Discover it Cash Back Credit Card Review

GOBankingRates Score

4.4
Quick Take: The Discover it® Cash Back credit card could find a space in your wallet if you're looking for a flexible cash-back rewards card with high-value rewards but you don't spend a lot each month. That's because the 5% cash back bonus is only available for up to $1,500 spent quarterly in each spending category. You'll also get 1% cash back, year-round, on all other purchases. The card's intro APR is also enticing.
  • Cash Back
    4.4
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Pros

  • 5% cash back on a variety of purchases
  • Redeem cash-back rewards at any time in a variety of ways
  • Cash-back match after the first year
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Free credit management features, such as Social Security number monitoring and FICO credit score monitoring

Cons

  • Must remember to activate spending categories
  • $1,500 spending limit for 5% cash-back rewards
  • 5% balance transfer fee for transfers made after January 10, 2023 (3% before then)
  • Not accepted in a handful of countries worldwide, including most of the Middle East

Card Overview

Discover it Cash Back may be considered an unsung hero in the world of cash-back credit cards, accepted nationally at 99% of the merchants that accept other credit cards. The card delivers a host of handy benefits as well as 5% cash back in a variety of rotating spending categories. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. While Discover it doesn’t offer a traditional welcome bonus after your first few months, you will receive a cash-back bonus at the end of your first year, equal to the total cash back you earned for the year. That means you don’t have to worry about spending a certain amount to earn your bonus. With no annual fee on Discover it, you really can’t lose by adding this card to your wallet.

Who Is the Discover it Cash Back Card Best For?

If you’re looking for a flexible cash-back card that delivers nearly immediate rewards, Discover it Cash Back is one to consider. Also, if you want to transfer a balance from a higher-interest card or make a large purchase and have 15 months to pay it off with no interest, Discover it fits the bill. With no annual fee, this card is good for anyone who wants cash-back rewards but doesn’t use their credit card a lot. You don’t have to worry about earning enough cash back to cover the fee.

If you’re looking for a travel rewards card, you’ll want to explore other options, since Discover it does not have any travel perks or benefits and it’s not as widely accepted worldwide as some Visa or Mastercard choices.  

Features of the Discover it Cash Back Card

Here’s a look at some of the best features the Discover it Cash Back card has to offer.

Rewards Program

The Discover it rewards program is lucrative and flexible. You can redeem your rewards at any time for cash back or a statement credit, or you can donate them to a charity of your choice. You can also pay with your cash-back rewards at Amazon.com or when you use PayPal Checkout to make purchases. If you have $5 or more earned, you can trade in your cash-back bonus for gift cards, and earn an added bonus when you do.

How do you earn cash back? Use your Discover card anywhere for at least 1%, all the time. But pay close attention to the bonus cash-back categories, which deliver 5% rewards up to the first $1,500 you spend each quarter.

The cash-back categories for 2022 are as follows:

  • January-March: Grocery stores, fitness clubs, and gym memberships
  • April-June: Gas stations and Target
  • July-September: Restaurants and PayPal
  • October-December: Amazon.com and digital wallets

You must remember to activate your bonus categories each quarter. But Discover makes this easy to do. Discover will send a reminder email in advance of the quarter. Simply click the link and activate your bonus categories without even having to log in to your Discover online account.

Fees

The Discover it Cash Back card has no annual fee, which sets it apart from many competitors in the space, like the with a annual fee. It also has a low 3% balance transfer fee through January 10, 2023, as part of the introductory offer. After that, the balance transfer fee is 5%. Like some Citi cards, Discover waives the fee for the first late payment, but after that you will pay $41 for any late payments. In addition, Discover has a fee of up to $41 for returned payments.

Intro APR

Like , Discover it Cash Back offers an introductory APR of 0% for 15 months on purchases or balance transfers. After the introductory period ends, Discover it offers an APR of and Chase Freedom Unlimited offers an APR of .

Other Perks and Benefits

Discover it offers several benefits for people who want to keep tabs on their credit. Discover gives you free access to your FICO credit score, which is the score most lenders use to gauge your creditworthiness. You can view up to one year of scores online. Discover also makes it easy to freeze your account if your card is lost or stolen. If you freeze your card, Discover will not authorize new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers but will continue to process recurring charges, returns, credits, payments and delayed authorizations. If you need a replacement card, Discover can expedite overnight shipping for you.

Good To Know

Discover’s customer service is some of the best you’ll find, with 24-hour phone service at 1-800-DISCOVER. You can also reach out and quickly send a message to a U.S.-based agent through your web browser.

Discover it Cash Back vs. Competitors

Discover it Cash Back is a great card for everyday use, thanks to its easy, straightforward cash-back rewards, matching cash-back bonus after the first year, and bonus categories tailor-made for digital shopping and common expenses like gas. If you’re looking to reduce your expenses and pay down debt, the card’s intro APR also makes it a great choice. To help you decide whether Discover it Cash Back is the right match for your needs, here’s a look at how it compares to other cards you might consider.

Discover it Cash Back vs.

With no annual fee and a generous intro APR for purchases and balance transfers, Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it are close competitors. Chase Freedom Flex offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in a variety of rotating categories, just like Discover it. But Chase also offers 5% year-round on travel when you purchase through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 3% year-round on drugstore purchases and dining. Like Discover it, you’ll also get 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Chase Freedom Flex delivers $200 in cash back after you spend $500 within the first three months after opening your account. On the other hand, Discover’s first-year bonus is based on how much you spend, since you’ll receive matching cash back at the end of your first year of card membership. At APR, Discover is lower than Chase’s APR.

Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it each offer very similar cash-back rewards in rotating spending categories. Both give you 5% cash back on categories that change each quarter, and both cap the 5% rewards at $1,500 spent. So you may want to compare upcoming categories to determine which you may benefit from more.

But if you frequently use PayPal for purchases or shop on Amazon, you’ll enjoy earning cash back when you use your Discover it card for both purposes, plus the ability to use your cash back to pay for PayPal and Amazon purchases. If you aren’t sure if you’ll meet the spending threshold for the Chase Freedom Flex welcome bonus, then Discover it could also be a better choice since you’re guaranteed matching cash back based on how much you spend in your first year.

Finally, if you’ve applied for five credit cards in the past two years, you may not qualify for Freedom Flex because of Chase’s famous 5/24 rule, which will automatically deny your application if you’ve applied for five cards in the past two years. In that case, you’ll want to see if you can get preapproved for Discover it instead.

Discover it Cash Back vs.

Citi Double Cash pays cardholders 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you make a payment. This card is simple to use, but not necessarily as lucrative as Discover it, with 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories.

The Citi Double Cash has a longer introductory APR which gives you a little more time to pay off balance transfers than Discover it. But the intro APR does not apply to purchases with Citi Double Cash. Both Citi Double Cash and Discover it waive the penalty fee on your first late payment, which is a nice bonus.

If you don’t want to think about rotating spending categories, Citi Double Cash would be a solid choice.

Is Discover it Cash Back Right for You?

If you shop online a lot, you’ll easily be able to maximize your cash-back rewards with Discover it Cash Back. With no annual fee and an intro APR, this is a great card for nearly anyone to carry and use regularly. If you travel a lot, you may want to seek out a travel rewards card that delivers travel-related benefits and is more widely accepted worldwide.

Final Take

Discover it Cash Back is an easy-to-use, straightforward rewards card with no annual fee and a great intro APR on balance transfers and purchases. Earn 5% in rotating spending categories, up to $1,500, and 1% after that, plus 1% on all other purchases. The spending categories for 2022 focus heavily on digital spending, with 5% rewards when you use a digital wallet or shop on Amazon in the fourth quarter, and 5% on PayPal purchases in the third quarter.

Discover it Cash Back FAQ

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about the Discover it Cash Back credit card.
  • How can I apply for the Discover it Cash Back card?
    • You can apply for the card by calling 1-800-DISCOVER and speaking with a U.S.-based representative. You can also apply online at Discover.com. You must be at least 18 to apply for a Discover card. If you're under 21, you'll need to apply for Discover it online.
  • Does Discover it have "tap to pay"?
    • Discover it focuses heavily on security, making it easy to freeze your card if it is lost or stolen. Not surprisingly, the card also features "tap to pay" functionality. You can also add your contactless card to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay and use your mobile device to pay at the point of sale. As an added benefit, you'll earn 5% cash back in the fourth quarter when you use your Discover it card tied to your digital wallet.
  • Does Discover it have foreign transaction fees?
    • Discover it does not have foreign transaction fees, but be aware that some foreign credit card networks may assess their own fees.
  • Does Discover preapproval affect your credit score?
    • You can see if you're preapproved for a Discover card with no impact to your credit score. To check for prequalification, Discover will do what's called a "soft pull" on your credit report. If you are preapproved, you can apply for the card with peace of mind knowing that you're likely to receive it. If you don't qualify for Discover it, you may be able to get Discover it Secured, a card that can help you build your credit.

Sean Dennison contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of October 11, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Discover. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Discover.

The information related to Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited was collected by GOBankingRates and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of these cards. Product details may vary. Please see issuer website for current information. GOBankingRates does not receive commission for these products.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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