As 5% cash-back cards, the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ and the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer are up against a tough slate of competitors. With Discover’s double cash-back bonus for new cardholders, however, it’s easy to see why these cards are worth considering for everyday spending.
Let’s examine the two options and compare them with other top-tier cash-back cards to see whether they’re right for you.
Discover it® - Cashback Match™ and Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer: Benefits and basics
There are actually two versions of this card, but there’s only one difference between them: the introductory APR offer.
|With the more popular Discover it® - Cashback Match™, you’ll get 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.|
|With the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, you’ll receive 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.|
Other than that, the cards share the same rewards structure, including 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent quarterly in rotating categories, 1% cash back on everything else, and a rewards bonus you won’t find anywhere else. As Discover puts it: Cashback Match™ - We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.
Those who want to transfer high-interest credit card debt should choose the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, while those who are planning on a large purchase and want more time to pay it off interest-free would do better with the Discover it® - Cashback Match™.
For simplicity, we’ll refer to just one card — the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ — moving forward in discussing the benefits of both cards.
5% cash back on everyday spending
Both cards offer 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. The current bonus categories are:
|DISCOVER BONUS REWARDS CATEGORIES FOR 2016 & EARLY 2017|
|Q1 2016 (Jan. 1 – March 31)||Gas and ground transportation|
|Q2 2016 (April 1 – June 30)||Restaurants and movies|
|Q3 2016 (July 1 – Sept. 30)||Home improvement and Amazon.com|
|Q4 2016 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)||Amazon.com, department stores and Sam's Club|
|Q1 2017 (Jan. 1 - March 31)||Gas stations, ground transportation and wholesale clubs|
If your spending aligns with that of American households on average, you’ll probably be able to take advantage of most, if not all, of the card’s bonus categories.
Access to Discover Deals
One of the Nerds’ favorite online bonus malls, Discover Deals offers cardholders an extra 5% to 20% cash back at more than 200 online retailers. You can also access in-store coupons and bonus cash-back offers. Because Discover’s double cash-back bonus also counts on Discover Deals purchases, it should be easy to start racking up the cash rewards.
If the rewards aren’t enough to hook you, the other benefits may do the trick. These cards offer free access to your FICO score, no foreign transaction fees and the Freeze It℠ feature, which prevents someone else from using your card if it’s lost or stolen. Plus, Discover won’t charge you a fee for your first late payment or raise your APR for paying late. You’ll get all of that with a $0 annual fee.
Discover it® - Cashback Match™: Pitfalls and other possibilities
While the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ is a solid cash-back option, it isn’t perfect. Here are some drawbacks to consider:
No sign-up bonus
The Chase Freedom® also offers 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories up to $1,500 spent, and they’re usually similar to those of the Discover it® - Cashback Match™. It has a $0 annual fee, and you’ll get access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards site, where you can get up to 10% cash back on your online purchases. What’s more, you’ll receive 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.
For more information on the Chase Freedom®, check out our full review.
Categories may not fit your spending
The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card’s annual fee is $0, but it’s introductory 0% APR doesn’t stack up well against the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ or the Chase Freedom®. It has an APR of 0% for 12 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable.
If you’re still interested, read our full review.
It can be a hassle to remember the categories
With the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, you’ll also get free access to your FICO score, a $0 annual fee and a solid balance transfer promotion: 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable.
For more details, see our full review.
Is the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ right for you?
If you’re looking for a solid cash-back credit card with a chance to maximize your cash back far beyond 5%, the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ with its double-cash-back bonus and Discover Deals is hard to ignore. If you want that, plus a longer balance-transfer period, go for the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer.
If, however, you’re looking to get a bonus sooner, you want a wider variety of categories to earn bonus cash on, or you prefer a flat-rate cash-back card, there are plenty of options to choose from.
This post was updated. It was originally published March 17, 2015.
Image via iStock.