Discover it® Cash Back review
Earn a potentially big signup bonus if you spend enough in your first year.
finder.com’s rating: 4.8 / 5
- Get this card if you don’t mind planning your spending to maximize your cash back throughout the year and boost your signup bonus.
- Pick something else if you want a card that earns loyalty points in a rewards program.
- Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
Up to 5%
Intro purchase APR
for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
Intro balance transfer
for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)
|Welcome Offer||Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year|
|Rewards||5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases|
|Purchase APR||0% intro for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)|
|Balance transfer APR||0% intro for the first 14 months (then 11.99% to 22.99% variable)|
|Recommended minimum credit score||670|
Steven Dashiell is a writer at Finder specializing in all things credit cards. With more than 300 articles under his belt, he aims to help readers embrace credit cards and maximize their rewards. Steve is studying to become a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, and is a frequent face on Finder’s YouTube channel, offering the latest in credit card hacks and advice. His expertise has been featured on numerous outlets, including U.S. News & World Report, Time, CBS, Fox Business, Lifehacker, Martha Stewart Living and more.
The Discover it® Cash Back is a traditional 5% cashback card with a non-traditional welcome offer. It offers 5% back on up to $1,500 select categories that rotate out each quarter, then 1% after that on all other purchases. It carries no annual fee and comes with a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months reverting to a 11.99% to 22.99% variable APR. Finally, Capital One will also match all cash back you earn during your first year.
The card’s relative simplicity puts it on the back foot in today’s rewards card market. With cards like the Chase Freedom Flex offering unlimited earning categories in addition to rotating categories, the Discover it® Cash Back feels a little bare bones, especially considering this card doesn’t offer the robust flexibility of a rewards program.
But for cardholders looking for something a little simpler, this card still packs a lot of punch, particularly in the cash match signup bonus. If you spend enough during your first year, you can cultivate a signup bonus worth much more than you’d find on a typical cashback card. In fact, simply maxing out the bonus on your quarterly categories during your first year will result in a signup bonus payout of $600. This card further differentiates itself by allowing you to view the entire year’s earning categories at the beginning of the year. For competing cards, you won’t know what your bonus categories will be until the start of the quarter.
If you like planning ahead and prefer the simplicity of cash back over rewards points, the Discover it® Cash Back is a good choice with a rewarding signup bonus. If you’re chasing the most value however, there are currently stronger 5% cards on the market.
How to apply for the Discover it® Cash Back card
- Go to Discover’s website. From the list of credit cards, select Discover it® Cash Back, then click Apply now.
- Complete the application with your personal details.
- Review your application and submit it.
What should I know before I apply?
To apply for the card, you must be at least 18 years old and a US resident.
As with any credit card, there are some personal details you’ll need to provide, such as:
- Your full name and contact information
- Your residential status
- Your annual income, education level and employment information
- Your Social Security number
At this stage, you can choose your credit card design color.
What credit score do I need?
You have a better chance of application approval with a credit score of 670 or higher. With a better credit history, you’ll get a higher credit limit and a lower APR.
How long will it take to get my Discover it® Cash Back card?
You’ll likely receive a decision almost immediately after you apply. If there are issues with your application, you may have to wait a few business days up to a few weeks for a decision.
Once approved, expect to receive the card by mail within seven to 10 days.
Discover it® Cash Back benefits
- Cash back. Get 5% cash back on categories that rotate every three months. For example, you could get 5% back on purchases at gas stations and wholesale clubs during one quarter, groceries during the second quarter, restaurants during the third quarter and Amazon.com during the last quarter. All quarters have a limit of up to $1,500 made in purchases at the $5 rate. After that, 1% cash back applies. For all other purchases, you earn 1% cash back.
- Intro APR period. Get a 0% intro APR period for balance transfers and purchases during the first 14 months months following your account opening. After that, a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99% applies. This could be useful if you want to make a large purchase and carry your balance for a year. It could also help if you want to make a balance transfer from another account where you’re stuck with a higher rate.
- No annual fee. The card comes with no annual fee.
- Free FICO® credit score. It’s easy to keep track of your credit score with monthly updates on your statement or online at any time. You’ll see your updated FICO score on each of your monthly statements. Or you can log in to your online account for up-to-the-minute details.
- Cashback match. At the end of your first card year, Discover will match the cash rewards you’ve earned. That’s especially valuable if you regularly take advantage of the 5% cash back.
- Late payment leniency. You won’t suffer fees for your first late payment, and the card has no penalty APR.
- Card freeze. You have an on/off switch to freeze your account in case you lose or misplace your card.
- Pick your card design. When you apply, you can choose one of nine available card colors. Alternatively, pick one of the 100+ card designs when you log in to your account to further personalize your plastic.
Discover it® Cash Back drawbacks
- Balance transfer limitations. You can use the intro APR period only for balance transfers that post to your account by a rolling deadline. For each transfer, you’ll pay a 3% fee. Keep in mind that you can only make balance transfers that don’t exceed your credit limit.
Once the intro APR period passes, you’ll be charged interest on your remaining balance. To avoid this, you need to pay all of your balances in full.
- Low starting credit line. Your credit line will be at least $500, depending on your credit score and other information.
- Potentially high APR. The card’s variable APR spans from 11.99% to 22.99%. A weaker credit history could mean having to settle for an interest rate toward the higher end of that range. An APR of 22.99% variable is high, considering the average is around 16%.
Compare similar cashback credit cards
For a side-by-side look at similar cashback cards on the market, select up to 4 credit cards and click Compare. You can also browse the best no annual fee cashback cards if you’re looking for something similar in cost to the Discover it® Cash Back.
How much cashback rewards can I earn with the Discover it® Cash Back card?
Here’s an example of spending over an entire year based on some common categories you’ll find on the Discover it® Cash Back. With $2,000 in spending on an eligible category, $1,500 of that spending will earn the 5% back, reaching the maximum cap for the quarter, and the remaining $500 will earn just 1% back. Annual spending similar to our example would earn at least $390 per year, starting from the second year. With the Discover it® Cash Back Match, you would get $780 in cash back for the first year. This beats most signup bonuses offered by a similar card.
These numbers are based on our calculations at the time of writing. And of course, any spending you perform on past the earning cap or on categories not eligible for 5% back will continue to earn 1% back.
|Where you spend:||The amount you spend:||Cash back earned:|
Discover it® Cash Back reviews and complaints
Discover has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 1989 and as of April 2021 earns an A+ rating from the bureau. Of the 1,062 customer complaints, all have been closed to satisfaction.
Discover hasn’t claimed its TrustPilot account and thus doesn’t interact with the site or address complaints through the site. Current customer complaints are over poor customer support and communication.
I got the card. Now what?
- Download the Discover Mobile app. Use the Discover Mobile app to make payments, check your FICO® score, find ATMs and more.
- Set up autopay. Discover waives your first late payment fee. Subsequent late payments come with fees of up to $40. Setting up auto pay can help you avoid these missed payment fees.
- Look at the reward calendar. Unlike several other providers, Discover lays out its entire reward calendar at the beginning of the year. Taking a look at this calendar can help you plan out how you should use your card throughout the year to maximize your cash back.
While not the strongest 5% cashback card on the market, the Discover it® Cash Back still offers plenty of value for someone looking for a simpler 5% cashback card. If you’re curious to see how this card stacks up within the market, browse available cashback credit cards for a better sense of what card might fit your needs best.
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