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
Jul 26, 2022

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Our Take

3.8

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.

Jump to: Full Review
Discover it® chrome
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
13.49%-24.49% Variable APR
Intro APR
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
Rec. credit score
690-850 (Good - Excellent)
Apply now

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

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • Intro APR period

  • Bonus categories

  • Cash rewards

Cons

  • Low rewards rate

  • Spending caps on bonus rewards

  • Lower acceptance abroad

Alternate Pick: 2% on everything
Citi® Double Cash Card
NerdWallet rating 
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

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

13.49%-24.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

16.24%-26.24% Variable APR

Regular APR

13.49%-24.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
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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: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

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 $5. 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 that would benefit most people

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: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.

A 0% introductory APR

If you're looking to make a major purchase or transfer a balance, you'll have an interest-free period available: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49%-24.49% Variable APR.

Discover's suite of perks

Discover gives you 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.

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 if you're looking for rewards on gas and dining, you'll probably be better off looking elsewhere. The U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card also offers 2% back on gas, but it comes with a whopping 4% back on dining. All with no spending caps and an annual fee of $0.

If you're willing to look beyond the gas and dining rewards structure, several cards will give you 2% back on every purchase, without any spending cap. The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card gives you an unlimited 2% back on all purchases, while the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer pays 1% on every dollar you spend and 1% on every dollar you pay off. Both of these cards don't charge an annual fee.

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 Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which gives you 1.5% cash back (plus between 3% and 5% back on select categories) has a $0 annual fee and also offers a 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 card isn't a good pick for international travel. You won't be charged 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 2022

Q1 (Jan. 1–March 31)

• Grocery stores*. • Fitness clubs and gym memberships.

Q2 (April 1–June 30)

• Gas stations. • Target.

Q3 (July 1–Sept. 30)

• Restaurants. • PayPal.

Q4 (Oct. 1–Dec. 31)

• Amazon.com. • Digital wallets.

*The grocery stores category does not include grocery purchases at Walmart or Target or at other superstores or wholesale clubs.

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.

For options not limited to Discover, see NerdWallet's up-to-date list of the best credit card deals.

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

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.
Frequently asked questions
What are the rewards on the Discover it® chrome? 

The Discover it® chrome earns 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, on up to $1,000 in spending per quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

What's the difference between the Discover it® chrome and the Discover it® Cash Back? 

The Discover it® chrome and the Discover it® Cash Back are cash back cards with comparable introductory APR periods, no annual fee and a bonus that matches the cash back you earn in your first year. But the Discover it® Cash Back has rotating bonus categories that you have to activate each quarter, while the Discover it® chrome earns bonus cash back in two fixed categories that are always "on."

Will Discover it® chrome match my cash back?

For the first year your account is open, Discover will match the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar. But you’ll have to wait until the end of your first year to get the match. This offer is for new cardholders only.

Does the Discover it® chrome have a cash back limit?

There’s no limit to how much you can earn with the Discover it® chrome. The card’s 2% rewards are capped at $1,000 in combined gas station and restaurant spending per quarter. But after that, you’ll still earn 1% cash back in those categories.

Where can I use my Discover it® chrome card? 

The Discover it® chrome is accepted by 99% of places that take credit cards, nationwide. But using the card internationally might be trickier —  although Discover doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, it is not as widely accepted outside the U.S. as Visa and Mastercard.

What credit score do I need to get the Discover it® chrome?

The Discover it® chrome requires at least average credit. This generally means a credit score of 630 or better. In addition to your credit score, issuers consider your debt, income and other pertinent information to determine whether you qualify for a card.