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Guide to Discover rewards program

This program specializes in a variety of cashback options.

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Fact checked

Rather than offering a large variety of redemption options through its loyalty program, Discover has zeroed in on doing one type of reward really well: cash back. You can even use Discover’s travel cards to get cashback redemptions through statement credits.

Here are the ways you can cash out your Discover credit card purchases.

Why should you sign up for Discover rewards?

Discover cashback rewards cards are among the most robust on the market and comparable to the cashback offerings of the other big hitters on the market, such as American Express and Chase.

However, unlike Amex or Chase, your redemption options are largely restricted to cash back. Considering merchandise and similar redemption options are among the worst possible redemption choices in the Chase and Amex rewards programs, this isn’t a big loss. In fact, this means it’s nearly impossible to “waste” or get a poor value out of your Discover redemptions.

How much are Discover points worth?

According to the provider site at the time of writing, all Discover reward points are worth 1 cent each except when redeemed on gift cards. This includes Discover it miles earned with Discover travel cards.

Discover cards that earn Discover rewards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$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.
Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card
Discover will match miles earned at the end of your first card year
1.5x miles on all purchases
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5x miles on all purchases - from airfare and hotels to groceries and online shopping.
Discover it® Chrome Gas & Restaurant Card
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined quarterly, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$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.
Discover it® Secured
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$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.
Discover it® Chrome for Students
Discover will match cash back at the end of your first card year
2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$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.
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Ways to redeem Discover rewards

Cash back

The most straightforward way to redeem your Discover points is to convert them into cash. Your rewards are displayed on your account profile as cash back by default, so you’ll always know how much you’ll receive. You can move this cash into your bank account or apply it to your bill as a statement credit.

Note that if you’re using a Discover card that earns Discover it Miles, your statement credits can be applied to certain expenses. These include various travel purchases such as flights and hotel stays, restaurants and gas station purchases.

Pay with cashback bonus

In addition to redeeming for cash back, you can make Amazon purchases directly using your rewards balance. To do so, you’ll need to link your Discover card account to your Amazon account.

Paying for Amazon items doesn’t alter the value of your rewards, though you can choose to pay with just a portion of your rewards and the rest in cash. However, Amazon purchases made using Discover rewards will not earn additional cash back.

Redeem for gift cards

Unlike many credit card reward programs, redeeming your Discover rewards on gift cards is one of your best options in terms of sheer value. Redeeming your rewards on a gift card of a particular value will earn you at least an additional $5 to your gift card. Depending on the retailer, your bonus can go even higher.

The drawback to this additional value is flexibility. If a retailer you enjoy isn’t available through Discover’s site, you’ll have to settle for standard cashback.

Donate to charity

If you’re feeling charitable, you can offer your rewards to the Make-A-Wish foundation or ASPCA. You won’t get compensation for this, though Discover will make an annual contribution to the charity that receives the most donations from cardholders.

Consider a rewards card from another brand

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
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Bottom line

Discover card doesn’t demand much when it comes to earning and redeeming rewards, which is a nice change of pace if you’re tired of calculating point values. With no “bad choices” to speak of, you’ll find plenty to enjoy with this simple rewards program.

If you’re looking for more diverse rewards options, compare rewards credit cards to find a program that suits your preferences. Or take a look at other cashback options to find one that best fits your spending habits.

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