Discover It Card - Rotating Category Cash Back Card
For new customers, the lure of the Discover It card is two-fold. Only Discover offers a generous Cash Back Match for the first year, and it couldn’t be simpler. Discover will automatically apply your Cash Back Match reward to your account at the end of the first year. No hoops, no sign-up, no hassle. If that’s not impressive enough, Discover It comes with 0% APR for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers. Just make sure to pay your minimum on time every month to keep this rewarding feature.
But are these honeymoon incentives enough of a draw for this card? Does it lose its luster when the first 14 months have passed? The following details could help you decide.
Cash Back Incentives
No one does cash back quite like Discover. With the Discover It card, you earn an impressive 5% back on category purchases. These categories rotate every three months, offering a wide array of opportunities to earn this 5% bonus.
The 5% bonus does come with a cap. Discover It cardholders can charge up to $1,500 per category. After maxing out the category, a 1% cash back applies. The categories for 2020 break down like this:
January - March Grocery Stores Walgreens CVS
April - June Gas Stations Uber Lyft Wholesale Clubs
July - September Restaurants PayPal
October - December Amazon.com Target.com Walmart.com
Users should be aware; the 5% cash back is not automatic. Cardholders must activate the 5% reward option through their account. Failing to do so will kick your rewards back to the just so-so 1%. Other good news about rewards -- your cash back never expires. You can redeem your cash back anytime, any amount. Discover It cardholders have a variety of ways to redeem cash back as well:
Have it direct-deposited into a linked bank account
Use it as statement credit
Donate it to a charitable organization
Purchase gift cards of $20 or more
Use it at checkout at Amazon.com or PayPal.
Is There a Catch?
The 5% cash back can be very tempting, so make sure you think this through. Some people would not call the Discover It card their go-to card because it is only at the top of its game when the 5% is used. Yes, 5% is one of the highest cash back rewards a credit card issues. Still, the 5% is offered through rotating categories. Prospective card owners should make sure they have at least one category they can use every quarter, or the best benefit of this card is not utilized. Don't forget to activate your 5% rewards each quarter. This step can easily be overlooked. For these reasons, some people prefer the simplicity of constant cash back instead of categories.
Still, some people are all about making an effort to maximize the 5% reward. People who monitor their statements and track their spending can put forth a little more effort and max-out their 5% benefits. If you are not at your spending limit, and the quarter is about to end, consider buying gift cards from merchants in the 5% categories. You get maximum 5% cash back and money to spend later when you need it. The ideal Discover It card owner will not think twice about putting forth this extra effort if it means maximizing on the card’s best feature – 5% cash back. However, if all this seems like too much work, there are other cash back cards better suited to your needs.
The Discover It card needs more going for it than just its initial incentives and the 5% cash back to remain competitive in a somewhat flooded market. It requires some sturdy features that appeal to almost everyone.
Probably the most attractive feature for people is no annual fee. Additionally, the Discover It card comes with a load of free perks such as cash back at the register. True, this benefit is not available at all retailers; however, it is a time-saver when accessible. Continuing the list of attractive free perks, Discover It customers can sign-up for free daily monitoring of their FICO score. With this service, an alert will be sent when a new inquiry or account is listed on the report. Additionally, Discover It card customers can check their FICO score for free at any time.
Also, regarding security, Discover It cardholders should take advantage of the free protections offered to their SSN. Customers can rest assured that their SSN is safe when they activate free SSN monitoring through their account.
If your card is lost or stolen and you need a new one quick, Discover will overnight one free of charge (some restrictions may apply). Discover It cardholders also relish $0 fraud liability. You will never be responsible for purchases you did not make.
Other Noteworthy Features
Competitive APR: After the 14-month 0% APR period for new cardholders, Discover It owners will enjoy a relatively low APR at 11.99% - 22.99% variable.
No Foreign Transaction Fee: Avid travelers should probably consider a card more suitable to their needs. However, occasional travelers can use their Discover It card outside the US and experience no foreign transaction fees.
No Late Payment Fee for 1st Offense: Customers will not be issued a late payment fee the first time it happens, and a $40 charge after that.
Convenient Mobile App: The Discover It mobile app can keep you connected to your account at all times. If your card is lost or stolen, you have the power to freeze your account instantly through the app.
Impeccable Customer Service: Discover It cardholders have access to 24/7 customer service from Discover’s 100% US-based locations.
Refer A Friend: If you refer a friend to the Discover It card and that friend is accepted, you will receive a $50 statement credit. Your friend will also receive a $50 credit after making an initial purchase. What's even better, you can refer up to 10 friends per year.
Designer Card Feature: It’s not a huge incentive, but the Discover It card offers 25 card designs for its customers.
Is This Card for You? The Discover It card has some impressive sign-up incentives that catch almost everyone's eye. But can it hold its own after the initial 14 months of bliss? The answer to that question lies with each person individually. If you can keep up with the changing categories and remember to activate those 5% rewards, this card can rack up some serious cash back.
Additionally, the incentives offered during the first 14 months create some robust purchase power. If you plan to make a large purchase in those 14 months, you will not be assessed a finance fee as long as you pay your minimum balance on time. You can potentially pay off the remainder of that big purchase with your Cash Back and Cash Back Match at the end of your first year.
If these savings sound attractive to you, the Discover It card might be a good fit. Its 5% cash back categories, no annual fee, relatively low APR, and a host of free features make it a respectable choice that seems to have clout beyond its honeymoon incentives.