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 needed
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover it® Cash BackCash backGood/Excellent
Discover it® Miles
Discover it® MilesTravelExcellent/Good
Discover it® Student Cash Back
Discover it® Student Cash BackStudentsFair/New to Credit
Discover it® Balance TransferDealing with debtExcellent/Good

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

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 up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter. For 2020, the categories include grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (January-March), gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs (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

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The Discover it® Miles is a great card for travelers because it awards 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases. 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® Miles.

Best Discover Card for Students

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 of $1,500 in purchases each quarter (activation required). For 2020, the categories include grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (January-March), gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs (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 non-student cards offer. The Discover it® Student Cash Back is, in many ways, just as good as its non-student counterpart.

Best Discover Card for Dealing with Debt

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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.

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 on all purchases
Discover it® Secured2% 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.
Discover it® Student chrome2% 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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).