Discover Credit Cards Review - A Look at the Cash Back Originator

Discover is one of the four most popular credit card companies, along with MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. If you're thinking of opening a new credit card, you may be drawn to what perks one card has versus other credit card. While some banks and card issuers have a dizzying array of options with names like "Slate," "Preferred," "Gold," or "Platinum," Discover credit cards have much more approachable and self-explanatory names and is renowned for offering cash back rewards.
Just because Discover is simple to understand, does that mean it still packs the same punch as other card offers? For the most part, yes. Learn more about the different Discover IT cards below, including cash back credit cards and travel cards with perks at gas stations, restaurants, and more.

Overview of the best Discover credit cards

CardBest for
Discover IT Cash Back CardGeneral consumers
Discover IT Travel CardFrequent flyers
Discover IT Gas & Restaurants CardRoadtrippers
Discover IT Student Cash Back CardGeneral students
Discover IT Student Chrome CardStudents who commute

Discover IT Cash Back Cards

Perhaps the most popular type of Discover credit card is their Cash Back Credit Card. One reason this card is so popular with consumers is that it offers a 5% cash back rate each quarter in rotating bonus categories. For example, one quarter may get an extra 5% back at gas stations and grocery stores, whereas another quarter may get 5% back at Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other big-box stores. You can learn about quarterly categories ahead of each quarter, so you know what will earn you the most cash back each quarter.
In addition to the rewards rate, the Discover IT Cash Back Card also offers 1% cash back on all other purchases. The deal gets even sweeter for new cardholders—new cardmembers get all of their bonus cash matched (including their 5% purchases in bonus categories) for the first year. This means that you get even more cash back rewards at the end of your first year, which can be used as a statement credit or spent on gift cards and other perks.
Because of the cashback match offered if it's your first time opening and using the Discover IT Cash Back Card, it's sometimes referred to as a double cash back card. In addition to cash back offers, there are also some other perks offered to new cardholders in the first year, including 0% intro APR for 14 months. Balance transfer fees are also a much lower percentage for the first year, meaning that an intro balance transfer could help you pay off a different credit card debt with more time to avoid interest charges.

Discover IT Travel Cards

If you're a frequent traveler looking for a good card with vacation perks, there are two different Discover IT cards worth looking into. The Discover IT Travel Card offers perks like airline miles, while the Discover IT Gas & Restaurants Card is more appropriate for someone who drives a lot when traveling. Learn more about each option:

Discover IT Travel Credit Card

Suppose you're the type of person who'd rather have a dedicated rewards program for travel rather than different spending categories. In that case, the Discover IT Travel Credit Card is an excellent option to look into. Offering 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on purchases, you'll be racking up airline miles in no time with this card.
The Discover IT Travel Credit Card also comes with a 0% introductory APR for 14 months, followed by a more regular APR ranging from 11.99% to 22.99% as variable APR.
Best of all, the Discover IT Travel Credit Card has no annual fee and comes with a miles match similar to the match offered with the Discover Cash Back Card. This means that all of the miles you earn in your first year using the Discover IT Travel Credit Card will be automatically matched by Discover, giving you even more miles to cash in on airline travel!

Discover IT Gas & Restaurants Credit Card

If you're less likely to take trips that require airfare, then it might make more sense to look into applying for the Discover IT Gas & Restaurants Credit Card. This card offers 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants and gas stations totaling up to $1,000 each quarter. In addition to this perk, you'll also earn 1% cash back on purchases in other categories while using the card.
Like other Discover IT cards, the unlimited cashback match is also in play during the first year you use your Discover IT Gas & Restaurants Credit Card. According to Discover's website, "There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match."
Beyond the 2% cash back on restaurants and gas, the Discover IT Gas & Restaurants Credit Card also offers 0% intro APR for 14 months and a balance transfer intro rate of 3% for a set period. After your sign-up bonus period ends, you can expect 11.99% to 22.99% Standard Variable Purchase APR with a balance transfer rate of up to 5%.

Discover IT Student Cards

There are a few Discover IT credit cards with perks for students, too. While you can get a secured credit card to build credit responsibly in school, if you have a bit more self-control the perks of both the Discover IT Student Cash Back Credit Card and the Discover IT Student Chrome Credit Card might be a better fit for you while you're in college. Learn more about each option:

Discover IT Student Cash Back Credit Card

The Discover IT Student Cash Back Credit Card has all of the same perks of the other Discover IT Cash Back Card—with one big exception. For students, in addition to the 5% rotating cash back categories, introductory 0% APR, unlimited cash back match for the first year, and lower-rate balance transfers, your GPA can also earn you a statement credit each school year.
According to Discover's website, this $20 credit is applied "each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years." While $20 isn't a significant amount of money, that statement credit does mean that coffee or pizza during a late-night cram session is on Discover, a nice perk and extra incentive to keep your grades up while you're in school. One thing to note about the Student Cash Back Credit Card is that the 0% introductory APR offered as a promotion with this card is only valid for six months of usage.

Discover IT Student Chrome Credit Card

The Student Chrome Credit Card is in a lot of ways similar to the Restaurants & Gas Credit Card offered by Discover. The Discover IT Student Chrome Credit Card offers 2% cash back up to $1,000 a quarter at gas stations and restaurants, with an additional 1% cash back on all other spending categories.
Like the Student Cash Back Credit Card, you'll also get a $20 statement credit each year that your GPA is 3.0 for the next five years. You'll also get a 0% introductory APR for the first 6 months of using the card—as well as the unlimited Discover cash back match for the first year of usage.

Summary of the best Discover credit cards

Card nameCashbackIntro OffersStudent BenefitsAPR
Discover IT Cash Back Card5% in rotating categories, 1% on everything elseUnlimited cashback match, 0% APR for 14 months, 3% intro balance transfer feeNone11.99% to 22.99%
Discover IT Travel CardUnlimited 1.5x milesUnlimited mile match, 0% APR for 14 months, 3% intro balance transfer feeNone11.99% to 22.99%
Discover IT Gas & Restaurants Card2% cashback on gas and restaurants purchases up to $1,000 each quarter, 1% everywhere elseUnlimited cashback match, 0% APR for 14 months, 3% intro balance transfer feeNone11.99% to 22.99%
Discover IT Student Cash Back Card5% in rotating categories, 1% on everything elseUnlimited cashback match, 0% APR for 6 months$20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher12.99% - 21.99%
Discover IT Student Chrome Card2% cashback on gas and restaurants purchases up to $1,000 each quarter, 1% everywhere elseUnlimited Cashback Match, 0% APR for 6 months$20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher12.99% - 21.99%

Other common Discover credit card features

The Discover IT credit card family also has a few other nice features across each card type that may be useful. Here's a quick overview of some of them:
First late payment forgiveness. A nice perk of all Discover IT cards is that your first late payment is forgiven if and when it occurs. Especially if you're concerned about being charged penalty APR after a missed payment, this can give you a bit of leeway before a higher APR kicks in. While responsible credit card users should never need to use this feature, it's nice to have a little extra peace of mind knowing that you won't have to worry about it if some mistake gets made.
No foreign transaction fees. Another nice perk across all of the Discover IT family of credit cards is the fact that you won't get foreign transaction fees charged.
No annual fees. Regardless of the Discover credit card you choose, there are no annual fees connected with using your card. This is a significant perk considering the kinds of benefits and rewards each Discover card offers—something many other credit card companies charge for.

Who are Discover credit cards best for?

Of course, not every credit card is a good fit for every person. Here are some types of people who will get a lot from the Discover family of credit cards.
Budget-conscious credit card users. If you're the type of credit card user who doesn't want to touch a credit card with an annual fee, you won't be making many sacrifices in terms of perks by opting for a Discover IT card with no annual fee.
General consumers interested in cash back. If you want a card that gives good cash back deals, getting 5% back on rotating categories is a great reason to consider the Discover IT credit card. Particularly if you've got some larger purchases planned in the next year to make the most out of your unlimited cash back match, you can get a lot of value out of opening a Discover IT credit card.

Who shouldn't open a Discover credit card?

Serious business owners. While Discover offers business credit cards, there are many other credit cards out there with more features and options worth considering. Looking at business credit cards from Chase and Capital One, it's easy to see that your company is likely to be better served by shopping around for business credit cards from other companies.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Discover Unlimited Cash Back Match. For your first year of use, all of the cash back you earn will automatically be doubled. This means that for the first year you’re actually getting 10% cash back on all rotating categories and 2% cash back on all other purchases.
  • First late payment forgiveness. A nice perk of all Discover IT cards is that your first late payment is forgiven if and when it occurs. Especially if you’re concerned about being charged penalty APR after a missed payment, this can give you a bit of leeway before a higher APR kicks in. While responsible credit card users should never need to use this feature, it’s nice to have a little extra peace of mind knowing that if some mistake gets made you won’t have to worry about it.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Another nice perk across all of the Discover IT family of credit cards is the fact that you won’t get foreign transaction fees charged
  • No annual fees. Regardless of the Discover credit card you choose, there are no annual fees connected with using your card. This is a major perk considering the kinds of benefits and rewards each Discover card offers—something many other credit card companies charge for.
Cons
  • Rotating categories won’t always be useful. While you likely won’t have any issues spending money at Amazon the quarter that it’s a rotating category, other rotating categories, such as hardware stores, may be less useful to you.
  • Better travel cards out there. While Discover offers a travel card with 1.5x miles on every purchase, the Chase Preferred card (and other travel credit cards) throw in a lot more benefits than Discover. While those cards have annual fees, many people feel the perks and rewards make up for the cost of that fee in spades.
  • Only one option for business owners. If you’re a business owner, you may want to shop around for other credit cards, since Discover only offers one business card. Especially if you’re a niche business, there are certainly more personalized options out there for you.

FAQs

Do you need to have excellent credit to get a Discover card?
Any time you apply for a credit card, your credit history is going to play a role. Generally speaking, a good credit score is a score that is at least 700 or more. According to Discover's website, Discover card credit score requirements vary by product. In general, the standard Discover it® Card is for people with established credit.
What is the credit limit on a credit card?
Your credit limit is the maximum amount of money you can charge to a card towards purchases and balance transfers. All activity on your credit card counts toward your overall credit limit.
What are the reasons you should get a credit card?
There are a lot of different reasons you may be interested in getting a credit card. For starters, getting a credit card allows you to net rewards like cash back and other perks you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to take advantage of just using a standard debit card for purchases. Other people choose to get credit cards to responsibly build their credit so that they can qualify for larger loans for big purchases like a car or house.

The bottom line

Discover's IT cards meet a wide range of needs and are worth considering for standard features like no foreign transaction fees, introductory APR rates, lower fees on cash advances, and waived late fees the first time you miss a payment's due date. Discover also has a mobile app where you can easily monitor your credit card activity, view your FICO score, and take a look at reward perks for the current or upcoming quarter.
Perhaps one of the most enticing features of all of Discover's cards is the Discover unlimited cash back match during your first year of usage. With no minimum or maximum, this sign-on benefit can help you net hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in cash back, depending on how frequently you use your card and what its limits are. This kind of cash back, when combined with the rotating 5% categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases definitely make the Discover credit cards well worth considering. Even if you're only using your Discover card for everyday purchases month to month, $2,500 of purchases over a year winds up, netting you $300 in cash back. That sort of money isn't going to get you rich overnight, but when it comes to treating yourself or having extra spending money at the holidays if you're not using a credit card with cash back rewards, you're leaving money on the table.
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