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Discover it Chrome: The Best Cash Back Card for Gas and Dining?

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If you spend a lot on gas and dining out, you’re probably looking for a credit card that will provide primo rewards on those purchases. Well, the Nerds are here with good news: There’s a card on the market that might meet your needs, and it has a sweet offer for new members. Meet the Discover it® chrome. You’ll earn 2% cash back on gas and restaurant purchases, up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter. You’ll also earn 1% back on all other purchases.

But with all the cash-back credit card options out there, is this the right card for you? Let’s take a look at the details to find out.

Discover it® chrome

Discover it® chrome

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

    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months
  • Additional Information
    • New! We’ll monitor your Social Security Number. Get an alert if we find your Social Security Number on any of thousands of risky websites.* Activate for FREE.
    • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
    • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
    • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
    • 100% U.S. based customer service.
    • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
    • No annual fee.
    • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

At a glance
Annual fees $0
Foreign transaction fee None
Rewards program Cash back: Earn 2% cash back on gas and dining out, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
Sign-up bonus

Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Verdict: If you spend a lot on gas and dining out and want to avoid annual fees, this card is worth a look
Good for:
  • Someone who spends a lot on gas and dining out
  • Someone who shops online a lot
  • Someone who frequently makes purchases with overseas retailers
Bad for:
  • Someone who spends more than $333 per month on gas and dining out
  • Someone whose spending changes throughout the year

In this article

Discover it® chrome: The basics
Where this card shines
Cousin it? Discover it® - Cashback Match™ versus Discover it® chrome
Where the Discover it® chrome chrome falls short
Discover it® chrome versus the competition
Should you consider the Discover it® chrome?

Discover it® chrome: The basics

With the Discover it® chrome  you’ll earn 2% back on gas and dining, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, and 1% back on all other purchases. Plus, it charges no foreign transaction fees, and the annual fee is $0.

Where this card shines: Discover it® chrome

This is a solid card, and it has some features that make it stand out from the pack. For example:

Few fees. For a credit card that offers a rewards program, the card charges relatively few fees. You’ll pay an annual fee of $0, no overlimit fee, no late fee on your first late payment, and no foreign transaction fee with this card. The Nerds love a card that helps customers avoid fees, so we give this fee structure two thumbs up!

Access to Discover Deals. Getting access to the Discover Deals online mall is one of the best features of the Discover it® chrome. If you use Discover Deals, you could earn 5% to 20% cash back at more than 200 popular retailers, including Apple, Best Buy and Macy’s. Plus, there’s the possibility of earning a statement credit or an in-store discount, too. For the serious shopaholics out there, this is a great benefit to the card.

FICO score tracking. If keeping tabs on your FICO score is important to you, opting for the Discover it® chrome will give you a free way to stay up-to-date on how your credit is doing. (NerdWallet also offers credit score tracking.)

Cousin ‘it’? Discover it® - Cashback Match™ vs. Discover it® chrome

If you’re familiar with the Discover it® - Cashback Match™, you’re probably wondering how it differs from the Discover it® chrome. The two cards have a lot of features in common, including:

  • An annual fee of $0
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No late fee on your first late payment
  • Free FICO score access
  • Access to Discover Deals (with 5% to 20% cash back at over 200 retailers)
  • Fraud monitoring and protection
  • Both offer a bonus for new cardholders: You could turn $150 into $300 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

The difference between the cards boils down to how cash back is earned. With the Discover it® - Cashback Match™, you earn 5% back in rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 in combined purchases every quarter. You also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. The 5% bonus calendar looks like this:

DISCOVER BONUS CATEGORIES FOR 2017
Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)Gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs
Q2 (April 1 – June 30)Home improvement stores and wholesale clubs
Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)Restaurants
Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)Amazon.com and Target

With the Discover it® chrome, there are no rotating bonus categories. You’ll earn 2% cash back on gas and dining out, up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter. If these two categories dominate your spending and you don’t shop much at the other 5% retailers, you’re probably better off going with the Discover it® chrome.

But if you do spend frequently in the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ featured 5% categories, it’s probably a better bet. Because the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ has historically featured restaurants and gas stations as a bonus 5% category for one quarter each per year, your annual average rewards rate in those categories is almost the same as with the Discover it® chrome. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of earning 5% back on other spending throughout the year.

Nerd note: It’s important to remember that with the Discover it® - Cashback Match™, you have to go online and sign up every quarter to get the 5% back in featured categories. With the Discover it® chrome, you don’t have to worry about this to get the 2% back at restaurants and gas stations. If you decide to go with the Discover it® - Cashback Match™, it might be helpful to set quarterly calendar reminders so that you don’t miss out on earning extra cash back.

Where the Discover it® chrome  falls short

While the Discover it® chrome has some admirable qualities, there are a few drawbacks to consider. For instance:

Rewards rate isn’t stellar. The 2% cash back on gas and dining out isn’t a terrible rewards rate, but it’s also not exactly spectacular. Other cards offer higher cash-back rates on the same type of spending. The double cash back deal helps for the first year, but ongoing rewards aren’t as good as those offered by some competitors.

An unconventional sign-up bonus. It’s common for cash-back credit cards to provide a sign-up bonus for spending a certain amount within the first 3 months. But the Discover it® chrome doesn’t provide this sort of sign-up bonus. While this probably isn’t a deal breaker, it may be disconcerting to wait a whole year to receive your bonus.

Spotty international acceptance. Although the Discover it® chrome  doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, remember that not all countries in the world accept Discover. In general, Discover is a good option if you’re traveling to Asia, but you might have some trouble in European destinations. Be sure to check our list of countries that accept Discover before taking the Discover it® chrome  on an overseas trip.

Discover it® chrome vs. the competition

When you’re deciding if a credit card is right for you, it’s a worthwhile exercise to see how it stacks up to the competition. Let’s see how the Discover it® chrome  compares with  similar options:

Discover it® chrome vs. Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® is a great option if you’re looking for a cash-back credit card. It provides 5% cash back in quarterly rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Like the Discover it® chrome, it charges an annual fee of $0. But this card comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. So, you could earn a little more with the Chase Freedom® right out of the gate.

Historically, the Chase Freedom® has featured gas stations as a 5% bonus category for at least one quarter of the year. If this trend continues, you would be getting an annual average rewards rate of 2% on gas purchases with it.

Discover it® chrome vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

If you practice responsible credit card habits, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer could be a better option for you. It gives you 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and another 1% back when you pay that purchase off, whether it’s in full each month or over time. This 1% plus 1% rewards structure is applicable for all spending categories and there are no caps on the rewards you can earn, making this a great option over the Discover it® chrome for those who don’t spend exclusively on gas and dining out.

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer boasts an introductory APR of 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. Like the Discover it® chrome, the annual fee is $0 and the first late payment fee is waived. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer also features special perks like Citi Price Rewind and Citi Private Pass.

Both cards have cash-back rewards, but which one is better for travel? The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is more widely accepted overseas than a Discover card, but has foreign transaction fees of 3%. The Discover it® chrome has no foreign transaction fees, but isn’t widely accepted overseas. Neither card is the ideal card for overseas travel, which should feature EMV chip-and-PIN capability and no foreign transaction fees, while also being readily accepted internationally.

Should you consider the Discover it® chrome?

The Discover it® chrome certainly isn’t a bad card; if you spend a lot on gas and dining out and like some of the fringe benefits that Discover provides (access to Discover Deals, free FICO score, etc.), this card is worth a look.

But other competitors on the market will likely give you more bang for your buck in terms of rewards rate and savings on balance transfers. Be sure to check out the best rewards credit cards before making a final decision.

Last updated February 2, 2017. 

Lindsay Konsko is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lindsay@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lkonsko.


Image via iStock.