Discover Credit Cards

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Updated on Friday, February 16, 2018

Discover offers eight credit cards for personal use that have a variety of purposes, like building credit, earning cash back or paying down debt at a low promotional rate. There are cards for people of all credit levels, from no credit to excellent credit, but there are no business credit card options.

All Discover cards come with certain benefits such as free access to your FICO® credit score, 100% U.S.-based customer service and an unlimited, automatic dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back or miles you earn your first year as a new cardmember. However, a key point to keep in mind with Discover cards is that they are not accepted as widely as cards that use other networks like Mastercard and Visa. This is due in part to the smaller network Discover has, especially overseas. This is an important factor to consider if you travel abroad often.

Below you’ll find an overview of all the credit cards Discover offers, as well as their key features.

Cash back cards

What we like

  • Ability to maximize cash back: This rewards program offers a great rate. By using your card when making purchases in the active bonus categories, you can make the most of your regular spending.

What we don’t like

  • Low cash back rate for non-bonus categories: For non-bonus category spending you earn a low cash back rate that is below average. Consider pairing this card with a flat-rate card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer to earn more cash back on purchases outside the bonus categories.
  • Must activate bonus categories: Forgetful people may miss out on cashback earnings because you’re required to activate the bonus each quarter. Set reminders or allow Discover to send you emails or notifications so you remember to activate the bonus and can use the 5% rate.

Who should consider this card

The Discover it® Cash Back is great for people looking to maximize cash back in rotating bonus categories. You can pair this card with a flat-rate cash back card to see increased rewards across all your spending.

Rewards breakdown

The Discover it® Cash Back allows you to earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

In addition to a cash back program, there is an intro offer where 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.

What we like

  • Good for restaurant and gas station purchases: Your transactions at restaurants and gas stations will earn the highest cash back rate for this card, which is great if you frequently eat out and fuel up.

What we don’t like

  • Low cash back for everyday purchases: Spending outside of restaurants and gas stations will earn you a subpar rate. We recommend using a card with at least 2% cash back on other transactions.

Who should consider this card

People who frequently dine at restaurants or fuel up at gas stations will see the most benefit from the Discover it® chrome. Note that there are several other cards that offer over 2% cash back for restaurant and gas purchases.

Rewards breakdown

With the Discover it® chrome, you can earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.

There is an intro offer where 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.

Read our guide to the best cash back credit cards here.

Travel card

What we like

  • No foreign transaction fee: This is an important feature for a travel card to have, because foreign transaction fees are typically 3% of each purchase outside the U.S.
  • Competitive rewards: You earn unlimited 1.5x miles per dollar on all purchases, every day. This is a great flat rate for miles and rivals some other travel cards that only offer high rates in select categories.

What we don’t like

  • Limited acceptance overseas: Unfortunately, people who travel outside the U.S. may have a harder time using this card because Discover has less worldwide acceptance than major issuers Visa and Mastercard.

Who should consider this card

Those who frequently travel within the U.S. will benefit the most from the flat-rate rewards program the Discover it® Miles offers.

Rewards breakdown

The Discover it® Miles earns a competitive unlimited 1.5x miles per dollar on all purchases, every day. This card has an intro offer where Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.

Read our guide to the best travel credit cards here.

Balance transfer card

What we like

  • Cash back program: A great plus to this balance transfer card is that you can earn rewards on new purchases.

What we don’t like

  • Must activate bonus cash back categories: In order to take advantage of the higher cash back rate in the bonus categories, you need to activate the categories each quarter. Set a reminder so you don’t forget. You can sign up to receive push alerts from the Discover app or an email reminder when it’s time to enroll in the new bonus category.
  • Low non-bonus category cash back rate: Purchases made outside of the bonus categories will earn a low cash back rate. If you’d rather earn a flat cashback rate, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a good alternative.

Who should consider this card

If your primary goal is to rid yourself of debt, then consider the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Rewards breakdown

In addition to a long balance transfer intro period, you can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores,
restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. Redeem cash back any amount, 1% cash back on all other purchases.

There is an 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.

Read our guide to the best balance transfer credit cards here.

Secured card

What we like

  • Automatic monthly account reviews at eight months: Discover will perform automatic reviews of your account starting at the eighth month your account is open to see if you qualify for an unsecured card. This is a great feature that takes the guesswork out of wondering when you’re ready for an unsecured card. If approved, you will receive your security deposit back.
  • Refundable security deposit: As long as your account is in good standing and you pay your balance in full, you will receive your security deposit back upon closing your account or upgrading to an unsecured card.
  • Cash back program: It’s hard to find secured cards with a cash back program, but the Discover it® Secured has one.

What we don’t like

  • High APR: If you happen to carry a balance, you’ll incur high interest charges.

Who should consider this card

If you’re looking to rebuild your credit or establish credit, the Discover it® Secured is our favorite secured card. Not only can you raise your credit score with proper behavior, but you can benefit from great features like monthly account reviews and a cash back program.

Rewards breakdown

With this card you can earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. The intro offer for new cardmembers is a great way to increase cash back: 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.

Read our guide to the best secured credit cards here.

Student cards

What we like

  • Good Grades Rewards: Discover incentivizes students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher with a $20 statement credit given at the end of each school year (a school year for these purposes is September through August) as a statement credit for up to five consecutive years.

What we don’t like

  • Bonus categories require activation: As a student, you have a lot to juggle and this cash back program adds another thing for you to keep track of with bonus categories that require activation each quarter. Set a reminder or sign up for alerts so you don’t forget to activate.
  • Low cash back rate in non-bonus categories: When you make purchases that aren’t in the bonus categories, you earn a low cash back rate. To offset this, you can use another card like the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One that offers higher, flat-rate rewards when you pay your bill on time. But we recommend students (or anyone new to credit cards) start slow — having several credit cards can make it easy to lose track of your spending and fall into debt.

Who should consider this card

Students who have the time to keep track of the quarterly rotating bonus categories can take advantage of great cashback rewards with Discover it® Student Cash Back. Just remember to activate the bonus categories!

Rewards breakdown

The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers the same rewards rate as the Discover it® Cash Back with 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different
places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases –
automatically. Good Grades Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

There is an attractive intro offer where 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.

What we like

  • Good Grades Rewards: You can earn a $20 Good Grade Reward for maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher during the school year (a school year starts in September and ends in August). This reward is a statement credit and is available for up to five consecutive years and a great motive to keep good grades.

What we don’t like

  • Low cash back rate for everyday purchases: Spending outside of restaurants and gas earns comparatively little cash back. You can find student cards that earn a higher rate on everyday purchases.

Who should consider this card

Commuter students can benefit from the cash back program of the Discover it® Student chrome since there is a higher cash back rate for restaurant and gas station purchases.

Rewards breakdown

Similar to the Discover it® chrome, the student version of that card, the Discover it® Student chrome, offers 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically. As an 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.

Read our guide to the best student credit cards here.

Sports card

What we like

  • NHL discounts: NHL fans can save money on select purchases. Save 10% on purchases at Shop.NHL.com using code ITPAYS and when you use your card to pay for an NHL.TVTM subscription.

What we don’t like

  • Bonus categories require activation: Like all Discover cards with bonus rewards categories, each quarter you need to activate them. Set a reminder or sign up for alerts so you don’t miss out.
  • Non-bonus categories earn a low rate: Spending outside of the bonus categories earns a subpar cash back rate. That’s why for all non-bonus category transactions we recommend using a high flat-rate card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

Who should consider this card

The only things that make this card different from the Discover it® Cash Back are the discounts on an NHL.TVTM subscription and Shop.NHL.com purchases. If you’re a hockey fan, this card has nice, extra benefits. If you’re not interested in the NHL discounts, the Discover it® Cash Back makes more sense.

Rewards breakdown

The NHL® Discover it® offers 5% cash back on everyday purchases at
different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you
activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

There is an 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.

Learn more about Discover

How to redeem your rewards

Cash back

Cash back can be redeemed for account credit, direct deposit, gift cards, eCertificates, charity and pay with Cashback Bonus. All redemption options start at a penny with the exception of gift cards and eCertificates, which start at $20.

Miles

You can redeem miles can for an account credit toward travel purchases made within the last 180 days, direct deposit and pay with miles at select merchants. All redemption options start at one mile. No matter how you redeem, one mile is the cash equivalent of one penny.

Key features of all Discover cards*

Discover cards all have select features that are consistent no matter which one of their eight cards you choose. Many of these features add significant value to your Discover card and may edge out cards from competing brands.

  • 100% U.S.-based customer service and live chat feature available 24/7
  • Rewards never expire: Even if your account is closed, Discover will credit you the remaining cash rewards balance. This is a feature many cards don’t have.
  • Freeze it®: The ability to freeze and unfreeze your card with the click of a button on Discover’s mobile app or website. Freezing your card prevents new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers from occuring.
  • FICO® Score: You can receive your FICO® Score 8 for free with Discover Credit Scorecard.
  • Discover® Identity Alerts: Discover will perform a daily monitoring of your Experian® credit report and alert you if any new accounts are opened. It also monitors risky websites to see if your SSN is found.

*Accurate as of this publishing.

How is Discover different than Visa and Mastercard?

When compared to other major issuers like Visa and Mastercard, Discover has a lower acceptance rate. Although Discover has a 97% acceptance rate and that seems like a lot, you are more likely to run into issues when using a Discover card compared to one backed by Visa or Mastercard. When traveling abroad, you can benefit from no foreign transaction fees on any of Discover’s eight cards — something not all Visa or Mastercards have; but you will have a hard time using your card at overseas merchants. Abroad, Discover relies on the Diners Club network which has low or nonexistent acceptance in many foreign countries, except China.

Discover’s customer service reputation

In a 2017 J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Discover had one of the highest customer satisfaction rankings of any credit card issuer at 827 points (out of 1,000), second only to American Express’s 835. The industry average is a ranking of 802. Customer service resources include a 100% U.S.-based customer service team that is available to answer any questions you have, 24/7. In addition to a phone line, you can live chat with Discover after signing into your account online. There’s also a unique open-ended messaging feature in the Discover app called Messaging that allows cardholders to communicate with customer service agents whenever it’s convenient and the message history will be saved.

The information related to Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students and Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.