Best of

Best Discover Credit Cards of February 2020

NerdWalletFebruary 3, 2020

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet's Best Discover Credit Cards of February 2020

Our picks for

Cash back

Discover it® Cash Back

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
The Discover it® Cash Back offers excellent value whether you use it as your go-to-card for all expenses or you combine it with other cards and use it only in its 5% categories.

Pros

You earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to a quarterly maximum of $1,500, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Activation each quarter is required.(See the current categories.) The annual fee is $0. The lengthy introductory 0% APR period gives you plenty of breathing room for a major purchase. And the unique bonus for new cardholders — Discover's signature "cash-back match" — gets more valuable the more you use the card.

Cons

Keeping track of the changing bonus categories — and remembering to activate them — can be a hassle. The categories themselves usually include common expenses, but they can still be hit-or-miss. If they don’t align with your spending, you'll get only limited value from the card.
  • 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.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • View Rates and Fees
Discover it® chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
The Discover it® chrome offers elevated rewards on dining and gas and, like other Discover cards, matches all the rewards you earn in your first year.

Pros

With a rewards structure completely different from the 5% opt-in categories on other Discover cards, this card appeals to simplicity. You get 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There's a decent 0% introductory APR offer, too. The annual fee is $0.

Cons

The top rewards rate is fairly weak for a card with bonus categories, and the amount of spending eligible for that rate is capped at $1,000 per quarter. Other options give you unlimited 1.5% or 2% cash back, which could result in higher rewards overall.
  • 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.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Travel

Discover it® Miles

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score
The simple rewards structure, decent rewards rate and $0 annual fee on the Discover it® Miles provide solid value for less-than-hardcore travelers who do most of their traveling in the U.S.

Pros

If you value simplicity, you’ll appreciate this card's easy-to-understand terms. You earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases. Miles can be redeemed at a value of 1 cent apiece for statement credit against travel purchases. That means you can book however you want, then use miles to pay for it, without restrictions or blackout dates. You can also redeem miles for cash back at the same rate. And don't forget the new cardholder bonus: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.

Cons

Like all of Discover's offerings, this card charges no foreign transaction fees — but Discover cards have limited international acceptance. You’ll want to pack a backup payment option if you'e heading abroad.
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Balance transfers

Discover it® Balance Transfer

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Recommended Credit Score
The Discover it® Balance Transfer has two of the three elements of an ideal balance transfer credit card: a $0 annual fee and a 0% introductory APR period for transfers. It does charge a balance transfer fee, although it's in line with industry standards. Also, unlike many balance transfer cards, this card offers robust rewards.

Pros

The 0% intro APR period for transfers is one of the longest available at 18 months. Further, this is the rare balance transfer card that gives you a reason to hang on to it after the 0% period ends. It offers the same rewards program as the Discover it® Cash Back, outlined above — same rates, structure, categories, etc. The new cardmember bonus is the same, too.

Cons

The 3% intro balance transfer fee (then up to 5% on future balance transfers, see terms) is on the low end, but some cards charge no fee at all or waive it for a time. The 0% period for purchases is considerably shorter than for transfers. And the rewards have the same hassle factor as with the Discover it® Cash Back.
  • 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.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Small business or side hustles

Discover it® Business Card

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

14.49% - 22.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 12 months

Recommended Credit Score
If you have a side business that incurs expenses — be it freelance work, rideshare driving or something else — it makes sense to have a dedicated small-business card for it to keep business and personal spending separate. The $0-annual-fee Discover it® Business Card is an ideal choice.

Pros

You earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no restricted categories to worry about (something that makes a lot of small-business credit cards a bad fit for gig workers). There's a 0% introductory period for purchases, Discover matches the cash back in your first year, and you can get free cards for people who work with you in your business.

Cons

The application asks for information about your business. Your business doesn't need to be formally structured like a corporation or LLC (most small businesses aren't), but you'll need to be able to answer questions like how much money it brings in, what it does and how long you've been at it.
  • INTRO OFFER: Get an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, automatically. And no limit to how much we’ll match. So you could turn $350 cash back into $700 with Cashback Match™.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Your rewards never expire.
  • Track business expenses. Download transactions easily into Quicken, QuickBooks, and Excel.
  • Add up to 50 free employee cards.
  • No annual fee.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service. Talk to a real person at any time, day or night.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our picks for

College students

Discover it® Student chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

19.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
Discover offers two fine cards for college students. The Discover it® Student chrome shines with its no-maintenance rewards structure and student-friendly bonus categories. You also get a free FICO score, low fees, and forgiveness for your first late payment. Plus, Discover says there's no FICO history requirement for this card.

Pros

You earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. (Unlike with Discover's other student card, you don't have to "activate" your bonus rewards.) The annual fee is $0. Students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher can earn a $20 statement credit each year for up to five years. There's also Discover's signature bonus for new cardholders.

Cons

Although there's no foreign transaction fee, Discover isn’t as widely accepted abroad as other cards. If you plan to travel internationally, make sure you have a backup plan.
  • 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.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 19.49%.
  • View Rates and Fees
Discover it® Student Cash Back

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

19.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
The Discover it® Student Cash Back offers rich rewards in quarterly bonus categories, although it requires more work than your typical student card. Its other benefits mostly match those on the Discover it® Student chrome.

Pros

This card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter; all other spending earns 1% cash back. There's no annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment and a $20 annual statement credit for good grades (for up to five years). With this card, too, Discover says there is no FICO history requirement.

Cons

Having to activate bonus categories every three months can be a hassle, especially when you're just getting started with credit, and some of the categories might be a poor fit for a student's spending. There's no foreign transaction fee, but Discover isn’t as widely accepted overseas — something to keep in mind if you're studying abroad.
  • 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.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 19.49%.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Building or rebuilding credit

Discover it® Secured

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
The Discover it® Secured is a rarity: a card for building or rebuilding credit that pays you rewards. It also has a clear process for upgrading to a better card when your credit improves.

Pros

Cardholders earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in spending per quarter on gas and restaurant purchases, and an unlimited 1% back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Your payment activity is reported to all three credit bureaus — essential for building credit. After eight months, the issuer begins reviewing your account for possible upgrade to an unsecured card that doesn’t require a security deposit.

Cons

Since this is a secured card, you have to put down a security deposit equal to your credit line. You can get this money back when you close or upgrade your account, but pulling together the $200 minimum deposit and keeping the money tied up can be a challenge for some.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • View Rates and Fees

Other cards issued by Discover

  • NHL® Discover it® — the official credit card of the National Hockey League, this card operates just like the Discover it® Cash Back but also offers special discounts for hockey fans.

Last updated on February 3, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.