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Discover Bank Review: Checking, Savings and CDs

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Discover Bank Review

Discover Bank
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.5 / 5.0

4.5 stars out of 5

If you’ve ever wished you had a nickel for every time you used your debit card, now you can have two. Discover Bank gives you 10 cents each time you swipe, pay a bill online or write a check, up to $10 per month. Some banks charge that much as a maintenance fee.

Discover
Learn more
at Discover
Discover also offers strong rates on its savings products, although the cost of admission is a bit high. And it’s an online bank with only one physical branch, so it’s best for those who don’t require too much personal attention. Its broad ATM network gives users easy access to services.

The bottom line

  • A checking account that earns cash back.
  • Some of the best interest rates.
  • Some of the lowest fees.
Our Ratings
Checking5.0 stars out of 5
Savings5.0 stars out of 5
Certificates of deposit (CDs)4.5 stars out of 5
Customer experience4.0 stars out of 5
Overdraft fees3.5 stars out of 5
Overall4.5 stars out of 5

Read on for more information about Discover Bank’s checking and savings products, CDs, customer experience and fees.

Checking

5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 / 5.0

Discover Bank’s checking account lets customers earn up to $10 per month in cash back.  Note that you will need to have a Discover credit card or savings account to enroll. Also, you can’t deposit cash via ATM with this online bank. Still, you can fund your account with direct deposit and remote check deposit (snap a picture with your phone). Add in free checks and 60,000 free ATMs, and Discover Bank has five-star checking.

ProsCons
  • Doesn't charge a monthly maintenance fee or have a minimum balance requirement.
  • Is part of networks that offer 60,000 ATMs combined, and it won’t charge fees for using out-of-network ATMs (though ATM owner's fees might apply).
  • Pays up to $10 in cash back per month.
  • Offers free checks.
  • Doesn't allow ATM cash deposits.
  • Doesn't pay interest.
  • Has only one physical branch.
  • Offers only one checking account.
Account reviewed for rating: Discover Cashback Checking

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best online checking accounts

Savings

5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 / 5.0
Discover’s savings account rate has a competitive APY, and no fees and no minimum opening deposit requirement make it a simple and stress-free account to use. Plus, you can earn a bonus with a minimum qualifying deposit.

ProsCons
  • Savings account pays an APY of 0.95%.
  • Doesn't charge a monthly fee, have a balance requirement or minimum opening deposit.
  • Earn $100 with a minimum qualifying deposit (details below).
  • A $15 fee is charged for exceeding six monthly withdrawals.
Account reviewed for rating: Discover Savings Account

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best savings accounts

Certificates of deposit

4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 / 5.0
If rates are your biggest consideration, other banks can beat Discover Bank’s CDs. The rates are still competitive, but these CDs require a higher opening deposit than those at some other banks. You stand to earn more money on larger deposits, though.

ProsCons
  • 2-year CD: 1.35% APY.
  • 3-year CD: 1.50% APY.
  • 5-year CD: 2.00% APY.
  • Offers term lengths of between three months and 10 years.
  • Requires a high opening deposit of $2,500.
  • Charges early withdrawal penalties.
  • Renews mature CDs automatically after a 9-day grace period.
Account reviewed for rating: Discover CD

» MORE: Best CD rates

Customer experience

4.0 stars out of 5
4.0 / 5.0
Discover Bank is best for those who prefer banking online. You can reach a representative by mail, or 24 hours a day by phone, email or Twitter.

If you’re looking for the best mobile banking experience, you might be disappointed. Discover Bank’s app offers basic functions, along with remote check deposit, but it doesn’t let you perform person-to-person money transfers or provide a digital wallet.

Overdraft fees

3.5 stars out of 5
3.5 / 5.0

Discover Bank charges a $30 fee for insufficient funds a maximum of once per day. At other institutions, this overdraft fee might be charged multiple times in a single day, potentially adding up to hundreds of dollars. You can skip this fee altogether with free overdraft transfers when you link a qualifying savings or money market account. (If you can’t cover the overdraft with the linked account, you’ll be charged the $30 fee.) Transfer protection doesn’t extend to ATM withdrawals or debit card purchases, which would be declined (but no fee charged).

Money in your pocket

Discover Bank’s free ATMs, free checks and fee-free services mean you keep more money in your pocket. Plus, the $10 monthly cash-back reward can shake out to more than other banks’ premium accounts pay in interest, and it’s not too difficult to earn: 100 transactions works out to a little more than three card swipes or bill payments per day.

If checking account rewards are what you’re after, shop around to ensure that you’re getting the best deal based on your spending habits. Discover Bank is a good option.

Melissa Lambarena is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mlambarena@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @LissaLambarena.

Updated March 29, 2017.


SAVINGS ACCOUNT PROMOTION

Discover
Learn more
at Discover
Discover Bank says,

“To get your $100 Bonus:

“What to do: Apply for your first Discover Online Savings Account (OSA) by 5/31/17. Enter Offer Code NW217 when applying. Deposit at least $15,000 by 6/15/17.

“What to know: Offer not valid for existing or prior Discover savings customers. Account must be open when bonus is credited. Bonus will be credited to the account by 6/30/17. Bonus is considered interest and will be reported on IRS Form 1099-INT. Offer may be modified/withdrawn without notice.”

RATINGS METHODOLOGY

For banks and credit unions, NerdWallet’s overall rating is a weighted average of each subcategory: checking accounts, savings and money market accounts, CDs, customer experience and other fees. Factors we consider, depending on the subcategory, include rates and fees, ATM and branch access, account features and limits, user-facing tech and customer service. Several Nerds contribute to each financial institution’s ratings to ensure consistency and accuracy.

What the ratings mean:
5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best
4.5 stars out of 5 — Very good; only minor caveats for most customers
4 stars out of 5 — Good; issues that might make a difference to some customers
3.5 stars out of 5 — Fair; make sure strengths and weaknesses are a good match for you
3 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution
2.5 stars out of 5 (or below) — Best to avoid