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Best Discover Credit Cards of July 2020

NerdWalletJuly 3, 2020

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Discover's credit cards don't charge annual fees and offer new cardholders a unique bonus in which the issuer matches all rewards earned in the first year. Nowadays you can use Discover in nearly as many places in the U.S. as Visa and Mastercard, although acceptance internationally is still quite limited. These are our favorite Discover credit cards.

NerdWallet's Best Discover Credit Cards of July 2020

Best Discover Credit Cards From Our Partners

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

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score

With 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in quartery categories, the Discover it® Cash Back offers excellent value as a go-to-card for all expenses or when combined with other cards. Activation is required.

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. 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: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, 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

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR 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: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% intro APR 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: UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

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: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles.  There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Redeem for Travel or Cash. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases or get cash.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • 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 picks for

College students

Discover it® Student chrome

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR 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: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • 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

12.99% - 21.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% intro APR 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: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, 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 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
  • 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

22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

10.99% intro APR 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, INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. 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 with your tax return 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: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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

EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST DISCOVER CREDIT CARDS

Click the card name to read our review. Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Our pick for: Cash back 

The Discover it® Cash Back earns bonus cash back in quarterly categories that you activate. In past years, those categories have included common spending areas like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and Amazon.com. Category activation can be a hassle, but if your spending aligns with those categories (and for most households, it probably will), you can rake in serious rewards. You also get the issuer's signature "cash-back match" bonus in your first year. Read our review.

Our pick for: Cash back 

The Discover it® chrome doesn't have rotating categories like some of Discover's better-known cards. Instead, it gives you extra rewards at gas stations and restaurants, with no activation required. You get the "cash-back match" bonus in your first year, too. Read our review.

Our pick for: Travel

The Discover it® Miles is the rare travel credit card that lets you redeem your rewards for travel or for cash back at the same rate. You earn unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar spent on purchases, and the miles are generally worth 1 cent apiece — that's a solid rate for a card with no annual fee. As with other Discover cards, this one matches the rewards you earn in your first year. Read our review.

Our pick for: Balance transfers 

What makes the Discover it® Balance Transfer (No longer in market) stand out from other balance-transfer cards is its ongoing cash-back rewards, which give you a great reason to keep using the card regularly even after its introductory 0% APR period ends. Read our review.

Our pick for: Small business and side hustles 

The no-fuss, no-hassle rewards of the Discover it® Business Card make it a great choice for entrepreneurs and side hustlers whose business expenses don't fall into the bonus categories on other small-business rewards cards (things like office supplies, advertising and so on). You also get Discover's signature "cash-back match" bonus your first year. Read our review.

Our pick for: College students 

Simplicity makes the Discover it® Student chrome a standout for students searching for their first credit card. You'll earn bonus cash back at restaurants and gas stations with no activation required and no rotating categories to keep track of. Read our review.

Our pick for: College students 

The Discover it® Student Cash Back gives students the same excellent rewards as the regular Discover it® Cash Back — notably, bonus cash back in rotating categories that you must activate. Activating and tracking categories might be too much of a hassle for some students brand new to credit cards, but if you're up for a little work, the rewards can be handsome. Read our review.

Our pick for: Building or rebuilding credit

Like other secured credit cards for people building or rebuilding credit, the Discover it® Secured requires a cash security deposit. Unlike most others, it offers rewards. But what really makes it stand out from the competition is its upgrade possibilities. The issuer has a process in place for automatically reviewing accounts for possible transition to an unsecured card. Read our review. 

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 July 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.