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Best Discover Credit Cards: Which One Is Right For You?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

Discover's lineup of credit cards offers fantastic rewards and features. Our analyst broke out the best Discover credit cards and categorized them to help you choose the right one.

Recommended cards

Best forCredit neededAnnual fee
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover it® Cash BackCash backGood/Excellent$0
Discover it® Miles
Discover it® MilesTravelGood/Excellent$0
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Discover it® Student Cash BackStudentsFair/New to Credit$0
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Discover it® Balance TransferDealing with debtGood/Excellent$0

Read on for a detailed look at the benefits and features of each credit card. You can also skip to our card comparison tool at the bottom of the article to see which Discover card works best for your spending habits.

Best Discover Card for Cash Back

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Cash Back

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 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 and more 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • 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 and more 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Discover it® Cash Back has one of the highest rewards potentials of any Discover credit card. It offers 5% cash back in rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.For 2019, the categories include grocery stores (January-March), gas stations, Uber & Lyft (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com (October-December). If you take full advantage of the 5% rotating categories, you'll earn up to $75 in cash-back rewards each quarter. All other spending with the card gets you 1% cash back.

What makes the card even better is that it doesn't charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fees. This means you'll be able to earn cash-back rewards even if you swipe your card while traveling abroad. Additionally, for new cardholders, Discover will match all the cash back you earn during your first year. For example, if you earn $300 in cash-back rewards, Discover will give you an additional $300.

Best Discover Card for Travel

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Miles

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: 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.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: 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.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Discover it® Miles is a great card for travelers because it awards 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. This means you won't have to worry about activating categories or think much about which card to use for a specific purchase. The miles you earn in your account can be redeemed as a statement credit toward travel purchases without any blackout dates, keeping your travel plans flexible.

Since the Discover it® Miles effectively gives cardholders a constant 1.5% rewards rate (we value each mile on this card to be worth 1 cent), it's best for people whose spending doesn't fit into any of Discover's 5% bonus categories. If you find earning up to 5% cash back intriguing, we recommend you read up on the Discover it® Cash Back.

Best Discover Card for Students

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Student Cash Back

On Discover's Secure Website
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 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 and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • 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 and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Fair/New to Credit
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Students have two options if going with Discover, and the Discover it® Student Cash Back is the best choice. It shares a lot of the same features as the Discover it® Cash Back, namely 5% cash back on categories that rotate each quarter, up to a maximum (activation required). For 2019, the categories include grocery stores (January-March), gas stations, Uber & Lyft (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com (October-December).

Not only is the Discover it® Student Cash Back the best Discover card for students, it's also one of the best student credit cards in general. That's because the rewards don't hold back. Most student credit cards will give cardholders some truncated version of a rewards program that is much worse than what nonstudent cards offer. The Discover it® Student Cash Back is, in many ways, just as good as its nonstudent counterpart.

Best Discover Card for Dealing with Debt

If you have existing credit card debt, the Discover it® Balance Transfer is the Discover card best suited to get you out of that bind. As the card's name suggests, it comes with an 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers. After the promo period expires, your interest rate will be 13.99% - 24.99% Variable, depending on your creditworthiness. That 0% intro period can help you pay down debt while saving on interest costs. You'll have to pay a 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)* with each transfer, but we find that in many scenarios you'll come out ahead through money saved on interest.

Discover Credit Cards and What They Offer

We want to give consumers the opportunity to quickly compare all the Discover credit cards and their rewards at a glance—including cards we didn't directly discuss above. The table below gives you everything you need to know.

Discover cardBest feature
Discover it® Student Cash Back$20 statement credit each school year that your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years
Discover it® chrome2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter
Discover it® MilesUnlimited 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases
NHL® Discover it®10% discount on purchases at shop.NHL.com
Discover it® Balance Transfer18 months of 0% introductory APR on balance transfers, then 13.99% - 24.99% Variable
Discover it® Secured2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
Discover it® Student chrome2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter

Compare Discover Cards

You can use our card comparison tool to evaluate how each card works for your budget and spending habits. Browse the options below and click on the gear icon to adjust the spending inputs for each category.

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Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

Comments and Questions

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).