Editorial Review

Discover It Chrome Review: Extra Cash Back on Gas and Dining

Earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 per quarter in spending at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% back on all other spending — without having to 'activate' categories

Paul SoucyDecember 3, 2019

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Our Take

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: This card's appeal is limited by a fairly low maximum cash-back rate and a cap on the amount of spending eligible for bonus rewards.

Discover it® chrome

on Discover's website, or call (800) 347-0264

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Annual Fee
$0
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Bonus cash back categories

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Requires good/excellent credit

  • Discover cards are not widely accepted outside of the U.S.

Alternate Pick: 2% on everything

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

No bonus categories or reward caps

This card pays a flat 2% cash back on every purchase, every day — 1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off. There's no limit to the 2% rewards. However, this offer does not include a sign-up bonus or a 0% APR period on purchases.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

When it comes to cash-back credit cards, Discover is best known for the 5% bonus categories it offers on products like the Discover it® Cash Back, the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the NHL® Discover it®. But the Discover it® chrome offers a completely different rewards structure.

If you spend a lot on gas and restaurant dining, it's worth a look. But many consumers will probably be better off with another card.

Discover it® chrome: Key features

  • Card type: Cash back.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Sign-up bonus: 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.

  • Rewards:

    • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.

    • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Redemption: You can redeem cash back in any amount, except in the case of gift certificates and eCertificates, which start at $20. Redemption options include:

    • Direct deposits into any account.

    • Statement credits on your credit card.

    • Donations to select charities.

    • Shopping at Amazon. (You can do this by signing in to your Amazon account, linking that account to your eligible Discover card, paying with that card and applying your cash back at checkout.)

    • Purchases made via PayPal. (You can do this by signing in to your PayPal account and linking it to your eligible Discover card. You can then use your cash-back earnings to make PayPal purchases.)

    • Gift cards and eCertificates.

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.

  • Balance transfer fee: 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms).

  • Other benefits:

Discover it® chrome: Benefits

Bonus categories. With the Discover it® chrome, you get 2% cash back on restaurant dining and gas purchases, on up to $1,000 in combined spending each quarter, and 1% after that. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Unlike with Discover's 5% cards, you don't have to "activate" these bonus rewards. They're always "on."

Double your cash back in the first year. The Discover it® chrome offers the same new-cardholder bonus as Discover's other cards: 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.

A 0% introductory APR. If you're looking to make a major purchase, you'll have some time to pay it off interest-free. You get an introductory APR of 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

Discover's suite of perks. These include free access to your FICO score, 100% U.S.-based customer service, Social Security number monitoring, forgiveness for your first late payment (but try not to be late) and the ability to freeze and unfreeze your account if your card goes missing or your info is compromised.

A $0 annual fee. 

Discover it® chrome: Drawbacks

The top rewards rate is weak. Getting 2% cash back on gas and restaurants is better than 1% — and certainly better than nothing! But there are several cards available that will give you 2% rewards on every single purchase — the most prominent example being the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, which pays 1% on every dollar you spend and 1% on every dollar you pay off. Meanwhile, an array of cards pay 1.5% cash back on every purchase, which, depending on your spending, might well generate more in total rewards than the Discover it® chrome. Consider the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, which gives you 1.5% cash back, has a $0 annual fee and also offers a cash sign-up bonus and a 0% intro APR period.

Bonus rewards are capped. If you drive a lot and eat out most nights, you could crash into the $1,000 quarterly ceiling on 2% rewards rather quickly. Most flat-rate cards, including those described above, don't place any limits on rewards.

An unconventional bonus. One great thing about Discover's new-cardmember bonus is that the more you spend, the bigger the bonus you ultimately get, meaning you're in control of your bonus. But you have to wait a year to get it.

Spotty international acceptance. This isn't a good pick for international travel. Discover doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, but Discover's acceptance outside the U.S. lags far behind that of Visa and Mastercard.

Discover vs. Discover: This card vs. the 5% cards

Discover's flagship card, the Discover it® Cash Back, offers 5% cash back in quarterly categories that you activate. You get 5% back on up to $1,500 in bonus category spending per quarter, and 1% on everything else. Here are Discover's current categories:

Discover bonus rewards categories for 2019 and 2020

2019 categories

2020 categories

Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)

• Grocery stores.

• Grocery stores. • CVS. • Walgreens.

Q2 (April 1 – June 30)

• Gas stations. • Uber and Lyft.

• Gas stations. • Uber and Lyft. • Wholesale clubs.

Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)

• Restaurants. • PayPal.

• Restaurants. • PayPal.

Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)

• Amazon.com. • Target (in store and online). • Walmart.com.

• Amazon.com. • Target.com. • Walmart.com.

Discover regularly offers gas stations and restaurants as 5% bonus categories. Say you spend $150 on gas and $150 on restaurants every month. With the Discover it® chrome, you would get $72 in rewards from that spending in a year. With the Discover it® Cash Back you would get ... an identical $72 in rewards from that spending in a year. But you would also get two other quarters each year with opportunities to earn 5% in different categories.

Indeed, if you maxed out the bonus rewards available on each card, here's what you would earn:

  • With the Discover it® chrome: An extra 1% on $4,000 per year in spending, or $40 plus 1% on all spending.

  • With the Discover it® Cash Back: An extra 4% on $6,000 per year in spending, or $240 plus 1% on all spending.

Mathematicians will tell you that $240 in bonus rewards is more valuable than $40. But what really matters is how you spend money, and whether you want the hassle of activating bonus categories every three months.

Should you get the Discover it® chrome?

The Discover it® chrome isn't a bad choice if you're in need of a low-maintenance, no-fee card to pull out at gas stations and restaurants. But if you're looking for a card to use everywhere, every day, you'd probably be better served with a flat-rate cash-back card or one of Discover's 5% cards.

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