You are here

Discover it Cash Back card review: Earn up to 5% back and get all your rewards matched after the first 12 months

Submitted by Tech Insider on June 2, 2021 - 3:52pm

 Discover it® Cash BackSummary List Placement

Review: Is the Discover it Cash Back the best card for you?

If you prefer earning cash-back credit card rewards without paying an annual fee, the Discover it® Cash Back is a great choice. The card offers a solid 5% cash back in popular rotating quarterly bonus categories when you activate, on up to $1,500 in combined spending (then 1%). You'll also earn 1% back everywhere else Discover It Cashback rotation.

While there's no traditional welcome bonus, Discover will match all of the rewards you earn from the Discover it® Cash Back after the first 12 months through its Cashback Match program, so your 5% rewards are effectively worth 10% cash back in the first year. That's an amazing deal for a card with no annual fee.

For 2021, the Discover 5% quarterly bonus calendar categories are as follows:

The Discover it® Cash Back is great for those who don't want to pay an annual fee, and it also comes with an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, then an APR of Discover it® Cash Back. That's a nice feature if you have purchases coming up that you want to pay off over time without accruing interest.

Keep in mind that Discover cards are not quite as widely accepted as those from larger issuers, so you may want to carry this card and a backup if you can't use it. However, acceptance has grown in recent years, and with no annual fee, there's little harm in pairing your Discover it® Cash Back with another cash-back card.

Read more: The best Discover credit cards in 2021

For example, you could look at a no-annual-fee card that offers a flat cash-back rate on all purchases, like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns a total of 2% cash back (1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off) on all spending. Or, consider the Chase Freedom Flex℠, which also offers quarterly rotating 5% bonus categories with the same spending cap when you activate. 


Comparison: Discover it Cash Back vs other Discover cards

 

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® chrome

Annual fee

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® chrome

Rewards rate

5% cash back in categories that rotate each quarter on up to $1,500 in combined spending when you activate (then 1%)

1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

1.5x miles on all purchases

2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined spending each quarter (then 1%)

1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

Welcome bonus

None, but Discover will match all the cash back you earned after the first 12 months

None, but Discover will match all the miles you earned after the first 12 months

None, but Discover will match all the cash back you earned after the first 12 months

Card benefits

Free FICO score

No late payment fee on your first late payment (then up to $40)

Free FICO score

No late payment fee on your first late payment (then up to $40)

Free FICO score

No late payment fee on your first late payment (then up to $40)

Introductory 0% APR offer

0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months, then a Discover it® Cash Back APR

0% APR on purchases for the first 14 months, then a Discover it® Miles APR 

0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months, then a Discover it® chrome APR 

Foreign transaction fee

No

No

No

Review

  Discover it Miles credit card review  

Comparison: Discover it Cash Back vs other cash-back cards

 

Discover it® Cash Back

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Citi® Double Cash Card

Annual fee

Discover it® Cash Back

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards rate

5% cash back in categories that rotate each quarter on up to $1,500 in combined spending when you activate (then 1%)

1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

5% cash back (5x points) on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards

5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter in rotating bonus categories when you activate

3% cash back (3x points) on dining and drugstore purchases

1% cash back (1x points) on everything else

1% cash back when you buy, plus 1% cash back when you pay your bill

Welcome bonus

None, but Discover will match all the cash back you earned after the first 12 months

Chase Freedom Flex℠

N/A

Card benefits

Free FICO score

No late payment fee on your first late payment (then up to $40)

Cell phone protection

Car rental insurance (secondary in the US, primary otherwise)

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Travel and emergency assistance services

Free credit score

Access to Citi Entertainment 

 

Foreign transaction fee

No

Yes

 

Introductory 0% APR offer

0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months, then a Discover it® Cash Back APR

0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months, then a Chase Freedom Flex℠ variable APR

0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, then Citi® Double Cash Card

Review

 

Chase Freedom Flex credit card review

Citi Double Cash credit card review

How to use Discover it Cash Back rewards

The best way to redeem your Discover it® Cash Back rewards is usually as a statement credit, which lowers your balance, or simply take the cash as a direct deposit to your bank account. You can also redeem your rewards directly when you check out at Amazon or PayPal. In any of these cases, the minimum redemption amount is 1 cent.

You can also use your rewards, starting at $5, for gift cards or eCertificates from partner retailers. As long as your account is open, your cash-back rewards will not expire.

Read more: The best cash-back credit cards in 2021

One somewhat unique redemption option is the ability to donate your rewards to select charities, with a minimum of 1 cent. While this could make it more complicated to get a charitable donation tax deduction compared to writing a check or making a donation directly with a card, it's nice to see the ability to use your cash to support causes close to your heart.

Discover it Cash Back benefits and features

The Discover it® Cash Back is a fairly straightforward. Outside of the cash back you'll earn from everyday spending, here are some useful features to know about:

  • Unique designs: Choose between more than two dozen different designs, so you have a credit card that matches your personality.
  • Security features: Freeze your account if you misplace your card or are worried about fraud using the Discover app or website. Discover can also search the web for security breaches where your Social Security number was disclosed.
  • FICO credit score: Get a real, free FICO credit score that Discover uses to approve accounts, set interest rates, and choose account limits.

The card doesn't list any major purchase protections or travel insurance benefits, so keep that in mind when shopping. For big-ticket items or large purchases, you may want to consider one of the best credit cards with purchase protection instead. And for travel, a credit card with travel insurance can save you a ton of headache and money if things go awry on the road. 

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back fees and costs

Discover typically offers low fees with its credit card and banking products, and there's no exception here. The Discover it® Cash Back doesn't have an annual fee, and most other charges are easy to avoid. As with all credit cards, if you pay off your balance in full by the due date, you won't owe any interest.

Read more: The best low-interest and 0% APR credit cards of 2021

When you sign up for a new account, you'll get 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, then a Discover it® Cash Back APR. Balance transfers have an intro 3% balance transfer fee (after that, 5% (see rates)).

There's no late payment fee for your first late payment, but after that, a penalty will apply. There are also fees for returned payments (up to $40) and cash advances ($10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater), similar to other credit cards.

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing, and other financial topics, and is an avid travel hacker.

Related Content Module: More Credit Card CoverageRelated Product Module: Cash Back Credit Cards

Join the conversation about this story »