Discover it® Card Review: Excellent Cash Back Rewards with No Annual Fee
The Discover it® Card is one of the best cash-back credit cards with bonus rewards on rotating categories. The bonus categories make it easy to rack up rewards quickly, but other purchases net a low rewards rate. The card also offers an introductory 0% APR promotion that makes it easier to pay down a large purchase or other high-interest credit card debt. Because of the legwork to sign up for bonus categories, the Discover it® Card is best for someone who wants to maximize their rewards. But if you’re willing to do that legwork, you can take home a ton of cash back.
Discover it® Quick Review
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% for 14 months, then 13.99% to 24.99% Variable
Sign-Up Bonus: Cash-back match for your first year
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in combined purchases in categories that rotate every three months
- Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Identity theft monitoring alerts
- Free access to your FICO credit score
- No penalty APR
- Zero-liability fraud protection
- No foreign transaction fees
- 24/7 customer service
Minimum Payment: The greater of $35, 2% of the full balance, or $20 plus interest and fees.
- 5% cash advance fee ($10 minimum)
- 3% balance transfer fee
- Up to $37 for late payments; the first fee is waived
- Up to $37 for returned payments
Why Apply for the Discover it®
If you’re in the market for a cash-back credit card, here are a few reasons the Discover it® Card should be in your wallet:
High bonus rewards rate
You can earn up to 5% on everyday purchases with the Discover it® Card. In 2019, bonus categories include grocery stores, gas stations, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, restaurants, and Amazon.com. During the first year, you’ll earn 10% back on bonus categories, giving you an unbeatable rate during that time.
You’ll get 0% intro APR
The card offers an APR of 0% for 14 months, then 13.99% to 24.99% Variable on both purchases and balance transfers. That gives you plenty of time to pay down a large purchase or a high-interest balance transferred from another credit card.
It’s light on fees
Most cash-back credit cards don’t charge an annual fee. This one doesn’t charge a fee on foreign transactions or your first late payment, either. Its balance transfer fee is even on the low end at 3%.
Discover it®: Drawbacks and Downsides
The Discover it® Card has a lot of pros, but also some cons to consider:
Its base rewards rate is mediocre
While you can earn 5% cash back on bonus spending categories, everything else charged to the card only nets you 1% back. As a result, this card is best used in tandem with another card with a 1.5% or 2% base rewards rate. Use the Discover it® for its bonus categories, and the other card for everything else.
Discover isn’t widely accepted overseas
Discover isn’t widely accepted abroad like Visa or Mastercard, so if you’re heading outside the U.S. for business or pleasure, take a backup payment method.
It charges a balance transfer fee
If your primary goal is to transfer a balance to a new card, this one charges a 3% fee. Some balance transfer credit cards, on the other hand, waive that upfront fee. Avoiding a balance transfer fee could potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
Discover it® Alternatives
If you like the Discover it®’s features but aren’t sure if you want to pull the trigger, consider these other options and compare:
Citi® Double Cash Card
If you want to rack up rewards without the extra work, the Citi® Double Cash Card is the card for you. It offers 2% cash back on every purchase by giving you 1% back when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off. The card also offers an introductory APR of 15.99% to 25.99% Variable on balance transfers.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
If you’re planning to transfer a balance, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express may be a better fit. It has a $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days, plus an introductory APR of 0% APR for 15 months, then 15.24% to 26.24% Variable on purchases and balance transfers. On top of that, you’ll get a sign-up bonus and ongoing rewards.
If you like the idea of earning 5% on bonus categories, but don’t spend a lot, you won’t get a lot of value out of the the Discover it® match bonus. In contrast, the Chase Freedom® offers a $150 after you spend $500 in your first 3 months bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months. You’ll also earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, 1% on other purchases, and an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Discover it® Credit Card FAQs
Where is Discover accepted in the U.S.?
In the past, Discover had acceptance issues domestically and internationally. But now 97% of merchants in the U.S. accept Discover, putting it mostly on par with Visa and Mastercard. That said, some small business may not accept Discover.
How do I activate my 5% bonus categories each quarter?
You’ll get an email from Discover a month or so before the bonus categories change asking you to activate. Just click the button, and you’re good to go. Alternatively, you can log into your online account and activate from there.
Bottom Line: Should You Apply for the Discover it®?
The Discover it® is one of the best cash-back credit cards on the market, but it requires a little extra work to maximize your rewards. If you want just one credit card, consider getting another one with a higher base rewards rate. If, however, you’re OK with getting more than one card, the Discover it® pairs well with another rewards credit card that you’d use for non-bonus spending.