Key takeaways

  • The Discover it® Cash Back offers 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 spent per quarter in categories that change throughout the year (then 1 percent back).
  • Several Discover it® Cash Back benefits make this card even more valuable, including its intro APR offer and its notable lack of fees.
  • Before you sign up for the Discover it® Cash Back, consider how you’ll use it to maximize its rewards and benefits, such as pairing it with another rewards card.

If you’re looking for a cash back credit card without an annual fee, you’ve likely considered the Discover it® Cash Back. This card offers up to 5 percent back on up to $1,500 in rotating category purchases each quarter when you activate the bonus categories (then 1 percent), as well as 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

In addition to offering cash back, there are other Discover it® Cash Back benefits to be aware of. This includes the fact there’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and no fee or penalty APR on your first late payment (then up to a $41 fee for all late payments after that). If you want to know more about The Discover it® Cash Back benefits, here’s a guide that will help you understand the card’s offerings.

Discover it® Cash Back card benefits

One of the most popular benefits of the Discover it® Cash Back is the ability to earn bonus rewards in many everyday spending categories. In addition to earning cash back on purchases, the card features a delayed welcome bonus that comes in the form of a rewards match, a lengthy introductory APR offer and consumer protection tools for cardholders. Here, we’ll go into more detail about the various benefits the card offers.

Earning rewards

The Discover it® Cash Back offers 5 percent back in rotating categories when you activate the quarterly bonus category, on up to $1,500 in spending each quarter. After you reach the $1,500 limit for the quarter, you’ll still earn 1 percent back on all purchases.

The Discover 5 percent cash back calendar outlines the bonus categories each quarter, and they tend to remain relatively consistent from year to year. However, there have been some small changes recently, so make sure you consult the calendar for updates to the bonus categories. In the past, bonus categories have included spending at grocery stores, CVS, Walgreens, gas stations, wholesale clubs, Uber, Lyft, streaming services, restaurants, PayPal,, and

In addition, instead of a traditional welcome bonus that requires you to meet a minimum spending requirement, Discover will match all the rewards you earn at the end of your first year with its Cashback Match™ program.

So if you max out the $1,500 limit on your 5 percent cash back categories, you earn $75 cash back per quarter. This means you’ll earn $300 in cash back for the year. With the Cashback Match at the end of the first year, you’ll earn another $300 for a total of $600 worth of rewards. Also remember that all non-bonus spending earns the standard rate of 1 percent cash back for each dollar you spend, which can help you increase the match amount you get at the end of the first year.

Redeeming rewards

Once you start racking up Discover rewards, you can redeem them in the way that suits you best such as: cash deposited in a bank account, a statement credit, gift cards, charitable donations to select charities or even payments toward and checkout purchases.

You can also redeem rewards for cash back or a statement credit on your account in any amount, even if you only have a few dollars in rewards to burn. Having this kind of flexibility in a rewards program means you’ll never get stuck with rewards you can’t use.

Introductory APR

Another neat benefit of the card is the 0 percent introductory APR for 15 months that applies to both purchases and balance transfers. After the 15-month period ends, however, you’ll have to pay down any remaining balances at a variable APR of 17.24 percent to 28.24 percent. There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3 percent, but this can increase to 5 percent on future balance transfers on your Discover card (see terms) depending on when you initiate your balance transfer.

No fee for the first late payment

Normally, if you make a late payment on a credit card, there are consequences. The card issuer could charge a late fee, a penalty APR or both. With the Discover it® Cash Back card, there’s no penalty APR for late payments and no penalty fee for the first time you make a late payment.

That said, keep in mind that Discover charges up to $41 fee for all late payments after that, so it’s still best to avoid them.

Other card benefits

Other card benefits provide some consumer protections for cardholders. Like most Discover credit cards, if your card is lost or stolen, Discover can freeze your card to prevent additional transactions like purchases and cash advances.

Also, if there are ever any unauthorized transactions or purchases on your card, Discover’s $0 Fraud Liability benefit means you won’t be held accountable for those transactions. You can also opt into a service that monitors the dark web and malicious websites for your Social Security number.

Maximizing the Discover it® Cash Back

Now that you know all about the Discover it® Cash Back benefits you qualify for as a cardholder, you can focus on maximizing the Discover it® Cash Back.

First of all, remember that you’ll have to activate each quarter’s 5 percent back categories for the bonus rewards to apply. You can take this step online through your Discover online account management page or through the Discover app, but you have to do it every quarter.

Also keep an eye on the changing Discover it® Cash Back calendar and which bonus categories apply in any given month. Note that these categories are announced one quarter at a time, so you’ll have to check in to see what they are throughout the year.

Since the Discover it® Cash Back caps bonus rewards each quarter and only offers 1 percent back on other spending, you may want to pair it with another cash back credit card for other purchases. Consider getting a credit card that offers 2 percent cash rewards on everything you buy, such as the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card.

Finally, remember that this card’s intro APR offer only applies for a limited amount of time, and that you’ll have to pay the high variable APR. Take advantage of the intro offer if you need to, but make sure your balance is paid down to $0 or close to it before it ends.

The bottom line

Discover it® Cash Back benefits are wide and varied, but the biggest perks you’ll get with this card come in the form of the rewards you earn. Getting to earn 5 percent cash back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories (then 1 percent back) gives you the chance to earn a lot more in rewards each year, and that’s especially true during the first year of account opening since Discover matches all cash back earned at the end of that first year.

That said, it never hurts to compare other cash back credit cards before you sign up. You can also pair up a few different rewards credit cards so you’re earning the optimal amount of cash back for each dollar you spend.