will match all your cash back accrued during your first year, it means that new cardholders could earn a staggering amount of cash back on purchases made within the rotating 5% cash-back categories in their first year. Think about it: $200 in cash back will automatically become $400.

Furthermore, Discover in 2018 released its full quarterly category list at the start of the year, making it easy for you to see whether the bonus categories will match your spending habits. 2018 categories include: January-March 2018: gas stations and wholesale clubs; April-June 2018: grocery stores; July-September 2018: Restaurants; October-December: Amazon.com and wholesale clubs.

That matched cash back in bonus categories is in addition to the match Discover is offering for all the purchases you make in the first year in regular, non-bonus categories. With a bit of strategy and some regular credit card usage, you could reap some serious cash back, particularly during your first year with the Discover it® Cash Back card.

In addition to the intro offer and with a fresh look and a focus on customer service, Discover it® Cash Back has redefined itself as a serious contender in the crowded cash-back credit card field (which the original Discover card invented in the 1980s). With no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and amnesty for many of the situations that cause most banks to hike their rates and fees, Discover it® Cash Back has the potential to set a new standard for American rewards credit cards.

CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons

  • Earn up to 5 percent back in quarterly rotating categories – Amazon.com and wholesale club purchases from October-December 2018 – when combined with the first-year match makes for a substantial opportunity for cash back; it effectively amounts to up to 10 percent cash back in those bonus categories for your first year.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees or over-the-limit fees, your first first late-payment fee is waived, there's no annual fee and Discover is known for its excellent customer service.
  • The card features bonus 5 percent cash-back categories on a rotating basis, but if you know you spend a lot in a particular category, you might be better off with a card that features a constant higher cash-back percentage in that category. See if Chase Freedom® would be a good fit for you.

What Our Editors Like Best About Discover it® Cash Back

It's always nice to know that using your credit card is earning you rewards, and the Discover it® Cash Back does earn you rewards every time you swipe – at least 1% on all your purchases.

When you sign up and spend in one of the rotating categories each quarter, however, you boost your earning to 5% back on those purchases up to a quarterly maximum.

When the time comes, Discover it® Cash Back then offers easy redemption of your cash-back rewards. You can use your points as credit toward Amazon.com purchases or to request immediate credit card statement credit through Discover's website, among several other options.

Furthermore, as part of the Discover it® Cash Back launch campaign, you might have seen a series of ads featuring cardholders talking to their doppelgangers at one of Discover's call centers. The company wanted to tell the story that you'll talk to someone who'll treat you the way you'd want to be treated.

Exclusively based in the United States, Discover's call center agents have been empowered to waive your first late payment service charge, to expedite emergency card replacements, and to process same-day payments up until midnight Eastern time. Agents even have the authority to work out an adjusted repayment schedule if you lose your job and can't make your current minimum payment. It's an honest, refreshing approach to customer service that reflects today's economic realities for many families.

Discover's American support centers don't just handle questions about missed payments and lost cards. They also form the backbone of an identity theft detection and resolution system that has earned Discover top marks from some of the industry's toughest critics. According to experts at Javelin Strategy & Research, Discover excels at detecting potential fraud and proactively resolving problems with cardholders and merchants. Likewise, the International Quality & Productivity Center has cited Discover's agents for acting in their customers' best interests, even when industry practices might dictate otherwise.

Discover it® Cash Back could rest on the laurels of just being a solid cash-back credit card, but when you consider the cash back match at the end of your first year of card membership, this card certainly sets itself apart.

Additionally, if you're the type who wants maximum rewards and is willing to think through the strategy a bit, Discover it® Cash Back pairs well in your wallet with a flat-rate, no annual fee credit card like Chase Freedom Unlimited®. How does it pair well? Here's the deal:

  • Use your Discover it® Cash Back to earn 5% cash back on all your purchases in the bonus categories each quarter.
  • Use your Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn 3% back on up to $20,000 spent in your first year as a cardholder and then an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase going forward – it's automatic. That's at least a half-percent more than you'd earn using Discover it® Cash Back.
  • Remember that Discover it® Cash Back matches all your cash back in the first year; that means you'll want to employ a strategy like that mentioned in the bullets above AFTER your first year of card membership. That's because the match effectively means you can earn at least 2% back on your purchases (and up to 10% back when you're talking about the bonus categories) with your Discover card for that first year.

Potential Downsides of Discover it® Cash Back

As is the case with any rotating categories cash-back card, you have to be willing to use a bit of strategy if you want to realize the full potential rewards of this card. If you're not someone who wants to keep up with using your card in the quarterly bonus categories, you'd likely earn more rewards with a flat-rate credit card like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (then, 16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)) that offers a flat 1.5% back on all your purchases. Or, if you're wanting a little strategy, but not one that changes quarterly, you might consider a tiered cash-back rewards card like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express that offers 3% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually), 2% back at U.S. gas stations and and 1% on your other purchases (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees).

Top Features

Cash Back on Gas
1-5%
Cash Back on Groceries
1-5%
Cash Back on Other
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.

How Discover it® Cash Back Compares to Other Cash-back Credit Cards

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Chase Freedom®

Discover it® Cash Back offers a nearly identical reward structure to that of its closest competitor, the Chase Freedom® card. Neither has an annual fee, so it could be a good strategy to carry both cards and cash in on the two sets of rotating bonus categories when you sign up each quarter. Bargain hunters could maximize their 5% rewards on both cards with just a little extra strategic planning.

Chase Freedom® offers its rewards in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which are transferable among different Chase products. If you already have a Chase card in your wallet, it could pay to stick within the Chase family.

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer (Citi is a CardRatings.com advertiser)

The Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer has simplicity going for it in that cardholders receive 1% cash back when they make a purchase and another 1% back when they pay their bill. That means cardholders stand to make 2% cash back on all their purchases, which is a better return then Discover it® Cash Back offers in its non-bonus categories. Furthermore, the Citi card offers you 18 months of no interest on balance transfer for new cardholders (after the intro period, the interest rate goes to 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable), which could come in handy if you're needed to pay off some debt from another card.

For those who don't want to deal with rotating categories, the Citi® Double Cash Card could be a better option. Keep in mind, however, that the Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer does have a 3% foreign transaction fee, so if you plan to travel abroad the no-foreign-transaction-fee Discover it® Cash Back could be a better fit.

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you're a big spender at supermarkets and gas stations, the rewards offered by the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express could add up for you more quickly than they would with Discover it® Cash Back. You earn 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1%), 3% at U.S. gas stations and 1% on everything else with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees). That means it certainly tops the cash back offering of Discover it® Cash Back in the top two categories.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express does come with an annual fee of $95, however, so you'll need to spend enough to offset it; whereas, Discover it® Cash Back is free to carry.

Who Should Get This Card?

Discover it® Cash Back is a no-brainer for anyone who is willing to take a few minutes each quarter to sign up for the bonus categories and then spend strategically within those categories to maximize their rewards. With no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and that awesome first-year matching cash back, it's a fantastic option for even the occasional credit card user.

Discover it card designsLastly, to add some fun to the decision-making surrounding a new credit card, Discover it® Cash Back gives cardholders the option to select their favorite card design from an array of eye-catching colors. Royal purple? Chocolate brown? Striking silver? In other words, this card can fit both your financial and personal style.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees); Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (See Rates and Fees).

Discover it® Cash Back compared to other cash back cards

Card Name
Cash Back on Gas
Cash Back on Groceries
Cash Back on Other
1-5%
1-5%
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Credit Card Consumer Average Ratings:

Overall Ratings
Reward Program
Card Benefit
Customer Service

Credit Card Consumer Reviews:

  1. Overall Ratings:
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    Dana ( Mar 4, 2014 at 11:13 am)

    This card is amazing. All the other CC's harass my mailbox daily, but then offer me a credit limit $3000 less than Discover did. How is that even possible? I love the free FICO score checker I can use when I log in too. The other day they emailed me a $5 starbucks card for being a member. It really seems like they're kissing my ass but I don't care I love this card!


  2. Overall Ratings:
    Reward Program:
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    joe ( Jan 6, 2014 at 9:30 am)

    card has many "NO"s but beware. If you're not planning on carrying a balance, you should find most of those things useless anyways.International fee is ZERO. rewards are at least 1% cashback but gifft card redemptions bumps the reward $$ to a higher percentage (redeem at 10% disc or 6% disc). Rotating categories are also helpful. effectively raising rewards rate on discount stores (walmart, target) to above 1%CON: no solid CB on supermarkets (gocery stores) gas only rotating. discover is not as accepted as Visa and MC, but sams club take them.





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