NHL Discover it Review: 5% Cash Back, Plus Puck Perks

On top of its hockey-related benefits, this card offers a high rewards rate in rotating categories, a good intro APR offer and an unusual bonus that could become a windfall.

Claire Tsosie, Paul SoucySeptember 8, 2020

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This page includes information about one or more products not currently available on NerdWallet:

  • NHL® Discover it®

  • U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated offers.

Our Take

4.8

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: If you don't mind keeping track of bonus categories that change every three months, this card is a winner either as an everyday card or as part of a multicard rewards-maximizing strategy.

NHL® Discover it®

NHL® Discover it®

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees

  • Intro APR period on Purchases and Balance Transfers

  • Sign-up bonus

  • Bonus offer and rewards program

Cons

  • Complicated rewards program with rotating categories for 5% cash back

  • No luxury perks

  • Requires good/ excellent credit

Alternate Pick: Customizable rewards

U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card

Pick your own bonus categories

Unlike the NHL® Discover it®, which picks bonus categories for you, this card earns 5% cash back in two categories you choose, on up to $2,000 in combined purchases each quarter; unlimited 2% cash back in another category you pick; and 1% on everything else. There's a solid sign-up bonus and no annual fee.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Annual Fee

$0 intro for the first year, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Regular APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 12 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

The NHL® Discover it® is a superb credit card for any hockey fan. Heck, it's a superb card even if you're not a hockey fan, since it's basically the same product as the standard Discover it® Cash Back card, with a few extra goodies thrown in for NHL enthusiasts.

As with the regular version, you earn 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% on all other spending. The NHL® Discover it® offers the same new-cardholder bonus, the same 0% introductory APR period and the same $0 annual fee.

NHL® Discover it®: Basics

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:

  • 5% back in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter (requires activation); 1% after that.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

NHL discounts: 

  • Save 10% at Shop.NHL.com with the code ITPAYS.

  • Save 10% on NHL.TV subscription when you pay with the card.

Rewards 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:

The card's current quarterly bonus categories are listed below:

Discover bonus rewards categories for 2020

Q1 (Jan. 1 – March 31)

• Grocery stores. • CVS. • Walgreens.

Q2 (April 1 – June 30)

• Gas stations. • Uber and Lyft. • Wholesale clubs. • June only: Home Depot.

Q3 (July 1 – Sept. 30)

• Restaurants. • PayPal.

Q4 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31)

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

Why you might want the NHL® Discover it®

LIVE THE PUCK LIFE

The hockey-related benefits aren't the most noteworthy feature of the NHL® Discover it®, but since the card is called the "NHL® Discover it®," we might as well start here. Custom card designs are available for all 31 teams in the NHL (or 32 when the new Seattle franchise begins play in 2021). Cardholders can also get discounts at the NHL's online store and on the league's streaming TV service.

5% cash back in rotating categories

You would be hard-pressed to find a card with no annual fee that earns more than 5% cash back in bonus categories, which for Discover's cards have recently included things like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more.

If you maxed out the 5% rotating quarterly category rewards every year on this card — that is, if you activated and spent up to $1,500 in those categories each quarter all year — you would earn $300 in bonus cash back, plus 1% back on every other purchase. For many shoppers, those lucrative ongoing rewards make this card a keeper.

A potentially valuable sign-up offer

The NHL® Discover it® comes with an uncommon bonus for new card members: 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.

For example, if you earned $500 in rewards, Discover would give you another $500 in cash back at the end of your first consecutive 12 months of being a cardholder. For folks who plan to do a lot of spending on the card during that time, this unusual offer could prove incredibly valuable.

Introductory 0% APR period

The NHL® Discover it® offers plenty of breathing room for paying off balances after opening the account. It comes with a generous offer: 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR. The balance transfer fee is a 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to a 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms) of the amount being transferred, which is on par with other balance transfer cards.

NHL® Discover it® vs. Chase Freedom®

Looking at cards that offer 5% cash-back rewards on rotating quarterly categories? Chances are the Chase Freedom® has been on your radar, too. At first glance, this card seems like a near-clone of the NHL® Discover it®. But if you look a bit closer, a few important differences stand out (besides, of course, the hockey-related benefits of the NHL® Discover it®).

What these cards have in common

  • 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories on the first $1,500 in purchases each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% back.

  • A variety of bonus categories. Historically, they’ve ranged from broad options like restaurants and gas stations to specific retailers like Walgreens or Amazon.com. Past bonus categories can help you see what types of categories to expect in the future.

  • Requirement to activate quarterly categories.

  • No annual fee.

What's different about the Chase Freedom®

  • Sign-up bonus can be earned quickly: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. (With the NHL® Discover it®, you have to wait until the end of the first year to get your bonus.)

  • Slightly longer introductory 0% APR offer: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR.

  • Rewards can be earned retroactively if you activate the categories by the 14th of the third month of the quarter; this is not the case with the NHL® Discover it®.

  • It charges foreign transaction fees.

  • Bonus categories aren't announced all at once: Unlike eligible Discover cards, the Chase Freedom® doesn't reveal its full slate of quarterly bonus categories for the entire year. Category announcements come only a couple of weeks before the start of a new quarter, which can make it harder to time your purchases.

For more information about how these cards differ, read NerdWallet's article comparing the Discover it® Cash Back and the Chase Freedom®.

Why you might want a different card

The NHL® Discover it® isn’t the best fit for everyone. Here’s why you might want to look elsewhere.

Other cards offer simplicity

With rotating bonus categories that require quarterly activation, the NHL® Discover it® is a relatively complicated card. If you want something more straightforward, try the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

This card offers an impressive 2% cash back on everything — 1% back on purchases and 1% back when you pay them off. With it, you can rake in big rewards for everyday spending without having to mess with bonus categories. Its annual fee is $0.

Choose a bonus category

With the NHL® Discover it®, you don't have a say in which categories earn 5% cash back. With the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, it's a different story. You earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (from a list of six); 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 per quarter in combined spending in the 3% and 2% categories, then 1%); and 1% cash back on everything else. For the 3% category, you can choose from gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings, and you can change the category each month. The annual fee is $0. New cardholders can earn $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

And if you want to see how this card compares with other rewards cards, refer to our list of best credit card offers.

Should you apply?

If you prefer a no-fuss credit card, you might want to pass on the NHL® Discover it®. But if you’re willing to put in some extra effort for top-notch cash-back rewards, it might be the perfect fit for you. And if you want to be able to flaunt your NHL team loyalty with every purchase? The choice is obvious.

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