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HighlightsCredit Card Feature
Things We LikeCashback MatchTM
Our Least Favorite Discover isn't yet widely accepted outside of the United States
Our Verdict Great card for 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

Discover it® Cash Back is well established as one of the leading cash back credit cards in the U.S., and rightly so. Using this card can help you earn high cash back on a big chunk of your spending. But that will depend on where you spend your money, and what you spend it on.

Many cash back cards give you a low flat rate of cash back on all your spending, but this card rewards you with extra high cash back for purchases in certain categories on top of the flat rate you earn for all your purchases. The categories of purchases which you earn higher cash back on change every quarter, so you can earn higher cash back on different purchases throughout the year.

But there other credit cards out there that offer similar amounts of cash back, or let you earn cash back in a different way, so how does Discover it® Cash Back compare? In this review you can get the low-down on what real benefits you get by using this card, and how it compares to other cash back cards out there.

Things We Like About Discover it® Cash Back

5% cash back in categories that change each quarter. This is really the highlight of this credit card. Every quarter you get new 5% cash back bonus categories like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and other practical, everyday categories. When you spend money on purchases in the quarterly categories, you earn 5% cash back on those purchases up to $1,500 each quarter. You do have to sign up for the 5% each quarter, but it's quick and easy (online or by phone).

Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Every actual purchase you make with this card earns a flat rate of 1% cash back. This flat rate cash back is unlimited, so if you use this card to pay for all your spending, you can literally earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Purchases don't include returns, credits or currency purchases.

Get Cashback MatchTM. This card has a fantastic bonus offer. Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. This bonus is for new cardmembers only, so if you already have a Discover card you might not get to enjoy it. Most credit card bonus offers give you a set amount of bonus cash back or points when you make a certain amount of purchases. But with Discover it® Cash Back Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, so if you are a real cash back wiz and maximize cash back in your first year as a new cardmember, you can end up with a lot of bonus cash back to show for your first year.

You can redeem any amount of cash back when you choose. Unlike most cash back programs, which require that you collect a certain amount of cash back before you can redeem it for actual cash, you can redeem the cash back you earn with this card any time. With Discover it® Cash Back, cash back is tracked as rewards points called Cashback Bonus. Your Cashback Bonus never expires, so you can collect as much as you want, and you can redeem your Cashback Bonus anytime you choose, without having to collect a minimum amount first. You can redeem online or via telephone, and Cashback Bonus can be redeemed for:

  • A credit to your Discover Card account.
  • A direct deposit to your bank account (starting from 1 penny).
  • Pay with Cashback Bonus directly at select online retailers (no minimum).
  • Charity donation (options starting from 1 penny).
  • Partner gift cards (start at $20 Cashback Bonus).

No annual fee. This card has no annual fee, that means the cash back you earn is actually straight savings, unlike some other cards which give you a good rate of cash back but then hit you with an annual fee that outweighs the value of the cash back you earn. So it's nice to see a good cash back credit card that doesn't have an annual fee.

Introductory low APR period. This card has a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months, which makes it easy for you to pay off a big purchase during that intro period before the standard 14.24% - 25.24% variable APR takes effect. If you have a balance to transfer and you plan to pay it off within that amount of time, this card is a good option. Just note that a 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transferred balance.

Track your recent FICO® Credit Scores for free in a single, easy-to-read chart on your monthly statements and online. Being able to follow your credit score can help you track progress and it gives you a good idea of where your credit stands. Your FICO® Credit Score is based on data from TransUnion and may be different from other credit scores (from Experian or Equifax, for example), but it is used by many lenders so it gives you a pretty good idea of whether or not you will be accepted for credit.

Freeze It® on/off switch. This is a nice perk, especially if you tend to misplace your credit card from time to time. Anytime you want, you can access the Freeze It® on/off switch via the app or online and freeze or unfreeze your Discover it® Cash Back account. Freezing your account won't affect recurring payments, credit card fees and other automatic payments, but it will stop anyone from being able to use your credit card to make new purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. If you misplace your card or suspect that it has been stolen (or fallen into the hands of your girlfriend, boyfriend, roommate or child without consent), you can freeze your account in a few taps.

No foreign transaction fee. If you travel outside of the U.S. on vacation or business, then this perk can save you a lot of money. Most cards charge a fee of anywhere from 2% to 5% of any transaction you make in a foreign currency. If you use your credit card to pay a $50 bill at a restaurant while visiting another country, for example, you would pay anywhere from $1 to $2.50 in fees with most cards. When you spend a lot of money while traveling, this adds up to a nasty expense. But when you use Discover it® Cash Back to pay, you don't get hit with a foreign transaction fee.

No late fee on first late payment and paying late won't raise your APR. Accidents happen, and when things get hectic it's easy enough to forget to make your credit card payment on time. So having a card that won't penalize you for your first late payment is a plus. Many credit cards raise your APR in a crazy way when you make a late payment, which can send you straight into a spiral of debt. This card doesn't impose a penalty APR for late payments, which gives you more peace of mind. But you should note that a late payment may still be reported to credit bureaus, and could affect your credit score. After the first late payment, there will be a late payment fee of up to $37.

Purchases are monitored by Discover, and you will be alerted by phone, email or text if any unusual transactions occur. This can help protect you from unauthorized transactions if someone steals your card or credit card information.

You are never responsible for unauthorized purchases charged to your Discover card. Credit card theft and identity theft are common problems, as are online hacking attacks and data theft. Federal regulations limit your liability for unauthorized credit card transactions to $50, but Discover will never hold you responsible for unauthorized purchases. Make sure to report a card loss or theft as soon as possible.

Use your cash back instantly at checkout. If you shop on, you can use the Cashback Bonus you earn with this card to pay directly at checkout. This is a nice way to redeem rewards, especially if you are an regular.

100% U.S. live service. Discover has consistently scored very highly in customer satisfaction surveys. You get U.S. based service at any time of day or night, which definitely beats fighting to make yourself understood on some of the outsourced customer service lines that other credit card companies give you.

Our Least Favorite Things About Discover it® Cash Back

Not very useful for international travelers. Discover credit cards are widely accepted in the U.S., so if you don't travel outside of the country much then this issue won't affect you. But if you do travel internationally you will be hard pressed to take advantage of the great "no foreign transaction fee" benefit this card gives you because Discover cards are not accepted by a lot of merchants outside of the United States. Visa, MasterCard and American Express have much larger international networks. That said, Discover has been making big strides in improving merchant acceptance outside of the U.S., and has also teamed up with other credit card companies to make Discover cards more useful for international travelers. You can use your Discover it® Cash Back to pay at merchants (or get cash at ATMs) that accept these credit card networks:

  • Discover Global Network. Discover's own network is growing fast, though you still won't find many partner merchants and ATMs in most countries.
  • Diners Club International. This international credit card network is owned by Discover, and you can use your Discover card at any merchant or ATM that accepts Diners Club International cards (many ATMs and merchants in Europe and some Asian countries accept these).
  • China Union Pay. This is the largest credit card company in China, and Union Pay cards are accepted by merchants in 135 countries and regions worldwide. You can use your Discover card at merchants and ATMs in the Union Pay network.
  • JCB. This is the leading credit card company in Japan, with over 1 million Japanese merchants and ATMs, so you shouldn't have much trouble using your Discover card when you visit that country.
  • Link. This ATM network is one of the largest in England and the United Kingdom, and you can use your Discover card to get cash advances at these ATMs.
  • Pulse is Discover's own ATM network, and you can find Pulse partner ATMs in many North American countries.
  • BC Card. This South Korean card network is a Discover partner.
  • DinaCard. This Discover partner is the largest payment card company in Serbia

How Other Cards Compare With Discover it® Cash Back

APPLY NOWAt Chase's secure website
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
Intro APR:0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers
Regular APR:17.24%-25.99% Variable
Annual Fee:$0
Credit Required:Excellent/Good
$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Intro APR:0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR
Annual Fee:$0
Credit Required:Excellent/Good
Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
Intro APR:N/A
Regular APR:16.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
Annual Fee:$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Credit Required:Excellent, Good

Discover it® Cash Back is one of the best credit cards to earn cash back in rotating cash back categories and from partner merchants. It is one of our best-rated cash back credit cards in the U.S. right now.

Discover it® Cash Back is a powerful cash back tool which lets you earn cash back on all purchases, and in 5% cash back categories each quarter, up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Ultimately this cash back can save you a lot of money, since you can redeem it for cold, hard cash, rather than the overpriced rewards that many other rewards programs offer. The benefits you get with this card are very down to earth (fast account freezing and unfreezing, tracking recent FICO® Credit Scores, etc.) and you will probably actually use these benefits all the time.

If you do a lot of traveling, then you might be better off with a card that offers more travel insurance benefits and is more widely accepted internationally. But if your main goal is to earn cash back, using this card is one of the best ways to reach that goal.

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