BEST OF

Best Discover Credit Cards of February 2021

NerdWalletFebruary 12, 2021
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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 February 2021

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

4.8

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-5%

Cashback

Intro offer

Cashback Match

Recommended Credit Score

With 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in quartery categories and 1% cash back for all other purchases, 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. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • 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 in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • View Rates and Fees
Discover it® chrome

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

Rates & Fees

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-2%

Cashback

Intro offer

Cashback Match

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 cash back on your next road trip with 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 available any time.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our pick for

Travel

Discover it® Miles

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

Rates & Fees

4.1

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1.5x

Miles

Intro offer

Discover Match®

Miles

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 of 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 of 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.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • New! Redeem Miles for cash in any amount to pay your bill, including your minimum payment.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 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

4.7

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-5%

Cashback

Intro offer

Cashback Match

Recommended Credit Score

Most balance-transfer cards don't give you much of a reason to hold onto them after the 0% period ends. The Discover it® Balance Transfer – NerdWallet Exclusive! is a noteworthy exception. Get it for the balance-transfer benefits, keep it for the cash-back rewards.

Pros

  • You get a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR. In addition to the introductory 0% period, this card pays 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% on everything else. Discover matches the cash back you earn in your first year — although ideally in that first year you'll be focused more on paying down balances than adding to them.

Cons

  • The 0% period on purchases is considerably shorter than that for balance transfers, so it's best to avoid putting purchases on the card until you've paid off transferred debt. When it comes to rewards, the activation requirement for bonus categories can be a hassle.

  • 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. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • 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.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • View Rates and Fees

Our picks for

College students

Discover it® Student chrome

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

Rates & Fees

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-2%

Cashback

Intro offer

Cashback Match

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! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a $50 statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 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

4.9

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-5%

Cashback

Intro offer

Cashback Match

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! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. 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.
  • Earn rewards while building your credit history that can help you after graduation. And, get your free Credit Scorecard that includes your FICO® Credit Score and important details that help make up your score.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Refer-a-Friend: Once you become a Discover it® Student cardmember, you can earn a $50 statement credit each time you refer a friend and they’re approved. Over half a million students got Discover Cards from their friends' recommendations.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 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 Credit Card

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

Rates & Fees

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

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

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

1%-2%

Cashback

Intro offer

Cashback Match

Recommended Credit Score

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card 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.
  • Using your secured credit card will build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.
  • 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.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 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 – NerdWallet Exclusive! 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 Credit Card 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 February 12, 2021

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.