DISCOVER IT CASH BACK CREDIT CARD REVIEW [UPDATED 2019]
With no annual fee, a low interest rate and generous ways to earn cash back rewards, the Discover It credit card is hard to beat.
The perks offered by the Discover It card are plentiful, but they’re especially impressive during the first year. Consider the following: no annual fee, 0% interest charged on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months and Discover matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You can redeem your cash back at any time and in any amount you choose, and the rewards never expire. Pretty impressive.
- Lowest APR range among all credit cards helping you save on interest and pay down debt
- 14 month 0% APR period
- Bonus cash back match at the end of year 1
- No annual fee
- 5% cash back on a rotating list of categories
- Rotating cash back adds complication to rewards
- Discover is accepted in less places than other card providers
DISCOVER IT CASH BACK REWARDS
As one would expect, cash back rewards are the centrepiece of the Discover It card. And there are several ways to earn cash back by using this credit card.
In addition to the cash back match at the end of the first year, Discover offers 5% cash back at different places each quarter such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and retailers.
The places where you can earn the 5% cash back differs each quarter, or every three months. During the summer months (July to September), for example, you can earn 5% cash back when you use the Discover It card at restaurants. In the final months of the year, you earn 5% cash back when you use the credit card at wholesale clubs and on Amazon.com.
The one proviso with the 5% cash back is that it’s capped at a $1,500 spending limit per quarter. After that, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all your purchases.
Cardholders also earn 1% cash back on all purchases that are not designated as part of the 5% cash back offer each quarter. So, during the summer months, you can earn 5% cash back when spending up to $1,500 at restaurants and 1% cash back on all other purchases made during those months.
Taken together, these cash back reward incentives can add up, and, at the end of the first 12 months that you own the card, Discover will match the total amount of cash back dollars you’ve accumulated, which effectively doubles your cash back rewards.
ANNUAL AND TRANSACTION FEES
For people who hate paying annual fees on their credit cards, the Discover It should prove to be extremely attractive. This is because there are no annual fees to use this credit card – ever.
Many credit card companies offer no annual fee for the first year only to hit customers with an annual fee of $100 or more in subsequent years. Not the Discover It card. People who own this credit card will never be subjected to an annual fee.
Additionally, Discover says it won’t charge cardholders a fee or raise their APR for their first late payment. And there are no foreign transaction fees charged on this credit card, which is nice for people who travel abroad.
However, there is a fee of 3% charged on balance transfers. Something to keep in mind if you want to move other liabilities over to the Discover It credit card and consolidate your debts.
Fees are also charged on cash advances. With the Discover It, you will be charged $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance in the form of a fee, whichever is greater. That can be a hefty price to pay if you’re someone who regularly takes cash off their credit card.
Another attractive feature of the Discover It credit card is the low annual percentage rate (APR), or interest, that is charged to cardholders. The introductory APR charged on purchases made with the Discover It is 0% for 14 months from the date of account opening, which is nice given that most credit cards that offer 0% introductory APR do so for 12 months.
After the first 14 months, the standard purchase APR applies. Standard purchase APR varies from 14.24% to 25.224%, depending on your credit history. People with a better credit score will qualify for the lower APR.
The standard APR of 14.24% is lower than the industry average of about 16%. But Discover refers to its APR rates as ‘variable’, which means the company reserves the right to adjust its APR on the Discover It card based on the prime interest rate, which can fluctuate.
In other words, the standard APR on this credit card is low, but it could move higher at Discover’s discretion. In addition to the aforementioned fee, the Discover It card charges 27.24% interest on all cash advances, which is the industry norm, and this interest is charged immediately.
FEATURES AND BENEFITS
While the main attraction of the Discover It is the ability to earn cash back rewards and the low interest rates, the credit card does provide a few additional features that are worth highlighting. These include:
- The ability to freeze your account to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
- Your FICO credit score is provided free of charge each month on your paper statement or mobile app.
- Discover promises to monitor each customer’s social security number and report any suspicious online activity that could lead to identity theft.
Another interesting feature is the fact that you can use your cash back dollars at ‘Discover Deals’, one of the highest-rated online malls and rewards shopping sites. Besides great products to purchase, Discover Deals offers cardholders an extra 5% to 20% cash back at more than 200 online retailers. You can also access in-store coupons and bonus cash back offers through the website.
WHO SHOULD NOT GET THIS CARD
The big knock on Discover credit cards is that they’re not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercard, particularly in foreign countries.
Also, while having Discover match your cash back dollars is great, you’ll have to wait a year to receive them. Other comparable credit cards provide a dollar-for-dollar cash back match throughout the year as people make purchases and spend money. This approach may be preferable for people who are impatient and want their rewards immediately.
Lastly, cardholders have reported that it can be difficult to remember the retail categories that offer 5% cash back each quarter. You may think you’re getting 5% cash back on restaurants only to find out the reward category has changed and the 5% cash back is now being offered on purchases made at warehouse clubs like Costco.
ALTERNATIVE CARD: CITI DIAMOND PREFERRED CREDIT CARD
A credit card that compares favourably to the Discover It is the Citi Diamond Preferred card. The Citi Diamond Preferred card offers no annual fee and an attractive introductory APR.
With the Citi Diamond Preferred credit card, you get 0% APR on any and all purchases and balance transfers for 18 months from the date of account opening.
However, the interest charged after the intro period expires is higher on the Citi Diamond Preferred card at 15.24% to 25.24%. The interest charged on cash advances is 27.49% and the penalty interest for late payments is 29.99%.
If you’re looking for a cash back credit card with lots of perks, then the Discover It card is certainly a good choice. No annual fee, a low APR and a dollar-for-dollar match on the cash back you rack up in the first year make the Discover It an attractive credit card.
But there are similar credit cards on the market that are accepted in more places and have equally enticing incentives.
The opinions provided in this article are those of the author and do not constitute investment advice. Readers should assume that the author and/or employees of Grizzle hold positions in the company or companies mentioned in the article. For more information, please see our Content Disclaimer.