2019 Discover cashback guide: How it works, best cashback cards
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2019 Discover cashback guide: How it works, best cashback cards

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Double your cash back in your first year of card membership.

Discover offers a suite of cashback cards that include no-frills cards, cards for students with limited credit histories and a secured card for building credit. Depending on your choice, you can earn accelerated cash back in rotating or fixed categories — and double everything you earn within your first year.

Compare Discover cashback credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual Fee
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 14 months (then 14.24% to 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories every quarter you activate, then 1% thereafter. Earn 1% back on all other purchases.
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined quarterly, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 14 months (then 14.24% to 25.24% variable)
$0
Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining on your first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After that earn 1% in these categories and on all other purchases.
5% back in rotating categories each activated quarter up to $1,500, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 6 months (then 15.24% to 24.24% variable)
$0
Earn 5% back in rotating categories each activated quarter up to $1,500, then 1% after that and on all other purchases.
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 6 months (then 15.24% to 24.24% variable)
$0
Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining on your first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After that earn 1% in these categories and on all other purchases.
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
25.24% variable
$0
2% cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

A brief introduction to Discover cashback credit cards

There are seven Discover cashback cards at the time of this writing.

While that sounds like a lot, there are only three types of Discover cashback rewards structures to understand.

How cash back works for Discover’s personal credit cards

For personal credit cards, you have two cashback structures to choose from:

  • Rotating 5% cash back.

    This could be a good option if you like to change things up. You’ll earn 5% cash back in different categories each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500. After you reach the maximum, you’ll earn 1% cash back for the rest of the quarter.

    Rotating categories might include grocery stores, gas stations, rideshare services, restaurants and Amazon.com.

Pro tip

To get 5% cash back, you need to activate your bonus categories each quarter. You can do this through your online Discover account or by calling 800-347-2683.

  • 2% cash back.

    Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After you reach the purchase maximum, you’ll earn 1% cash back for the rest of the quarter.

For all cards of these types, you’ll always earn at least 1% cash back, even if you’re not spending in bonus categories.

How cash back works for Discover’s business credit card

For business, there’s one Discover option: the Discover it® Business Card. It offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. Flat-rate rewards are a great choice if you don’t want to deal with various bonus reward categories.

Best Discover cashback credit cards

Best for gas and restaurants: Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card

Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card

Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining on your first $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After that earn 1% in these categories and on all other purchases.

Promoted
Go with this card if you spend frequently on gas or dining. You’ll also find a valuable intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, as well as a first-year cashback match.

Best for building credit: Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

2% cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.

Promoted
If you’re looking to build or rebuild your credit while earning cash back on your purchases, the Discover it® Secured is a solid choice. Put down a security deposit that acts as your credit line to start using the card.
Compare cashback cards for poor credit

Best Discover card for students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Earn 5% back in rotating categories each activated quarter up to $1,500, then 1% after that and on all other purchases.

Promoted
The Discover it® Student Cash Back can be a good choice for students who want to earn cash back, get rewards for good grades and build their credit while in college. Card membership also comes with the benefit of Discover’s Cashback Match program.

Best credit card for NHL fans: NHL Discover it® Card

NHL Discover it® Card

Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more, up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases — automatically.

Promoted
The NHL Discover it® Card sets itself apart from other Discover cashback cards by offering discounts on eligible NHL purchases. You can also choose your card design to rep your favorite NHL team. A suite of additional perks makes this card a cool choice for hockey fans.

Best overall: Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Earn accelerated cash back in rotating categories
  • First year cashback match
  • Free FICO credit score
  • Ability to freeze your account
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Promoted
The Discover it® Cash Back is the strongest card Discover offers. You get a long intro APR period on balance transfers and purchases, earn accelerated cash back in rotating categories every quarter and benefit from Discover’s Cashback Match program.

How we chose our best cards

Discover largely makes things simple by offering just one card each for certain categories — secured, student and NHL cards, for example. Luckily, all of these cards are standouts compared to the competition due to their strong rewards and signup bonuses.

The provider’s flagship cashback cards are excellent choices, too, for the same reasons.

What’s changed in 2019

In 2019, Discover sticks to the same effective playbook it’s been using: offer no-annual-fee cards with strong rewards and one unique signup bonus. The provider blazes its own trail, and it’s worth a look if cards from other banks all look the same.

How to compare Discover cashback credit cards

Discover cashback credit cards are fairly similar. The main difference lies in the credit-score ranges they’re aimed at. You can narrow your options with three questions:

  • Are you a student?

    Students can choose between two Discover cashback cards. For the highest value, consider the Discover it® Student Cash Back.

  • Do you want to build your credit score?

    With the Discover it® Secured, you deposit a minimum of $200 to start building or rebuilding your credit score while earning cash back on your purchases.

  • Do you want the best Discover cashback cards?

    The Discover it® Cash Back, NHL Discover it® Card and Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card offer good cash back. Pick the rewards structure that best matches your spending.

Typical benefits of a Discover cashback card

Each Discover cashback card comes with its own perks and features. But they share common benefits that include:

  • A cashback match.

    Discover matches the entirety of the cash back you earn during your first year. And it doesn’t come with a maximum.

  • No annual fee.

    You won’t pay an annual fee with any of Discover’s cashback cards. But you must put down a one-time deposit for the secured card.

  • Free FICO score.

    Every Discover card allows you to access your FICO score for free either online or on your monthly statement.

  • Freeze your card.

    If you lose your card, freeze it to prevent anyone from using it. You can unfreeze it at any time if it turns up.

  • US-based customer service.

    Discover’s support team is in the US, and it earns positive reviews around the web.

Consider a card from another brand

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.
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See Rates & Fees
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Bottom line

Discover offers several cashback cards with uniform features — you get either accelerated cash back in rotating categories or lower cash back in fixed categories. Discover also matches the entire cashback amount you earn in your first card year, which can beat signup bonuses offered by most other providers.

To find the best card for your lifestyle and budget, consider other cashback credit cards before deciding.

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