Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card Review

Discover it® Cash Back

Get rewarded with the Discover it Cash Back

If you have good to excellent credit and are looking for one of the highest cash back offers with no annual fee, the Discover it® Cash Back credit card is a great option. This card provides 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in specific categories each quarter you activate, plus automatic 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Plus, all the cash back you earned will be matched after your first year with the card. That’s a lot of earning potential, especially with no annual or foreign transaction fees. A 0% intro APR for the first 14 months on purchases and balance transfer may add to the appeal as well.

What to expect from the Discover it Cash Back 

  • APR: 0% Intro APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers; after that, 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR and up to a 5% fee for future balance transfers apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Reward Rates: 5% cash back at different places every quarter, like Amazon.com, grocery stores, dining establishments and gas stations as long as you activate, on up to $1,500 in purchases; unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically.
  • Intro Offer: Get an automatic match of all cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. There’s no limit to how much is matched. Get a 3% introductory balance transfer fee.

Even better

  • You can redeem cash back through account direct deposits, credit card statement credits, donations to select nonprofit organizations, Amazon.com shopping, gift cards and eCertificates (for which you’d need to redeem at least $20). Your cash back never expires. Redeem rewards in any amount, at any time.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.
  • Get free Social Security number alerts, which you’ll get if your Social Security number is found on any dark web sites.
  • Receive new account alerts if any new credit cards, home loans, car loans or other accounts are opened on your Experian credit report.
  • Get 24/7 fraud protection, with proactive card and account monitoring for any fraudulent activity. If unauthorized purchases are made on your card, you won’t be held responsible.
  • The Freeze It feature allows you to freeze your account in seconds to prevent new purchases on your account.
  • Get free overnight card delivery by request if your Discover it Cash Back credit card is lost or stolen.
  • View your FICO Credit Score on monthly statements, mobile and online for free.
  • The Discover it Cash Back credit card features 100% U.S.-based customer service, available by phone, mobile and online.

But keep your eyes open for pitfalls

If you want to reap the full rewards of the 5% cash back each quarter, you’ll have to activate the option manually with the Discover it Cash Back credit card. You also have no choice on the categories. If you don’t shop in certain categories, you won’t get maximum benefits compared to what you might get with a flat-rate card.

For an automatic cash back reward without having to remember to activate categories, you might look at the Citi Double Cash Card, which rewards cardholders with 2% cash back on all purchases, divided by 1% when you buy and 1% as you pay back.

Also with the Discover it Cash Back credit card, there are some customer complaints about high interest rates that weren’t changed even after years of being with the company and making on-time payments. Other concerns relate to low credit lines, which may not be raised despite on-time payments over a significant period of time.

While Discover claims a 97% acceptance rate at American merchants, its international acceptance lags behind cards like Visa and MasterCard.

How to maximize your Discover it Cash Back rewards

If you want to get the most cash back from this card, you’ll want to use it as much as possible in your first year. Pay close attention to the 5% categories, and don’t forget to activate them every quarter. In 2020, categories from January to March are Walgreens, grocery stores and CVS; from April to June are Uber, Lyft, gas stations and wholesale clubs; from July to September are restaurants and PayPal; and from October to December are Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com.

If you’re using more than one credit card with the Discover it Cash Back card, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the Discover it Cash Back credit card for those bonus categories. You might use another card for non-bonus category purchases where you get higher rewards, like pairing the Discover it Cash Back credit card with the Citi Double Cash Card or the Chase Freedom Card. The Chase Freedom Card has similar terms to the Discover it Cash Back card (5% cash back in up to $1,500 in purchases in specific categories each quarter, no annual fee), but with different 5% cash back categories, you may be able to get more of your purchases covered with 5% cash back this way.

Bottom line

The Discover it Cash Back credit card can provide you with a lot of cash back bonuses, especially in your first year of using it. You’ll want to make sure you’re using it for quarterly bonus categories to maximize your cash back for up to $1,500 in bonus category purchases. Depending on your spending habits, you may choose to use this card alone or to complement another cash back card to maximize your rewards.

The 0% APR introductory offer can also be a benefit in the first 14 months, especially if you have a big purchase planned. You can get the cash back match benefits on bigger purchases, with 0% APR.

If you don’t want to wait a year for your cash back match, you might consider the Chase Freedom credit card. It comes with a bonus offer of $200 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months.