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Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. POF does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Credit Card Providers determine the underwriting criteria necessary for approval, you should review each Provider’s terms and conditions to determine which card works for you and your personal financial situation.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Discover It Card Review 2024: Cash Back Rewards

White Credit Card

A no-annual-fee card is often code for compromise. Being frugal can mean losing on generous rewards and tempting welcome bonuses. But that’s not the case for the Discover It Cash Back Card.

With 5% rewards on everyday purchases and a Cashback Match in your first year, this card is an excellent choice for newbies and credit card veterans. But are the rotating categories and spending caps a dealbreaker?

This article will include:

  • All the Discover It card benefits and drawbacks.
  • The best Discover Card for you.
  • The top cards to pair with the Discover It credit card.

Read more:

 

Discover It Cash Back Card: On FIRE Score

 

Annual Fee annual_fees
APR reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Intro Offer Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Maximum Rewards Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter, like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
Everyday Rewards Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
On FIRE Score 4.8/5

 

What Is the Discover It Card?

 

The Discover It Cash Back is a rewards card that keeps you on your toes with rotating categories and the opportunity to double your cash back in the first year.

Despite being a no-annual-fee card, Discover It caught my eye by providing 5% cash back rewards on everyday purchases. What’s the catch? These rewards change every quarter, and once you reach the $1,500 cap, you’re stuck with 1% cash back on everything.

Discover offers a unique spin on the classic welcome bonus with Cashback Match. Whatever cash back you earn in the first year of opening your account, they match at a $1 to $1 rate and hand it over at the end of the year.

To further tempt you, the card also features a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, saving you a good chunk on interest charges.

 

How Does the Discover It Card Work?

 

Having 5% cash back rewards is a rarity among no-annual-fee cards – but for what it offers in generosity, it lacks in simplicity.

Discover announces specific spending categories under the 5% bonus cash back each quarter. These everyday categories range from groceries and gas to online shopping and dining out.

Here are some examples of recent categories:

  • Restaurants and wholesale clubs.
  • Gas stations and digital wallets.
  • Amazon and Target.
  • Restaurants and drugstores.

Getting 5% cash back on restaurants and gas stations is a solid deal. But I’d struggle to max out my rewards on other categories like Amazon and digital wallet purchases.

 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase_Sapphire_Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my top pick for your first rewards card. Welcome bonus of 80,000 points worth at least $1,000 when used to book travel (after a $4,000 spend in 3 mo) and other great perks you can learn abouthere.

 

Tip: Not every category will match up with your spending habits, so don’t completely rely on this card to deliver the goods. I recommend pairing it with another rewards card that covers your routine expenses and only using Discover It when the quarterly categories align with your spending.

To get your rewards, you need to activate these categories every quarter. You can do this online at Discover.com, via their one-click email, the mobile app, or by calling 1-800-347-2683. Once activated, they’ll give you all the details on which categories fall under the 5% cash back.

Activation can be a hassle, especially if you’re the forgetful type. But the biggest letdown is the $1,500 quarterly spending cap.

Once you hit the $1,500 threshold, you only earn a subpar 1% cash back on overall purchases. That’s not a problem with some categories – I only spend around $450 on gas per quarter, well below the cap. But my recent Amazon splurge for my new home would have easily exceeded the limit.

Redeeming your cash back rewards is more straightforward. You can choose from various redemption options, including statement credits, direct deposits to your bank account, or using your rewards to shop on Amazon.com. Plus, Discover offers at least 5% more value when redeeming for gift cards.

 

Discover Card: Fees

 

Details Metric
Annual fee annual_fees
Regular APR reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Cash advance APR cash_advance_apr
Cash advance fee cash_advance_fee
Penalty APR None
Foreign transaction fee foreign_transaction_fee
Returned payment fee Up to $41
Late fee late_payment_fee

 

Discover Card: Pros and Cons

 

Pros

  • Cashback Match in the first year.
  • Simple redemption options.
  • Range of different card designs.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months.
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.

 

Cons

  • Rotating categories and spending caps.
  • Maximum rewards require activation.
  • Lack of insurance and protection perks.

 

Why I Like It

Discover offers a perfect blend of flexibility and simplicity, making up the selling points of this budget-friendly card.

 

Cashback Match in the first year

Discover’s Cashback Match welcome bonus means whatever cash back rewards you earn during your first year will be matched, doubling your rewards. There’s no limit to how much they’ll match, and you’ll receive your bonus dollar-for-dollar. Earn $100, get $100 back.

So, how much can you get?

If you reach the $1,500 spending cap each quarter with the 5% cash back rate, you’ll earn $75 in cash back each quarter. So, over the year, you’ll earn $300 in rewards — $600 with the Cashback Match.

Maxing out your rewards means you’ll get more than the standard $200-something sign-up bonus common among cash back cards.

Check out our complete list of the top cash back credit cards.

 

Simple redemption options

Discover keeps things straightforward when redeeming your cash back — every $1 you earn is $1 to redeem. Your rewards never expire, so you can cash them in whenever you want, with most options having no minimum amount.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • Statement credit: Get credit added directly to your card account.
  • Electronic deposit: Receive cash back into an eligible savings or checking account within three working days.
  • Pay with rewards: Use your cash back for purchases with Discover’s partner brands, including Amazon and PayPal.
  • Charity: Donate to charitable organizations, such as the American Red Cross.
  • Gift cards: Choose from over 100 brands, with redemption amounts ranging from $5 to $200.

I usually avoid gift cards (cash back is more flexible), but Discover offers at least 5% more value on every card. It’s a valuable way to maximize your rewards (but also an easy way to buy something you don’t really need or could find elsewhere).

 

Range of different card designs

Having 25 different colors and designs to choose from makes absolutely zero difference to your finances – but a little fun never hurts.

 

Whether you’re an animal lover, patriot, or a minimalist, you can find a design that suits your taste. Or you can opt for the standard blue Discover card – no judgment here!

 

0% Intro APR for 15 months

Moving swiftly onto a more valuable feature; the 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.

For over a year after you open your account, you won’t accrue any interest on new purchases or balance transfers, giving you breathing room to pay off existing debt or make big-ticket purchases without worrying about extra interest charges.

 

No annual or foreign transaction fees

Having no annual fee eliminates the pressure to routinely use your card, particularly handy with Discover’s rotating categories. If your spending habits don’t align with the quarter’s categories, you can tuck it away to use when it suits you.

And there are no foreign transaction fees (my personal pet peeve). Popular cash back cards, such as the card_name, card_name, and Citi Double Cash® Card all charge up to 3% international fees (the last thing I need when shopping for overpriced souvenirs).

 

Why You May Want a Different Card

The flexibility of the Discover It card comes with a catch — nothing is guaranteed. And despite being budget-friendly, you also miss out on premium perks. Could these drawbacks be dealbreakers?

 

Rotating categories and spending caps

Firstly, it’s only fair to give this card props for the 5% cash back, a generous amount for a no-annual-fee card. The Discover It cash back rewards conveniently cover a range of everyday categories, such as restaurants, gas stations, drugstores, and retailers.

 

But here’s the problem: you never know which category you’ll get, as these categories change every quarter.

In the first quarter of 2024, Discover announced restaurants and drug stores would be the categories of choice. I don’t know about you, but I’m not rushing to eat out after consuming my weight in food over the holiday season.

I spend a lot on groceries, which doesn’t change every quarter. To maximize my rewards, I’d opt for cards that consistently focus on this area, such as the card_name (6% on groceries) or the no-annual-fee card_name (3% on groceries).

Additionally, there’s a $1,500 spending cap on the 5% cashback, so once you hit the threshold within the category, you’ll only earn a lackluster 1% cash back for additional purchases.

 

Maximum rewards require activation

To get the 5% cash-back bonus, you need to activate the categories every quarter. You can do this on Discover’s website, via email, with the mobile app, or by calling 1-800-347-2683.

Forgetting to do this means missing out on the higher cash back rate, leaving money on the table. Discover usually sends activation reminders, but you’ll still need to pay more attention than cards with set rewards — a hassle I’d rather avoid.

 

Lack of insurance and protection perks

Discover seriously lacks in the extra perks department. While I’m not expecting premium benefits from a no-annual-fee card, I would hope for something beyond basic security features.

Let’s compare it to the Chase Freedom Unlimited, another no-annual-fee option:

 

Benefits Discover it® Cash Back card_name
Zero liability protection
Security features
Purchase protection
Extended warranty
Trip cancellation insurance
Rental car insurance

 

Sure, you can get these perks with your other credit cards. But if we look at Discover as a stand-alone product, it could do much more for the old peace of mind and financial protection.

Learn more about the best credit cards for travel insurance benefits.

 

Discover Cash Back Credit Card: Additional Things to Know

 

Discover caters to students, credit card newbies, and those with poor credit scores. If you fit into one of those boxes, it’s best to do your research before deciding on the best fit for you.

 

Discover It Credit Cards: Which Discover Card is Best?

Discover currently has six credit cards on the market, all with no annual fee. Their budget-friendly brand means you won’t find any premium perks. Instead, it caters to credit card newbies or those looking to minimize costs.

Here’s a breakdown to help you decide on the best Discover credit card for you:

With rotating bonus categories offering 5% rewards and a Cashback Match program in the first year, it’s handy for maximizing your rewards potential if you don’t mind keeping track of category activations.

Best for: Generous cash back rewards.

  • Discover It® Secured Credit Card: A handy tool if you’re looking to build or rebuild your credit history. With a $200 minimum security deposit, you can boost your score by making timely payments and managing your credit limit.

After seven months, Discover will see if you qualify for an unsecured card, which means you get your deposit back.

Best for: Poor or fair credit scores.

  • Discover It® Student Cash Back: This one is essentially the same as the Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card but for students. You get 5% cash back on rotating categories, 1% on everything else, and the Cashback Match.

There’s no credit score required to apply, so it’s a solid opportunity to boost your credit.

Best for: Students seeking cash back rewards.

  • Discover It® Student Chrome: The Discover It® Student Chrome card offers rewards while helping you build credit. With 2% cash back on gas and dining, it’s perfect for students commuting to campus or who enjoy eating out with friends.

Best for: Students who spend a lot on gas and dining.

  • Discover it® Chrome: Tailored for those who spend a lot on gas and dining, you get 2% cash back on those categories on up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter (1% after that).

You also receive the Cashback Match, where Discover matches your rewards dollar-for-dollar at the end of the year.

Best for: Gas and dining cash back.

  • Discover it® Miles: For avid travelers, the Discover It® Travel Credit Card offers rewards tailored to your wanderlust.

With no foreign transaction fees, you earn 1.5x miles on every purchase and 2x miles in your first year (which Discover will match and return to you at the end of the year). You can redeem miles for cash or travel purchases.

Best for: Budget-friendly travel rewards

Check out the top travel credit cards for personal use and business.

 

How to Maximize Value With the Discover Cash Back Card

 

Start by taking full advantage of the Cashback Match program in the first year. Every dollar you earn in cash back during your first year gets matched by Discover, effectively doubling your rewards. If you’re in no rush, time your application when you anticipate a year of heavy spending.

Remember to stay on top of the rotating 5% cash back categories. You need to activate these categories each quarter to earn the boosted cashback. If you’re like me and struggle to remember the most basic birthdays – set reminders!

Consider aligning your spending with the upcoming category. Last year, Discover offered 5% cash back on Amazon purchases in the final quarter. So, if you have your eye on that fancy coffee machine, see if you can delay the purchase until it fits into the right quarterly category.

And with the $1,500 quarterly cap – don’t blow the budget on things you wouldn’t usually buy, or you’ll be stuck with a disappointing 1% for the rest of the quarter.

Most redemption options are at a 1:1 rate, with cash back being my choice as you’re not tied to any brand or retailer.

But if you have a special occasion coming up, it’s worth exploring gift cards, as Discover offers 5% to 20% in savings. Cardholders also reported special deals when redeeming with Amazon – one customer was offered 30% off on purchases up to $15.

 

Best Cards to Pair With the Discover It Cash Back Card

 

Discover’s rotating bonus categories mean your expenses won’t always align with the chosen quarterly category. And with only 1% on all other purchases, it doesn’t make sense to use the card outside the bonus categories.

The solution is simple: max out the $1,500 category cap when it matches your spending habits, or use another card when the categories don’t align. Discover has no annual fee, so there’s no harm in putting it in the drawer until the next quarter.

And while you’re waiting, here are other cards you can use to maximize your rewards:

  • Capital One Savor Card: With a modest $95 annual fee, you get 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services and 3% at grocery stores, making it a valuable card for food lovers.
  • card_name For frequent jetsetters, this card offers 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x on dining, groceries, and streaming services, and 2x on other travel purchases.

You also get 25% more value when you redeem for travel via Chase and plenty of travel insurance perks — all for a $95 annual fee.

  • Citi Custom Cash Card: Like the Discover It, this card offers a generous 5% cash back with no annual fee. However, the key difference is you only get these rewards in your top spending category, which is great if you want consistent cash back that aligns with your everyday expenses.

 

Alternatives to the Discover It Cash Back Card

 

If you prefer simplicity over rotating categories, here are some budget-friendly alternatives:

 

card_name card_name card_name card_name
4.8/5 4.4/5 4.4/5 4.6/5
annual_fees annual_fees annual_fees annual_fees
17.24% – 28.24% Variable APR reg_apr,reg_apr_type reg_apr,reg_apr_type reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back. $200 Cash Back after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.

Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

3% cash back on restaurant dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services.

3% cash back on drugstore purchases.

1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay on every purchase. Earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores.

Earn 1% cash back on every purchase.

See Rates and Fees See Rates and Fees See Rates and Fees See Rates and Fees

 

Discover It Cash Back Credit Card: Useful Links

 

Discover It Cash Back Credit Card Customer Reviews

 

Speaking with friends and scrolling online forums, I found Discover It generally gets positive reviews, especially as a first-time credit card.

But not everyone has the same experience. To give you a better picture, here’s a mixed bag of Discover credit card reviews:

“This card gave me an $8,000 starting amount when my other limits were only $1,000. By the end of the year, my limit was $14,000. After 15 months, I got a second Discover rewards card that started at $7500 and, by the end of the year, had a limit of $13,500. I made $1,500 each off both my Discover cards after the intro offer. I am now a loyal Discover card user. A+ rating and wonderful customer service reps!”

“I applied to this card for the rotating 5% cash back. I was approved and had the chance to pick my card design. Later, they kept sending me emails for IRS verification, which I never had for my six other credit cards. After I refused, I decided to call customer service for further explanations — I wish I never did, 100% rookies. I just had to drop it in the drawer where it would never be used until recently when they closed the account for no action!”

“I’ve only had this card for about six months. I use it for everything and have earned so many cash back rewards, and they have already raised my credit limit! I highly recommend this card — I love it!”

 

Is Discover It a Good Credit Card for Me?

 

If your spending habits align with Discover’s quarterly categories, this card is a winner. The 5% cash back is a real gem in the budget card arena, especially across everyday purchases.

But what if those bonus categories don’t match your spending habits? One of the beauties of this card is that it has no annual fee. So, during the months when the categories aren’t hitting the mark for you, simply tuck it away until next quarter.

For this reason, I wouldn’t get Discover as a stand-alone card. If you spend a lot on groceries or dining, I recommend finding a card that offers consistent rewards for the times when Discover doesn’t cover your top spending categories.

The Discover It Cash Back Credit Card also really excels in the first year. Their unique Cashback Match program means it’s a tempting choice if you’re looking to boost your rewards.

Apply to the Discover it® Cash Back Card. 

 

FAQ

 

Does Discover Card have foreign transaction fees?

The Discover It has no foreign transaction fees, meaning they won’t charge you when traveling abroad or making international purchases.

 

How much cash back does Discover give?

Discover offers 5% cash back on rotating categories every quarter (and 1% on everything else). These categories usually come in pairs and cover everyday purchases, such as dining, gas, drugstores, and online purchases.

Once you reach the $1,500 bonus category cap, you earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases.

 

Does Discover have an annual fee?

No, Discover It Cash Back has no annual fee. In fact, Discover is a great budget-friendly option, as none of their cards come with annual fees.

 

Is Discover a good first credit card?

Yes, Discover can be a great first credit card. They’re known for being beginner-friendly, offering options like the Discover it Student Cash Back card tailored for students or the standard Discover it Cash Back card.

With no annual fee, it’s low-risk and lets you build credit responsibly. Plus, Discover offers tools like FICO credit score tracking, which can be helpful for someone just starting to navigate the world of credit.

 

Our Methodology

 

Our credit card reviews aim to provide a comprehensive assessment of both quantitative and qualitative factors.

 

The quantitative analysis focuses on the financial costs and benefits associated with each card, including interest rates, fees, rewards programs, cash back offers, and other monetary perks. However, we also consider qualitative aspects that impact the everyday use and value of the card.

 

These include the simplicity of the application process, the structure of the rewards program, the likelihood of utilizing certain card features, and the suitability of the card for frequent or infrequent use.

Our On FIRE rating system allows for quick comparisons between cards within a particular category. When choosing a new credit card, consumers should weigh the quantitative dollar amounts, along with qualitative ease-of-use factors to select the best overall option for their needs.

 

 

Terms and Restrictions Apply
Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. POF does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Credit Card Providers determine the underwriting criteria necessary for approval, you should review each Provider's terms and conditions to determine which card works for you and your personal financial situation.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

User-Generated Content Disclosure: 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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