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Discover offers credit cards in most major categories: cash back cards, balance transfer cards, travel cards, student cards and cards for people building or rebuilding credit. Unique among major issuers, it offers rewards an all of its cards but doesn’t charge an annual fee on any of them. Further, each card comes with a promotion for new cardholders that effectively doubles your rewards in your first year. Here are our recommended Discover credit cards.
Discover it® - Cashback Match™
The Discover it® - Cashback Match™ earns 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate online, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. All other spending earns 1% cash back. In recent years, the 5% categories have included such everyday merchants as gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com, making this a good option for someone looking for a one-card solution. There isn’t a traditional sign-up bonus; instead, there’s a unique benefit that puts you in charge of your bonus and could potentially be more lucrative. Discover describes it this way: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
Drawbacks: You have to activate the 5% categories every quarter. Discover sends email reminders when it’s time to activate, but it’s still a hoop to jump through.
Bottom line: The Discover it® - Cashback Match™ is a solid choice as a top-of-wallet card, with bonus categories that make it easy to rack up 5% rewards.
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
This card offers largely the same benefits of the Discover it® - Cashback Match™ — same cash-back rates, same 5% categories, same new cardholder bonus. Where it differs is in its 0% APR period. It offers an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. If you’re looking to pay off high-interest credit card debt, transferring balances to this card will give you a good long time to whittle them down without interest charges.
Drawbacks: The Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer charges a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred.
Bottom line: Unlike most balance transfer cards, which don’t give you much reason to keep using them once the 0% APR period runs out, the Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer offers solid ongoing rewards that justify keeping it in your wallet.
Discover it® Miles
This card gives you an unlimited 1.5 miles per $1 spent on anything. Miles are worth 1 cent apiece and can be redeemed for credit against travel purchases made in the preceding 180 days. Redemption is simple: Book travel however you want — you aren’t limited to any specific airline, hotel, rental car agency or other service provider — and pay with the card. Then go online and use your miles to wipe out some or all of the cost. You can also redeem miles for cash back as a deposit into a bank account. There’s a bonus for new cardholders: We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.. And unlike most travel credit cards, the Discover it® Miles charges an annual fee of $0
Drawbacks: Other travel cards offer a higher rewards rate; even with an annual fee, you may earn more in rewards if you spend enough. Although the Discover it® Miles charges no foreign transaction fees, Discover’s acceptance outside North America may be limited; take along a backup card when you travel just in case.
Bottom line: With its 1.5% rewards rate, easy redemption, new-cardholder bonus, $0 annual fee and even an interest-free intro period — 0% on Purchases for 14 months and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 14 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 23.99% Variable APR) the Discover it® Miles — is a solid option for just about any traveler.
Discover it® for Students
The Discover it® for Students offers the same generous rewards as Discover’s regular cash-back credit cards: 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending, and 1% on everything else. The new cardholder bonus is the same, too. But there’s an additional treat for good students: a $20 bonus each year you have a GPA of 3.0 or better, for up to five years after you open your account. There’s even 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 13.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.
Drawbacks: As with all student credit cards, you’ll need to show that you have an independent income if you’re under 21. Learn more about student credit cards.
Bottom line: With the rewards of a regular card, an annual fee of $0 and a built-in incentive to do well in school, the Discover it® for Students is among the best student cards available.
Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee
The Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee offers something you rarely see with secured credit cards: rewards. It earns 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% on all other purchases. Further, for new cardholders, Discover automatically matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. However, what makes this card a top pick for people working to build or rebuild credit is its upgrade process. After eight months, Discover will start automatically reviewing your account each month to see whether you’re eligible to graduate to an unsecured card.
Drawbacks: Like all secured credit cards, this card requires a cash deposit, with a minimum deposit of $200 and a max of $2,500. Your deposit determines your credit limit. You’ll get the deposit back when you close the account or upgrade to an unsecured card. Learn more about secured credit cards. Also, the ongoing APR is high on this card; best not to carry a balance.
Bottom line: With its rewards, $0 annual fee and its clear path to graduation, the Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee has become NerdWallet’s favorite secured card.