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NerdWallet’s Best Discover Credit Cards of 2018

Nov. 15, 2018
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Want a credit card with rewards, 0% APR and no foreign transaction fees? You might want a Discover card. Take a look at our favorite Discover cards.

For travel: Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Rewards can be redeemed for travel or cash back at equal value
    • No annual fee or foreign transaction fee
    • Sign-up bonus
    • Flexible redemption options

    Cons

    • No luxury perks
    • Other cards offer higher rewards rates
    • Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.
    • Requires good/excellent credit

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months
  • Additional Information
    • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
    • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
    • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
    • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
    • 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.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • No Annual Fee.
    • View Rates and Fees

If you prefer travel rewards, the Discover it® Miles is a great option. It gives you 1.5 miles for every $1 spent anywhere, redeemable for travel statement credit or cash back via direct deposit. This card also offers a sweet promotional bonus: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel! Plus, you’ll get an annual Wi-Fi credit of up to $30 for your in-flight Internet use.

The card’s annual fee is $0, and there are no foreign transaction fees. If you accidentally pay late, your first late payment fee will be waived, and your APR won’t increase. And speaking of APR, the Discover it® Miles offers 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

For everyday spending: Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Cash back match at the end of your first year
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

    Cons

    • Slightly less merchant acceptance for Discover in US - acceptance outside of US can be an issue
    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    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.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months
  • Additional Information
    • 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 at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time 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.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • No annual fee.
    • View Rates and Fees

For general purchases, check out the Discover it® Cash Back. It offers 5% cash back in quarterly rotating bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 spent each quarter (1% after that), and 1% on all other purchases. Here are the current categories:

Discover bonus categories for 2018
Q1 2018 (Jan. 1 – March 31)Gas stations and wholesale clubs
Q2 2018 (April 1 – June 30)Grocery stores
Q3 2018 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants
Q4 2018 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Amazon.com and wholesale clubs

There’s a great incentive for new cardholders: 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.

There are actually two versions of this card. Each has an annual fee of $0, and the cards have the same rewards and fees. The only difference is in their 0% APR periods:

  • The Discover it® Cash Back has an intro APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.
  • The Discover it® Balance Transfer has an intro APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.

For college students: Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 630
    689
    Average
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Earn 5% Cash Back in rotating categories each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate
    • Qualify with average credit
    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 14.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    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.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months
  • Additional Information
    • 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 at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time 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.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.
    • View Rates and Fees

Like its general-purpose counterparts, the Discover it® Student Cash Back offers 5% back in rotating bonus categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% on everything else. The categories are the same as those for the Discover it® Cash Back, listed above. The bonus is the same, too: 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.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back has an annual fee of $0 and an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

For building/rebuilding credit: Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 300
    629
    Poor
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • Reports to the three major credit bureaus
    • Offers rewards and a sign-up bonus
    • Chance to upgrade to unsecured account after 8 months

    Cons

    • Requires minimum deposit of $200
    • Discover cards not widely accepted outside the U.S.

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 24.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    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.

    Intro APR

    • 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months
  • Additional Information
    • Voted as Nerd Wallet’s Best Card for Building Credit of 2018
    • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
    • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
    • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • View Rates and Fees

The Discover it® Secured is truly a rarity — a secured card that offers rewards. With this card, you earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. You earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, there’s a bonus for new cardholders: 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.

Since it’s a secured card, you’ll have to put down a security deposit of at least $200. Your deposit will determine your credit line, with a maximum of $2,500. Obviously, it’s not ideal to tie up your money in a deposit. People who are building or rebuilding credit will naturally be eager to switch to a regular, unsecured credit card as soon as possible. The Discover it® Secured helps in that effort by offering free access to your FICO score and, once you’ve had the card for eight months, reviewing your account to see if you might qualify for an unsecured card.

If you have bad credit but a steady income, this card may a good first step to rebuilding your credit.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: erin@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @Erin_Lindsay17.