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In 2013, Discover made a dramatic move — it ceased offering all of its existing credit cards to new applicants and replaced them with a single card designed to appeal to many types of users: the Discover it credit card. Since then, Discover has continued to add new features to this card. In this Discover it credit card review, we’ll go over its major terms and conditions, outline its pros and cons and provide other information that can help you determine if the Discover it credit card is right for you.
Introduction to Discover it
The Discover it credit card offers a competitive rewards program, valuable promotional financing offers and customer-friendly policies. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent each quarter on select categories of merchants and at featured retailers. For example, during one quarter, purchases from home improvement stores and department stores may be eligible. Or, during the fourth quarter, holiday shopping may be one of the featured categories. You must enroll to start receiving the bonus cash back in the designated category each quarter.
This card is also offered with promotional financing for new applicants:
- 0% for 6 months on purchases, and an Intro: 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee
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The standard interest rate for both offers is 13.74% - 24.74% Variable on purchases & balance transfers, depending on the applicant’s creditworthiness when the account is opened.
Discover it® Cash Back
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
- Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No annual fee.
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This card also comes with features and policies that are consumer-friendly. For example, Discover will automatically waive a cardholder’s first late payment fee, and there is no penalty interest rate. (One caveat, however, is that late payments can still negatively affect your credit, so be careful not to make late payments a habit.) In addition, Discover offers cardholders a free FICO credit score on cardholders’ monthly statements so they can keep track of their credit. Discover has 100% U.S.-based telephone representatives, and is known for its customer service. There is no annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
What’s the Signup Bonus?
Special offers like signup bonuses are subject to change, but, as of writing this, Discover was automatically matching all the cash back new cardholders earned during their first year at the end of the year. (Note: Always check with the issuer for updates on offers before you apply for the card.)
Discover it’s Advantages
This card offers competitive rates of cash back for a card with no annual fee, and with the offer to match a cardholder’s cash back at the end of their first year, the rate of return for a customer’s first year can be truly unbeatable. While the promotional financing offers are not as competitive, they’re still strong and can be very valuable for those who are able to use it. For example, the offer for 18 months of interest-free financing on balance transfers can be a great way for cardholders to avoid interest charges while they pay down their existing debts. Finally, the value of Discover’s customer-friendly policies should not be underestimated. Many Discover cardholders rave about the quality of service they receive, which becomes a major factor in their continued use of this card.
Discover it’s Disadvantages
While Discover has tried to design a single product to appeal to all cardholders, it must make some compromises. As is typical with reward credit cards, the Discover it has a higher standard interest rate than some low-interest credit cards that do not offer rewards. By offering both rewards and promotional financing, it may send a mixed signal to credit card users with debt. Those who are struggling with debt should focus on paying it off, rather than spending to earn rewards. And while it is nice to see that there are no foreign transaction fees for this card, travelers should note that Discover cards are not nearly as widely accepted around the world as cards from other payment networks such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Finally, Discover requires it cardholders to enroll in 5% cash categories in order to earn the bonus each quarter, so cardholder who don’t pay close attention to their plastic may want to opt for a more streamlined rewards program (more on this below).
Is This the Right Card for You?
The Discover it is a great card for those who want to earn the maximum amount of cash-back rewards possible but don’t want to pay an annual fee. Discover also seems to represent an attractive alternative if cardholders find other card issuers’ terms to be too punitive and their customer-service skills lacking. This can also be a great card for those who need a promotional financing offer now, but want to continue to earn rewards even after their debt is paid off.
If you do transfer a balance, it can help to come up with a plan to pay off the debt within the interest-free period — this free calculator can help you figure out a plan.
How Do I Get a Discover it Credit Card?
The Discover it card is for consumers with good-to-excellent credit. Before you apply for any credit card, it can be helpful to check your credit scores to see where you stand – then be sure to check with the issuer to be sure you meet the credit guidelines. There are many ways to check your credit scores for free — one way to do that is through Credit.com, which offers you two of your scores for free, so you can track your progress and watch for important changes.
If you meet the issuer’s general credit requirements and fully understand the card’s terms, this card may be a good match for you. If your credit standing doesn’t meet the card issuer’s requirements, consider taking steps to work on your credit and apply when your scores are higher.
Common Questions About Discover it
What are the limitations on the cash back rewards?
Like other aspects of this card, Discover’s reward program is very customer-friendly. The only limit to the amount that can be earned is the cap on the 5% back category each quarter: You can only earn 5% back on up to $1,500 of qualified purchases in the revolving bonus category. You will need to enroll each quarter to be eligible to earn that bonus cash back. Your rewards can be redeemed at any time and in any amount, and rewards never expire. In fact, cardholders retain their rewards balance even after their account is closed.
What will the 5% bonus categories be in the future?
During the second quarter (April through June), cardholders can get 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases at home improvement stores and wholesale clubs. The third quarter (July through September) features 5% cash back on up to $1,500 at restaurants and the fourth quarter features 5% cash back on up to $1,500 at Amazon.com and Target. Remember, you’ll have to enroll each quarter; all other purchases earn 1% cash back.
Alternatives to the Discover it Credit Card
As we mentioned earlier, the Discover it’s 5% revolving cash back categories may not to appeal to everyone. Again, you have to enroll each quarter to receive the benefit and, given categories change not just each quarter, but every year, the card’s lucrativeness can vary. There are a few no-annual fee credit cards on the market now that offer more straightforward rewards programs that could be a good alternative for someone who doesn’t want to think too much about what card to use on each purchase. Here are two of them you may want to consider. (Remember, the list below just provides a quick overview of some options. For full terms and conditions, please refer to the issuer’s website.)
Rewards Details: Capital One Quicksilver Card
Cardholders earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases (meaning no revolving categories), no caps or expiration dates over the life of the account. You can also earn a $150 cash back bonus when you spend $500 in the first 3 months of account opening.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 0% intro on purchases for 15 months, then 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) after that
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee
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Rewards Details: Cardholders earn an automatic and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There are no caps or expiration dates, so long as your account remains open. Chase is currently offering new Freedom Unlimited cardholders a $150 cash back bonus when they spend $500 within three months of account opening.
At publishing time, the Discover it, Capital One Quicksilver and Chase Freedom Unlimited credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
Jeanine Skowronski contributed additional reporting.
This article was last updated on June 5, 2017.