Discover it® Cash Back review
A no-annual-fee card with high quarterly cash back rewards.
finder.com’s rating: 4.8 / 5.0
- Get this card if you want to earn cash back without paying an annual fee.
- Pick something else if you want a card with a lower variable APR.
- 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)
|Product Name||Discover it® Cash Back|
|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)|
|Cash advance rate||24.99% variable|
|Cash advance fee||$10 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater|
|Foreign transaction fee||None|
|Interest free period||Up to 25 days|
|Late payment fee||Up to $40|
|Returned payment fee||Up to $40|
|Additional cardholder fee||$0|
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, The Dallas Morning News, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order and expertly navigate the cutting-edge financial tools available -- including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
A cashback rate of 5% is a big deal. But here’s the catch: You only get it in categories that rotate quarterly.
From April to June, you might earn higher cash back at grocery stores or gas stations. From July to September, at restaurants or for purchases made on Amazon.com, and so on.
For all other purchases that don’t have the quarterly boost, you earn a flat 1% cash back. If you don’t want to.
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.
Compare Discover it® Cash Back and Chase Freedom® Annual spending similar to our example would earn $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 any signup bonus offered by a similar card. These numbers are based on our calculations at the time of writing, assume the 5% categories are maxed out each quarter and are just one example of the possible cash back you can earn.
How much cashback rewards can I earn with the Discover it® Cash Back card?
Where you spend: The amount you spend: Cash back earned: Dining $2,000 $80 Gas $2,000 $80 Groceries $3,000 $90 Wholesale clubs $2,000 $80 Everything else $6,000 $60 Total $15,000 $390
Annual spending similar to our example would earn $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 any signup bonus offered by a similar card.
These numbers are based on our calculations at the time of writing, assume the 5% categories are maxed out each quarter and are just one example of the possible cash back you can earn.
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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.
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.
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.
Case study: Julia’s experience
Another great feature is the access to my FICO credit score and history just by logging in. It’s an easy way to monitor my credit without signing up for a separate service. I get a FICO credit scorecard showing me my total accounts, length of credit, number of inquiries, revolving utilization and number of missed payments, along with a detailed explanation of each category. It even lists key factors that affect my score so I know where to make improvements.
What to watch out for
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%.
How does a balance transfer work with this card?
To use the 0% intro APR period of 14 months following your account opening, your balance transfers must post to your account by a rolling deadline. After the intro period is up, a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99% will apply.
For each transfer you make, you’ll pay a balance transfer fee equal to 3% of the transaction. Keep in mind that if you request a balance transfer that exceeds your credit limit, Discover may transfer a partial amount or decline the transfer.
After the intro APR period passes, you’ll be charged interest on purchases for any balance transfers you make. To avoid this, pay your balance in full before it’s due.
If you change your mind, call 800-347-3085 to cancel your balance transfer at any time before it processes.
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.
What do customers say about the Discover it® Cash Back card?
The Better Business Bureau accredited Discover and rated the card issuer with an A+.
Most customer reviews complain about the high APR of the card, and some even complained that the company lowered their credit line without prior notice. Others, however, claim they received credit line increases after paying their balance on time, and most of the customers love the cashback rates.
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.
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.
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.
- Avoid fees. Discover waives your first late payment fee. Subsequent late payments come with fees of up to $40, and balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
- Customer service. Call 800-347-2683 or chat with a representative online if you have any questions.
How do I redeem rewards from Discover it® Cash Back?
Log in to your online Discover Card account and browse your redemption options. These include:
- Gift cards with an added $5 bonus
- Pay using your rewards at Amazon.com checkout
- Donate to charity
- Deposit cash back into your bank account or use toward your Discover card bill
If you don’t want to redeem on online, call 800-347-2683 to redeem your Discover rewards by phone.
If you spend within the rotating quarterly 5% cash back categories, the no-fee Discover it® Cash Back card could be well worth your time. However, if you want flat cash back on all purchases or higher cash back on certain categories, consider another cash back card.
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Frequently asked questions
Cashback card ratings
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
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