Discover it Review: Still the Cash Back King? | CreditShout

Discover it Card Review: Still The King of Cash Back?

By Kevin / October 11, 2016
discover it cash back rewards card reviewed

Discover® it Cash Back Rewards Card

Our favorite cash rewards credit card for 2016

CreditShout Rating

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Required: Very Good, Excellent​

Rewards Program and Welcome Offers:*
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers
  • ​5% Cash Back on Rotating Categories (on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter, then 1%)
  • 1% Cash Back on Everything Else (Unlimited)
  • Redeem Any Amount, Any Time
  • Freeze It℠ on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.* Plus get 100% U.S.-based service.
  • Track your recent FICO® Credit Scores for free in one easy-to-read chart on monthly statements & online.*
  • No annual fee.* No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and you're never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.

Intro APR

0% for 12 months 

Intro Balance Transfer

0% for 12 months. 3% Transfer Fee always applies.

Regular APR

11.24% - 23.24% Variable

Discover it Review

Verdict: We have just updated our Discover it credit card review. And we can confirm that Discover it is still the king of cash back for most consumers - thanks to its exciting Double All Cash Back Your First Year offer.

You read that right. Discover will double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year – but this is only for new cardmembers.

Cardholders also now receive complimentary access to their FICO® scores on their monthly statement and through the Discover mobile app. You can read our full updated review below. And Discover some notable perks over the last year, including a major partnership with Amazon.com to make redeeming your cash back rewards easier than ever.

The Discover it® credit card is perfect for people who want to earn cash back on all of their purchases without any hassles or hidden fees.

Along with a 5% quarterly rewards program, cardholders get 14 months of 0% interest on balance transfers and purchases, which also makes this card a great choice for balance transfers. Please note, though, that Discover does charge a 3% fee on balance transfers.

The card offers a range of other benefits as well, including no annual fee, no over-the-limit fee, no late fee the first time you miss a payment and, like the Citi Simplicity card, no penalty APR.

Let's take a more in depth look at why Discover it remains our favorite card for 2015. We've found that there is actually much more to this card than just a good rewards program.

Looking for a Review of a Different Discover it Card?

The "Official" Key Features & Benefits for 2016

  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months—then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% – 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Over 7,000 cardmembers rated 4.8 out of 5 stars* and J.D. Power awarded Discover "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Credit Card Companies."*
  • 5% Cashback Bonus for rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases after you sign up for 5% Cashback Bonus. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on monthly statements, online and in our mobile app.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment , APR won’t go up for paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • 100% U.S.- based customer service— day or night.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms and other info by clicking “Apply.”

Discover it Rewards Program: Get Up To 5% Cash Back

With Discover it you can earn a 5% Cashback Bonus on popular spending categories that rotate throughout the year. This includes gas, groceries, and department store purchases. You also earn 1% on all other purchases you make.

The 5% bonus categories announced for 2016 are:

  • January - March 2016: Gas & Ground Transportation
  • April – June 2016: Restaurants and Movies
  • July - September 2016: Home Improvement & Amazon.com
  • October - December 2016: Amazon.com & More

These bonus categories happen to be the same as last year. So no new surprises. 

2017 Cash Back Calendar

Discover has not yet released its entire 2017 cash back calendar. But the first quarter (January - March 2017) bonus category will be Gas & Ground Transportation and Warehouse Stores.

You can use Discover to shop online and in stores at Sam's Club. And you can use it online only at Costco. But if you shop online, you can use your Discover it to buy Costco cash cards that can then be used in the warehouse club locations.


Remember: To receive your bonus cash back in these categories, you need to log in to your Discover account and opt in. The opt in period typical begins at least 30 days prior to start of the applicable calendar quarter.


So, you can earn up to 5% cash back on the first $1,500 you spend in the categories above each quarter. This cap resets each quarter, along with the categories. Just remember to opt in to receive your 5% cash back this quarter here.

Note: With the old program you would earn 0.25% cash back on your first $3,000 in annual spending and on all warehouse purchases at discount stores and clubs like Costco. Now you earn the full 1% on all your purchases with NO spending tiers or minimum spending amount required - a major improvement that makes this card an excellent choice!

Last year, Discover partnered with Amazon which now makes it possible for cardholders to redeem their cash back directly on Amazon. Many of these credit card "partnerships" are gimmicks, but in this case, it's actually pretty useful.

This means that if you shop on Amazon you don't need to wait for a statement credit to post or for a transfer to your bank account - you can directly pay for purchases with your cash back during checkout on Amazon.

To activate this feature you just need to link your Discover card to your Amazon account by adding it as a payment method.

Discover has also added additional "Pay with Cashback" partners including Overstock.com, Disney Club Penguin, Facebook, iTunes, Runescape, and World Golf Tour.

You can also still redeem your cash back for a statement credit or have it deposited into a bank account. So if you don't shop on Amazon, it's business as usual.

Discover it Perks that You Will Actually Use

In addition to the solid rewards program, Discover has added quite a few additional cardholder perks over the last two years.

Probably the most prominent (and definitely the most marketed) is the ability to see your FICO credit score on your card statements, online and through the Discover mobile app.

Just a few years ago, you would have to pay $50 or more just to see your latest FICO score, but recently many card issuers have been making this data available to their customers for no charge.

Discover was one of the first to start offering this as a perk and it's a welcome addition - especially for younger cardholders who are thinking about buying a house in the near future and need to closely monitor their FICO.

Another perk worth mentioning is actually one you will hopefully never have to use - late payment forgiveness.

The first time you make a late payment with the card (which hopefully doesn't ever happen) Discover will waive the late payment fee and your APR will NOT increase. This a pretty big step in the right direction for the credit card companies.

With most credit cards, if you make a late payment you will be required to pay a late fee - plus your APR can be increased significantly. Basically there is no room for error, the problem is we are all human and make mistakes or simply forget to make a payment. The late payment forgiveness provides an extra layer of protection against this.

Discover it vs Similar Cards​

Comparison of Discover it credit cards cash back rewards program against the competition

Courtesy of Discover.com

Although the graphic above was provided by Discover (and is probably a bit biased) - it does a good job of highlighting many of the perks on Discover it that are not available with many of the other rewards cards currently on the market.

Discover it is most comparable to the new Citi Simplicity, which was also designed to offer consumers a straightforward and simple credit card. Like the Citi Simplicity, the Discover it card has no annual fee, no late fee for the first late payment, no over-the-limit fee and no penalty APR when you pay late.

The major difference between the two, however, is the rewards program offered through the Discover it card. The it card also offers U.S.-based customer service and the ability to pay your bill by midnight of your due date.

The Chase Freedom credit card is also similar to the Discover it, as it offers 5% cash back categories as well as cash back on all other purchases. The Chase Freedom also offers no annual fee, although this is where the similarities end.

There is no fee waiver for your first missed payment with the Chase Freedom, and you will be hit with a penalty APR. The Chase Freedom card also charges a foreign transaction fee and overlimit fee and there is no flexibility when you pay your bill.

Note: Many of the great benefits that are offered by Discover it are simply not offered by other credit cards and for that reason this card can be a great choice in many different situations.

Does Discover it Live Up To The Hype?

Here are CreditShout we have reviewed hundreds of credit cards over the years. The Discover it card remains a game changer in 2016, offering consumers an easy-to-understand and straightforward credit card free of unnecessary charges and penalties.

The addition of new perks that are actually useful (and not just gimmicks) like Pay With Cashback Bonus and Free FICO Credit Scores are solid additions and enough to allow this card to keep it's title as the king of cash back rewards.

Our Verdict

The bottom line is that the Discover it remains the top cash back rewards card of 2016. 

With excellent customer service, no penalty fees or APR, and the ability to pay your bill by midnight, Discover it is a great choice for transferring a balance, earning rewards on your purchases, or just as an emergency card to have on hand.

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