Discover it® Cash Back

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Hard to top this card's first-year cashback match offer.

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You won’t earn one of those huge sign-up bonuses other cards offer, but if you’re looking for a no-frills cash-back card, the Discover it® Cash Back credit card does come with one intriguing feature: Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.

For example: You earn $200 through your spending, get another $200 after your first anniversary. It’s that simple.

With the Discover it® Cash Back credit card, you can enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year. You’ll earn 1% percent cash back on all other purchases.

Review

For those who regularly buy big in a specific category, a card dedicated to earning specialized rewards might be best paired with the Discover it® Cash Back to maximize your benefits.

The rewards match is a nice perk, but you have to wait until the end of the year to receive it, and it’s only for the first year. There aren’t many additional perks or bonuses that come with this card — like travel protections, discounts at retailers or other incentives offered by some card merchants. Still, if you’re looking for a simple cash-back card that also lets you increase your earnings with rotating categories, this may be the card for you.

Watch out for the quarterly maximum though. You’ll only earn that top rate up to a  $1,500 quarterly maximum in purchases, and you have to activate the bonus cash-back rewards through your online account each quarter.

Say, for example, the quarterly rotating category includes home improvement stores and wholesale clubs. Pay $1,500 for a riding lawnmower and you get $75 cash back. But all other purchases you make that quarter at the hardware store or your big-box club will earn the standard 1%.

Who should get this card

The Discover it® Cash Back card is ideal for anyone who wants an uncomplicated cash-back program, is looking to avoid annual cardholder fees or who wants to skip paying interest on first-year purchases and balance transfers.

But you’ll have to keep track of which categories offer enhanced rewards,  which have to be activated each quarter. And, monitor how much you spend in those categories.

Advantages
  • Cardholders can enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year.
  • The Discover it® Cash Back card automatically gives 1% back on all other purchases not included in the rotating categories.
  • Cardholders automatically receive a match of all the cash back they've earned at the end of their first year.
  • First late payment fee is waived, after that it’s up to $37.
Disadvantages
  • Discover is not accepted as widely as other cards like Visa and Mastercard.
  • Those looking to receive higher cash-back incentives at the places they spend the most may want to consider a card with a targeted reward program.
  • The rotating categories offering 5% back change every three months, which may be confusing for those who aren’t monitoring it.
  • Other cash-back cards may ultimately result in more money back depending on how you spend.

Fees and APR

  • There is no annual fee on this credit card.
  • You’ll pay no foreign transaction fee if you use this card overseas.
  • The balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred.
  • Enjoy a 0% APR introductory interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months. Following the intro period, the standard APR is a variable 13.49% to 24.49% based on your creditworthiness.
  • See Rates & Fees

Extras, perks and using rewards

This card comes with a generous introductory offer, which is good for anyone looking to pay off another high-interest credit card or finance a big purchase cheaply over time. The 14-month intro offer is not the best balance transfer on the market, but combined with the other benefits of this card, it makes the Discover it® Cash Back all the more attractive.

You can redeem your rewards at any time in any amount as a credit on your statement, an electronic bank deposit, for gift cards through Discover partners (in $20 increments) or use to shop on Amazon.com.

How this card compares

Chase Freedom®
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

If you’re up for the challenge of tracking bonus rewards categories, Chase Freedom can give you some real cash-back bang for your buck. For travel junkies and road warriors, this card is ideal when paired with an eligible Chase card to reap maximum travel rewards on your spending.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Credit Needed

Excellent/Good

Regular APR

16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months

There are other cards that offer better rewards, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s 1.5% cash-back on everything is an excellent reward coming from a no-annual-fee credit card.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed

Excellent, Good

Regular APR

14.74%-25.74% Variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 15 months

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is an ideal credit card for families on the go. It offers enhanced rewards at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. That’s like getting automatic coupons everytime you buy groceries, gas and clothes.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.