Discover it® Cash Back Review
November 19, 2018
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If you’re looking for a way to earn more than the standard 1% cash back many no-fee rewards cards offer, you may want to consider the Discover it® Cash Back. This card does offer unlimited 1% cash back on your everyday purchases, but you can also earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
Even better, Discover® has promised to match all of the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. This brings your base earning rate up to 2% on regular purchases and 10% in bonus categories for a full twelve months.
Earning that much cash back without an annual fee is hard to beat, but this card offers additional consumer benefits that make it even more rewarding. In this review, we’ll highlight the biggest perks this card offers, who it’s best for, and potential downsides to consider.
- Earn 1% cash back on every purchase and 5% cash back on your first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate every quarter
- Discover® will match all of the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year
- No annual fee
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. After the intro period ends, the go to rate of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable applies.
- Free Social Security number alerts
- Free FICO score on your monthly statement
Discover it® Cash Back: Cash Back Rewards
The first-year value proposition of the Discover it® Cash Back is hard to beat. Not only do you earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back in rotating categories, but Discover® will match all all of the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. Making this offer more valuable is the fact that Discover tends to offer very useful 5% bonus categories almost anyone can use. For the first three quarters of 2018, categories included gas stations, wholesale clubs, grocery stores, and restaurants. For the final quarter of 2018, consumers can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of spending with Amazon.com or with Wholesale clubs.
Cashing in is also easy with this card. When it comes to redeeming your points, you have the option to cash in for statement credits or for purchases made on Amazon.com
While this card has a strong rewards program, we also love the fact this card offers consumer perks that can help you monitor your credit and protect your identity. Once you sign up for the card, you’ll be eligible for Social Security number alters that can inform you if someone attempts to use your sensitive personal details. You’ll also get access to your FICO score on your credit card statement each month, making it easy to monitor your credit score over time.
Finally, consumers who need to pay down debt could really benefit from the Discover it® Cash Back balance transfer offer. Currently, consumers who are approved for the card get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. After the intro period ends, the go to rate of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable applies. There is a 3% balance transfer fee for each balance you transfer, but you can still save a boatload on interest if you’re transferring debt that is currently at a high interest rate.
In summary, the Discover it® Cash Back offers something for everyone — the potential to earn up to 10% back on some purchases the first year, a flat rate of rewards on everything you buy, and the prospect of avoiding interest for a full 14 months. And you get it all without an annual fee.
Discover it® Cash Back: Where it Falls Flat
While the Discover it® Cash Back is a winner indeed, the fact it doesn’t offer a signup bonus makes it a tough sell for consumers who want an initial rush of rewards right away. While Discover® will match all of the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, they don’t give you those additional points until your twelve months are up. For some people, that’s a long time to wait.
If you love the 5% rotating bonus categories the Discover it® Cash Back offers but hate the idea of not receiving a signup bonus sooner than twelve months, you should also consider the Chase Freedom®. This card offers the same 1% and 5% earning structure without an annual fee, but it also comes with $150 in bonus cash after you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening.
Another downside of signing up for the Discover it® Cash Back is the fact that, outside of the 5% bonus categories, you’re only earning 1% on regular purchases. While Discover® will match the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, you won’t receive that benefit once the initial twelve-month period is over. For that reason, this card may not be ideal for people who may not take advantage of some of the 5% categories very often.
Finally, as for some consumers, not everyone wants to deal with rotating bonus categories or earning limits. If you’re someone who is easily overwhelmed by complicated rewards programs or hates the idea, you may want to stick with a cash-back card that offers a flat rate of rewards.
Should You Get the Discover it® Cash Back?
If you’re in the market for a cash-back credit card, it’s hard to beat the Discover it® Cash Back the first year. After all, earning 5% back in rotating categories and the fact that Discover® will match all of the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year is something you don’t see with other cash-back credit cards. Consumers who get this card can also benefit from having the ability to check their FICO score each month as well as having Social Security number alerts that could protect them from identity theft.
Still, the fact the Discover it® Cash Back doesn’t offer a traditional signup bonus means not everyone will be excited to sign up. On top of that, a large portion of consumers don’t want to be bothered with special earning tiers or categories that change every few months. Finally, the 5% cash-back categories may not work for everyone.
With this in mind, the Discover it® Cash Back is best for:
- Consumers whose monthly spending tends to align with 5% bonus categories
- Anyone who doesn’t mind waiting twelve months for a signup bonus
- People who want to redeem for statement credits and Amazon.com purchases
- Anyone who doesn’t want to pay an annual fee
Before you sign up for the Discover it® Cash Back, weigh the pros and cons and compare it against several other cash-back credit cards without an annual fee. By taking the time to explore all your options, you should end up with the perfect rewards card for your needs in the end.