Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card Review: Is It A Good Value?

Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card Review: Is It A Good Value?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

The Discover it® Cash Back is a solid credit card, provided you take advantage of all it has to offer.

Citi is an advertising partner

The Discover it® Cash Back card is great for new cardholders who want a dollar-for-dollar match on all cash back earned in your first year, as well as 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, for up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter when you enroll and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

This makes the Discover it® Cash Back one of the absolute best cashback cards — at least for the first year you have it. For people who really take advantage of this card’s rotating categories for everyday spending, the Unlimited Cashback Match at the end of a new cardholder’s first year will pay off significantly. However, this card isn’t widely accepted internationally, so it’s best to have a backup if you plan to leave the country.

Pros

  • Earn a high rate of cash back in rotating categories
  • Matches your cash back in the first year for new cardholders

Cons

  • You must enroll in the categories at the start of the quarter, or you only earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Limited acceptance in other countries
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Quick facts:

  • With Cashback Match, get an unlimited, automatic, dollar-for-dollar match for all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of the first year
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
  • Accepted by 99% of the places across the U.S. that take credit cards, but limited acceptance internationally

Discover it® Cash Back review: Is it worth it?

Yes it’s worth it, especially in your first year. Discover has a great promotion running for new applicants: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300. During that first year, Discover it® Cash Back offers the greatest savings of any other cashback card around.

If you count this bonus, your effective cashback rate during that first year can be 2% at the very least. This makes the Discover it® Cash Back, undeniably, one of the best rewards credit cards — for the first year, it even beats out competitors like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

There is a major downside to Discover cards — they are not as widely accepted as leading competitors, especially outside the U.S. Like American Express, Discover cards run on their own payment processing network, different from Visa and Mastercard which are accepted nearly everywhere.

Cardholders may sometimes run into problems if a vendor doesn’t accept Discover. This generally happens with brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants more so than it does online. For that reason, you should keep a more accepted primary card around just in case.

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How does the Discover it® Cash Back compare to other credit cards?

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • On Chase's Secure Website

There are two benefits of the Chase Freedom Flex℠ that can make it a more lucrative option than the Discover it® Cash Back: a fixed sign-up bonus and network. Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders can Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. Chase’s spending categories change quarterly and will help you maximize these purchases.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a Mastercard, which means users will have less trouble paying with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ than with the Discover it® Cash Back. Individuals who base their decision purely on rewards value should consult with the rewards calendar of each card: You will want to select the credit card that best fits your spending schedule.

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

  • On Citibank's Secure Website

The Citi® Double Cash Card offer lets you Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. However, there is no sign-up bonus. Due to the uncapped high rewards rate of the Citi® Double Cash Card , big spenders will gain greater value from this card over the Discover it® Cash Back card.

Discover it® Cash Back vs. Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

  • On Citibank's Secure Website

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card allows you to Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Though there is a $500 cap on 5% cashback spending, there is no need to enroll in Citi’s eligible spending categories — Citi automatically enrolls you in the category that you spend the most in each month. This is much more convenient than Discover, not to mention, potentially much more lucrative: Rather than offering different categories each quarter that may or may not fit your spending habits, Citi offers the same categories throughout the year (including restaurants, groceries and gas stations) and automatically enrolls you in the most rewarding one.

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card also comes with a sign-up bonus, which lets you Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back. This card also comes with no annual fee.

All in all, the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is pretty great if you’re looking for a convenient 5% cashback option and are willing to accept a flat sign-up bonus over Discover’s Unlimited Cashback Match for new cardmembers in the first year.

Should you get the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card?

Yes, you should get the Discover it® Cash Back card if you’re willing to put in a little work to keep track of the ever-changing Discover it categories to earn rewards. There are few cards that can rival the value Discover offers in your first year.

However, a major drawback of this card is its limited acceptability internationally. If you’re traveling abroad, it’s best to bring another cashback card along with you just in case.

Discover it® Cash Back features and benefits

5% bonus cashback calendar

One of the best Discover it® Cash Back features is that cardholders can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

The following table outlines the Discover card cashback calendar for 2021, which includes the 5% bonus categories for the Discover it® Cash Back. Lining up your spending with this calendar is essential to maximizing the rewards you earn. Most of the time, you will be better off using another credit card to pay for purchases that aren’t a part of a 5% category at any given time.

Discover rewards calendar
Jan - MarchGrocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April - JuneGas stations, wholesale clubs and streaming services
July - SeptRestaurants and PayPal
Oct - DecAmazon.com, Target and Walmart.com

Redeeming cash back

Redeeming rewards is simple, and Discover gives you a few different options:

  • Cash – Deposit your rewards directly into your bank account or redeem them as a statement credit.
  • Pay with rewards – Use your rewards to pay for purchases made at Amazon.com and with PayPal.
  • Gift cards – Redeem your rewards with gift cards starting at $5, plus receive an added bonus on every card.
  • Charity – Redeem your rewards by donating to charity.

Other benefits

Though the Discover it® Cash Back card is noticeably light on benefits, there are a few additional benefits worth noting:

  • Free FICO Score – Check your FICO Score for free on monthly statements, on the Discover mobile app and online. Checking will not damage your credit score.
  • Security alerts – Discover provides free security alerts for Social Security numbers, new accounts and new inquiry alerts.

Discover it® Cash Back FAQs

Is Discover it® Cash Back worth it?

Yes, the Discover it® Cash Back is worth it if you’re willing to put in a little work to get the most value from this Discover it® Cash Back card. We recommend taking a look at the Discover rewards calendar so you can line up your spending and figure out how best to maximize your rewards.

Is the Discover it card a good credit card?

Yes, the Discover it® Cash Back is a good credit card for those who are seeking to maximize their rewards and take advantage of all the Discover card benefits. Be sure to look at the Discover rewards calendar before committing to this card to ensure your spending habits align with the rotating Discover card rewards.

What credit score do I need for a Discover it card?

The suggested Discover it® Cash Back credit score is 680 or higher — which is Excellent/Good. Once you’re approved for the card, it’s important to make your Discover credit card payments on time to ensure your credit score remains high.

Is there a Discover it® Cash Back credit limit?

The minimum Discover it® Cash Back credit limit starts at $500. To ensure your credit limit maintains the potential to grow, it’s important that you make your Discover card payments on time and preferably in full.

How many Discover cards can you have?

You can have two Discover cards at the same time, not including other accounts you are an authorized user on. You can also only activate a Discover card one time per year, so you’ll have to own a card for at least that long before applying for another. Before opening a card, you can check online to see if you prequalify for a Discover credit card.

Is Discover a Visa?

No, Discover credit cards are not Visa or Mastercards. Similarly to American Express, Discover is both an issuer and a card network, whereas Visa and Mastercard are only card networks. For that reason, Discover isn’t as widely accepted as those other types of cards.

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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).